Traveling can sometimes be chaotic, between packing suitcases, charging phones and tablets for in-flight entertainment, hailing a cab and navigating around the airport. Smart travelers are wise to arrive with plenty of time before a flight. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and arrive early rather than racing to the gate or worse, missing your flight!

But, with extra time and quick security lines, you might be left sitting at the gate with time to spare before your flight. For a little more space and some added perks like comfortable seating, complimentary wifi, food and beverages, why not take advantage of the airport lounges? 

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By tapping into your rewards credit card or paying a small out-of-pocket fee, there are several ways that everyday travel can gain you access to airport lounges. Here’s how it can be done.

Use travel reward credit card perks

While not all rewards credit cards offer free or discounted airport lounge access as a perk to members, some of them do.

The American Express Platinum offers members complimentary access to more than 900 airport lounges, including The Centurion lounge network, Airspace Lounges and Delta Sky Club. One perk that card members enjoy is that immediate family, or up to two companions, can enjoy all the perks and benefits that lounge access has to offer. This means just one member has to be a cardholder for the whole family or a small group to unwind in the lounge. Another option is the United MileagePlus® Club, which allows cardholders and eligible travel companions to work, relax and enjoy complimentary food and beverages at all United Club locations and participating Star Alliance lounges worldwide.

Use your loyalty status

Just about every airline and major hotel chain has Elite status memberships, and most have tiered programs. Elite status is a classification given to loyalty program members when they’ve reached a threshold by traveling a certain number of miles or making a number of repeat visits or purchases. Once you’ve reached this status, you’ll have access to benefits not offered to other travelers, including executive lounge access.

Before heading to the airport, take stock of your loyalty programs and your tier status. While every airline and loyalty program differs, your status may give you complimentary or discounted access to exclusive airport lounges. And once you’ve enjoyed all of the perks the lounges have to offer, skip the line at the gate and use your Elite status for priority booking and boarding.

Buy a day pass

If you’re not an Elite traveler, buying an annual airport lounge pass can cost a pretty penny. If you only take advantage of the airport lounge when you get to the airport really early or happen to be traveling a long distance out of the country, you might opt to buy day passes as needed. To save even more, try to plan ahead as some airlines offer a discounted lounge day pass at the time of booking your flight (instead of waiting to buy when you arrive at the airport). The prices for day passes vary and usually hover around $50. For example, United Club lounge passes are $59 and Alaska Airlines charges $45 per day.

Make your time at the airport more comfortable and enjoyable by taking advantage of the airport lounges.

 

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