Typically, membership in an airline club can cost more than $400 per year if you've earned elite status in a carrier's frequent flier program. However, according to author and travel expert Chris Guillebeau, very few airport lounges merit the cost of a $40 day pass or a high-priced annual membership. That's because you usually have to pay for food and drinks, while sharing space with loud sales guys on cellphones.
Still, even this is preferable to the atmosphere in most airport departure lounges -- the only places I've ever seen grown adults writhe on tile floors to reach power outlets in public. Instead of paying extra for airport lounges, get yourself an airline credit card that gets you preferential access for free, like these:
- Citi Executive℠/AAdvantage® World Elite™ MasterCard® Conde Nast Traveler's Alex Pasquariello rated Admirals Club the best in his recent survey of airport lounges. This Citi credit card carries a $450 annual fee, still less than the cost of a club membership for single fliers. However, where available you can bring your immediate family members into the club without paying for a membership upgrade -- a great perk if you sometimes mix business travel with family vacations.
- United MileagePlus® Club Card While the airlines merge lounges along with the rest of their operations, Chase offers a $395 annual fee credit card that includes access to United Clubs and participating Star Alliance lounges around the world.
Lest you think you're still paying a lot just to get into an airport lounge, these cards for eligible bags offer luggage reimbursements or free bag check privileges. Maximize your usage, and these elite credit cards can pay for themselves over the course of a year.
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