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How to score airport lounge access without elite status or Priority Pass

Buying a day pass or accessing a lounge not owned by an airline can help you enjoy the quiet and amenities lounges offer


How can everyday travelers who don’t have elite status or a Priority Pass enjoy the quiet and the amenities that come with airport lounge access? Here are a few methods you can employ.

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Unless you’re a frequent business traveler, it’s unlikely that you hold elite status with a particular airline.

One of the great benefits of elite status is that you usually receive access to the airline’s airport lounges.

Many travel credit card holders these days also have some level of membership with Priority Pass, which also grants access to member airport lounges.

But without these two options or flying first or business class, how can everyday travelers enjoy the quiet and the amenities that come with airport lounge access? Here are a few methods you can employ.

See related:  Best credit cards for airport lounge access

Buy a day or annual pass

“Most major airlines sell daily and annual lounge passes for varying prices,” says Andrew Kunesh of

For example, American sells $59 day passes to its Admirals Club lounges on-site, or AAdvantage members can purchase an annual membership for themselves, immediate family members and up to two guests for $650 or 65,000 miles.

United flyers can purchase an annual membership to United Club lounges for themselves and two guests for $650 or 85,000 miles. United also sells $59 day passes to the lounge available through its app or by purchasing on-site. Both American and United require same-day boarding passes to enter the lounge.

To purchase an annual Delta Sky Club membership, you’ll need to pony up $545 or 54,500 miles. Any additional guests will cost you $39. Delta no longer offers day passes for its lounges, so you’ll have to be an annual member to enjoy them.

See related:  Airport lounge 101: Tips for newbies

Access non-airline lounges

Some airports have lounges that are not owned by the airlines that travelers may access for a fee.

“The Cleveland and San Diego AirSpace lounges offer day passes for $20 to $35 per day,” says Kunesh.

AirSpace Lounge, which currently only has locations in Cleveland and San Diego, grants visitors free soft drinks, coffee and snacks, power outlets, free Wi-Fi and a shower facility in San Diego. If you have the Platinum Card® from American Express, you can enter the lounges free.

Club Airport Lounges is another option with locations at 11 U.S. airports, including Atlanta, Orlando, Florida, Baltimore/Washington and both major London-area airports. Day passes start at $40, less than most major airline lounges, and their lounges offer free Wi-Fi, complimentary snacks and drinks, charging ports and work stations with computers. Some also have shower facilities.

International travelers may want to consider Plaza Premium Lounge, with locations in the Middle East, Canada, Europe and Asia. These lounges allow you to purchase day passes or passes for just a few hours – typically around $40. A few even allow you to purchase shower access separately.

Executive Lounges also have locations around the world, and guests can buy an annual pass for about $323. It has two different levels of lounges, with the lowest level typically around $30 per day.

Both of these international options have similar amenities to those in the U.S.

Additionally, you can purchase your own Priority Pass, including a $99 per year option that requires a $32 fee each for you and a guest for a day pass to any of their lounges.

See related:  Airport lounge access for the whole family takes planning

Get an airline credit card

“Other than holding a card that has Priority Pass access, frequent travelers are better off signing up for a co-branded club credit card from an airline of their choice instead of purchasing a membership outright,” says Kunesh. “For example, United loyalists will save over $100 annually with the United Club Card versus purchasing a standard membership.”

Other options include Sky Club access with the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card. Additionally, guests who hold the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card can pay $39 per person for access with up to two traveling companions.

American flyers can get an Admirals Club membership for lounge access for themselves and authorized users when they hold the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.

Bottom line

No need to feel like you have to fly 50 flights a year or fly First Class to score a seat in an airport lounge. If you’re willing to pay a small fee or hold one of a handful of credit cards, you’ll be enjoying that peace away from the airport chaos in no time.

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