Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

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capitalhockey
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Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by capitalhockey » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am

Read an article online about how luxurious some airport lounges can be.....complimentary buffet, full bar, place to take a nap and shower, etc.

Lounge access is limited to members of certain credit cards that carry very pricey annual fees ($550 or much higher), elite status with airlines or pay a hefty one-time admission fee.

Currently, we don't travel enough to justify the costs. I was thinking this is something my wife and I can do when are retired and plan to travel a lot (esp internationally). It would be useful to recharge in a nice lounge on a long layover.

Anyone currently doing this -- is it worth it? Which is the best/worse airport lounge you been to?

Jordan4FI
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Jordan4FI » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:06 am

I typically rely on the airline lounges.. flying business and first or earning your way up the frequent flyer ranks is the best way to use lounges, and yes lounges are totally worth it! There is no where to escape from the hustle and bustle of an airport except for lounges..

But if you were to use a c/card for access that could pay off better as you could fly economy and still have access because you are that c/card holder.

and you are also correct, you need to be flying and using lounges at least 3/4 times a year to make it really worth the efforts.

Edit** lounges are a huge part of making international travel much much better..

BackOfTheNet
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by BackOfTheNet » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:11 am

The credit cards may have hefty annual fees but they can still be worthwhile. For example, the Chase Sapphire reserve has a $450 annual fee. BUT it comes with a annual $300 travel credit (and other benefits).

10.06am
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by 10.06am » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:18 am

I have an Amex Platinum that comes with lounge access. $550/year, but I get $200 of airline credit, lounge access, and a 100,000 bonus mile sign up offer. If I renew it after this year it will be because of the lounges.

I have been in great lounges and also just ok ones. In Johannesburg I was able to take a shower and a nap while I waited for my flight. The Dubai and Las Vegas lounges are also great. Even Detroit and Portland are nice - quieter, more outlets, wifi, and plenty of free food/drinks. Always an open bar if you enjoy that. I think I need to use them 6+ times a year to make the $350/worth it. I definitely don't pay for anything in the airport anymore (meals, drinks, etc).

One hidden cost is that if you are traveling with someone else and they don't have lounge access, it is usually ~$30 to get them in. Probably rude to leave them at the gate while you go into the lounge. With the AMEX it is automatically charged to your card most places, so you will have to be comfortable asking your guest to reimburse you or just pay for them.

Mr.BB
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Mr.BB » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:19 am

If you have a layover of three or more hours it's probably worth it; especially if the next leg of the trip is going to be 4 to 6 or more hours. The lounges really do vary based on which airlines you're using and what cities you're in. Some are very basic some have showers it just really depends on the airlines that you're using and which city you are in Newark has one of the best, Honolulu's is kind of basic, so you do have to do your homework.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

ResearchMed
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:23 am

capitalhockey wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am
Read an article online about how luxurious some airport lounges can be.....complimentary buffet, full bar, place to take a nap and shower, etc.

Lounge access is limited to members of certain credit cards that carry very pricey annual fees ($550 or much higher), elite status with airlines or pay a hefty one-time admission fee.

Currently, we don't travel enough to justify the costs. I was thinking this is something my wife and I can do when are retired and plan to travel a lot (esp internationally). It would be useful to recharge in a nice lounge on a long layover.

Anyone currently doing this -- is it worth it? Which is the best/worse airport lounge you been to?
The lounges vary, a LOT. And this is even within the same program, including airline-specific lounges.

The nicest we've found is Cathay Pacific F lounges in Hong Kong (yup, more than one in that airport - REALLY special. (look online)

We were not impressed with the Lufthansa F lounge in Frankfort, which we had heard was phenomenal. Big disappointment, although being driven to the plane in a private Porsche was a bit fun. But they did have private bedrooms, so DH took a really nice nap.

The BA F lounge at LHR (the Concorde Room) was very, very nice and comfy... plush easy chairs and sofas; most others are very modern, with wooden arm rests, etc.

It seems that all of the are upping their game, but slowly, unless they are opening a brand new premium lounge somewhere.

The Amex lounges and partners are certainly more pleasant places to rest and eat, but nothing like the F lounges we've been in thus far.
And the foreign F lounges won't help if most travel is domestic...

We have Amex Plat, and we get enough back to more than cover the cost, but we wouldn't get it just for the lounges, unless we were traveling a lot more. But at least those are useful for domestic travel, and regardless of class of service on the flight.

RM
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02nz
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by 02nz » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:25 am

That article sounds like fluff, probably pushing credit cards. I've been to a lot of lounges all over the world - few are truly "luxurious." The best lounges are those restricted to international first class passengers (e.g., Lufthansa's first class lounges), although U.S. airlines have also recently upped the game with their business class lounges (e.g., United Polaris). But generally you can only access these if flying in a premium cabin long-haul (e.g., to Europe/Asia). U.S. carriers don't even offer domestic "first class" passengers lounge access.

If you travel a few times a year and don't have access to the airline lounge (e.g., you're in coach), the Priority Pass membership that comes with the Sapphire Reserve and some other premium credit cards can be good value. You get access to a global network of lounges that covers most major airports, but most of them are ok rather great. Better than sitting in the terminal (usually), but you're not going to want to get to the airport extra early just to use these lounges.

