How To Access Airport Lounges for Cheap (or FREE) (Updated 2022)

How to Access Airport Lounges for FreeHow to Access Airport Lounges for Free For the budget-conscious traveler, airport lounges may seem a frivolous spend. often perceived as an exclusive perk up to first class flyers, we ourselves neglect airport lounges for years until we realized two things :

  1. Airport lounges can provide excellent value, especially when food, drinks, showers, and beds are provided.
  2. Airport lounges can be obtained cheaply, sometimes even free, without frequent flyer status or flying first class.

indeed, ready to ditch airport bench naps and overpriced foodcourt eats ? here ‘s how to get access to airport lounges for bum, even free !

How to Get Access to Airport Lounges: An Overview

  Top pick Lounge selection Access Best for
Credit cards The Platinum Card® from American Express (read more) Best Unlimited All-around travel benefits such as earning points on everyday purchases (with a huge welcome bonus for use on flights, hotels, etc), making purchases overseas (no foreign transaction fees), free car insurance, airline credits, and unlimited lounge access. (See Rates and Fees)
Third-party lounge pass Priority Pass great

Pay-per-use or unlimited Travellers needing at least 2-3 lounge accesses per year with a variety of options around the globe
Airline lounge/status membership n/a limited Pay-per-use or unlimited Frequent flyers who have points/status with a single airline – otherwise, the above options are better
One-time access Our $23 hack through Dragon Pass (read tip #3) great Pay-per-use One long layover, infrequent travellers

note : there are significant criteria to check when considering lounge access. To avoid disappointment, constantly review the terms & conditions. Things to look for admit :

  • Number of lounge entries provided (unlimited or a set # of visits)
  • Whether guest entries are provided (& how many)
  • Duration of lounge visit permitted (usually 4-6 hours)

1. Use credit cards that give free lounge access

This is the easiest way to gain free, unlimited access to the largest potential number of airport lounges around the global, plus respective other benefits that every traveler should have. Having the right credit tease can be the remainder between sitting in Starbucks on a 5-hour stop, or indulging in bottomless champagne before boarding for your following trip .
The Platinum Card from American ExpressThe Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $ 6,000 on your card in the first 6 months
  • Up to $200 in Uber rides and eats savings in the US annually, and Uber VIP status
  • 5x points on up to $ 500,000 per year spent on flights booked immediately with airlines, or through American Express Travel
  • Unlimited access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide through the American Express Global Lounge Collection ( including Priority Pass Select lounges )
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $695. Terms apply.
  • Learn how to apply – See Rates and Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express is our #1 pick for airport lounge access ( read more about this calling card ). This card has the largest consortium of outright lounge entree, including American Express lounges, The Centurion Lounge, collaborator networks, Delta Sky Club, and Priority Pass Select lounges .
To put that in perspective, the regular price on a Priority Pass membership for inexhaustible access to their net of lounges is $ 429 USD per year. By spending a snatch more on this batting order, this entree is included, but with a short ton of other lounges and benefits .
evening if you merely used the lounge access once, you ‘re besides getting a huge welcome bonus of 100,000 points ( which you can use towards flights, hotels, etc. ), up to $200 in Uber credits per annum, no foreign transaction fees ( frequently 2.5 % – 3 % per transaction ), and much more. In abruptly, this is a big all-around credit card for change of location, so if you frequently use the card and its benefits, you will more than make up for the annual tip. Click hera to read more about this card .
If the annual fee is still excessively much, or for other options, consider these cards :
Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • 50,000 reward points ( deserving $750 ) after meeting the minimum spend of $ 4,000 in the inaugural 3 months
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Includes trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage insurance and more.
  • 5x points on air travel and 10x points on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards ( after using the broad travel recognition ). 3x points on other travel and din .
  • Free access to 1300+ airport lounges worldwide through Priority Pass Select
  • Can transfer your reinforce points to leadership airline and hotel commitment programs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $550
  • Learn More

While both The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve both offer Priority Pass loiter access, there is one important dispute : restaurant access. Usually Priority Pass members get discounts off their bill at participating airport restaurants ( around $ 28- $ 30 USD ). This is included in the Chase Sapphire Reserve membership, but American Express cards no longer provide this restaurant discount rate .
shutterstock_408153415shutterstock_408153415 airportloungefoodairportloungefood airport lounge signairport lounge sign

