How to get into airport lounges for free

June 27, 2015

by — Posted in Uncategorized

Damn it’s been a while since I’ve done a post! I think a potential problem is my posts tend to take forever to write due to their detail, so I keep putting them off. Here’s to trying shorter form. Also, I owe my wife $10 if I don’t do a post a week, so there’s that too.

Here’s a short post on how to get into airport lounges for free, which is definitely a benefit not to be overlooked.

I’ve had occasion to go to SFO quite often lately, and I’ve been fortunate enough to take advantage of the AMEX Centurion Lounge there, as well as a number of Priority Pass and Centurion Lounges in Mexico City during a short trip there for 4th of July, and these trips have been the impetus for this post.

Long story short: airport lounges change the airport experience a full 180 degrees from dread and loathing to eager anticipation, excitement, and delight. Lately, my wife and I have literally been making up excuses and buying refundable tickets on Southwest for the express purpose of going to AMEX Centurion Lounge at SFO. We even invited 5 of our friends who were in town randomly to meet not at a restaurant in the city, but rather at the Centurion Lounge, so we could all take advantage of their free food and alcohol (and amazing shower suite). Was a great time.



In Mexico City, it got even better. One of the Centurion Lounges was offering amazing complimentary massages, and there were literally 5 lounges we had access to between the multiple Centurion Lounges and the Priority Pass lounges. Each lounge had its different perks, so we shopped around – the Centurion Lounge for free massages, and other lounges for free food, etc. Life was good.

So, if now you’re wondering: “Gee, that sounds really great. How do I go about getting into airport lounges for free too?”

Not to worry! There are a number of different ways you can pull this off.

1. My top pick is to get the AMEX Ameriprise Platinum card. This card gives you global access to all AMEX Centurion Lounges and all Priority Pass lounges (over 700+), as well as all Delta Skyclub (when flying Delta) and Airspace lounges.

You can get the card for one year for free, and give it to three other people that year for free too. After that, it’s $450 – but if you get 3 of your friends together, each of you can get the card for one year and give it to the other three people for free that year, and then the next year another friend can do the same thing – ultimately letting all four of you get this card for 4 years completely for free.

There’s nothing that comes close to this in value, both for this lounge access and other reasons, and I recommend it extremely highly.

2. Beyond that, look for airline branded cards. The majority of the premium airline branded cards, such as the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer and Chase United Club Cards, and the Citibank AAdvantage cards, and the Barclaycard US Airways Card (now gone), and so on, offer one or two free club passes good for around a year from the time you get the card. If you travel just a few times a year, this can be more than enough to give you access to lounges when you need them.

3. The final hack you can do here, which isn’t quite free, but is *way* cheaper than paying the full upfront cost (typically $50) at a lounge, is to buy one of these ‘free passes’ that come with airline credit cards from someone else. You can find these on eBay all the time. Search for something like “United Club Pass” or “Admirals Club” or “Delta Sky Club“. You can usually get a pass for $15-25, depending on the airline, which, again, is a way better deal than paying the full $50 upfront cost.

Cool – hope that helps. Enjoy!

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