I have a few close friends who do a lot of international travel for work and business. One of the perks is travel to far-flung corners of the globe and they do so in the comfort of business class.
They have all kinds of crazy statuses. They're Executive Club Gold on British Airways or Diamond Medallion on Delta or AAdvantage Executive Platinum – you know, the top of the top in status.
One of perks of those top tiers is waiting in luxury. You don't sit with the rest of the commoners in the waiting area. You sit in lounges. You sip champagne, eat bon bons, and live the good life.
See those fancy looking plaques that say “Admirals Club” or the “Concorde Room” as you walk through the airport concourse? That's where my friends are.
I don't travel enough, nor do I spend enough, but what if I want to enjoy the good life too?
It's possible. Let's learn how.
Ask a First Class Flyer
There is only one “free” way to get in – ask someone flying first class to take you in as their guest.
When someone flies first class, they get access to the lounge. They can also bring in a guest or two for free. You know where I'm going with this.
While I don't recommend it, because it involves standing around the lounge's entrance, but it's the only free way. If you want access and don't want to pay (or can't), ask someone politely if they'd be willing to add you as their guest.
To up your chances, make sure you look professional and you give a reason for needing it. Studies have shown that people are more likely to help you out (like letting you cut in line) if you give a reason.
If you don't want to ask, here is a primer on how lounges work followed by other ways you can get in.
The Airport Lounge Ecosystem
There are three “types” of airport lounges:
- Privately-Operated Lounges – you can get access by paying an annual fee to the operator
- Airline-Operated Lounges – you can get access if you have a ticket (typically on fare classes above economy/coach)
- USO Lounges – you can get access if you are active military or reservist
With airline and private lounges, sometimes you can get access as a credit card perk and flying with them that day. More on that in the airline lounge section.
There are private airline lounge companies that let you pay for an annual membership or a Day Pass.