Executive summary – if your plans involve waiting time at the airport, access to the airport lounges is relatively inexpensive. Plan ahead – there is some research involved.
There are six ways to get access to the airport lounge:
- Fly business class
- Have the right kind of credit card (e.g. Amex Platinum, Citi Chairman)
- Have super elite status on some Frequent flyer programs (like ElAl) or Gold on Star Alliance/OneWorld and have a boarding pass for the same day from the right (or partner) airline.
- Buy an annual pass ($250 – $400 and be ready to be very loyal to one carrier)
- Be 82 years old and tell them you are flying for the first time in 20 years for your Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah
- Read the rest of this post
What you get in a lounge – Food, Drinks, Coffee, Wifi, quiet place to sit, more food, more drinks and in a select few – showers. In Dubai, you get a swimming pool. FYI.
What you avoid:
Its actually pretty simple and inexpensive. Buy a day pass. There are a few ways to do that (follow the links to turn this into a full fledged research project):
- Buy a day pass from one of the airlines – AA ($50), UA ($50) or DL ($30). All have lounges at LAX, SFO, JFK, EWR. Continental does not offer a day pass.
- Buy a day pass from loungepass.com for 20 GBP. But no lounge at JFK!
- Join Priority Pass. There is a $99 annual fee and $27 per visit. Access to lounges of multiple carriers.
Now it gets complicated – there are lots of differences. Here goes:
- Kids under 18 are free at some lounges and under 21 are not allowed at others
- Some allow a single entry, others allow entry at all lounges while in transit (a very good idea if you are flying to Hawaii)
- Some lounges in Europe are after passport control – so you will not be able to use them if you are an arriving passenger
- Only AA has a lounge at SJC
And in general:
- Best to research and buy online
- Make sure lounge is in or near terminal you want to be in. You don’t have to fly their airline to use a day pass but you may end up spending your time hiking around the airport (not to mention multiple security checks)
- Airlines are closing down lounges as part of the “Very bad time to be in the airline industry” program.
And now the bad news – the situation at Ben Gurion is bleak. The King David (ElAl) lounge does not offer day passes and does not work with any of the above partners. The Dan Lounges offer day passes (100 NIS) – but are very crowded (as in – standing room only – whats the point?). Members can bring friends and one should not miss the spectacle of the masses congregating outside the doors “making friends”. Hang out at McDonalds, instead.
Treat yourself to a splurge and let me know what you discovered and where I steered you wrong. I will be in the Carmel Forest Spa at the King David Lounge.
TLV2JFK covers the issue of what to do in the airport before flights – we like lounges and we discuss how codeshares turn into lounge shares. In SFO, there is enough to do at the airport and you might just find yourself sleeping on a floor at JFK.
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