2. Buy a third-party lounge pass

If you have several flights in your future, do n’t underestimate the value of an airport sofa exceed. A pass grants entry to more than 1,110 lounges cosmopolitan ( much more than an airline ‘s own lounge authorize ), offering free amenities like drinks, food, alcohol, showers, wireless local area network, office, and more. Given that this eliminates your costs on dining, and sometimes flush hotel costs ( when bed amenities are available ), a pas could pay for itself after barely a couple of visits .
Priority Pass LogoPriority Pass Logo

  • The Priority Pass grants access to over 1,200+ airport lounges around the world
  • Lounges include complimentary drinks (sometimes including alcohol), food, wifi, and sometimes shower and bedding facilities.
  • Get discounts at participating airport restaurants (usually $28-$30 USD off of your bill)
  • Access most lounges using your digital membership card in the app (physical card still needed at some locations)
  • Prices start at $49/USD with this 50% discount (usually $99 USD).
  • NOTE: The unlimited version of this pass is included in several credit cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (read more about this card) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Dragon Pass LogoDragon Pass Logo

  • The Dragon Pass grants access to over 1,100+ airports globally
  • Most lounges available in Asia, followed by Europe
  • Lounges may include food, drinks (sometimes including alcohol), wifi, and even shower or bedding facilities
  • Get additional discounts on restaurants, limousines, and meet & greets
  • Plans start at $99 USD/year, with even the cheapest plan including 1 free lounge access

shutterstock_589809392shutterstock_589809392 airport lounge wineairport lounge wine

3. Buy one-time access to a lounge for as low as $23

Most airport lounges now offer pay-per-use entry to anyone, flush if you are n’t flying with that airline. Pay-per-use access by and large costs between $ 25- $ 75 USD per visit. Be sure to check the duration allowed, which is much 4-6 hours ( though truthfully this is not always monitored ). erstwhile passes can be pre-purchased on-line from Plaza Premium Lounge, Dragon Pass, and LoungeBuddy. however, you can besides just walk improving to any loiter and ask at the front desk. Most of them will be more than glad to sell you erstwhile access .
But here’s a little known trick: by creating a free account with Regus ( an office outer space booking overhaul ), you are eligible for a free DragonPass membership, waiving the annual tip and reducing each lounge booking to a flat rate of £19 ($23 USD). The initial frame-up only takes about 10 minutes. After that, just use the free app to browse for the lounge you want, then go to the front desk and show your digital ID within the app. The requital will be processed mechanically with the batting order on your file. here ‘s how to do it !

1. Create a free account on the MyRegus website.

Fill in each step of the form as prompted. When you ‘re finished, the page head will read “Your registration was successful!”. Click “ GO TO LOGIN ” and login with the e-mail address and password you good registered with .
MyRegus registration steps MyRegus registration steps

2. Go to the “Quick access” section, then click “Partner offers”

Click “ Go to external locate ” under the “ Airport Lounges ” section. A new window will open letting you register for a DragonPass account.

MyRegus Airport Lounge Benefits MyRegus Airport Lounge Benefits

3. Complete the form to register your free DragonPass account

once completed, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with your membership ID and password .
Free DragonPass Regsitration Free DragonPass Regsitration

