Travel SOS: which airport lounge is worth the splurge?

Trav wants to know which airport lounge is worth the splurge.

Travel SOS: which airport lounge is worth the splurge?

Like many Australians, Trav has never enjoyed the pleasure of an airport lounge. He wants to, though, and in Travel SOS, he’s asked Lee Mylne which one is worth the splurge.

Q. Trav
I fly quite often but always use the cheapest route/airline, which means I never really have enough frequent flyer points or status credits to get me into lounges or to take advantage of some of the other perks, such as early boarding. I know you can join lounge networks for a fee – are they worth the money and if so, is there a particular one you would recommend?

A. Most airport lounges that we hear about are those belonging to the major airlines, which are available to travellers in Business Class or First Class, or by joining – at some considerable expense – an airline lounge club. But yes, there is a way to enjoy the benefits of a lounge without that – and I reckon it’s worth it, if you are on a long-haul flight or have a lengthy transit time between flights.

airport lounge abu dhabi

This is also a good way to go if you are not ‘loyal’ to one airline or airline alliance network such as OneWorld, SkyTeam or Star Alliance, or if you are not a ‘frequent enough’ traveller to see the value in paying several hundred dollars up front. So lounge networks allow you to use independent lounges, which offer the same kinds of facilities as the airline lounges. Most of them have free food and drinks – including alcohol – and free wifi, as well as that most important thing during a long-haul flight: a shower!

Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program, giving access to more than 1000 airport lounges in more than 500 cities. It has three different membership plans to suit all types of traveller – Standard (US$99 per year), Standard Plus (US$249) and Prestige (US$399). In Standard and Standard Plus, you pay US$27 per visit and you can take a guest for the same price.  Standard Plus members get 10 free visits before the fee kicks in, and Prestige members always get free entry (but not for their guests).

Another good source of information about lounge access is Lounge Buddy, a website that has a comprehensive listing of lounges and what they offer, along with useful filters and a trip planning tool that shows which credit cards, fare classes, or elite status give you free access (or how much it will cost you).  You can also download the Lounge Buddy app to use while you’re on the go, and make instant bookings at about 100 lounges, in some of the busiest airports in the world.

What you pay will differ depending on the airport. For example, Lounge Buddy lists two Australian airports – Brisbane (Plaza Premium lounge costs $66 for access) and Sydney ($71 for access to the SkyTeam Lounge).

In some of the large and busiest airports – such as London’s Heathrow – you have a choice of lounge that grants access for a fee, ranging from $39 to $131.

Closer to home, a friend of mine recently paid for lounge access while travelling domestically – at Brisbane, she paid $39 and at Cairns $45.

Trav, don’t forget to also check with your credit card company, as some include lounge access as a benefit of being a cardholder. These include some levels of Westpac and ANZ cards and American Express.

Do you have a travel question for Lee? If so, email your Travel SOS to



    To make a comment, please register or login
    25th Mar 2017
    None! Do you get on a plane to be wined and dined or to fly somewhere? Save your money.
    25th Mar 2017
    Agree !! Save your Hard Earned for the Destination Experience(s) :)
    25th Mar 2017
    Don't knock it until you have tried it. It is not just the unlimited hot and cold drinks, hot and cold snacks, but the luxury of being able to lean back in a comfy armchair, have a nap in hushed surroundings and without worrying your bag is going to be snatched, have a refreshing shower, etc. During a long wait for connecting or delayed flights these things can really take the pain and stress out of travel.
    Polly Esther
    25th Mar 2017
    Agree !! Don't knock it, each to their own. Trust MICK. But then he's never experienced it, has he?

    26th Mar 2017
    You cant take it with you Mick

    And Heyybob, the journey should as much fun as the destination. Why travel in discomfort

    Look for cheap business class travel and if you cant afford that , break journey as much a practical and spend a couple of days in a transit destination hotel, see the sights before arriving at your final destination.

    What's the hurry.

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