Airport Lounges

Female Abroad

Thinking you need to book a first class ticket to use an airport lounge? That's not always the case... Some lounges will allow you to pay and "access" fee to use their services where as some can be accessed using a pass system. What about your credit card? Some of those will get you in.


Airport / Airline Lounges

Usually run by companies that own lounges in terminals, such as No1 Lounges and Swissport (which runs Aspire Lounges). These are open to all, regardless of ticket class, and as we explain below you can often buy one-off passes or even get in free. Usually offer free beer, wine and well drinks at the bar, snacks all day, and desk agents that can help you with flight re-booking on their respective airline if there’s a flight delay or cancellation.

Airport lounges – relaxing, but usually not as luxurious as those run by airlines

Airline lounges (from BA, Virgin etc) – home of top-end luxury

As a general rule, airline lounges tend to beat airport lounges but it's not a universal rule, especially as quality can vary and be a matter of opinion. And usually, airline lounges tend to be better at airlines' main hubs as that is where they plough most of their investment in. This is likely to be at their home airport or somewhere they fly a lot. For example, the BA and Virgin lounges at Heathrow are highly rated.

Priority Pass Lounges

Priority Pass is a global lounge membership network with 1,000+ lounges world wide. These are hit and miss but it depends on the country you are in. If you are in the US or UK for example, they are usually a bit better than an Air Club Lounge.

Centurion Lounge

Centurion lounges are a growing chain of airline clubs operated by American Express with some nicer USA lounge amenities. Dallas & Miami both offer free mini-spa treatments and the San Francisco lounge has a local wine tasting experience.


Most one-day passes will cover at least one guest as well as the pass holder's underage children. Consider how much just a couple of drinks and a few snacks would cost in an airport sky mall. Add a comfortable, contained place to catch your breath, and you'll quickly realize that even paying full price for a one-time pass is more than worth it. Even if you don't buy in advance, some lounges have pay-at-the-door policies, and you might even discover a few that offer rates based on time increments.

In the US, a day pass to an airline club lounge runs about U$ 50 a day/person and an annual membership costs $400-$550 a year.

No. 1 Lounges in the UK charge U$ 25 - U$45 per person (as of 2019)

What is included varies for example. Gatwick's Aspire Lounge you can pick up a newspaper or magazine while enjoying a drink at no extra cost (including beer and wine) and snacks including pasta, fruit and pastries. But at a No. 1 Lounge you could get Wi-Fi, magazines, and food but you'd have to pay more for alcohol.

Ways to save on passes

  1. eBay: Search "airport lounge pass" in eBay and you'll usually find lots of bargains for "Buy It Now". Be careful of expiration dates and blackouts.
  2. Third-Party Sites: Sometime, you can buy lounge passes from third-party sellers as well as airlines in advance at a slight discount. Some providers offer slight discounts for buying in bulk. Check what your preferred airline offers against what third-party sellers are promoting, and you might find a slightly better deal.
  3. Frequent-Flyer Programs: Fly or stay repeatedly with one select chain, earn an elite status, and you can gain lounge access through free or discounted passes. Perks can be considerable, but read fine print and ensure you understand the conditions.
  4. Credit Card Lounge Perks: see next heading


Some credit cards are adding lounge access as a perk if you sign up with them. For example: The United MileagePlus Club come with an annual membership to the United Club, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard gets you into any Admirals Club, and the American Express Delta Reserve Card grants you access to the Delta Sky Club. American, Delta, and United cards also offer airport lounges but are usually on a pass system or just a couple time a year. The Citi Prestige, the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve, the American Express Platinum, the Business Platinum from American Express, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve will grant you Priority Pass lounge access and to access the Centurion lounge you’ll need an American Express Platinum card or an American Express Centurion card.