Rookie Wednesday: I got schooled by a reader about lounge access!

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 RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

Last weekend I flew a few miles and along the way popped into a few lounges (and got barred from one too)! Just what is the big deal about airport lounges? Let’s take a look. I will start with a quote from a flyer who sat next to me for a while in the MSP lounge. He turned to me and said:

“quite a difference compared to sitting out in the concourse wouldn’t you say”?

I agreed and smiled and nodded. Unlike the hard, cramped seats in the gate area, I was sitting in a nice leather reclining chair.

Well that is nice but it is just a chair. There are now power ports all over the gate areas. Wifi for free (for at least a little while) and is coming to more and more airports. At the gate there are agents if I need help. So why even bother with lounge access? Let me show you why and the reasons it is worth the effort:

  • Free Wifi with decent speed. Almost all lounges offer free wifi and fast enough to use Skype if needed. Try that with a free hot spot.
  • Refreshments. Depending on the lounge, there are nice snacks, food, drinks both alcoholic and non. Some you can almost have a meal (most Delta ones are just munchies but still, it’s free).
  • Showers. Many lounges have showers. I don’t know about you, but after flying a long time, especially overnight flights, a refreshing shower makes me a new man! Plus, the bathrooms in the lounge are much nicer than out in the concourse.
  • Comforts. The seating, while maybe a minor point to some, is much more comfortable and offers more personal space than in the gate area. The atmosphere is also generally much more quiet than in the gate area where blaring announcements typically make trying to have a conversation nearly impossible.
  • When things go wrong, gate agents are swamped with all the passengers on the flight. In the lounge, you have just about instant access to Delta agents rather than having to wait in long lines.
  • Power ports for everyone. Not just a few, they are everywhere. I live with a ton of toys and need them at full power before I fly.
  • Many have access to PC’s and printers if you need to print something out like hotel or car info or maps etc. I know almost no one sends a fax anymore but if you need it some can do that too.

So now you know my reasons why. But why did I say I got schooled by a reader? I did not think of the INK cards 2 free lounge passes when visiting Istanbul airport (guess I need to go back again right 😉 )! I love thinking outside the box. So if you want all of the above, how do you get it free? Unlimited access takes a card with a yearly fee. But, a great deal of cards give you a few passes each year. Let’s take a look the ones that we, as Delta flyers, can benefit most from:

1) INK Bold and the INK Plus cards from Chase that both have great bonus points offers when you get the card. Both of these give you 2 free visits via the LOUNGE CLUB™. There are very few domestic lounges (but there is one in Atlanta) you can use but if you travel internationally, this could be a nice perk for free!

two free airport lounge visists lounge club chase ink delta points blog

If you already have the cards, you can sign up HERE with the code CHASEINK. Keep in mind if you go more than your 2 free visits/year, it will cost you and be billed to your INK cards.

2) The United card. This card, each year you keep it, gives you two free passes to the United Club. You don’t have to be flying on United and you can give them to anyone you want to. I visited one when we were in DEN HERE since there was no Skyclub.

3) The US Air card ! You get just one pass but they are digital. Again, you don’t have to be flying on US Air to get into the US Airways Club. You get one each year you keep the card. With the merger, at some point, you should be able to use it with an AA lounge I would think – we will see – maybe not. I visited  a US Air Club HERE in PIT on a mileage run last year.

These are the main FREE pass ones with no first year fee for the cards to get access. Now the cards that do have hefty fees. Keep in mind these are for you if you fly often and want unlimited access over just now and then (or like me, when I find myself in an airport without a Skyclub or Skyteam lounge).

  • Delta AMEX Reserve card. The card gets you, your family, or up to 2 guests can join you and get complimentary access, when flying on a Delta ticket, to the Sky Clubs.
  • Platinum Membership Rewards AMEX. Like the Delta card, you, your family, or up to 2 guests can join you and get complimentary access to Delta lounges as well as AA and US Air. You get priority pass select (PPS) card for additional access but it will cost you to visit with PPS (for some lounges or you +1 to enter).

Notice that some of these are domestic only others are international. With Delta, if you are GOLD Medallion or higher you can get (most times) into Skyteam and partner lounges outside the USA when traveling. The last way to try to get in, is to try to get a FT’er to guest you in. You can both offer and ask to get in at this thread HERE.

So there you are and the most common travel situations. I have not touched much on “aspirational” lounges, like the 1st class lounge in FRA, but do try to visit there once in your life (it is very nice). There is also a Citi & United high end card but for us Delta flyers, the above will be a better fit for us IMO. Why not at least try the free options from the cards above and spend some time in the lounges and see if you do not agree that it’s a nice way to make your travel experience so much better and fun! Try to book 2-3 hours between flights so you have enough time. Any other ideas I have forgotten about? Continue to “school” your DeltaPoints blogger – René
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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  1. Your comment of “You get priority pass select (PPS) card for additional access but it will cost you to visit with PPS” is incorrect.

    I have used my Priority Pass Select card to get into the AS Boardroom in Seattle, USAirways Club in PIT, Club LAS, AAdmirals Club in SJU and the PrimeClub CIP lounge in IST and have not had to pay a dime. There IS a fee, however, for additional guests.

    The other difference between the PPS and regular Priority Pass card is that it will NOT get you into United Clubs.

  2. I am flying business class on Delta to Milan in May and was wondering if that includes access to their lounges. I thought I read somewhere that it does but I figured I’d ask the expert.

  3. @Buddy M – yes both domestic AND Skyteam INT lounges.
    @Heather – The DL Plat card gets you for $25 per visit. The DL Reserve card gets you in Skyclubs.

  4. I think for the infrequent Delta flyer (maybe 1-4 flights per year?), the Delta AMEX Platinum card is great, as access is only $25 and can be used on an “as needed” basis.
    If the flier has a tight connection, then they won’t likely use any lounge access. If it is a hour or so, they may not be able to visit a US Airways nor United lounge (depending on concourse), so the $25 access near their gate may be better.
    Also, Delta’s lounges seem to allow the card holder and their family (or two additional people) to enter vice just one person with the United cards. Not sure the UA passes allow the family, but US Airways does.
    All in, I like having the discounted pass available for use as needed.

  5. the United and American clubs i’ve visited are no match for the DTW skyclub!

    not relevant to this post, just saying…

  6. This was an interesting post. I suggest you might consider putting it on your “essentials” page, as a reference for the future.

  7. Regarding the Chase Ink Lounge Club 2 free visits: when admitting 2 people into the lounge, does that count as 1 or 2 visits?

  8. Hi Rene!
    I’m flying on a Delta-ticketed AF flight out of IAH in Coach. I have the Delta SkyMiles Gold credit Card (that lets me buy 1-day access at SkyClubs for $25). However, there are no DL lounges at IAH. Is there any way to get in to either the KL or AF lounges with the card?

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