7 ways to access VIP airport lounges. 5 is genius.
VIP airport lounges are one of the best tips for making flying a pleasure, rather than a chore.
Instead of clambering over sleeping bodies for a seat, spending a fortune on drinks or just being generally uncomfortable, VIP airport lounges are actually rather enjoyable.
Personally, I enjoy trying the free drinks and (generally) fast wi-fi mostly, although there’s many other benefits in the really good airport lounges :-
- buffet/banquet meals
- quiet areas for reading, relaxing or sleeping
- TVs and reading materials
- work areas, desks and business centres
- (in some cases) showers or even grooming lounges/barbers
Sadly, many travellers overlook airport lounges thinking they are ‘out of their league’. The truth is, they’re not – and here’s seven ways that can get you into them.
Aren’t VIP airport lounges just for celebrities?
Of course, if you’ve a spare $4,000+ you could try the ‘Celebrity Terminal’ at Los Angeles (LAX).
Airport Lounges were originally intended for premium class passengers, usually business people, as a benefit of Business or First Class. However, as airlines constantly look to squeeze revenue and airports become more commercial, access to VIP airport lounges has become more mainstream.
1 – Access Airport VIP lounges by flying premium class
The original method, however is rapidly becoming less viable. The big airlines often have their own VIP airport lounges for their premium and frequent flyers.
Flying Business or First Class on a paid ticket – especially with a high fare type such as Flex – is often the safest way to ensure access to VIP airport lounges.
2 – VIP airport lounges through credit cards or bank cards
Airport lounge access is often an incentive for some credit card programs, or even bank accounts.
Banks and credit card companies will offer either passes (usually two a year) through a lounge membership scheme such as Priority Pass. In some cases, just holding a certain credit card may grant you access to branded airport lounges also.
3 Airline loyalty programs
Once of a day, you could access an airline’s lounge with relatively low (usually Silver) status in their loyalty program. However, as airlines looking to prioritise revenue rather than loyalty, are now excluding some frequent flyers.
Emirates has superb Business and First Class Lounges at Dubai International Airport (DXB), but has restricted access to them except to high-level elites in Skywards. Award flights on Etihad in Business Class don’t always allow access to their lounges, and Abu Dhabi (AUH) also restricts access to high-level elites.
4 – Membership schemes/passes for VIP airport lounges
If you fly regularly, it may be worth looking into a membership scheme such as Priority Pass or Lounge Club. Usually for a fixed annual fee, you will receive a certain amount of passes per year. After you’ve used the passes, you can purchase more, or often receive a discount on booking future visits.
If you fly from the same airport regularly, it’s worth checking if a specific lounge offers a membership scheme. This could either be a certain amount of passes for a year, or a discounted entry rate, or even unlimited access.
5 – Use an app like Lounge Buddy to get into VIP airport lounges
The way I would recommend to most people is to use an app such as Lounge Buddy.
There’s no need to may an annual fee, the costs to access are often lower, and there’s usually a wider choice of lounges available to the ‘casual’ flyer.
Lounge Buddy works by providing details of every available lounge in an airport, and how to access them. Lounge Buddy is like a Trip Advisor for airport lounges, and contains genuine reviews, details of all facilities, and photographs. For example, if you need fast wi-fi, find which VIP airport lounge offers the best by browsing them on Lounge Buddy. Likewise, if you’re desperate for a ‘real’ drink, use Lounge Buddy to discover which lounges offer complimentary drinks.
Whilst some of the high-end VIP airport lounges may only be accessible to premium class passengers, some still are available for cash access. Book via the app for the lowest price, then show the app when you arrive at the lounge for access.
Find out more about Lounge Buddy here
6 – Pay on the door of VIP airport lounges
As airports realise there’s money to be made with lounges, some are even opening up lounges to cash entry. Even if you’re only flying Economy, or have no frequent flyer status, you can pay a set price for a ‘pass’ to enter the lounge – usually for a set period of time.
Bear in the mind that the ‘walk up’ cost is often more expensive than pre-booking though.
7 – Blag your way into VIP airport lounges
Perhaps the most tenuous of the list, blagging your way into VIP airport lounges is the least reliable. In a few instances, I’ve managed to get into some lounges without paying, but it takes a combination of factors to get lucky this way.
If it’s a more basic lounge, in a less glamorous airport, at a not-very-busy time and with a helpful receptionist, you may stand a chance. Sometimes it’s worth pleading your case – long flight, tired, stressed, just need a drink or you haven’t any money etc.
It does work – but you need to be very charming, very polite, very persuasive and very lucky – and is usually best saved as a last resort!
Costs of VIP airport lounges
It’s impossible to have a fixed price for access to a lounge, given the variety of facilities, economies, methods of entry etc. I’ve paid $25 in Maputo, Mozambique for what was literally a very posh closed room with a bar, albeit with as much free booze and food as you need. Likewise, $80 or $90 should get you walk up access into one of the really top tier airport lounges in Munich.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one surefire way to get into all the VIP airport lounges worldwide. After all, they’re supposed to have a degree of exclusivity, right? However, by using an app such as Lounge Buddy – rather than subscribing to a annual membership scheme – will likely deliver the best chance and highest value.
I’d suggest a ‘ball park figure’ of $40 – $50 will get you into most lounges on the app, including complimentary drinks. Of course, one doesn’t always need drinks or the most facilities, so it’s likely you could find a cheaper airport lounge.
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Have you ever tried a VIP airport lounge? Which method do you use for access?
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