First-class tickets are no longer the only keys to airport lounge access.

 For many a traveler, airport lounge access has become more of a necessity than a luxury. Now offering more than just business perks like WiFi, fax machines, and workspaces, airport lounges across the world are design-driven sanctuaries with complimentary libations, snacks, and self-pampering. However, restricting lounge access to just first- or business-class passengers is a thing of the past. Now, savvy travelers can reap the same benefits, thanks to economic and strategic methods.

American Express Platinum.

Simply owning and flashing an American Express Platinum Card ( grants access to the American Airlines Admirals Club, Delta Sky Club, and US Airways Club for two passengers when flying coach on the respective airline. Another valuable lounge perk of The Platinum Card: a Priority Pass Gold Card, providing complimentary entry to 600 third-party lounges around the globe.

Other credit cards.

The United MileagePlus Club Card ( permits lounge access to all United Club Lounges, regardless of the airline flown. The airline’s lower-fee MileagePlus Explorer Card arrives with a pair of United Club Lounge passes as an introductory bonus. Moreover, the Citi Executive/AAdvantage Mastercard offers Admirals Club Membership Privileges; however, if you already have an AmEx Platinum, the benefits of this card are few.

Annual Memberships

If you’re loyal to a single airline and spend time transferring through its hubs, then the hefty fee for an annual lounge membership (average $400) might be worthwhile. In some cases, these annual memberships will also get you into partner lounges through the airline’s larger alliance.

Day Passes

Forgoing the long-term commitment of an annual membership, day passes are available for the domestic lounges of most U.S. major airlines. Day passes average $50/person at the door, often with a significant discount for pre-purchase online.

Third-Party Options

A Priority Pass Card ( grants access to 600-plus airline-owned and private lounges with varying levels of memberships, depending on travel frequency. Lounge Pass ( allows passengers to pre-book a day pass at private international airport lounges, with fees starting at $29.

Elite Status

 In some cases, high elite status translates to free lounge access. Gold status or higher on US Airways or United is your ticket in to most global Star Alliance lounges, if you’re carrying a same-day international ticket. Gold Medallion status or higher on Delta serves as your pass to the SkyTeam lounges when you fly internationally.