Life Travel How to get into those fancy airport lounges
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How to get into those fancy airport lounges

airport lounge
You don't always have to be a frequent flyer to score some perks. Photo: Getty
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Without a platinum credit card, zillions of frequent flyer points or hefty annual fees, it can seem impossible to get into one of those exclusive airport lounges.

But with a few savvy steps, you too can gain access to those designer-chic lounges usually only glimpsed as the doors silently slide shut on you and the rest of the airport rabble.

Australia’s first ‘independent’ airport lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge, opened at Brisbane Airport at the end of September – and it’s mighty swish.

Italian marble, Victorian Ash timbers, barista-made coffee, wine, fresh-cooked food, not to mention peace and quiet.

It doesn’t matter which airline or class you are flying, with a same-day international flight, you can pay from $66 for 5 hours of lounge luxury.

That may sound a tad expensive, but remembering how much a stale toasted sandwich with plastic cutlery and a coffee costs at the airport puts that into some perspective. 

Long haul lounges

It’s on serious long-haul flights that these lounges really start to make sense.

The Plaza Premium Group has independent lounges at more than 35 international airports including classic Australian layovers such as Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi.

Singapore’s Plaza Premium Lounge, for example, offers all-day dining, drinks, plush chairs, private resting areas, showers (yes!) and magazines at a cost of around $55 for 5 hours.

Some lounges have massage, wellness centres and even ‘sleeping rooms’ as (paid) extras. 

Locate your lounge

Your best friend if you’re looking for (and booking) lounges is the free app LoungeBuddy, which has hundreds of airports listed. If you’re not a Frequent Flyer or Club member, search the 140-plus ‘purchasable locations’.

Dubai, a layover hotspot for Aussies, has five purchasable lounges at three different terminals (from $US35).

Heathrow’s stylish No 1 lounge (Terminal 3) has made-to-order food, a well-stocked bar, wifi, magazines, showers, a cinema, a children’s room ($US51 day pass) and (at extra cost) pod sleeping rooms and a ‘travel spa’.

You can search an airport name or key in your itinerary on LoungeBuddy and it will locate lounges on your route. Airline Club members and Frequent Flyers can also use the app to locate affiliated lounges around the world.

Joining Priority Pass is another option. Pay $US89 per year, then $US27 per entry. A higher annual fee gets you in for free. They have over 950 lounges listed in 400 cities, and a free app.

In the US, you can pay on the spot at many of the airlines’ airport lounges. They’re often more basic and busier, for domestic short haul flyers.

There are exceptions, such as the sleek Turkish Airlines Lounge international lounge ($US45) in Washington DC.

How else can you get into the lounges?

Flying First Class, and often Business Class, will get you into the lounge or affiliates of the airline you are flying with.

Qantas Club members ($895 to join, plus $510 a year) with same-day flights, can access Qantas or partner airline lounges, if they are travelling Qantas.

There’s a similar policy for Virgin Australia (joining fee of $330, annual fee $420).

Elite Frequent Flyer members (Gold, Platinum) can usually always access their airline’s lounge.

Credit cards with high annual fees often offer lounge access at various levels as a benefit.

Lounge tips

• Do your research. What are your priorities? A shower? A buffet? Free wine?

• Some fees are for a day pass, others for a few hours. Some lounges open 24/7.

• Check which Terminal the lounge is in.

Book ahead. Some accept walk-ins. Some fill up during peak times.

This view. Happy hour at the airport tonight? @hongkongairport #hkia #view #discoverhongkong

A photo posted by Plaza Premium Lounge (@plazapremiumlounge) on

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