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Behind the frosted glass doors of aeroplane lounges, is it really worth it to be cruising altitude?

Do airport lounges actually merit the cost? You might be able to shower or shine your shoes, for example, but overall, I’d say: meh.

A lot of the time, sure, it’s a personal decision. I also unintentionally made a parody of the Dispatch song “General” as I started writing this article: “I have seen the lounges… and this fight is not worth fighting.”

I reassure you that I’m not just saying this to disperse crowds. Actually, I don’t find the lounges to be all that appealing these days. The more time I spend in airport lounges, the less I like them. Perhaps I’m just a big enough avgeek (that’s aviation geek, for the uninitiated) that looking out at planes from the main concourse is thrilling enough for me.

However, as more people apply for credit cards that give them access to lounges, which includes me, demand for entry is only increasing. As a result, lines are accumulating outside some of the busiest airline clubs as customers wait in line to enter.

To help you decide whether it’s worthwhile to join the club and stand in those lines, though, here is a glimpse of what happens behind the frosted glass doors.

What advantages do airport lounges offer?
The free food and drinks and the increased number of outlets and sitting options in comparison to a typical airport concourse are the two main benefits. Maybe there are four of those.

“The biggest benefit of being able to access a lounge is knowing that you have dedicated space to sit, charge your phone, grab some water, and basic amenities,” Katy Nastro, a spokesperson for airline comparison website Going, told me. “Everything that ought to be available to you at your gate is a little more rosy in the lounge.”

A benefit can also be clean, less crowded bathrooms.

The author of Fat Girls Travelling, Annette Richmond, frequently travels for work. She stated that although she does not currently have regular access to the lounge, she plans to sign up for it shortly.

She remarked, “I kind of want a more laid-back vibe.” It’s time to advance.

Richmond continued by saying that she has previously purchased day passes to lounges, so she is aware with the benefits provided and believes it is good to sign up. On lengthy layovers at foreign airports, Richmond has also made use of rented sleeping pods, even though those aren’t technically lounges.

For particularly lengthy layovers, some of the more upscale lounges offer showers, spa treatment rooms, and even movie theatres.

How can I gain entry to a lounge at the airport?

According to Going, there are a number of methods to enter a lounge, and they essentially fall into four categories:

First, the airline you’re flying with might be able to get you entrance to a lounge. Lounge access could be one of your benefits if you’re an elite frequent flyer or flying on a premium cabin ticket (often in business or first class on intercontinental or international flights).

Your credit card is a second option. A manager prodded me to get a premium credit card that gave me access to a network of airline lounges when I worked at The Points Guy a few years ago. My initial experience with airline lounges was at that event. While it was initially cool, the shine has somewhat faded. I still have a credit card that allows me access to lounges, but I mostly keep it since it also offers an annual travel credit and because I consider myself to be affluent and find it difficult to downgrade. The yearly fees for credit cards that offer lounge access are normally in the range of a few hundred dollars.

Thirdly, through use of independent lounge programmes. Due to the fact that many credit cards protect your lounge access by integrating Priority Pass membership in their perks, there is a slight overlap with lounge access provided by credit cards. With Priority Pass, travellers can visit more than a thousand lounges across the world. Membership starts at $99 per year. Other credit cards might only let you enter certain networks of airline lounges. Additionally, there are independent third-party lounge operators that run their own facilities at various airports; these individuals may have access through day passes in addition to membership.

The fourth choice is to merely purchase day passes. With a valid same-day ticket, lounges normally charge between $35 and $50 per person per day, according to Richmond and Nastro. Rates vary depending on the lounge. The sales of same-day permits are often restricted by operators in order to control capacity as lounges get increasingly popular. According to Nastro, certain airlines also provide free day passes to lounges for active military personnel.

Do airport lounges merit the cost?

Really, the decision is yours. Richmond and Nastro agreed that going to an airport lounge can be especially beneficial if you have a lengthy stopover or are going to dine in the airport anyhow because the cost of food in the concourse can be so prohibitively high.

According to Richmond, she recently spent $24 on drinks at an airport Starbucks and then regretted not using the lounge instead.

For $10 more, she could have visited a lounge and purchased as much food as she desired.

When travelling in a group or with family, it can also be more affordable at some lounges because members may be able to bring guests in for free or at a discounted rate.

According to Nastro, business travellers who work remotely may find it more convenient to conduct business from a lounge if it is less busy than the concourse.

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