What Is An Airport Lounge And How Does It Work?

Charis Raji
5 min readMay 12, 2022


An airport lounge is the most idyllic place to spend time before your flight.

Image from pixabay.com

Airport lounges operate in many airports. They are some of the most idyllic places to spend time before your flight.

The facility offers comfort beyond what is seen and offered in airport terminals for selected passengers. Perks like better access to customer service representatives, neater and quieter environments, comfortable seating, workout equipment and sections, spas and barbershops, nap pods, rebooking and other airline services, showers, free Wi-Fi, food and drinks.


Since its inception, airport lounges have been a way of marketing an airline. American Airlines reportedly opened the first airport lounge on December 2, 1939, at New York LaGuardia Airport. The lounge had a bar & food and drink service for passengers and it was connected to the then Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

How To Access An Airport Lounge

The easiest and fastest way to access an airport lounge is to have the right credit card. Having access to a lounge also depends on the airport and the choice of lounges available.

A good amount of credit cards permits travellers to access airport lounges by having the card in hand. A major way of accessing an airport lounge is Priority Pass.

What Is A Priority Pass?

Its owned by Collinson Group and the membership provides passengers (members) access to airport lounges around the world. Priority Pass happens to be one of the most well-known lounge networks in the world.

It’s one of the most prestigious and allows you to access 1,300 lounges around the world. You are charged a membership fee which depends on the tier of subscription (Standard, Standard Plus, Prestige and Select) you sign up for. Passengers with economy and premium economy tickets are also given access to lounges with a Priority Pass.

You should also be aware that travellers (passengers) with a Priority Pass who happen to find themselves in lounge-less airports can be able to get complimentary/discounted foods.


As mentioned above, the easiest way in accessing an airport lounge is having the right travel credit card. There are a plethora of cards to choose from so ensure you select the card (and membership) that has a variety of locations in places you intend to travel to — including your home airport.

Below is a quick rundown of well-known travel credit cards that offer airport lounge membership and benefits.

1. American Express

Has a number of cards that offer lounge benefits which include:

i. The Platinum Card — is one of the most well-known travel cards in the market and has an annual fee of $695 and offers a welcome bonus for first-time cardholders (on purchases on the card in the 1st 6 months of card membership where they can earn $6000).

Cardholders can access lounges in 140 countries via the Global Lounge Collection and the Priority Pass network once enrolled, in addition to American Express Centurion lounges.

Sky Club and Lufthansa Lounge can also be accessed by cardholders. The Platinum card also offers $200 in airline fee credit which can be used in covering incidental fees ie baggage fees, seat selection and priority boarding incurred from 1 airline of your choice.

ii. Delta SkyMiles Reserve — Has an annual fee of $550 and is best for frequent travellers and offers complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge when flying Delta same-day.

iii. Delta SkyMiles Platinum — It has an annual fee of $250. Unlike the Delta SkyMiles Reserve, this card does not offer complimentary access to the Delta Sky Club. Still, it enables cardholders to purchase exclusive day passes for $39 per person on each visit.

Other benefits include a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus miles and 5000 Medallion Quantification Miles (MQMs) after spending $2000 in purchases in the first 3 months.

2. Bank of America

The only (and current) card that offers lounge access under Bank of America is affiliated with Alaska Airlines. It is majorly for frequent fliers with Alaska Airlines.

i. Alaska Airline Visa Signature Card — cardholders with these credit cards receive a 50% discount on Alaska Lounge day when they pay with their card. It happens to be one of the smallest networks and is operated in eight airport lounges in the United States.

Frequent Alaska Airlines fliers also benefit from the card’s welcome bonus: 40,000 bonus miles and a $100 statement credit after making $2000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. Has one of the lowest annual fees of $75.

3. Miles & More World Elite Mastercard

The Lufthansa Miles & More World Elite Mastercard is best suited for travellers who intend to gain rewards and bonuses on Lufthansa and its eight Miles & More airline partners.

The card is also best for frequent fliers, frequent diners and international travellers. It has an annual fee of $89 and offers a complimentary annual companion certificate. It is available in 20 countries.

4. Chase Sapphire Reserve

With an annual fee of $500, you earn more than 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. You also get a $300 travel credit that reduces the annual fee to $250.

5. Capital One Venture X

It comes with an annual fee of $395 and you earn 75,000 miles after spending $4000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account.

The card also has a $300 travel credit and you get 10,000 bonus miles on your account’s anniversary.

6. Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Cardholders (and 2 guests) have access to American Airlines’ network of 50 Admirals Club worldwide. The annual fee is $450.

You also access some Alaska Airlines and Qantas lounges when flying respective airlines. Some lounges that are associated and part of the Oneworld network are also accessible.

Citi has a welcome bonus of earning 50,000 miles after spending $5000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening the account. the card also has a big perk: You are allowed to add 10 authorized users to your card (at no additional fee) and each of those users receives the Admiral’s Club lounge access benefits.

Types Of Airport Lounges

1. Credit card airport lounges

Most airport lounges membership is associated/affiliated with credit card programs. You gain access to certain types of lounge networks when you have an eligible credit card.

2. First class airline lounge

This is majorly offered to passengers who fly top-tier and first class. This type of lounge is exclusive and has extra amenities over business class.

3. Airline lounge

It is operated at many airports and it acts as a service to premium passengers especially first class and business class passengers who have high-level frequency flyer status and premium travel credit card membership.

This will be all in this article. My next piece will cover examples of airport lounges around the world. Do stick around. I will love to know about your experience at an airport lounge. I’ll be waiting for you in the comment section :)