Why Airport Lounge Access Is Key For Anyone (Like Me!) Who Doesn’t Live Near a Big City

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I recently took a trip to Thailand thanks to the Hong Kong Airlines mistake fare between the US and Bangkok that popped up late last year.  The tickets were a steal – you could fly in Business Class from either San Francisco or Los Angeles to a handful of cities in Asia, like Bangkok and Shanghai, for ~$635 round-trip.

That’s an insanely great deal considering tickets like these normally cost $3,000+.  Although there were some not-so-great things about the deal too, such as the limited routes and long layovers on most itineraries.  And it’s instances like this where having any number of the best credit cards with airport lounge access becomes more important than ever!

I’ll explain.

The Views From the AMEX Centurion Airport Lounge in Hong Kong Are Incredible

Airport Lounge Access Is an Invaluable Perk

When it comes to mistake fares and oftentimes even award tickets, finding reasonable itineraries can be tricky for anyone living outside of a big city.

Cheap flights to Hawaii?  Great!  But oh wait, those deals are only available from West Coast cities like Los Angeles and Seattle.

Sub-$400 fares across the pond to Europe?  How exciting!  But darn, they’re only good from cities like New York, Atlanta, and Miami.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been able to find some incredible deals out of my home airport of Missoula, Montana.  But they’re few and far between in comparison to deals from many of the major US cities.  And to take advantage of most deals I have to find my way to a nearby hub city, like Denver, Salt Lake City, or Seattle.

That’s not a huge deal and I’ll often just use miles and points for those “positioning flights” as well.  But taking a positioning flight adds to your travel time.  And sometimes it’s hard to create an efficient itinerary.

That said, there’s one credit card perk I’ve found to be extremely useful when it comes to making a long journey more comfortable – airport lounge access.

Having a 7.5 Hour Layover In Hong Kong Was WAY Easier Thanks to Airport Lounge Access

The airport lounge access I get with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has undoubtedly saved me tons of money over the years (enrollment required).  If I consider the entry fees alone, I’m sure I’ve saved over $1,000, and that doesn’t even account for the free food, Wi-Fi, and unquantifiable value of comfy seats and quiet surroundings.

For example, the mistake fare itinerary I mentioned earlier took us from Los Angeles to Bangkok, but included a 7.5-hour layover in Hong Kong, with our connecting flight Hong Kong departing at 2:00 am local time.  This was after the ~15-hour flight between Los Angeles and Hong Kong.  Plus, because of having to take a positioning flight between Missoula and Los Angeles, we had nearly 4 hours to spend in Los Angeles, too.

Thanks to airport lounge access, spending these long stretches in various airports wasn’t nearly as terrible.  And after landing in Hong Kong (and instead of having to curl up on the cold floor in the terminal!), we were able to take a warm shower, relax in semi-private surroundings, and eat delicious free food.

The Miracle Lounge in Bangkok Is Part of the Priority Pass Network and Open to Those With a Card Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve

We took advantage of airport lounge access on the flights home too.  Our flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong departed at noon, and instead of paying for breakfast at the hotel, we chose to head to the airport a little early to snag free breakfast at a lounge.  Getting there a little earlier also made the trip less hectic because we didn’t have the anxiety of needing to rush through check-in or security (which is especially great when you’re traveling with a toddler).

Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access

If you want to make life a lot easier for yourself and your travel companions, consider these cards:

  • Credit Card With Access to the Most Lounges:    The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Best Overall Travel Credit Card With Lounge Access:   Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Best Credit Card for United Airlines Flights:  United Club℠ Infinite Card
  • Best Credit Card for American Airlines Flights:   Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
  • Best Credit Card for Folks Who Want to Try Airport Lounges: United℠ Explorer Card

Anyone living outside of a major city should consider getting at least one of the best credit cards with airport lounge access.  Having access to airport lounges can be an invaluable perk for anyone who might have to spend extra time in the airport, which is often the case for those of us in smaller cities.  That way you can continue to take advantage of many of the great miles and points deals (and even mistake fares!) while ensuring you’re traveling comfortably.

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Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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