Ricecakes
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Ricecakes » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:26 am

We fly long haul to asia twice a year and we fly in business class. This gives us access to the airlines lounge. After a 15+ hour flight, a hot shower and shave are much appreciated. The lounge we use usually has hot meals and beverages available, TVs, wifi, and quiet seating areas as well. It gives us a very comfortable space to spend a layover between flights.
We’ve also used our priority pass access through our Chase card for access to lounges that are not quite as “plush” but they also have wifi, some bev, snacks etc. We find that these are preferable to sitting on a hard seat at the gate.
So while it depends on your personal preferences and how much you travel, we have enjoyed using lounges in our travels.

AlohaJoe
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by AlohaJoe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:31 am

10.06am wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:18 am
I have an Amex Platinum that comes with lounge access. $550/year, but I get $200 of airline credit, lounge access, and a 100,000 bonus mile sign up offer. If I renew it after this year it will be because of the lounges.

I have been in great lounges and also just ok ones. In Johannesburg I was able to take a shower and a nap while I waited for my flight. The Dubai and Las Vegas lounges are also great. Even Detroit and Portland are nice - quieter, more outlets, wifi, and plenty of free food/drinks. Always an open bar if you enjoy that. I think I need to use them 6+ times a year to make the $350/worth it. I definitely don't pay for anything in the airport anymore (meals, drinks, etc).
I had free (international) lounge access for about 2 years due to a lot of travel for work. Most of them are pretty meh, in my opinion. Realistically, if you want peace & quiet or a charger you can find some random unused gate at the airport and sit down there and get 90% of the same effect. Keep in mind that the lounge might be a substantial distance away from your gate. So compare "where the lounge is" to "any free space within a similar 10 minute walk of your gate".

The wifi is sometimes better, I guess. But most airports have decent enough wifi these days. Or I have 4g for wherever I am. I can't remember it ever being enough better that I noticed or cared.

If you want to take a shower, having that benefit is extremely nice. I guess the question is how many flights are you going to be taking where that's something that is important to you?

The food is generally warmed over buffet type stuff. About what you'd find at a 3-star hotel for breakfast. However, as pointed out up-thread that could mean not paying inflated-airport prices for food & drinks (and for a couple, that could be, what? $15-20 for each layover?).

Since my status expired, I've not felt any real desire to get it back.

Ricecakes
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Ricecakes » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:33 am

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:23 am
capitalhockey wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am
Read an article online about how luxurious some airport lounges can be.....complimentary buffet, full bar, place to take a nap and shower, etc.

Lounge access is limited to members of certain credit cards that carry very pricey annual fees ($550 or much higher), elite status with airlines or pay a hefty one-time admission fee.

Currently, we don't travel enough to justify the costs. I was thinking this is something my wife and I can do when are retired and plan to travel a lot (esp internationally). It would be useful to recharge in a nice lounge on a long layover.

Anyone currently doing this -- is it worth it? Which is the best/worse airport lounge you been to?
The lounges vary, a LOT. And this is even within the same program, including airline-specific lounges.

The nicest we've found is Cathay Pacific F lounges in Hong Kong (yup, more than one in that airport - REALLY special. (look online)

We were not impressed with the Lufthansa F lounge in Frankfort, which we had heard was phenomenal. Big disappointment, although being driven to the plane in a private Porsche was a bit fun. But they did have private bedrooms, so DH took a really nice nap.

The BA F lounge at LHR (the Concorde Room) was very, very nice and comfy... plush easy chairs and sofas; most others are very modern, with wooden arm rests, etc.

It seems that all of the are upping their game, but slowly, unless they are opening a brand new premium lounge somewhere.

The Amex lounges and partners are certainly more pleasant places to rest and eat, but nothing like the F lounges we've been in thus far.
And the foreign F lounges won't help if most travel is domestic...

We have Amex Plat, and we get enough back to more than cover the cost, but we wouldn't get it just for the lounges, unless we were traveling a lot more. But at least those are useful for domestic travel, and regardless of class of service on the flight.

RM
I agree with Research here, look up the specific lounge to get detailed info. For example we fly Singapore and find their Silverkris lounge in Chiangi to be top notch. The one in Seoul just kinda meh- okay but not overly comfortable. Their partner lounge in Frankfurt the same- sufficient but not plush or luxury in any way. Not complaining but just stating that not all lounges are created equally.

EnjoyIt
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by EnjoyIt » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:54 am

Here is how the lounge pays off.

When flying somewhere instead of having to make breakfast at home and cleaning up after ourselves before we fly, we just make coffee, leave and then eat at the lounge. Same thing when we come home. Usually on the return flight we are tired and don’t want to cook. Instead of rushing to grab our luggage and then take out food, we go to the lounge for a bite to eat and then without any stress grab our luggage at the office instead of the carousel where they very kindly hold unto it for us.

The decreased stress and free food make it worth it for us.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by WhiteMaxima » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:00 am

I have Chase CSR card. I travel a lot internationally. Well worth the $150 fee (after $300 back).

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8foot7
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by 8foot7 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:01 am

The first time you are in DFW at 5:30 pm, thunderstorms roll in, and the AAngels in the club get you home that night, you’ll realize the lounge is worth it.

Or you arrive early into Chicago and there’s a flight to home leaving in 10 minutes that’s already closed, but it’s the next gate over and the AAngel works her magic and gets the doors reopened to put you on it in an exit row seat so you can see your kid that day before he goes to bed.

Or it’s your honeymoon and weather has killed your transatlantic connection so the club agent finds a suite at the Hyatt for you and rebooks you in business class on another airline the next morning so you miss as little of your vacation as possible

Or relentless fog is causing perpetual delays at SFO so the club agent gets you to San Jose with no questions asked.

