How to Get into a VIP Airport Lounge

It feels great to know you have booked the cheapest airline tickets, but wouldn’t it be even better knowing you could relax at a cushy airport lounge during that long layover? Surprisingly, you do not have to have a first-class ticket on hand to get into a lot of airport lounges.

Some airports offer independent lounges which are not affiliated with an airline. Airspace Lounge has a location in the Baltimore airport (BWI) that costs $17.50 to $45 for day passes. Airspace plans to eventually open up to 75 locations around the world. The Lounge at JFK Terminal 4 in New York costs $40 for a four-hour stay. Los Angeles (LAX) is home to the independent ReLAX Lounge, located in the international terminal. Prices are $15 for an hour, $30 for three hours, or $50 for all day.

If you do not have an American Express Platinum Card, but would like access to different airline lounges, you can join Priority Pass, which is the largest independent airport lounge access program. The standard membership of $99 grants lounge access for $27 per visitor pass. Standard Plus ($249) gives you 10 free visits, with subsequent visits costing $27 each. Prestige membership is $399 and gives you unlimited free visits to airport lounges in the Priority Pass network.

The following chart shows FareCompare readers how to gain access to lounges associated with airlines in the U.S.

Airline Lounge? Y/N Access Options
Airtran

No

N/A
Alaska Airlines

Board Room

 

Yes

Day Passes available for $45. Gold 75K Mileage Plan members get discounted memberships of $295 per year (versus the regular cost of $450 per year)
American

Admirals Club

Yes

  • 30-day Pass: $99
  • AAdvantage Members: $500 or 80,000 miles
  • AAdvantage Gold: $450 or 65,000 miles
  • AAdvantage Platinum: $400 or 55,000 miles
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum: $350 or 50,000 miles
  • American Express Platinum Cardholders: Free
Continental Airlines

Presidents Club/United Club

Yes

  • Business First, United First, United Business, International Business, Star Alliance Gold Elite, and Continental Presidential Plus Cardmembers: Free
  • Day Pass: $50
  • Standard Membership: $525*
  • Silver Elite Members: $500*
  • Gold Elite Members: $450*
  • Platinum Elite Members: $425*

 

* Includes $50 initiation fee for new members

Delta Airlines

Sky Club

Yes

  • SkyMiles Members: $450 or 70,000 miles
  • Silver Medallion Members: $400 / 60,000 miles
  • Gold Medallion Members: $350 / 50,000 miles
  • Platinum Medallion Members: $300 / 40,000 miles
  • Diamond Medallion Members: $300 / 40,000 miles
  • 30-day membership: $90
  • American Express Platinum Cardholders: Free
Frontier

No

N/A
JetBlue

No

N/A
Southwest

No

N/A
United Airlines

United Club

Yes

  • Business First, United First, United Business, International Business, Star Alliance Gold Elite, and Continental Presidential Plus Cardmembers: Free
  • Day Pass: $50
  • Standard Membership: $525*
  • Silver Elite Members: $500*
  • Gold Elite Members: $450*
  • Platinum Elite Members: $425*

 

* Includes $50 initiation fee for new members

US Airways

US Airways Club

Yes

  • Dividend Miles Chairman’s Level: $325
  • Dividend Miles Platinum, Gold, or Silver: $375
  • Dividend Miles Standard: $450
  • 90-day pass: $120
  • Day Pass (purchased when booking ticket): $29
  • Day Pass (purchased at the airport): $50
  • American Express Platinum Cardholders: Free
Virgin America

Clubhouse

Yes

First Class and Flying Club Gold members: Free

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Published: December 14, 2011