There’s many reasons why I love having lounge access when I travel. The seats are way more comfortable, there’s food and drinks on offer and often added perks like being able to have a shower. All which make a long transit more bearable and getting you to your destination a little more refreshed.
There are several ways to get airport lounge access and today I share five of them with you.
- Paid Membership
Probably the most straightforward way to get access is to buy an annual membership with Qantas or Virgin if you’re in Australia. Both airlines have quality lounges in most Australian cities with some better than others. For instance, the Qantas lounge in Adelaide is way better than the Virgin lounge but in Canberra it’s the reverse (in the author’s humble opinion of course). So if you’re home airport has a crappy lounge with one airline this may influence your decision of who you go with. Other factors will of course include price (Qantas is more expensive than Virgin) and who you’re likely to fly with. Before taking the plunge check with your company, some have corporate discounts for lounge membership which can save you big bucks.
Join as a frequent flyer with an airline and every time you fly you earn ‘status credits’ which takes you up the tiers in that airline’s eyes. Once you reach silver status with Qantas and Virgin you get a couple of free lounge passes a year. If you fly that bit more and hit the sweet spot of gold status you can enjoy the privilege of FREE (you read that right) lounge access for your membership year. Of course, it takes a lot of flying to get to gold status but again, if you fly a lot for work you’re wasting the credits if you’re not joined up to the scheme. For a measly $80 or so (once off joining fee) its pretty much a no brainer.
Gaining status credits often gets you other perks. For instance, preferred seating, more checked-in luggage allowance and often priority access through security.
Some credit cards come with a couple of lounge passes a year, such as the Westpac and ANZ Black credit cards (current at the time of writing). All you have to do is ring them up and they send out the lounge passes to you in the mail. How easy is that?
Other cards, such as certain AMEX or Diners Club cards, have arrangements with lounges all over the world. These lounges may not be as fancy as others and you may have to pay a fee for your guest but if its a freebie with the credit card you have nothing to complain about.
Cold hard cash
Many airports have lounges which you can pay to access. You can find out about these by looking up the airport and searching for information about their lounges. Some have time limits, so if they say 3 hour max stay they won’t let you in until 3 hours before your flight time according to your boarding pass.
If you are lucky enough to be flying business class not only will you experience better perks with the flight itself – lie flat seats, food, drink and service just for a start – but you automatically get access to the lounge with that airline at your departing port and transit. Some business class lounges are separate to the airline’s usual lounge as well so you can feel that extra bit special.
Once again, join the frequent flyer scheme for that airline and, depending on the length of your journey and the number of trips, you could earn enough status credits to take you straight to silver (or gold).
A word of advice:
It pays to do the research before you go. Some lounges have time limits as we mentioned, will charge you extra for guests and/or will only allow you access if you’re flying with that airline. For instance Airline A membership (and single lounge passes) will give you access to Airline A lounges but at some airports it may be only if you’re departing on an Airline A branded flight. So if you’re booked on an Airline B codeshare flight you may not get access even if you booked through Airline A.
Also some lounges accept incoming passengers but not all. I had the heavenly experience of arriving in Johannesburg at the ungodly hour of 1am after a 12 hour flight and finding out the Diners Club lounge there accepted arriving passengers. We were able to shower and sleep until our tour picked us up at 8am.
The reverse happened in Auckland where I, mistakenly assumed, I could do the same only to find out only departing passengers were allowed lounge access. I spent a cold, sleepless night on the airport floor until I could catch the first bus out to the city the next morning.