Or you’re trying to get home from New York during winter weather and the agents protect seats on three different flights for you so you’re sure to make one of them and not spend a day or two involuntarily in Flushing

And all of these things happen while the non-club members wait in endless special service lines in the main terminal. You're in, out, and on your way.

Free coffee is nice, too.

mw1739
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by mw1739 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:10 am

The Amex Centurion lounges are the best domestically in my opinion. Other domestic lounges are a better to hang out in than the terminal, but the food is generally 3 star hotel quality.

ResearchMed
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:16 am

EnjoyIt wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:54 am
Here is how the lounge pays off.

When flying somewhere instead of having to make breakfast at home and cleaning up after ourselves before we fly, we just make coffee, leave and then eat at the lounge. Same thing when we come home. Usually on the return flight we are tired and don’t want to cook. Instead of rushing to grab our luggage and then take out food, we go to the lounge for a bite to eat and then without any stress grab our luggage at the office instead of the carousel where they very kindly hold unto it for us.

The decreased stress and free food make it worth it for us.
That makes sense for the outbound, IF there is a good lounge (with decent food).

But IIRC, all (or most?) of those lounges are airside, so how would you get to the lounges after you have exited arrivals?
And if you did that, how would you get back to the carousel/luggage office if it were an international flight. Those tend to be before entering the public areas.
I'm not sure how that works for the returning flights.

RM
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Bfwolf
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Bfwolf » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:17 am

Lounges are a nice to have, but they generally don't change your experience THAT dramatically. I did once have a layover in Tokyo after an overnight flight from Hanoi, and I used the lounge to shower before getting on a very long flight to Chicago. That was certainly nice.

The nicest one I've been to personally is the Qatar lounge in Doha. I have a layover in Hong Kong coming up with Cathay and I'm looking forward to checking out their lounge too.

ResearchMed
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:20 am

Bfwolf wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:17 am
Lounges are a nice to have, but they generally don't change your experience THAT dramatically. I did once have a layover in Tokyo after an overnight flight from Hanoi, and I used the lounge to shower before getting on a very long flight to Chicago. That was certainly nice.

The nicest one I've been to personally is the Qatar lounge in Doha. I have a layover in Hong Kong coming up with Cathay and I'm looking forward to checking out their lounge too.
Are you in F on CX?
If so, there are two totally separate F lounges, and they have somewhat different facilities. It would be worthwhile reading online descriptions. Alas, they are not near each other.

Enjoy!

RM
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Bfwolf
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Bfwolf » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:22 am

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:20 am

Are you in F on CX?
If so, there are two totally separate F lounges, and they have somewhat different facilities. It would be worthwhile reading online descriptions. Alas, they are not near each other.

Enjoy!

RM
Flying biz class "unfortunately" lol.

Trader Joe
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Trader Joe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:26 am

capitalhockey wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am
Read an article online about how luxurious some airport lounges can be.....complimentary buffet, full bar, place to take a nap and shower, etc.

Lounge access is limited to members of certain credit cards that carry very pricey annual fees ($550 or much higher), elite status with airlines or pay a hefty one-time admission fee.

Currently, we don't travel enough to justify the costs. I was thinking this is something my wife and I can do when are retired and plan to travel a lot (esp internationally). It would be useful to recharge in a nice lounge on a long layover.

Anyone currently doing this -- is it worth it? Which is the best/worse airport lounge you been to?
No they are not worth it to me.

aquaman
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by aquaman » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:27 am

capitalhockey wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am
Read an article online about how luxurious some airport lounges can be.....complimentary buffet, full bar, place to take a nap and shower, etc.

Lounge access is limited to members of certain credit cards that carry very pricey annual fees ($550 or much higher), elite status with airlines or pay a hefty one-time admission fee.

Currently, we don't travel enough to justify the costs. I was thinking this is something my wife and I can do when are retired and plan to travel a lot (esp internationally). It would be useful to recharge in a nice lounge on a long layover.

Anyone currently doing this -- is it worth it? Which is the best/worse airport lounge you been to?
Keep in mind that this is like reading an article about the most luxurious hotels in the world, getting excited and booking a random hotel expecting it to be just like those in the article.

As others have mentioned, lounges vary a ton. I've been in a few that were so overcrowded and uncomfortable that I just immediately left and sat at the gate instead. There are others that are convenient for business travelers who have long layovers and need a somewhat quiet place to work, but aren't something that leisure travelers would get excited about. Premium credit cards do typically give you access to Priority Pass, which is a lounge program, but its domestic lounge availability is very hit or miss: you may have access to one or two lounges, but they could easily be inaccessible to you at your departure gate or require a long trip to a different terminal. Priority Pass' international lounge availability tends to be a lot better, but it can still be hit or miss. Keep in mind that companion lounge access policies also vary by credit card and the lounge itself. So, if you are traveling with a companion or your family, you may or may not all get to access the lounge for free.

Keep in mind that having a premium credit card won't generally grant you access to the best lounges either. For instance, the Concorde Room in Heathrow and JFK, which was mentioned earlier, is only open to those with a first class ticket on British Airways (a business class ticket won't get you in), a gold member of the British Airways executive club with 5,000 tier points traveling with BA or one of its OneWorld partners, or an emerald member of OneWorld traveling with one of the OneWorld carriers. A premium credit card won't get you in.

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TexasPE
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by TexasPE » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:33 am

+1 on the CSR card, even for domestic/ economy travel. Priority Pass offers free meals at restaurants as well as lounges.

