Words by Carlie Tucker
While travelling is a rewarding experience whether it be for leisure or business, airports can be stressful hubs of activity that can frazzle the best of us at times. Once you've hustled through the check-in line and made your way through security, staring down the wait until boarding at the gate can be a real trial in patience.
The airport lounge, on the other hand, is an oasis among the desert tundra where food and drink are readily available, comfortable chairs beckon and the WiFi flows freely. Some even have spas, private sleeping quarters and showers. It's especially inviting if you have a long layover or cancelled flight. The only drawback? Gaining access.
So what do you do if you don't have the money for costly yearly memberships or first and business class tickets? What if you're an infrequent flyer that only makes one or two trips a year? Enter pay-per-visit lounges. They're open to anyone regardless of ticket class. You just have to pay a fee each time you visit. But how do they stack up? Is it worth the fee, or is it just a glorified seating area?
Virgin Australia lounge in Melboure (courtesy of virginaustralia.com)
Pay Per Visit Airline Lounges
Some airlines will offer pay-per-visit lounge passes if you're carrying a valid boarding pass for the given airline. These include:
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- REX Airport Lounges
- US Airways
- United Airlines
- Virgin Australia
The best part about this type of lounge access is the fees are usually pretty small. They're especially helpful if you need to plug in or grab a quick snack.
Entry can be subject to availability and there are some restrictions. They may be available to domestic passengers only (Virgin Australia), available only to certain ticket fares and must be purchased in advance (Air Canada). This just means you'll have to do a little research before you head off to the airport.
Some may be more modern than others but, if you have a considerable amount of time to kill or are sorting out a cancelled flight, these lounges are worth looking into. Just make sure the price is right.
The Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas (courtesy of thecenturionlounge.com)
Different from airline lounges, there are airports around the globe that offer public lounges that are open to any passenger. It doesn't matter what airline you're flying with or what type of fare you've purchased. If you pay the fee, you can while a few hours away in the comfort of these lounges:
- Airport Angel
- Airspace Lounges
- Bidvest Lounges
- Centurion Lounges
- Lounge Pass
- No. 1 Traveller
- Plaza Premium
- Priority Pass
- The Club
There is a relatively wide network of public lounges available to both domestic and international passengers; however, some are specific to certain areas of the world. Fees are much more reasonable than standard lounge memberships and they offer much more flexibility in terms of available packages.
Some public lounges do have entry restrictions such as only being available to certain credit card holders (Centurion Lounges), or you may still have to pay a yearly fee plus entry (Priority Pass). They are not available in all airports and the amenities differ from lounge to lounge. It's best to do a bit of research before you fly.
This is the best option for infrequent fliers. These lounges are well worth looking into if you have a long layover en route to your final destination. Many offer the chance for a shower or massage before your next flight along with a mix of hot and cold food. It definitely beats waiting at the gate, just do a little bit of research to find one that meets your needs.