Airport Lounge Access: How to Relax & Save Money

When traveling internationally, long layovers are often a right of passage. However, this part of the trip can turn sour when forced to sit at the terminal the entire time. The offspring are either tired, excited for new adventure, in need of some distraction or all of the above. That is where airport lounge access comes to the rescue!

During the first leg of our trip to Europe, our layover was in Minneapolis Saint-Paul International (MSP) airport. This is one of my favorite airports due to its host of dining options and overall aesthetics. However, this was the first time with the family on such a long layover. Lunch filled the first 30 minutes to the schedule. But with 3 1/2 hours to go my wife and I immediately went in search for something to prevent the ensuing adolescent breakdowns.

Airport lounge access at MSP

Low and behold…we discovered the PGA MSP Lounge! The $10 per person entry fee gave us unlimited putting, comfortable seats and interactive games to play. Perfect environment to keep us active, distracted and pass time away till boarding.

To my knowledge, this is the only PGA lounge, but airport lounge access in general is still a good option for families. But many of these safe havens can do damage to the travel budget for large families.

The average cost for a lounge day pass is $30-$50 per person according to SmartTraveler.com. That would equal $180 to $300 for our family of six! In my opinion, access to unlimited food, drink and comfortable seats do not make the price tag a worthy investment. Instead, consider these options…

Airport Lounge Access Tips

  • Leverage a third party app that provides airport lounge access without a membership. Services like Lounge Buddy offers entry into thousands of airport lounges. They can help you find the right lounge that can fit your budget
  • Purchase a lounge membership through a club. Networks like Priority Pass charge annual fees for access to thousands of lounges throughout the world. Some membership levels still require a reduced entry fee per person. Priority Pass Select offers entry for 2 guests and thus helps in reducing the overall cost. But mind the fine print. For example, Delta recently changed the rules so that you can only gain access to their lounges if you are traveling on a Delta flight that same day.
  • Sign up for a credit card rewards program that includes lounge access. This is the better option as it not only includes access to numerous lounges, you also get the multitude of other benefits such as rewards points and discounts on other travel expenses. Cards like American Express Platinum cover the cost of Priority Pass membership making the high annual credit card annual fee more worth it. We recently got the Platinum card so all six of us get access for free!

Airport lounge access can be just what your families needs during layover purgatory. Just make sure to plan ahead so that you don’t fork over too much cash for a few hours of respite.

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