For instance, our home airport is IAH. At IAH my wife and I have the choice of two restaurants (Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Bar - Terminal A, Landry's Seafood, Terminal C) and two lounges (KLM and Air France-Terminal D) to use. I believe the meal credit is $26/ person - no charge for a guest, See https://www.prioritypass.com/en/lounges ... ontinental

We travel to Cincinnati twice a year, normally have lunch in their lounge before an early afternoon flight. The only disappointment we have had was in Las Vegas - virtually every seat taken, felt claustrophobic (but they are expanding it this year). A couple domestic flights per year for us makes the CSR fee (net $150 after the $300 travel credit) worthwhile to us.

Recommend you check out PriorityPass https://www.prioritypass.com/en for your home and frequently visited airports to see whether it would make sense for you.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:40 am

TexasPE wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:33 am
+1 on the CSR card, even for domestic/ economy travel. Priority Pass offers free meals at restaurants as well as lounges.

For instance, our home airport is IAH. At IAH my wife and I have the choice of two restaurants (Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Bar - Terminal A, Landry's Seafood, Terminal C) and two lounges (KLM and Air France-Terminal D) to use. I believe the meal credit is $26/ person - no charge for a guest, See https://www.prioritypass.com/en/lounges ... ontinental

We travel to Cincinnati twice a year, normally have lunch in their lounge before an early afternoon flight. The only disappointment we have had was in Las Vegas - virtually every seat taken, felt claustrophobic (but they are expanding it this year). A couple domestic flights per year for us makes the CSR fee (net $150 after the $300 travel credit) worthwhile to us.

Recommend you check out PriorityPass https://www.prioritypass.com/en for your home and frequently visited airports to see whether it would make sense for you.
Well, well, well!
I had NO idea about the restaurant credits for Priority Pass!

Thanks!
This might make a real difference, especially for domestic travel, if we want more than a "snack", which is what many Priority Pass lounges tend to offer.

RM
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aquaman
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by aquaman » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:49 am

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:40 am
Well, well, well!
I had NO idea about the restaurant credits for Priority Pass!

Thanks!
This might make a real difference, especially for domestic travel, if we want more than a "snack", which is what many Priority Pass lounges tend to offer.

RM
It is very location specific. There are only a few restaurants at a few airports that give you this.

ResearchMed
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:51 am

aquaman wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:49 am
ResearchMed wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:40 am
Well, well, well!
I had NO idea about the restaurant credits for Priority Pass!

Thanks!
This might make a real difference, especially for domestic travel, if we want more than a "snack", which is what many Priority Pass lounges tend to offer.

RM
It is very location specific. There are only a few restaurants at a few airports that give you this.
The ones I checked had some nice choices, much to my surprise. One of them is in a terminal we don't usually go to, so that will only work occasionally.

But very good to know, and we'll check whenever traveling.

Thanks again!

RM
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rjbraun
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by rjbraun » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:02 pm

Probably not worth the money, but it depends on how much traveling you do and to where.

I suppose if you regularly flew the same routes and loved the lounges in those airports, it could be worth it.

When I flew business class for work it was nice to have lounge access. In those cases, though, I think the lounge was typically tied to the carrier and very close to the departure gate. If I were to get lounge access on my own now, I guess if I flew business or first class, that might automatically come with lounge access?

Otherwise, I would think I would need to have so many different ways to access the lounges to make it worthwhile. In that regard, I wonder if there is a way to get access to virtually all airport lounges. Does Amex Platinum offer this?

Priority Pass comes with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. While I appreciate having PP access, I assign little monetary value to it in evaluating the Reserve's $450 fee. I mostly justify the $150 cost (after the $300 travel credit) for the card's trip cancellation / interruption insurance. I almost find the PP access a negative. Either the lounge is closed to PP members when I want to use it or the lounge is clear on the other side of the terminal as to borderline useless. So, the anticipation of PP lounge access that doesn't come to fruition almost makes it not worth the effort, imo.

As for PP's dining credit at select restaurants, we didn't bother to use it the one time we could have. I guess we were more interested to just sit and maybe at most have something light to eat, which we didn't think would work so well at the participating steak house. But maybe it's worth considering for the future as a prior poster suggested, especially if a number of restaurant types participate. Reading the fine print, it seems that any unused credit cannot be applied to the gratuity. That would mean for a $28 credit * 2 people, we're probably looking at ~$12 out of pocket. Not huge, but not sure we would bother if all we want is a relaxed place to sit (without the intrusion of wait staff).

barnaclebob
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:15 pm

A basic lounge is worth about $30 to $40 per person per flight for me for drinks alone. Good international lounges maybe 1.5x that.

Starting the trip off with a decent buzz makes it a lot better.

flyingaway
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by flyingaway » Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:23 pm

EnjoyIt wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:54 am
Here is how the lounge pays off.

When flying somewhere instead of having to make breakfast at home and cleaning up after ourselves before we fly, we just make coffee, leave and then eat at the lounge. Same thing when we come home. Usually on the return flight we are tired and don’t want to cook. Instead of rushing to grab our luggage and then take out food, we go to the lounge for a bite to eat and then without any stress grab our luggage at the office instead of the carousel where they very kindly hold unto it for us.

The decreased stress and free food make it worth it for us.
You could eat better at airport restaurants.

aquaman
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by aquaman » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:01 pm

barnaclebob wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:15 pm
A basic lounge is worth about $30 to $40 per person per flight for me for drinks alone.
Really? The free alcohol selection at a basic domestic lounge is typically what you'd find at a low end college bar during happy hour. It's there, but tends to be the bottom of the barrel.

