Splurge for a One Day Lounge Pass

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:

  1. Fly business class
  2. Have the right kind of credit card (e.g. Amex Platinum, Citi Chairman)
  3. 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.
  4. Buy an annual pass ($250 – $400 and be ready to be very loyal to one carrier)
  5. Be 82 years old and tell them you are flying for the first time in 20 years for your Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah
  6. 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:

Convinced?

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):

  1. 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.
  2. Buy a day pass from loungepass.com for 20 GBP. But no lounge at JFK!
  3. 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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Zipcar – More Convenient and Greener than Avis, etc.

Recently tried Zipcar as an alternative to traditional car rental. It is worth it in cities that have good public transportation, expensive car rental and hard to find (expensive) parking. New York, Boston and Washington DC, definitely qualify. LA , San Jose and Dallas do not.

The idea is that most of your meetings and your hotel is close to public transportation – so you don’t really need (or want) a car. But getting to Rockville or Englewood or Newton requires a car (if you actually want to get there on time). So, you grab a zipcar right near the tunnel – go to you meeting and bring it back. Or take the Metro to avoid city traffic and then zip out to Silver Spring.

Besides being more convenient and greener – it can also be cheaper. Figure $8-$10/hour or $60-$80/day. And gas is on them. There is a $50 annual fee and a $25 one time fee to start. They have a very good website which explains how it all works. I would be interested in hearing from others who have done this.

See other posts about Renting cars with priceline Car Rental Refueling Charges, Car Rental Dropoff charges and general Car Rental Scams.
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Continental Joining Star Alliance and United

Continental is leaving its alliance with Delta and is joining the StarAlliance, which is United + 18 others (list below). The buzz on the forums is that this is a good thing.

What it means to us is:

1. Continental miles will be good for use on UA and vice versa

2. Continental members with Elite status will be treated as Elite on UA

3. Continental members have the same access to UA lounges as they do to their

It may take over a year for this to be fully implemented, so its hard to guess what the impact will be on TLV travelers.

Anyone who wants more information is invited to look at the FlyerTalk forum, where 330 posts have been made on this topic in the past 3 days.

Star Alliance is:

Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, bmi, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways

If you read this blog for the frequent flyer info – there are some good posts about Turkish Airlines and its partnership with American, how to get a free ticket just by signing up for a Visa card, free travel on British, yet another AA change, another post on ELAL and more. And, representing days of research – a guide to free tickets on all the airlines on the TLV – JFK route.

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Take My Wife, Please …….. or A Good ElAl Offer Does Not Come Every Day

Actually, your wife, or husband or kid, or ME.

What seems to be a good deal from ElAl has just been announced. Buy one business class ticket and get the second at a very reduced price. $499 to NY/ $699 to LA (plus give up 200 – 400 worthless points). Valid from now till the end of August. If you answer YES!to ALL of the below questions – this deal is for you:

1. Are you or someone else paying for a business class ticket (full W fare) to the US in the summer?

2. Do you have a person (ElAl romantically calls it a “spouse”) that is willing to drag around the states with you on your business trip?

3. Are you willing?

4. Are you an ElAl frequent flyer member?

5. Are you willing to risk losing all the money in case of cancellation?

6. Are you ready to call right away (ElAl offers sometimes evaporate before the time the ink on the email dries)?

If so – go to this ElAl link, read the 29 points of small print (I suspect that I know their lawyer) and book fast. Comment back on this blog with your success stories. 10 TLV2JFK blogger points for the first person to tell me what #29 means.

Note: Deal applies to Europe, as well – but thats beyond the scope of the blog.

If he were still alive, Henny Youngman would be ElAl’s best pitchman. “I take my wife everywhere I go. She always finds her way back.

See other posts about ElAl prices going up and down – finding hidden bargains on ElAl’s website, the airfare increase due to $146 oil,the airfare increase due to $147 oil ,  the increased “price” for EL AL free tickets,  some general tips for finding cheap airfare and more. This post even has some hope that the American Airlines and ELAL codeshare willl change pricing.

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Avoid Atlanta Immigration

Hi. I wanted to contribute my 2 cents to elliot’s blog. I always fly BA and noticed that there was nothing on the blog about BA. So, here is my first post. I am not British!

Avoid international arrivals in Atlanta at all cost. When I arrived there on an international flight I had to

– pass immigration
– Get your luggage from the baggage carousel
– go through customs as usual
– RECHECK my luggage
– go through a personal security check. My water bottle was confiscated
– take the tram to the the main terminal
– RECLAIM your luggage again from the baggage carousel after a second wait
– go to the car rental counter
– take the shuttle bus to the car rental lot
It took me over an hour to get out of the airport

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Water on the Plane – An Arbitrage Opportunity

An arbitrage opportunity is “the opportunity to buy an asset at a low price then immediately selling it on a different market for a higher price.” Not so simple for the average man/woman in the street to do. But now its easy – at an airport near you.

Value of a small bottle of water at security checkpoint – ZERO. Value on the plane $2. Yes thats right – US Airways is now charging $2 for drinks on board – even water.

Now the challenge I pose to my blogging community is how to salvage water at the checkpoint and transport it to the aircraft at the gate. Solve that and pretty soon your getting around on your own private jet.

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$15 luggage charge – whats next? water? YUP

United and US Air have joined American in charging $15 for the first bag. Two bags round trip now cost $80. One group on a 500 mile trip actually selected a driver to drive all the bags back and forth. If the plane left from LGA – the driver probably got there first.

Good news for us – international flights (on the same ticket) are exempt.

In an earlier post I calculated the cost to lose a suitcase. Its pretty cheap, actually.

Whats next? Pay toilets? No, water. Check back later today for my post entitled “Water on the Plane – An Arbitrage Opportunity”
2008 was the year airlines started charging for everything – in flight entertainmentluggage for soldierslegroom and more luggage. Here is a humorous view from Derrie-Air and our attempt at getting feedback from the industry. Continue reading