Airport Lounges for rookies
Airport lounges have never held that much appeal for me. I prefer short layovers. The expense of a lounge membership or a high class airline ticket just isn’t in the cards for me most of the time. Our family flies a lot on Southwest Airlines out of airports that don’t even have those fancy lounges anyway.
On occasion, I’ve traveled on an award ticket in business or first class that gave me access to an airport lounge. When traveling internationally, it’s nice to sit in comfy arm chairs with lots of plugs for charging. The free food and drink is a welcome change from expensive airport fast food too. But those opportunities have been few and far between for me.
However, the travel community has been buzzing about the American Express Centurion lounges for a few years now. The American Express Platinum Card is what gets a person access to the Centurion lounges, which I happen to have, for lots of reasons I won’t go into. Last summer I was traveling through Las Vegas and was able to finally try out a Centurion lounge. I was traveling Southwest and had to take the tram to Concourse D. If my layover had been less than 2 hours, I don’t think I would have bothered. It would have made me too stressed to make it back to the correct concourse in time for my flight.
After checking in at the front desk, showing my credit card, ID and boarding pass, I was allowed inside. The modern bright space was a breath of fresh air. Bright colors and a variety of seating (including chaise lounges) were a welcome sight. The food is what really made my trek to a separate concourse worth it. A great soup, fancy pork cassoulet, and a fresh salad with interesting ingredients were a welcome change from the usual airport fare. I even had a choice of cookie, brownie or bread pudding with caramel sauce for dessert.
The lounge was well maintained with staff walking around to clear your table or offer to get me something. The fresh brewed iced tea really hit the spot for this girl from the heartland! I’ve been to a few airline specific lounges that seem like the tables are always dirty. Not this one. The bathrooms were modern and clean, complete with a shower suite if you need it. Bottom line is that I’d make the trek again if the opportunity arose.
My second lounge experience was a little different. Last weekend I found myself flying American Airlines out of O’hare airport in Chicago. I was flying coach, but had a couple of hours in the terminal. I have an American Airlines Advantage credit card that I thought would allow me access to the lounge. I decided it was worth a shot. So I went to the Admirals club in the H concourse because it was the closest one after I went through security. However, the lady at the front desk informed me that I didn’t have the correct AA credit card for access to the lounge. DENIED! I was a little surprised, but she was a little snooty, and not helpful, so I tucked my tail between my legs and left.
My coach flight was actually out of the G Concourse, so I headed that direction. As I walked, my mind kept churning that I knew I had access to Admirals club lounges somehow. So when I saw a smaller Admirals Club lounge close to my gate in concourse G, I was determined to give it another try. After searching the internet on my phone, I realized that my Citi Prestige card granted me access to the club. I gathered up my courage and entered this smaller lounge.
I approached the check-in counter by telling the lady that I was not very savvy in the ways of the airport lounge but that I thought my Citi Prestige card would allow me access. She was much more pleasant than the other Admirals lounge gatekeeper. After swiping my card, she agreed that I did have access and asked to see my ID. SUCCESS!! This lounge was rather small since it was servicing a concourse that had a lot of regional jets coming and going. But I welcomed the free beverages and snacks. The main difference from the Centurion lounge is the size, style and complimentary food available.
However, I enjoyed some fresh veggies with hummus, cheese and crackers, and my choice of two soups. I parked myself in a large arm chair with two side tables just for me, and several outlets to charge my devices. This lounge was rather crowded due to its small size, and the slow manner in which they cleaned off tables for new people. When my flight was delayed I just stayed a little longer and had a small coke as a dessert.
So there you have it. A recent tale of two airport lounges. This time I was given access based on having certain credit cards, not by flying in a high class seat. I certainly wouldn’t get credit cards just for lounge access. You’d go broke that way. I have those cards for a host of other reasons and with hefty annual fees I was eager to find even more value out of them. I’m not sponsored by any credit card companies and I didn’t even provide links for them in this post. Just making sure that you know that all opinions are my own. Don’t forget that each of those cards also have different rules about allowing spouses, family and/or guests, but as I was traveling alone both times, it didn’t matter on these trips.
If the opportunity arises, I’ll always visit an airport lounge for a place to charge my devices, visit a nice and clean restroom, and partake of some complimentary food and beverage. I’m just glad I have thick skin and perseverance, because this time it paid off in lounge benefits.