Independent lounges, even domestically, can be a lot better, as are the lounges run by certain international airlines. First class lounges tend to also be nice, but you can't access those with a premium credit card or with a domestic business/first class ticket.
rjbraun wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:02 pm
Otherwise, I would think I would need to have so many different ways to access the lounges to make it worthwhile. In that regard, I wonder if there is a way to get access to virtually all airport lounges. Does Amex Platinum offer this?
About 12 years ago, it was possible. Not so much now.

Back then, Amex Platinum was the travel card to get, as the cardholder and 2 traveling companions (or all members of the cardholder's immediate family) could access just about any domestic lounge and a number of international ones. Then, United pulled out of the program, which was the beginning of the end of Amex Platinum's previously wonderful lounge access. Over the next couple of years, the other carriers have pulled out of the program. Delta is the only one that has stayed, but limited free access to just the cardholder. This is the reason that Amex was forced to start offering Priority Pass, has opened up access to its Centurion Lounges (the Centurion Lounges are nice, but are only available at 8 domestic airports (1 one those 8 is currently temporarily closed) and 1 international) and was also forced to start offering a $200/year miscellaneous airline charge credit.
Last edited by aquaman on Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

DaftInvestor
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by DaftInvestor » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:09 pm

I used to think they were worthwhile but now I simply avoid long lay-overs or spending too much time at the airport before a flight. There is obviously the occasional delay whereby I wish had access (and sometimes I still do depending upon the status-level I have of the airline I'm on).
Also:
- Many airports have upgraded areas these days so if you wander around a bit you can often find a comfortable spot - sometimes a couch or chair similar to lounge seating with outlets available. More comfortable seating can often be found compared to years ago.
- It varies but the food many of the lounges have; and alcohol that is complementary; is often limited to poor quality. Oftentimes you are better off finding a decent restaurant in some airports versus settling for the lounge-food.

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Psyayeayeduck
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Psyayeayeduck » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:15 pm

So I just went through this when I flew to Japan from mid March to a few days ago. I used my Priority Pass that I got from my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and allowed two of my traveling companions to join with me.

WORTH. EVERY. PENNY.

All three of us got free drinks, a meal, a place to sit, plug outlets to recharge my phones/laptop/iPod, and a relaxed environment. Any buyer's remorse I got from getting the Sapphire Reserve card was completely washed away after using the lounges. I love every minute of it and I kick myself a bit for not using it earlier.

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:22 pm

aquaman wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:01 pm
barnaclebob wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:15 pm
A basic lounge is worth about $30 to $40 per person per flight for me for drinks alone.
Really? The free alcohol selection at a basic domestic lounge is typically what you'd find at a low end college bar during happy hour. It's there, but tends to be the bottom of the barrel.

Independent lounges, even domestically, can be a lot better, as are the lounges run by certain international airlines.
I'm no lounge expert but all of the domestic lounges I've been to at least have name brand spirits, Jack, Bacardi, Smirnoff, Beefeater, etc. Ill have about 5 drinks in a 2 hour period. Except for the Alaska lounge which limits you to 3 drinks :annoyed

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by aquaman » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:38 pm

barnaclebob wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:22 pm
I'm no lounge expert but all of the domestic lounges I've been to at least have name brand spirits, Jack, Bacardi, Smirnoff, Beefeater, etc.
Right, a low end college bar during happy hour :sharebeer

Here's a link to Delta Sky Club's complimentary alcohol: https://www.delta.com/content/dam/delta ... entary.pdf

As long as you're willing to drink it, it's all good.

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by koryg75 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:41 pm

capitalhockey wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am
Read an article online about how luxurious some airport lounges can be.....complimentary buffet, full bar, place to take a nap and shower, etc.

Lounge access is limited to members of certain credit cards that carry very pricey annual fees ($550 or much higher), elite status with airlines or pay a hefty one-time admission fee.

Currently, we don't travel enough to justify the costs. I was thinking this is something my wife and I can do when are retired and plan to travel a lot (esp internationally). It would be useful to recharge in a nice lounge on a long layover.

Anyone currently doing this -- is it worth it? Which is the best/worse airport lounge you been to?
The answer is it depends. I fly out of MSP and priority pass used to have a great lounge. It recently switched to exclusively Amex Platinum (which I won’t get until they give me the 100k signup bonus). The PP substitute is quite a downgrade ($18 credit at a mediocre place). If I were flying out of a united hub with a good PP lounge to places that had lounges let’s say 50% of the time the CSR would be a great card for PP alone. LVS and Orlando both had very nice PP lounges while Cancun was a joke. As it stands I’m currently happy having switched to the US Bank Altitude Reserve which only has four free admissions. Might change my mind when I retire.

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by rjbraun » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:50 pm

aquaman wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:01 pm
barnaclebob wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:15 pm
A basic lounge is worth about $30 to $40 per person per flight for me for drinks alone.
Really? The free alcohol selection at a basic domestic lounge is typically what you'd find at a low end college bar during happy hour. It's there, but tends to be the bottom of the barrel.

Independent lounges, even domestically, can be a lot better, as are the lounges run by certain international airlines. First class lounges tend to also be nice, but you can't access those with a premium credit card or with a domestic business/first class ticket.
rjbraun wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:02 pm
Otherwise, I would think I would need to have so many different ways to access the lounges to make it worthwhile. In that regard, I wonder if there is a way to get access to virtually all airport lounges. Does Amex Platinum offer this?
About 12 years ago, it was possible. Not so much now.

