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Airport Lounges - VIP, Luxury & Cheap: Gain Access without Spending a Fortune

With more and more of us taking to the skies each year airports are becoming ever more stressful places due to cancelled or delayed flights, seemingly endless queues, noise, lost luggage etc. Airport lounges offer a sanctuary from all this peril and in this guide we offer tips and advice on how to gain access to them without spending a fortune and some ways that you might get you in for free.

We also pull back the curtain and explain some of the luxuries you can enjoy at some of the best lounges out there.

Saving on Lounge Passes

Rely on the kindness of strangers: Most airport lounges allow first-class flyers to bring one person with them as their guest. This doesn’t cost the member anything extra, so it’s a way for you to gain access to a lounge for free. All you need to do is ask.

Buy a Day Pass: Several airlines now sell day passes that allow you enjoy the relaxing environment of an airport lounge. Sites like Priority Pass and Lounge Pass offer day passes for minimal expenditure that can be used both domestically and internationally. Buying passes in advance from an airlines website can also reduce the amount you need to pay for a pass. You can also buy lounge passes from other travellers on sites like eBay, but be aware that most lounges restrict the amount of time you can spend there to three hours, while some are only offered to passengers flying within that country so check the details and any restrictions of a lounge pass before you buy.

Buy a refundable 1st class ticket: The only way you can guarantee yourself access to some of the most luxurious airport lounges is with a first-class ticket leaving the same day. Although purchasing a fully refundable – check and double check before buying – first class ticket will obviously be very expensive it will guarantee you access. After using your ticket to enter the lounge you can cancel it before the flight’s departure time and receive a full refund on the purchase price.

Luxury Domestic Lounges

British Airways Concorde Room, Heathrow Airport: Styled like a gentleman’s study, this is a retreat with full waiter service, complimentary wines and champagne, private hotel-style cabanas with day beds and en-suite bathrooms. If that isn’t your cup of tea then booking a theatre ticket with the concierge means you can head to the terrace for a drink from the Concorde bar, complete with views of the runway.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses at Heathrow and JFK International: Both offer a head-spinning amount of services, from massages, facials and foot treatments to a Bumble and Bumble salon. Part of the lounge at Heathrow – known as ‘The Den’ – is a haven for gamers and film buffs alike, you can play on retro consoles or watch a film on state of the art multiscreens.

SkyTeam Lounge, Heathrow: Offers a wide range of amenities including free wi-fi, complimentary food and drink service, a quiet area complete with day beds and an oxygen bar; which allows you a 10-minute session of pure oxygen, including a choice of individual flavoured scents like citrus.

Top Tips:

- Some lounges are truly premium places others are just rest stops so check out review sites like Skytrax or Loungeguide before you buy.

- If you have an iPhone you can download the Loungebuddy app. It will tell you everything you need to know about a lounge including amenities, hours available, photos and previous reviews. If you enter your flight information it will also tell you which lounges you can access and how much it will cost.

- Elite status with an airline, such as silver or gold membership, is another way of gaining free access to airport lounges. This is a great option for frequent travellers who only fly with airlines in the same alliance.

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