Bring on the Long Layovers! How Airport Lounge Access Can Totally Change a Trip

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Bring on the Long Layovers!  How Airport Lounge Access Can Totally Change a Trip

Erin LizzoBring on the Long Layovers!  How Airport Lounge Access Can Totally Change a TripMillion Mile Secrets Team

Signing-up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Last year my husband and I flew to Myanmar.  Well, to be more specific, we flew from Denver to Tokyo to Bangkok to Myanmar.  This multi-day, multi-flight voyage was daunting, especially as I’m a person who is not the biggest fan of flying.

On long haul trips, I can convince myself that one 12-hour flight is doable.  That got us to Japan.  But then when I found out that Thailand was another eight-hour flight away it was tough not to cry.  Until I remembered that Spencer had a credit card that came with airport lounge access in his wallet that would make everything better.

Actually, it would make everything fantastic.

Airport Lounges Are the Perfect Place to Relax and Recharge Before a Flight or Between Long Connections

When I tell friends and family stories about my travels, the actual process of getting to the place doesn’t usually enter the storyline.  That all changed last year when Spencer signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.  I know, that sounds strange, right?  What does a credit card have to do with the airport experience?

When you sign up for this card, among other things (like a statement credit toward your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ fee), you’ll receive a Priority Pass membership which gets you, and up to 2 guests, free access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide.

This completely changed the way we think about travel.  Truly, it’s a key that separates a long, frustrating layover from an opportunity to relax with a complimentary meal and a glass of wine in a quiet place.

Now, when recounting a trip, there is almost always a story that involves something about a lounge we hung out in.  “You wouldn’t believe the cheese board at the lounge in Houston,” I’ll say.  Or I might complain about how we had to take an overnight bus from Boca del Toro back to Panama City after forgetting to book a regional flight in advance during the busy season.  But the story will end with “but at least I was able to take a fantastic shower in the airport lounge before boarding a six-hour flight back to the States.”  The pattern here is pretty obvious – a trip can both start and end on a high note when you’ve got access to an airport lounge.

No Apologies – Always Take Advantage of Your Airport Lounge Access

I used to suffer through long layovers, trying to find an empty bench near an outlet to recharge my phone.  Thank goodness those days are (mostly) over.  There’s something about holding a Priority Pass that feels like a security blanket.  Now my husband and I have access to all of the things that make travel more tolerable – food, alcohol, comfortable seating, a quiet place to relax, and free WiFi.

Recently, we were traveling with friends who didn’t have airport lounge access.  We had a two-hour layover waiting to catch our second flight to our final destination. Spencer and I both knew that there was a lounge almost directly above our gate.  We debated what we should do.  What would be the appropriate way to handle this situation?  Should we suffer through a layover in order to be polite?  Or should we take advantage of the fact that there was an open bar and (most likely) a large spread of free snacks just a two-minute walk from where we were standing?

An Airport Lounge Is the Best Way to Survive the Airport

We opted for the later, explaining that we’d meet our friends back at the gate when it was time to board.  No hard feelings, I hoped they would have done the same in our situation.  And next time we travel together, maybe they’ll have signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve as well so we can all relax and sip champagne together.

My Favorite Airport Lounge

From an open bar in Tokyo to unlimited Shan noodles in Yangoon and a hot shower in Panama, it’s tough to pick an airport lounge that tops them all.  But if I had to select a favorite, it would have to be The Grand Lounge Elite at the Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City.

This airport lounge is just the best.  It’s a bit of a trek from the gates in Terminal 1, but totally worth dragging your bags there, especially if you have a longer layover.  When you walk in, you’ll be directed to a large reclining chair with several buttons.  Your attendant will show you how to activate the massage functions of this chair while asking you if you’d like chilaquiles and a margarita (fresh lime juice, there’s no pre-made mix at this lounge).

This alone is my version of heaven but wait, there’s more.  At this lounge, you can head over to the small salon for a complimentary gel manicure!  I can’t think of anything more rewarding than receiving a manicure while biding time between flights.  It’s the last thing I would ever consider doing at the airport, but when it’s free at the airport lounge, a manicure feels like the best treat ever.

Have you considered signing up for a credit card that offers a lounge access?  Now that I have access to one, I can’t imagine traveling without it!  Do you think this would make a difference in the way you travel?  Is there any reason you wouldn’t sign up for a card to get a Priority Pass membership?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

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Maybe if you both had the CSR you’d each have a Priority Pass Select membership and able to guest both your friends into the lounge.

Priority Pass no longer useful!

I recently travelled to Buenos Aires, and Punta Del Este, UY.

On our flight from Miami the club would not allow us to enter – at capacity!

On our flight from Buenos Aires to Miami they would not allow us to enter – at capacity!

Only Punte Del Este allowed us in. The club was nice, but small.

I started to read about other locations and many clubs are denying access to PP members, preferring their Primary airlines.

Chase sells this as a real value. It’s a real bummer when you take your family across an airport for a 15 walk and only to be denied. It’s also feels embarrassing.

Really? Leave your friends at the gate and head to the lounge? I would rather hang with my friends at an airport restaurant or bar. Spending time with good friends is worth more than free drinks and snacks.

Author

Everyone has a different travel style – we knew we’d all have plenty of time together on our trip, so spending a few hours apart wasn’t a big deal! 🙂