Back then, Amex Platinum was the travel card to get, as the cardholder and 2 traveling companions (or all members of the cardholder's immediate family) could access just about any domestic lounge and a number of international ones. Then, United pulled out of the program, which was the beginning of the end of Amex Platinum's previously wonderful lounge access. Over the next couple of years, the other carriers have pulled out of the program. Delta is the only one that has stayed, but limited free access to just the cardholder. This is the reason that Amex was forced to start offering Priority Pass, has opened up access to its Centurion Lounges (the Centurion Lounges are nice, but are only available at 8 domestic airports (1 one those 8 is currently temporarily closed) and 1 international) and was also forced to start offering a $200/year miscellaneous airline charge credit.
Thank you, that's a helpful overview of things. Even now, just trying to read the fine print associated with Priority Pass's dining partners is a bit overwhelming. I mean, if I just wanted to pop in for a quiet place to sit and a maybe small bite to eat, having to read the the "full Conditions of access" is already overwhelming.

Does the Chase Sapphire Reserve Priority Pass program provide unlimited access to the restaurants per cardholder? I'm asking on an annual basis, I assume that it's only one entry per trip or something. I guess I need to call Chase before a trip. I hardly want be reading fine print terms when I'm exhausted from travel and jet-lagged.


IMPORTANT NOTE: For Cardholders who pay for individual visits or guest visits, please check this particular offer against your visit fee to ensure it represents value for you. We advise Cardholders to review full Conditions of access below before visiting. American Tap Room is a full service, sit down restaurant offering a casual atmosphere with contemporary American food, liquor, beer and wine.

Conditions
1. Cardholders can use their lounge visit entitlement to receive US$28 off the bill. Each US$28 deduction represents a single lounge visit within the Cardholder’s existing lounge visit allocation for which the Cardholder will, where applicable, be charged. E.g. if a Cardholder registers 1 Guest they will receive US$56 off their bill which will be charged as 1 Cardholder visit + 1 Guest visit on their account. Only 1 Card per visit per Cardholder will be accepted and at point of registration. 2. The US$28 is valid for the purchase of any meal and/or drinks. To be eligible, Cardholders must present a valid Card and Boarding Pass with confirmed same-day travel before placing an order. 3. Cardholder may only register 1 Guest per visit to receive US$28 deduction. Any additional guests will not be eligible for US$28 deduction. 4. US$28 is non-transferable & cannot be exchanged for cash substitute or refund if the final bill is lower than US$28 per person. 5. Cardholder is responsible for the balance if total final bill exceeds US$28 per person. Any remaining balance cannot be used towards gratuity. 6. Priority Pass and its Affiliates Companies shall not be liable should the offer value be less than Customers lounge visit entitlement. Customers who pay for lounge and guest visits are advised to review program Conditions of Use prior to accessing the offer.


https://www.prioritypass.com/en/lounges ... n-tap-room

Rus In Urbe
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Rus In Urbe » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:55 pm

aquaman wrote:
Back then, Amex Platinum was the travel card to get, as the cardholder and 2 traveling companions (or all members of the cardholder's immediate family) could access just about any domestic lounge and a number of international ones. Then, United pulled out of the program, which was the beginning of the end of Amex Platinum's previously wonderful lounge access. Over the next couple of years, the other carriers have pulled out of the program. Delta is the only one that has stayed, but limited free access to just the cardholder. This is the reason that Amex was forced to start offering Priority Pass, has opened up access to its Centurion Lounges (the Centurion Lounges are nice, but are only available at 8 domestic airports (1 one those 8 is currently temporarily closed) and 1 international) and was also forced to start offering a $200/year miscellaneous airline charge credit.
+1
I'm a fan of Amex (yeah, I know, that's a minority view) and have held Platinum, Gold, and good old Green, variously over the decades, depending on how much traveling I was doing and also which of the various perks I needed at any one time. I was on Platinum a few years ago because we were traveling a lot and I do enjoy the lounges----as others have said, they are variable, but mostly I find that the seating is more comfortable and private, the noise level lower, the free snacks and the free drinks are fine. When Amex was dropped by several airlines, I downgraded again to Green. With the opening of the Centurion Lounges, and a lot of (retirement) travel coming up, I'm now considering bouncing back to Platinum and am looking at the perks and assessing whether that will be worth the higher fee going forward. It's all about how often you travel and to where, and therefore how long your layovers are expected to be. The personalized services during delays and cancellations certainly are nice.

Gute Reise! :D :D :D :D
I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. ~Pablo Picasso

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by barnaclebob » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:56 pm

aquaman wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:38 pm
barnaclebob wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:22 pm
I'm no lounge expert but all of the domestic lounges I've been to at least have name brand spirits, Jack, Bacardi, Smirnoff, Beefeater, etc.
Right, a low end college bar during happy hour :sharebeer

Here's a link to Delta Sky Club's complimentary alcohol: https://www.delta.com/content/dam/delta ... entary.pdf

As long as you're willing to drink it, it's all good.
That's high end at a college bar. All the rail liquors at my college were Ten High, Belmont, Kamchatka, and god knows what else.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:59 pm

I’m too cheap to pay for $450 for anything, but when I did have Amex card, I didn’t care to use it.

EnjoyIt
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by EnjoyIt » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:07 pm

flyingaway wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:23 pm
EnjoyIt wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:54 am
Here is how the lounge pays off.

When flying somewhere instead of having to make breakfast at home and cleaning up after ourselves before we fly, we just make coffee, leave and then eat at the lounge. Same thing when we come home. Usually on the return flight we are tired and don’t want to cook. Instead of rushing to grab our luggage and then take out food, we go to the lounge for a bite to eat and then without any stress grab our luggage at the office instead of the carousel where they very kindly hold unto it for us.

