As a frequent flier, it’s always nice to get away from the masses at an airport and slink into an easy chair in relatively peaceful surroundings. But how can you get direct access to this oasis of luxury without a First Class ticket?
By simply signing up for the right credit card. While they incur fees and are not necessarily the cheapest, some credit cards are certainly the best value option for frequent fliers who enjoy seeking refuge in an airport lounge.
Here are some of the most popular credit cards that include airport lounge access:
American Express Platinum Card
For prime benefits, then frequent travellers need to target the American Express Platinum card. It sets you back $450, but one of its key benefits is that, at no extra cost, you can access a network of more than 1000 VIP airport lounges worldwide.
Once enrolled, you get complimentary membership to the Priority Pass airport lounge network.
You can also enjoy access to Delta Sky Club, Airspace Lounges and the Centurion Lounges. Centurion Lounges are located in New York La Guardia, Dallas-Forth Worth, San Francisco, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle-Tacoma, Las Vegas, Mexico City; Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Mumbai and New Delhi.
Platinum cardholders can take two adult companions, or a spouse and two children, into the Centurion Clubs.
Additional companions that don’t have a membership will have to pay US$50 per person, per visit, and this will be charged to the card holder.
Citi Prestige and Citi Executive
Citi offers two cards. The Citi Prestige Card, costing $450, gives the holder and two guests access to the American Airlines Admiral’s Club lounges and more than 1000 Priority Pass Select lounges. The Executive (also $450) offers complimentary access to the Admirals Club and select lounges worldwide.
One of the most established global credit cards, Diners, has two distinct credit cards: The Diners Club Credit Card and the Carte Blanche Card. Costs and conditions vary with each Diners Club Card franchisee in different countries. In the US, the Club card has no annual membership fee, the Carte Blanche card costs an annual $300.
Both cards offer the same access to airport lounges, of which there is a network of more than 500 worldwide. To find out more on the airport lounges provided by the Diners Club network, visit their web site for more details.
You can apply for a HSBC Premier Card as long as you have an account with the bank. HSBC Premier Card owners can obtain access to at least four HSBC-sponsored airport lounges: two in Brazil (Sao Paulo and Curitiba); one at Mexico City International and another at Istanbul International in Turkey. Services offered, terms and conditions of use and access, may vary with each lounge.
Their web site provides more airport lounge access details across the globe through a tie-up with HSBC and Altitude Luxury Travel. There are 38 locations across the world, so check out the list before flying as you may find a lounge that is open HSBC holders.
While MasterCard offers a plethora of card options, surprisingly it is only the Mastercard Black variety that enables you to access more than 800 VIP lounges in 75 countries under the Priority Pass scheme.
Annual fees, conditions and benefits will vary with each issuing MasterCard Black francisee, but one issued by the UK’s NatWest Bank has an annual fee of $392.
A Visa Signature (Middle East) or Visa Infinite (North America) card will enable to access over 500 lounges globally through the Lounge Key Access system.
Other cards and memberships
There are also other ways to gain access to airport lounges. These can be through subscriptions/membership with specialist lounge providers; airline branded loyalty cards and or buying day passes. Read more about how to access an airport lounge as an economy class traveller.
Alternatively, if you spot someone going into an airport lounge and they are travelling alone, why not ask them if you can go in as their guest? The kindness of strangers can often happen in the most bizarre places. Go on, give it a go and become a luxury airport lounger!
Photo Credit: eyewave / iStock
==This article was updated 10 November 2015 ==