I Love Airport Lounges
Hi, my name is Escape Artist... I'm a Lounge-a-holic.... "Hi Escape Artist". Airport lounges are so alluring that I actually show up to the airport early just to hang out for a while before my flight. Before you try to revoke my expert-traveler-guy membership card lemme explain. A good lounge can offer much more than mediocre food and overused furniture. I've been in lounges that offer complimentary massages, pool tables, libraries, movie thaeaters, sleeping rooms, multi-head showers, Häagen-Dazs and... wine tasting.
Without a doubt the best way to enjoy #loungelife is by getting yourself a Priority Pass. With a Priority Pass membership you can enjoy the lounges in over 1000 different airports worldwide. In 2015 I took advantage over 100 times while traveling to (or through) over 30 different countries. So how much does this cost you ask? You can get the Prestige level membership for $399/yr which allows you unlimited access, OR if you are an escape artist like me, you can get unlimited access to airport lounges for free.
Credit Is King
Many of the premium credit cards now offer a free Priority Pass membership as one of their perks. Sometimes getting a membership this way gives you more perks than if you paid for it. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card gives you a Priority Pass that also enables you to get friends into airport lounges for free as well. Even if you paid for the Prestige Level Priority Pass membership you wouldn't get that perk. We'll be getting people into the airport lounges for free during The Experience South Africa Tour. Other credit cards that offer some level of complimentary Priority Pass memberships are: AMEX Platinum (personal & business), Citibank Prestige, MasterCard Black Card, etc. Also, the AMEX Platinum cards give you Centurion Lounge access and Delta Sky Club access (when flying Delta).
Normally these cards have a hefty annual fee that tends to run in the $400-$550 range. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee, but it has tons of perks (in addition to unlimited airport lounge visits for you and your guests) such as a $300 annual statement credit for travel (flights, hotels, Ubers, etc); so that would really leave you with only a $150 annual fee! I normally use wifi, have 1 full meal (sometimes more), 2-3 beverages (alcoholic or not, don't judge me), and smuggle some snacks (like chips, cookies or fruit) with me to go. My conservative value-estimate for all this free stuff is about $40 per lounge visit. Here is a calculator that will help you figure out if #loungelife is for you:
There's An App For That
I often tweak my trips with certain airport lounges in mind because, well, I like comfort and I love free stuff. A good way to map these out is to first get the Priority Pass then download their app (android, ios). But an even better way is to use the Lounge Buddy app. This app not only takes into account your Priority Pass, but you can also tell it all of the other ways you have lounge access (such as airline status, a 1-time visit card, etc) and it will tell you all of the different lounges available to you, their amenities and their ratings. The android version is a bit buggy, but it works, and it's free.
Remember that knowledge = choices, and choices = power. The Centurion Lounge @ SFO has my favorite rum from Barbados and they know me by first name. The food is great, the wifi is fast and the automated wine-tasting is everything. Also, airport lounges sometimes have good attendants that may be able to give you extra attention if you need to rebook a flight, avoid a storm, or just get into a better seat. Some things to note:
- This is a good site for info on longer term stays in an airport: http://www.sleepinginairports.net
- You can (usually) get into airport lounges even if they're in another terminal than what you are flying out of. I do this all the time when flying out of SFO, then go through security again to my gate.
- Sometimes I bring a container of some sort in case I see something I want to eat/drink later on my next flight :)
- A little known fact about Centurion Lounge access, it works on arrival too! When I land back @ home @ SFO airport, I rush to the Centurion Lounge to have a drink & get some food and only then do I head on over to baggage claim (if I checked a bag). #takeadvantage
Now that you are equipped... enjoy #loungelife!