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Escape airport chaos with LoungeBuddy

American Express cardholders can book day passes to once-exclusive airport lounges

Summary

Billing itself as your ticket to an “airport oasis,” LoungeBuddy could be a great option for infrequent fliers after a taste of luxury travel.

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Airport lounges have long been a refuge for weary travelers, offering free Wi-Fi, drinks, comfortable chairs and, above all, a break from the noise and chaos of a crowded airport. But since lounge access typically requires a luxury credit card, elite status with an airline or hotel or an expensive membership, these perks have been out of reach for most travelers.

Enter LoungeBuddy, an airport lounge booking service that lets you buy one-time access to lounges across the world with no annual commitment and no membership fee. Available exclusively to American Express cardholders, LoungeBuddy could be especially handy if you need an airport escape but don’t travel enough to justify the cost of a higher-end travel credit card or lounge access membership.

Here’s everything you need to know about LoungeBuddy.

What is LoungeBuddy?

LoungeBuddy is an airport lounge booking service that allows you to buy one-time passes to lounges in over 80 airports worldwide. Instead of committing to a pricey membership like Priority Pass, you can book lounge access as you need it via the LoungeBuddy website or the LoungeBuddy app for iOS. Unfortunately, the LoungeBuddy app is not available for Android devices.

Who can use LoungeBuddy?

LoungeBuddy is only available to American Express cardholders. The service was once open to everyone, but American Express acquired LoungeBuddy in April of 2019 and turned the service into an Amex member exclusive. If you try to add a non-Amex card as your payment method when booking on LoungeBuddy, you’ll receive an error message.

See related:  Best credit card offers from American Express

Which American Express cards work with LoungeBuddy?

Though you might expect LoungeBuddy to be reserved for those with luxury Amex cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express® Gold Card, any card issued by American Express will work with LoungeBuddy.

How does LoungeBuddy work?

LoungeBuddy is simple to use and allows you to quickly filter by airport, terminal, lounge features and amenities and see which lounges are available for instant booking. Lounge pages also feature information like cost, how to find the lounge within a terminal, hours of operation, lounge perks, reviews and photos.

Even better, when you set up your LoungeBuddy profile, you can add your airline elite statuses, existing lounge memberships, credit cards and Priority Pass membership to see which lounges are already open to you.

Additionally, you can select individual lounges to see their access requirements. For example, though the Delta Sky Club is not accessible via LoungeBuddy, the app notes that it is open to American Express Platinum cardholders flying on Delta. You’ll also find lounges that do not allow instant access via LoungeBuddy, but allow walk-up purchases as capacity and availability allows. This functionality makes LoungeBuddy a terrific informational resource even if you don’t end up booking through the service.

Here are a few more of LoungeBuddy’s most useful features:

  • Create a trip – Save your flight and lounge booking information in one place by creating a trip in LoungeBuddy.
  • “Select a Package” – Some lounges allow you to specify exactly how long you’ll need access. This could be especially useful if you have a long delay or layover and need to work in privacy, refresh or sleep. The Minute Suites in the Charlotte Douglas Airport’s Main Terminal, for example, allow you to book access for up to 8 hours with pass cost adjusted accordingly. Others, like the Dubai International Hotel First Class Lounge, only allow you to book for preset blocks of time.The Dubai International Hotel First Class Lounge offers 4-, 6- and 8-hour packages
  • Filter by terminal – A great feature when you’re booking lounge access in transit, filtering by terminal allows you to easily see which lounges are bookable in a given terminal, saving you the trouble of taking shuttles or dragging your bags from one terminal to the next.
  • Filter by lounge amenities –You can also search for lounges and sort based on the amenities they offer, including alcohol, premium food, showers, conference rooms, printers and copiers, Wi-Fi and complimentary Wi-Fi. For example, only one lounge in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport (The Club at ATL) offers LoungeBuddy access, showers and premium food.
  • Lounge rankings at a glance – LoungeBuddy ranks airport lounges so you can quickly see where they stand in terms of both cost and amenities. The four rankings include Basic (no-frills lounges with few extras), Solid (standard airport lounge amenities), Fresh (unique and stylish lounges), and Luxe (deluxe lounges with luxury amenities).
  • Stake out lounges with traveler reviews – Each lounge page features a reviews section where users who’ve visited can add photos, leave ratings and offer their take on anything from lounge service to food selection, allowing you to get a sense of what to expect and decide if a lounge is worth booking.
    See what to expect with user ratings and reviews

Which airport lounges accept LoungeBuddy?

Though LoungeBuddy offers passes to lounges at some of the world’s most popular airports – including 31 airports in the U.S. – its acceptance is still limited overall.

Airports with lounges that accept LoungeBuddy include Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, Dubai International Airport and London Heathrow Airport. Meanwhile, major airports like Los Angeles International Airport, O’Hare International Airport and Tokyo International Airport have no LoungeBuddy purchasable lounges.

Keep in mind, too, that LoungeBuddy’s selection of airport lounges is limited even within an airport, so most lounges will still be off-limits without an additional membership. At New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, for example, only two of the airport’s 33 lounges are available to book via LoungeBuddy. Additionally, LoungeBuddy’s selection differs from that of other lounge access programs: At JFK, LoungeBuddy offers access to the Lufthansa Business Lounge and the Wingtips Lounge, while Priority Pass offers access to the Air France Lounge, Korean Air business class lounge, Alaska Lounge and Wingtips Lounge.

