Free Airline Lounge access

I discussed Airline Lounges in detail in my previous post on this topic. This article is a follow up to discuss options available to get ‘free’ access to airline lounges. Now, for the disclaimer –

Just like there is no free lunch, there is really no free lounge access. But, there are ways available to get lounge access for no money spent.

Here are the ways I have used:

Be a guest: Every time someone gets access to an airline lounge – either on the basis of a paid membership or because of their being an elite status passenger on an international itenerary, they are allowed to to take a guest with them. If you know of someone who is not taking a guest along, get them to take you. Every time I have personally flown alone, I have invited a fellow passenger to come join me in the lounge. Lots of gratitude flows my way. To find someone who is so gracious, I suggest you participate in some good airline forums – the best being FlyerTalk. Several airline forums on FlyerTalk have lounge availability threads. Here is a link to the one for United Airlines. Members who are going to be in a lounge by themselves post their timeslots when they will be there and you can request to be their guest. The crux of the matter in this method is to find someone who is willing and able to get you in a lounge of your choice, at the time when you are traveling. Another point to note is that in order to be invited as a guest, you have to have a boarding pass for a flight on the airline or an alliance partner of the airline hosting the lounge.lounge.jpg

Earn Elite Membership on a non-domestic airline: As I mentioned in my last article on Airline Lounges, if you are an Elite customer of an airline, you get lounge access on any class ticket when you are on an international itinerary. So, for example, if you are a US based passenger, you get lounge access only when you are flying internationally. You do not get lounge access for a domestic trip (or to Canada and Mexico for that matter). Conversely, if you are an Elite on a non-US based airline, you will get lounge access for every US domestic trip because as far as the airline is concerned, you are traveling ‘internationally’. I have personally done this succesfully. Last year I earned Gold status on BMI (British Midlands). It is a UK based airline. For this whole year I have had free lounge access to any Star Alliance lounge (United, US Airways, Lufthansa…) on every domestic trip I have taken. It is not really ‘free’ as I had to fly last year and earn the Gold Status, but it was worth it.

Redeem Miles: You can purchase an annual membership to a lounge by redeeming miles instead of paying with real money. Again, not ‘free’ but a great use of access miles if you do not plan to use them any other way soon.

Get a Credit Card that includes Lounge Access: Again, not free as the credit card fee includes the lounge fee, but it is substantially discounted as opposed to purchasing a full years membership. Some American Express cards and special ‘club’ cards from United and Continental include lounge access.

Enjoy your next lounge visit…

Thoughts? Leave a comment…

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  1. Your tip about earning Elite membership on non-US airlines doesn’t always work. When I was Freccia Alata (Elite) on Alitalia, which is part of Skyteam, I was still not allowed in Skyteam lounges in the US on domestic flights.

    From the sound of your experience, Star Alliance may be different, so I wonder what One World is like. I have never had a One World ticket for a domestic US flight, and I wasn’t Elite with Star Alliance last time I had one with them.

    Europe is much better for lounge access. BA in particular allow access to the business class lounge with silver Executive Club status, and to the first class lounge with gold status. The BA first class lounge in LHR T5 is *the* best place ever.

  2. Hello dwelington, thanks for your comment. While my personal experience of using a non-US Gold card is limited to Star Alliance, I did verify on the websites of OneWorld and SkyTeam that they did have the same policy. Here if the link I found for SkyTeam. I am sorry to hear that it did not work for you.

    I agree on your comment on lounges in Europe. Even the US based airlines seem to have better lounges there.


  3. Just FYI, access to a lounge does not always give you a guest privilege as well. International business class travelers on United don’t get to bring a guest if they’re not *G.

  4. I want to thank the blogger very much not only for this post but also for his all previous efforts. I found boardingarea.com to be very interesting. I will be coming back to boardingarea.com for more information.

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