4. Download the free DragonPass app for iOS or Android

5. Log into the app using the membership number and password that was sent in your confirmation e-mail

DragonPass App Login DragonPass App Login

6. Choose a lounge!

After selecting an airport, you can browse available lounges for purchase. Each lounge has photos, amenities, hours, location, and even drug user reviews. once you ‘ve chosen the loiter you want, good tap the “ Member Access ” clitoris at the buttocks, followed by the “ Add Visits ” button to pay for entree. After paying, simply show your digital membership card with the QR code to the front desk and they will process your visit. Too easy !
besides be surely to check out the restaurants section. Your membership automatically gives you discounts at a number of restaurants in the airport, angstrom much as 25 % off !
DragonPass AppDragonPass App Browse all available loungesBrowse all available lounges View photos, amenities, hours, access instructions, and even reviews for each available lounge.View photos, amenities, hours, access instructions, and even reviews for each available lounge. View photos, amenities, hours, access instructions, and flush reviews for each available sofa. Getting access to a lounge is as simple as showing your digital membership card. But first, you'll need to pay for a visit on your account.Getting access to a lounge is as simple as showing your digital membership card. But first, you'll need to pay for a visit on your account. Getting access to a lounge is equally simple as showing your digital membership wag. But first, you ‘ll need to pay for a visit on your account. Be sure to check out the restaurants section, where discounts can be had for as much as 25% off.Be sure to check out the restaurants section, where discounts can be had for as much as 25% off. Be certain to check out the restaurants section, where discounts can be had for american samoa much as 25 % off.

4. Find free access with the LoungeBuddy app

LoungeBuddy is an all-in-one app ( iOS alone ) and website for all things lounge access. They have a comprehensive database of airports and lounges all around the world. Each sofa is displayed with photos, amenities, reviews, and details on how to access the lounge, be it with a locomotion credit circuit board, frequent aviator status, or paid access .
LoungeBuddy Airport ScreenshotLoungeBuddy Airport Screenshot All lounges within an airport are listed in LoungeBuddy with photos, amenities, reviews, and access instructions. LoungeBuddy Lounge ScreenshotLoungeBuddy Lounge Screenshot All lounges within an airport are listed in LoungeBuddy with photos, amenities, reviews, and access instructions. LoungeBuddy Access Details ScreenshotLoungeBuddy Access Details Screenshot LoungeBuddy will alert you if any of your citation cards, elect statuses, or sofa memberships grant you dislodge access to a lounge. You can besides purchase access within the app ( AMEX menu required ). The coolest feature of the app is that you can fill in your profile and check off the travel credit cards, lounge memberships, and elite statuses that you have, a well as whether you are an active US military penis. The app will then automatically highlight the lounges that you have free entree to based on your profile .
It ‘s besides possible to purchase one-day lounge passes directly within the app, but you can only pay with an American Express menu. unfortunately, the app is iPhone only right now, but you can hush research and purchase access to lounges on the web site. For $10 USD free credit towards a lounge happen, download the app, go to Settings > Credit, and enter the code guYu66zaHY
shutterstock_408153565shutterstock_408153565 airport lounge foodairport lounge food

5. Get free access as an active military member

If you ‘re an active military extremity, a total of airport lounges are available to you for barren. But first gear, it ‘s deserving noting that the previously mentioned Chase Sapphire Reserve waives the annual fees for active military personnel. so if you ‘re a military member, there ‘s no cause not to get this cards, as you will have access to lounges worldwide for no fee any .
other methods of military airport loiter access include :

  • United Club: Free access to active duty military members and their families taking a United operated flight on the same day. Present your military ID (or be in uniform), boarding pass, and sponsoring documentation.
  • American Airlines Admirals Club: Free access
  • USO (United Service Organizations): This non-profit organization operates many airport lounges that are free to military personnel around the U.S. Use the location finder to see if your airport has one.

Members of military have access to a wide range of other travel discounts excessively. Be sure to check out our ultimate steer to military travel discounts to see even more .

6. Get an airline or alliance lounge membership

Certain airlines put up paid memberships which provide entry to affiliated lounges. Anyone can join these programs, but the fees are still quite high, and you ‘re restricted to a much smaller choice of lounges. For those reasons, most people will find better value using one of the previously mentioned credit cards to get points and discounts beyond lounges, or by signing up immediately with Priority Pass .
On the early handwriting, most of these passes can be purchased with points from the airline, or obtained at a dismiss for frequent flyers who have attained a high condition. If you have the points or status to discount these passes, then an airline loiter membership may be the best value for you .
Airlines and confederation programs that allow paid loiter membership include :
Always review the terms and conditions of entrance before buying a membership. There are normally specific stipulations around aspects like duration of persist, # of guests allowed if any, arsenic well as which airports and regions are included in the membership .
exec loungeexec lounge airport foodairport food