The decreased stress and free food make it worth it for us.
You could eat better at airport restaurants.
I dunno. The centurion lounges and priority pass restaurants never disappoint us.
Last edited by EnjoyIt on Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by EnjoyIt » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:11 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 11:16 am
EnjoyIt wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:54 am
Here is how the lounge pays off.

When flying somewhere instead of having to make breakfast at home and cleaning up after ourselves before we fly, we just make coffee, leave and then eat at the lounge. Same thing when we come home. Usually on the return flight we are tired and don’t want to cook. Instead of rushing to grab our luggage and then take out food, we go to the lounge for a bite to eat and then without any stress grab our luggage at the office instead of the carousel where they very kindly hold unto it for us.

The decreased stress and free food make it worth it for us.
That makes sense for the outbound, IF there is a good lounge (with decent food).

But IIRC, all (or most?) of those lounges are airside, so how would you get to the lounges after you have exited arrivals?
And if you did that, how would you get back to the carousel/luggage office if it were an international flight. Those tend to be before entering the public areas.
I'm not sure how that works for the returning flights.

RM
I don’t understand, we get off the plane and then go to the lounge. Get a snack, maybe a drink and then go pick up our luggage that is waiting for us instead of us waiting for the luggage.

It is much more efficient than waiting for the luggage and then picking up something to eat. Also, the priority pass restaurant list has been really nice to us as well.

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by Stinky » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:18 pm

When I was working, I flew only domestic flights, with a particular emphasis on Delta. I was traveling about once every three weeks. I began paying out of my own pocket to the Delta lounge. It was worth every penny to me.

My most frequent "connecting" city was Atlanta. While the Atlanta Delta lounges were sometimes pretty crowded, at least it got me away from the "teeming masses" of folks on the concourse. I could eat and drink in relative peace, and not need to worry about packing up all of my carry-on items every time I wanted to get a drink or go the bathroom.

My experience on one particularly awful weather day in 2016 or 2017 paid for the entire year's membership. Both my home airport and Atlanta were socked in by waves of spring thunderstorms, and basically everything in Atlanta came to a stop for about 6 hours. The flight cancellations cascaded. Even though I had been on an early morning flight to Atlanta, it got to be 10pm and I was still stuck in Atlanta, with no more flights to my final destination that day. After a short wait in line, the angel at the Delta club in Atlanta was able to confirm me on a flight the next day, in first class no less (I had paid for a coach ticket), and I was able to go to a hotel for the night. As I left the airport, I saw lines of people that were hundreds long waiting to speak to a Delta agent. I understand that those lines didn't clear out fully until the next day.

Worth every penny to me, even if you fly only domestically.
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by JimSmiley1850 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:35 pm

I traveled a lot for work before retirement and the company picked up UA club. In the US clubs are not really worth it in my view. Exception is Virgin at least at IAD they offered a cooked dinner before the flight — so I would skip the airplane meal before an overnight flight. If you fly internationally however and have to connect it is great to get a shower and some snacks. Best clubs Lufthansa in Frankfort; Qantas in Sydney & Melbourne; Emirates in Dubai, AC in Toronto; probably best Sin in Singapore and also good Hong Kong. These have showers, good selection of snacks including some hot buffets, wide selection of beverages, good wine.Not so great all the clubs in LHR very crowded as is New Zealand Air Auckland; not so great Santiago, São Paulo, Panama City; and Bahrain (really the pits). If you fly direct internationally clubs may not be worth it. There are some airport lounge blogs you might check out.

alfaspider
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by alfaspider » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:40 pm

capitalhockey wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am
Read an article online about how luxurious some airport lounges can be.....complimentary buffet, full bar, place to take a nap and shower, etc.

Lounge access is limited to members of certain credit cards that carry very pricey annual fees ($550 or much higher), elite status with airlines or pay a hefty one-time admission fee.

Currently, we don't travel enough to justify the costs. I was thinking this is something my wife and I can do when are retired and plan to travel a lot (esp internationally). It would be useful to recharge in a nice lounge on a long layover.

Anyone currently doing this -- is it worth it? Which is the best/worse airport lounge you been to?
If you will be doing a lot of international travel, it's not all that hard to get status (especially with international business class). 3 international business class trips in a year with United (possibly two if flying to Asia/Australia instead of Europe) will get you gold status, which gets you access to lounges if you happen to travel international coach. Of course, if you travel international business you will get lounge access from that too.

As other commentators have mentioned, lounges vary dramatically. Most of the credit card lounges are pretty lackluster. You get a slightly nicer seat, some free snacks, and some lower tier booze, but in some terminals you can get nicer food/beverage for cheaper in the terminal. The credit card lounges also often refuse credit card customers during busy times (only allowing international business class customers or folks with status that grants lounge access). On the other hand, some of the first/business only lounges are pretty nice. The new Polaris lounges have very nice food- it's sit-down dining you don't pay for (beyond cost of the ticket itself).

Bottom line, is I wouldn't do anything drastic to get access. If a credit card is otherwise a good deal in addition to lounge access, go for it, but I can't imagine paying hundreds of dollars a year for lounge access unless you are a total road warrior mostly flying domestic where status doesn't get you in.

protagonist
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by protagonist » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:42 pm

A factor people are not addressing is how much money the OP has.

Airport lounges are definitely worth the money to a billionaire.

