ACCESS to the hushed comfort of an airport’s private lounge was once reserved for first or business class passengers. With a little preparation, even economy fliers can make it through the doors to free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and sumptuous food and drink
Check if your bank account or credit card offers perks
The piece of plastic in your wallet may hold the key to a more comfortable existence. American Express offers Centurion lounges at airports throughout the USA, with Amex holders entitled to use them for just £35 per day.
Attain elite status with your airline
Joining a loyalty scheme with an airline may be an old-fashioned choice, but it’s the one that is most likely to yield rewards. By flying regularly with the same airlines in one alliance such as Skyteam, Oneworld or Alliance, you can rapidly rank up to Gold or Platinum status – thus giving you the right to enter the executive lounge free of charge once you’ve accrued enough points.
Use independent lounges
Those flying through European airports will be familiar with Swissport (ex-Servisair) lounges, which offer hourly or daily access without the need to buy an expensive ticket or pay an astronomical yearly fee. Access to the lounges at Aberdeen and Edinburgh airports, for example, can be granted with tickets costing as little as £13.50 per person.
There’s no requirement for a three-piece suit or ballroom gown, but the majority of airport lounges operate a smart-casual policy. If you arrive at the counter wearing a sports top or shorts, the staff won’t take you seriously, let alone offer you discounted entry (or even allow you in at all should you not match the dress code).
Buy a refundable first class ticket
Only for those who are truly desperate. Once you’ve been admitted to the lounge with your first class ticket, you can head online to cancel and refund the cost of your ticket. This method only works if you scrutinise the small print to make sure that the ticket is fully-refundable and doing so does not force you to pay a penalty in the process. We wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s an option.
Grab a guest pass
As well as offering lounge access to club members, an airline often permits guests to accompany them. Keep your eyes peeled on flying forums such as Flyertalk for guest passes, or day passes that are sold for discounted rates.
If that doesn’t work and you’re feeling brave, you can always loiter near the entrance of an airport lounge before asking a friendly stranger if they’d mind admitting you as their guest. It’s cost-free to them, but understandably it will only usually work with solo travellers.