By Jason Steele
NEW YORK (Credit.com) — Anyone who travels regularly has seen it: An airline is preparing an aircraft for departure that seats more than 200 people, but with a boarding area that can accommodate only a fraction of the passengers comfortably. Throw in some delays for weather or mechanical failures and the mood quickly takes on the air of an evacuation center.
Yet down the hall from your gate, the airline offers a business lounge that feels like more of a refuge than a refugee camp. If you haven’t paid hundreds of dollars a year for membership, or $50 for a day pass, don’t worry. Here are several clever ways you can gain access to this oasis without giving up an arm or a leg.
1. Hold a premium airline credit card. Airlines such as Delta, United, and American each offer a co-branded credit card that offers membership in their lounge club. While these cards are expensive, their annual fees are usually equal to or less than the normal cost of a club membership.
2. Carry an American Express Platinum card. The American Express Platinum card offers lounge memberships with US Airways, American and Delta. In addition, it includes a $200 per year airline fee credit you can use to have your lounge entry fees reimbursed.
3. Get a Priority Pass/Lounge Club membership. Priority Pass and Lounge Club are credit card benefits offered by the same company. Standard memberships start at $99 per year and include unlimited visits to more than 600 different lounges at $27 per visit. Better yet, this membership is offered with two free visits when you hold cards such as a Chase Ink Bold, a Chase Fairmount Visa or a PenFed Travel Rewards American Express.