Probably not to somebody earning minimum wage.

gtd98765
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by gtd98765 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:46 pm

I agree with many comments upthread. It depends where you go and what you fly. Unfortunately for me, United is the airline that goes to the most places I do, so the United Club is the one I know best, especially at Dulles. It is definitely not worth much, since it is usually over-crowded with most seats filled. Often, the terminal is calmer, at least at gates that are empty for a while. However, Lufthansa lounges at Dulles and in Europe are much better, usually calmer, and with a much better variety and quality of food.

Once you figure out when you might start using a lounge, I would get a day pass and try it out to see if it's worth it for you. And read reviews on Flyertalk for your desired destinations.

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by aquaman » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:04 pm

JimSmiley1850 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:35 pm
Best clubs Lufthansa in Frankfort; Qantas in Sydney & Melbourne; Emirates in Dubai, AC in Toronto; probably best Sin in Singapore and also good Hong Kong. These have showers, good selection of snacks including some hot buffets, wide selection of beverages, good wine.
A number of airlines now run regular lounges and first class lounges, with the latter being quite a bit nicer and a lot less crowded (also not accessible to those flying first class domestically). Air Canada in Toronto, for instance, has its Signature Suite, which is significantly nicer than its standard Maple Leaf lounges. Likewise, Lufthansa has its First Class terminal in Frankfurt.
Not so great all the clubs in LHR very crowded
I don't think that you've been to all the clubs in LHR. In LHR, British Airways has a separate First Wing and first class customers are able to access The Concorde Room ("CCR") with its famous Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle (affectionately referred to as "LPGS," which typically retails for $120/bottle) and other perks. The CCR can get busy during peak times, but I've never heard of it being very crowded.
Rus In Urbe wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:55 pm
+1
I'm a fan of Amex (yeah, I know, that's a minority view) and have held Platinum, Gold, and good old Green, variously over the decades, depending on how much traveling I was doing and also which of the various perks I needed at any one time. I was on Platinum a few years ago because we were traveling a lot and I do enjoy the lounges----as others have said, they are variable, but mostly I find that the seating is more comfortable and private, the noise level lower, the free snacks and the free drinks are fine. When Amex was dropped by several airlines, I downgraded again to Green. With the opening of the Centurion Lounges, and a lot of (retirement) travel coming up, I'm now considering bouncing back to Platinum and am looking at the perks and assessing whether that will be worth the higher fee going forward. It's all about how often you travel and to where, and therefore how long your layovers are expected to be. The personalized services during delays and cancellations certainly are nice.

Gute Reise! :D :D :D :D
Please note that with the exception of Delta's Sky Lounges, which the cardholder can access with AMEX Platinum (no free guests), AMEX Platinum's lounge access won't get you any personalized services during delays and cancellations, as you typically won't have access to your airline's lounge.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by WhyNotUs » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:15 pm

It changes rapidly so answers today are not likely to help you in future retirement. I have Priority Pass access through cc, they tend to be second tier but it has come in handy several times, especially on intl fights.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by mariezzz » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:14 pm

The answer all depends on the value you put on the amenities provided. For me, no - I wouldn't pay for access. But, I will sign up for airline credit cards that come with free passes and keep them until the annual fee is no longer waived. Some people are able to get employers to reimburse this expense, but likely that only applies to people at the top of the organization,

In my experience, I've always had to go far out of my way to get to the lounge, which makes for a nice walk before sitting for hours on a plane. Food, beverages, more comfortable seating, nicer bathrooms, good access to electrical outlets, wi-fi (but at many airports these days, wi-fi is free). But still more noise in them compared to finding a quiet location in the general airport. There are always people in these lounges who think it's acceptable to talk loudly on their phones, disturbing the quiet others paid to enjoy, rather than using the small work rooms provided for people who need to do business. These people, often in suits, are equally as discourteous as people elsewhere in the airport.

The lounges aren't in every airport, either, so you need to figure out what lounges are in the airports you fly to, and whether they're nice enough to make the effort or justify the expense. You could stop by a lounge, explain that you're considering whether it's worth the money, and ask to have a quick 2-3 minute look around.

regularguy455
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by regularguy455 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:27 pm

My two cents - domestic lounges aren’t worth much but international and flagship lounges are incredible. The AA Flagship lounge at JFK is fantastic. The Turkish Airlines Flagship lounge in Istanbul was also great.

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WestUniversity
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by WestUniversity » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:28 pm

I used to love the United lounge but not so much anymore. At one time everything in the lounge was covered by the fee. There were no additional charges for drinks, food or newspapers.

I was in the United lounge recently before an overseas flight and there is now a charge for drinks. So the food in the lounge is just okay and at the most I might have a couple of drinks. The fee I paid to get into the lounge has hardly had a dent in it from my refreshments, but now I’m having to pay a surcharge for drinks over and above the fee to get into the lounge in the first place. Not worth it IMHO...

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fortfun
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Re: Are Airport Lounges Worth the Money?

Post by fortfun » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:32 pm

capitalhockey wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:56 am
Read an article online about how luxurious some airport lounges can be.....complimentary buffet, full bar, place to take a nap and shower, etc.

Lounge access is limited to members of certain credit cards that carry very pricey annual fees ($550 or much higher), elite status with airlines or pay a hefty one-time admission fee.

Currently, we don't travel enough to justify the costs. I was thinking this is something my wife and I can do when are retired and plan to travel a lot (esp internationally). It would be useful to recharge in a nice lounge on a long layover.

Anyone currently doing this -- is it worth it? Which is the best/worse airport lounge you been to?
DW and I got some free passes with our United Explorer Cards (no fee first year). We used them with our family on a long lay over in Seattle. It was amazing! Free food, drinks, soft seating, etc. I might be hooked :)
However, without long layovers, I don't know how much use they would be.

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