Domestic Airline Lounge Memberships Comparison


Getting delayed or lost in an airport can be a distressing experience. It’s also common for people to feel like they’re not being accommodated properly. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce stress and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from being in an airline lounge.

The new legislation invests in airports and other infrastructure projects. It’s estimated that these projects will benefit the industry and the traveling public.

TAKEAWAYS IMPORTANT Airlines lounges, as frequent passengers know, can make any airport visit more comfortable and less stressful. There are now just six major and regional airlines in the United States that offer member lounges in American airports.

Consider the number and convenience of locations, the amenities provided, and the cost of membership when evaluating the value or overall quality of an airport lounge.

If membership benefits include access to airport lounges, getting a travel rewards credit card can be a good idea.

Airline Lounges

Over the years, the number of airlines offering branded lounges has shrunk. As a result, there are now only six airlines that offer this service in the US.

  • Alaska Board Room, Alaska Airlines (ALK)
  • Admirals Club, American Airlines (AAL)
  • Delta Sky Club, Delta Air Lines (DAL)
  • Premier Club, Hawaiian Airlines (HA)
  • United Club/United Global First Lounge United Airlines (UAL)
  • Virgin America Clubhouse and Loft, Virgin America (VA)

Getting into an airline lounge can be challenging. The key to unlocking the doors is to earn elite status within the company’s frequent flyer program. This can be done by simply booking the necessary number of eligible fares.

To find the best one for you, we’ve analyzed the various features and pricing policies of the six airlines’ lounges. We’ve also ranked them based on their overall satisfaction score.

Getting a rewards credit card can help you get started with elite status within an airline’s frequent flyer program.

Location

Since airlines own their own lounges, they can also offer access to facilities operated by other airlines in other countries.

  • Alaska Airlines: With 650+ global partner lounges, Alaska Airlines has a presence in six major U.S. cities.
  • American Airlines: With 32 global hubs and access to 60 partner lounges, American Airlines is the world’s second-largest airline.
  • Delta Airlines: More than 50 Sky Club locations across the world, including partners. Hawaiian Airlines has five Premier Club locations in Hawaii and one Plumeria lounge, as well as global partners.
  • United Airlines: There are 32 United Airlines locations in the United States and internationally.
  • Virgin America has six global locations and more than 20 global partners.

Delta and American offer the most lounge selections, therefore they share the title of best airport lounge in this category.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some airlines have restricted the number of guests that can access their lounge.

Amenities

These days, most airport lounges offer free Wi-Fi, television, and periodicals. In domestic facilities, however, the fare usually includes a few bites and a drink.

  • Wi-Fi, office workstations, refreshments, and alcoholic beverages are all available in Alaska.
  • American: Wi-Fi, business workstations, snacks, cash menus for meals (in certain locations), some alcoholic beverages, cash bar, showers (in some locations), and children’s play areas (some locations)
  • Delta offers Wi-Fi, office workstations, snacks, soups, and salads, as well as some alcoholic beverages, a cash bar, and showers (some locations)
  • Wi-Fi, food, and alcoholic beverages are all available in Hawaiian.
  • Wi-Fi, office workstations, refreshments, most alcoholic beverages, and a cash bar for premium alcoholic beverages are all available at 11 United.
  • Wi-Fi, a cash menu for snacks and meals, free beer and wine, a cash bar for drinks, and spa services are all available on Virgin America (New York location only)

The American Airlines lounge provides the most variety of amenities compared to the other airport lounge offerings.

Annual Costs

Some airlines allow frequent-flier miles to be used with their charge cards instead of cash.

The prices shown here are for the first year and the second year of membership.

  • Alaska: $45013 
  • American: $650 per person; $1250 per family 
  • Individual membership costs $545; executive membership costs $845
  • Hawaiian: $299
  • United: $65016
  • Virgin America: Open to all customers flying in Upper Class and Flying Club Gold members17 *Membership provides other perks such as speedy check-in, two free checked bags, and pre-boarding

Day Tripping

A one-day pass is a good option for people who usually fly very few times a year. It can be used for free access to various facilities and services of a given carrier, but there are some caveats.

  • Alaska: $5018
  • American: $5914
  • Delta: Discontinued in 2018
  • Hawaiian: $40 for Plumeria Lounge15
  • United: $5916
  • Virgin America: Open to all passengers flying with an Upper-Class boarding pass and Flying Club Gold members

Some restrictions may apply to certain airlines’ lounges. For instance, Delta Sky Club members may not be able to access certain international partner lounges.

Like most clubs, there are rules. For instance, Delta has rules regarding the dress code and disruptive behavior. These rules apply to both members and guests.

The Bottom Line

The value of being in an airport lounge is apparent to anyone who has been there. However, some people, even with enough miles, may not be able to afford to join a membership.

If you’re a frequent flier and are looking for a way to get around the restrictions of an airline, consider Priority Pass, which is a membership-based service that gives access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. Annual fees for standard membership are usually around $99 and $32.

James Newman

James Newman is an air travel fanatic. From the fear of flying, TSA regulations, and saving money on flights & airlines, James has extensive knowledge when it comes to air travel. He hopes to make your air travel experience a better one with his blog flyingcomfortably.com.

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