If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram @MileageMayhem you will see several pictures of airport lounges, usually American Airlines' Admirals Clubs or American Express' Centurion Lounges.
I am able to access these lounges thanks to a couple of my premium credit cards for free. Now, obviously these cards come with hefty annual fees up to $450, but as I have explained before it is super easy to offset these fees.
So what's so great about airport lounges?
They are truly life savers.
I know lounges are not for everyone and you may not think you travel enough to justify the cost of a premium credit card.
But you're wrong.
Say you and your significant other are traveling and your flight gets delayed or you have a layover or you just want to get to the airport early to grab a bite to eat, how much does that meal cost? I would say with airport prices that meal for two including drinks and everything else you're looking at probably $50. Chances are this will happen more than once per year, so let's say you will spend at least $100 on food and drinks.
Additionally with lounges you get free WiFi (I know most airports have free WiFi in the terminals now, but not all do) which can cost as much as $15-$20. So now we're up to $120.
Add in the other benefit of airline-owned lounge (Admirals Club, Delta SkyClubs, United Lounges, etc...) agents being able to assist with your flight details which comes in handy during delays when the gate agents can be dealing with massive lines. Note that third party lounges won't be able to help with this but I have found this to be massively valuable.
Another major benefit for me is just not being in the terminal. Airport terminals are horrific and even though it sounds bad (it's not) I prefer being around frequent travelers because there is a certain travel etiquette that those in lounges tend to follow. I don't like crowds and feeling like herded cattle, which is why I value lounge access so highly.
Not all lounges are created equal, but the major domestic airlines are investing heavily in updating their lounges both in terms of decor and food and beverage options.
Centurion Lounges are by far the best domestic lounges, but their footprint is limited with only seven locations. You can access them with any American Express Platinum (personal or business) or Centurion Card.
Centurion Lounge DFW
Admirals Clubs are plentiful and can be accessed with the Citi Prestige card but only for those that got the card before last fall (and will no longer have access come July) and the Citi Executive card. Prestige cardholders only have "access" which means they have to be flying on American that day to get in, while Executive cardholders have full membership and can get in regardless of what airline he or she flies.
Delta Skylounges can only be accessed by a membership or if you have a Platinum Amex card and are travling on Delta that day.
United Club Lounges can be accessed with the United MileagePlus Club credit card.
Priority Pass Network is a group of lounges that are becoming increasingly accessible now that virtually every premium credit card comes with some sort of membership in the network. Note that each level of membership comes with different guesting privileges so make sure you read the fine print. PP Lounges are generally lighter on the food and drink options, but still provide a nice oasis. They have a very strong international presence which can come in handy in a foreign airport.
Even if you only fly a few times per year, having lounge access is worth it. Especially now that you can gain access through so many different credit cards that come with so many other perks, there really is no reason to not go for it.
Check out the options at your local airport and the airports you travel to frequently to see what the best option for you is.
Lounge access is worth it. It can be a life saver.