Here’s a quick look at how LoungeBuddy lounge access breaks down at some of the world’s most popular airports:

Airport CodeAirport NameLoungeBuddy purchasable lounge?
ATLHartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International AirportYes, 3 available
PEKBeijing Capital International AirportYes, 2 available
DXBDubai International AirportYes, 9 available
LAXLos Angeles International AirportNo
HNDTokyo International AirportNo
ORDO’Hare International Airport, ChicagoNo
LHRLondon HeathrowYes, 9 available
HKGHong Kong International AirportYes, 4 available
PVGShanghai Pudong International AirportYes, 7 available
CDGParis Charles de Gaulle AirportYes, 3 available
AMSAmsterdam Schiphol AirportYes, 2 available
DELIndira Gandhi International AirportYes, 8 available
CANGuangzhou Baiyun International AirportYes, 1 available
FRAFrankfurt AirportYes, 5 available
DFWDallas-Fort Worth International AirportYes, 3 available
ICNSeoul Incheon International AirportNo
ISTIstanbul AirportNo
CGKSoekamo-Hatta International AirportYes, 1 available
SINSingapore Changi AirportYes, 8 available
DENDenver International AirportNo


For a complete list of purchasable locations, visit the LoungeBuddy website.

How much does LoungeBuddy cost?

LoungeBuddy passes start at around $25, with an average cost of around $50 per pass. That said, the cost of your pass will vary widely depending on which lounge you book and, if applicable, the amount of time you reserve.

At London’s Heathrow Airport, for example, you can buy a pass to the Regus Express Business Lounge for less than $20 or splurge on the Lufthansa Business Lounge for over $100.  Meanwhile, six hours at the Dubai International Hotel in the Dubai International Airport will run close to $150. These prices are relatively low for one-off lounge access. For reference, a Priority Pass membership costs between $99 (plus $32 per lounge entrance) and $429 (with no added fees on lounge entrance).

How far ahead can I book a lounge?

You can book select LoungeBuddy purchasable lounges up to two months in advance via the LoungeBuddy website or app. This is an especially useful feature since it’s not uncommon to arrive at a lounge that accepts LoungeBuddy only to find it full or otherwise unavailable for travelers seeking a day pass.

Do any credit cards include LoungeBuddy credits?

Yes. As part of its recent refresh, the American Express® Green Card offers an annual credit of up to $100 at LoungeBuddy. Depending on which lounges you book, this should be enough for at least two lounge visits. The card could also help you get through airport security more quickly, offering a credit for up to $100 toward the cost of CLEAR biometric security screening, so it’s worth a look if you travel occasionally, but not enough to justify the cost of a higher-end luxury travel card.

Currently, no other cards offer LoungeBuddy credits as a perk, but since LoungeBuddy is owned by American Express, future promotions are certainly possible.

What are some alternatives to LoungeBuddy?

While it could come in handy if you find yourself delayed and unable to access a lounge via a credit card, airline status or other membership, LoungeBuddy’s costs will add up if you do a lot of traveling. In that case, your best bet may be a travel rewards credit card that includes a lounge access membership like Priority Pass.

Here are few credit cards that include lounge access privileges:

FeesLounge access benefits
Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Annual fee

$550

 

Authorized user fee

$75/year for each user

  • Includes Priority Pass membership
  • Two complimentary guests
  • $27 per additional guest
  • Authorized users are allowed their own access and guests
Citi Prestige

Citi
Prestige Card

Annual fee

$495

 

Authorized user fee

$75/year for each user

  • Includes Priority Pass membership
  • Two complimentary guests
  • $27 per additional guest
  • Authorized users are allowed their own access and guests
Amex Platinum

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Annual fee

$550

 

Authorized user fee

$175/year for up to 3 additional cards

  • Includes Priority Pass membership
  • Two complimentary guests
  • $32 per additional guest
  • Authorized users are allowed their own access
    and guests
Hilton Honors Ascend

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Annual fee

$95

 

Authorized user fee

None

  • Includes Priority Pass membership
  • No complimentary guests
  • Cardholders can use one of their allotted
    visits for a guest
  • No free access for authorized users

If you’re loyal to a particular airline, an airline credit card is another way to get lounge access while racking up miles, though you’ll be limited to specific airline lounges like the Delta Sky Club and American Airlines Admirals Club.

You may also be able to get lounge access at select airports for a one-time fee or free when you fly first class. Additionally, some airlines sell their own lounge day passes, including American Airlines ($59 access to Admirals Club lounges available on-site) and United ($59 access to United Club lounges available on site or via the United app). Most airlines also offer their own annual lounge access memberships, though these often cost $600 or more per year.

Is LoungeBuddy worth it?

Since it doesn’t require a membership, LoungeBuddy could be very useful if you travel only occasionally or unexpectedly need access to an airport lounge. For around $50 you can get a break from the chaos of the airport without worrying about paying an annual fee or maintaining special airline status.

That said, if you travel frequently and plan to visit airport lounges more than 10 times in a year, a travel credit card or lounge access membership will likely be a better choice in the long run, since these often come with a wider reach and a number of other terrific perks for frequent travelers.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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