7. Gain entry with elite points status

If you earn adequate points or miles through a credit calling card or airline program, you can gain dislodge or discounted entrance to airport lounges once you ‘ve reached a certain status. Keep in mind that frequently there are requirements to maintaining said condition, such as earning a sealed number of miles per year or reaching minimum spends. To learn how to promptly accumulate such points, check our early template here .
Programs that offer lounge access for points status include :

  • Air Canada Altitude Status: Lounge entry granted to Maple Leaf and select Star Alliance lounges for business and first class passengers, as well as Altitude Elite 50k, 75k and Super Elite 100k members. Aeroplan 25K and 35K members get two one-time lounge guest passes.
  • Hawaiian Airlines Club Membership: Those with Puluani Gold (20k HawaiianMiles) or Puluani Platinum (40k HawaiianMiles) gain “club” (lounge) access. Tips for increasing your points here.
  • United Club Membership: Lounge entry granted to first and business class flyers, active U.S. military personnel in uniform (or with leave orders or rest and recuperation papers), Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members, Star Alliance Gold members, and United Club members. Premier Platinum and Premier 1K status grants $50 and $100 discounts to United Club respectively.
  • Delta SkyMiles Membership: Lounge access is available for those with Gold 50k MQM, 60 MQS), Platinum (75k MQM, 100 MQS), and Diamond status (125k MQM, 140 MQS).
  • Qantas Club Membership: Lounge entry available for those with Silver Status (300 status credits), Gold status (700 status credits), Platinum 1,400 (status credits) and Platinum One (3,600 status credits).
  • Alaska Airlines: Lounge access granted to first class ticket holders, MVP Gold (40k miles), and MVP Gold 75k (75k miles).

8. Gain access with your ticket

This one is n’t precisely a mysterious, and it ‘s not very careful, but buying a excellent ticket is the try and genuine means of getting into an airport lounge. however, in an attempt to boost sales, sofa access is immediately appearing in other classes such as premium Economy depending on the airline. If you have any kind of tag greater than economy, decidedly take a look and see if it includes lounge access !

9. When in doubt, ask!

not sure if you have loiter entree ? It never hurts to ask ! A few things that could happen…

  • You may find out that your ticket grants you lounge access. What a pleasant surprise! (We’ve had this happen in Thailand).
  • You may have a credit card that grants you access. Once in Canada we showed one of our Aeroplan credit as a shot in the dark to see if it got us anything. To our surprise, that actually granted us lounge access!
  • Lounge access might be available as an affordable add-on to your ticket, or the check-in attendant may know of cheap or free lounges in the airport
  • If you’re really nice, the lounge receptionist could give you a freebie. Once we had free access to an airport lounge, but it didn’t allow a guest in. After looking sad and disappointed, the kind attendee took pity on us and allowed both of us in for free!
  • While not very common, some airlines actually offer free lounge access. For example, Bangkok Airways has a lounge free to all passengers of any class, full of snacks and refreshments. Porter Airlines in Canada has snacks, refreshments, comfy chairs, and free wi-fi available to all passengers at the Billy Bishop airport.

There ‘s a multitude of lounges and ways to access them, so who better to ask than the staff ? Try your fortune and ask both the check-in and lounge attendees ! There ‘s no shame in playing the dumb tourist batting order .

The Thrifty Gist

  • Using the right credit card is the best way to gain access to a huge number of airport lounges for free. Though annual fees can be high, the huge points welcome bonus, annual credits, lack of foreign transaction fees, and lounge access more than make up for it if used properly. The Platinum Card® from American Express is our #1 choice. Read more about this card here.
  • The Priority Pass or Dragon Pass are great value if you travel at least several times a year.
  • If a long layover is coming your way, a one-time pass can definitely be worth it for the food, drink, and sometimes shower or bedding facilities. Buy it at the lounge front desk, or use our hack in tip #3 to get $23 access to 1,100+ lounges around the world.
  • The LoungeBuddy app and website has complete guides to airport lounges around the world. Fill in your profile with your credit cards and memberships, and you’ll see exactly what you have access to automatically.

Thrifty Nomads has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Thrifty Nomads and CardRatings may receive a commission from poster issuers. Opinions expressed here are author ‘s alone. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser ‘s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered .

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