Businesswoman sitting at the airport lounge, waiting for the flight. Thoughtful woman sitting on sofa with coffee at airport waiting area.
Travel Tips

Is It Worth It to Buy an Airport Lounge Pass?

If you’ve sat through an hours-long layover between long-haul flights, you know how exhausting and stressful the experience can be. For weary travelers, there seems to be a much better way: an airport lounge membership. While airport lounges remain shrouded in mystery for some, thought to be reserved for those with extreme airline loyalty or first-class status, they’re actually more accessible than you might think. Here, we break down whether a lounge pass is worth it, and which one might be right for you.

Is It Worth It? What You Get In an Airport Lounge

The benefits of airport lounge access are pretty sweet—we’re talking free food, alcohol, WiFi, and more. In airports where you often have to pay for internet or the connection is spotty, that last point is critically important, especially for those traveling on business. In addition, most lounges offer quiet spaces for calls and meetings plus charging ports for your devices.

For folks just traveling for fun, the food and drinks can be worth it alone. Those looking to wind down with a few drinks in the airport will rack up a hefty charge on their cards thanks to pricy bars, whereas those in lounges can sip at leisure for no extra cost. The same goes for food. After all, why pay for an overpriced sandwich in the terminal when you can munch on healthy bites for free in a lounge?

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, one perk universally applies: a designated space to relax. Airports can be filled with screaming kids, crying babies, and impolite adults—lounges offer an escape from all of that. There’s no better place to tune out the noise.

RELATED: 12 Tips (and Carry-On Essentials) for Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

The Cost of an Airport Lounge Membership

All those perks, however, come at a cost. Priority Pass, for example, charges $99 annually for its Standard Pass, which grants access to more than 1,200 Priority Pass lounges worldwide, plus an additional $32 for each visit and each guest visit to priority pass lounges. The Prestige Pass costs $429 a year, though all personal visits are free (each guest visit is still $32). If you plan on visiting more than 13 lounges over the course of a year, this pass pays for itself versus the Standard Pass.

A cheaper alternative for less frequent fliers may be Lounge Pass (owned by the same company), which offers single-visit rates for over 500 lounges worldwide starting at just $19. With these passes, you can only stay in the lounge up to three hours, so it’s best suited for shorter layovers. International travelers might also consider Plaza Premium, which offers day passes of varying price points for lounge locations in 30 airports worldwide like Changi Airport in Singapore and London Heathrow. (Note: none are in the U.S.)

All in all, it’s up to you whether you consider time spent in an airport lounge a worthy investment. For business travelers and frequent fliers who aren’t committed to a single airline, the perks may make up for the cost, while less frequent travelers should probably opt for day passes.

RELATED: 6 Ways to Deal with Travel Stress, According to Jetsetter Editors

Making the Most of the Airport

Can’t swing the lounge pass? Another way to improve your airport experience is by investing in Clear, a groundbreaking security technology company that accelerates the pre-flight screening process, minimizing the time you’d waste waiting in hours-long security lines. After you’re in, here are some more airport essentials to make any layover a bit easier:

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