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reisetopia Basics: How do you get access to an airport lounge?
In a Airport lounge you can spend your time before departure much more comfortably than in the normal waiting areas. It is much easier to get into a lounge than you might think at first. In this article by reisetopia Basics, we explain what a lounge basically has to offer and what methods there are to gain access to one!
Table of Contents
What does an airport lounge offer?
An airport lounge is a separate waiting area with limited access where you can relax and wait for your flight. These are often much quieter and less crowded than the waiting areas in front of the gate, and depending on the lounge there are some nice extras that can make your stay even nicer.
The service standards are not uniformly regulated for an airport lounge, but in any case you can expect more comfortable seating than the normal benches. Most lounges have at least comfortable armchairs, while the more exclusive lounges also have separate rooms with adjustable or lounge chairs where you can take a little nap. Nowadays WiFi is also part of the standard equipment, which is also quite fast in most cases, so that even streaming videos is not a problem.
There is also usually a range of food and drinks, but the range of choices is quite wide depending on the lounge, so there are lounges that offer several warm dishes and, in addition to normal drinks, a self-service bar for alcohol, but also some where there is only some snacks and a refrigerator with a few drinks cans to choose from.
The sanitary facilities are usually much cleaner than the regular waiting area and often not as full, so that you feel much more comfortable here. Some lounges at large international airports also offer their visitors the option of using washrooms with showers and the necessary amenities so that you can refresh yourself again during a longer stopover or before starting your journey.
How do I get access to an airport lounge?
Not every lounge is the same, and different lounges often also have different access conditions, which we want to roughly break down into two categories here.
Airline lounge / contract lounge
As the name suggests, this type of airport lounge is operated by the airlines themselves or has a contract with an airline that enables their premium passengers to use the lounge. These include, for example, the Business Lounges and Senator Lounges from Lufthansa, which can be found at many major European airports. Such lounges are most often represented at the hubs of an airline, but lounges are also set up at outstations if there are sufficiently high numbers of passengers or an external company is commissioned to operate an independent lounge at an airport. These lounges are mostly airside, i.e. after the security check at the gates, so that the time required from the transfer from the lounge to the gate is usually limited.
You don't necessarily have to fly with the airline to be able to use the lounge: Within an aviation alliance, partnerships are also concluded via lounge access, so that when you fly with an alliance airline and have frequent flyer status, you can use all airport lounges that are operated by the respective partner airlines operate. As an example: United does not have its own lounge in Frankfurt, but thanks to the Star Alliance partnership, the Lufthansa and Air Canada lounges can be used.
You can only take advantage of an airline lounge if you are also flying with the airline that operates the lounge. Such a lounge usually also has a service counter, which can also make changes to bookings or upgrades. In the event of a cancellation, for example, you do not have to go to another counter, but can change your booking directly in the lounge.
Access to such lounges cannot usually be bought, but is included either due to your travel class or your frequent flyer status. Practically all full-service airlines offer all passengers from Business Class free lounge access. Even if you are flying in Economy Class but have Star Alliance Gold, oneworld Sapphire or Skyteam Elite Plus status, you can enjoy the comfort of an airline lounge, but only if your flight is also operated by Allianz, with You hold the status.
(Exception: American airlines on domestic flights - here a separate membership in a program is required)
These lounges can be used by every passenger, regardless of the travel class or the airline booked. This allows you to use an airport lounge if you are flying in economy class and do not have frequent flyer status or the airline does not offer lounge access in any form, as is often the case with low-cost airlines. Well-known brands are for example the Plaza Premium Lounge or the Luxx Lounge, some of which are also used as contract lounges.
Access to such a lounge must be purchased, either by purchasing a one-time lounge ticket or by becoming a member of a program such as Priority Pass, which offers worldwide lounge access at participating lounges for a monthly fee. You can also get lounge access with premium credit cards, so American Express offers the holders of an American Express Platinum Card a free Priority Pass (value: ~ 350 euros) for the card holder and one additional person. Both can also take one guest each into the respective lounge.
This type of lounges can be found both airside and landside, so they can be located before or after the security check. If the lounge is before the security check, you have to plan extra time for the security check and leave it early before the departure time, so that you can not relax as long as in lounges that are airside.
Conclusion on the use of airport lounges
Quickly doing something on the laptop before a flight or being able to have a bite to eat is a practical matter and much more pleasant than having to wait on a bench at the gate. Anyone who has been granted access through their travel class or frequent flyer status does not even cost extra and is an important benefit of a frequent flyer program. Whether a lounge program like the Priority Pass is worthwhile for you depends on how often you are out and whether you can use airline lounges or not. The purchase of a credit card with lounge access such as the American Express Platinum Card can also be worth a look, because it gives you lounge access and many other services at a very attractive price!
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