Airline club memberships or Priority Passes
seem to be at the top of every frequent flier’s wish list (and many occasional travelers who’ve only heard about the fabulous benefits). They want the chance to get away from the chaos of the terminal and relax, freshen up, have a cocktail, read a book or check their email.
“The Northwest lounge is great – clean, spacious bathrooms, a free glass of wine or Bloody Mary, free wifi and charging, cheese and crackers to go.”
“I love the Continental lounge – it’s quiet, I can wash up, relax and feel a little pampered while waiting for my connecting flight.”
You don’t have to be flying first class or a business traveler to venture into this passenger nirvana. Many airport clubs and lounges sell 1-day passes. And one of the best places to try one out, according to Bob Batz, Jr. of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is The Oasis at JFK Airport
in New York.
He writes that anyone wanting to spend $45 can make her way in. You get up to 5 hours of all the food you can eat, all the beverages you can drink, including free beer, wine and liquors. There are clean bathrooms with showers, lots of comfy places to stretch out, computers with internet access and free wi-fi, TVs, magazines, just about anything you could ever want is inside this lounge. It’s owned by KLM and caters to VIP passengers on 10 airlines but independent travelers are definitely welcome.“Wow - sign me up,” says Woman Road Warrior Traveler-in-Chief, Kathy Ameche. “Free food, drink and wi-fi? When flying first class on international flights, there's a separate airport lounge one can go to and get free food and drink - it's not as diverse as the Oasis. I had been a Red Carpet (UAL) club member for years. Yes, you got free drink (non alcoholic) - you had to pay for the alcohol. As for food – you got chips, peanuts, granola bars and fruit. Hardly the food they were describing at the Oasis."
Kathy says she'd go out of her way to stop there. "At $45 for up to five hours - I'd plan long layovers just to hang out and experience the food/drink etc. I'd say it's about a wash if you and your spouse are traveling through JFK, and have a layover that requires getting food."
United Red Carpet offers 1-day passes for $50 at the airport or $35 online at United.com. The passes are only valid for one location. Say you’re traveling from Chicago to Denver – you can only use it in one city. But you can use them at any Red Carpet or Continental Presidents Club worldwide. You can get a 1-day pass for American’s Admiral Club as well – its $50 passes are good for multiple locations.
If you want more than a 1-day pass, here’s a Woman Road Warrior tip - check with your employer. If your organization has a formal travel and entertainment policy, find out if it allows the cost of the club membership to be a reimbursable expense. If not, but you are a senior member of the company, see if an exception can be made. If your company won’t reimburse you, but you are a member anyway, do yourself a favor: If you see your boss or another senior member of your company waiting at the gate, invite her to join you in the lounge. Club rules usually allow a member to bring up to two guests.
See you on the road!
Road Reporter Vicki Zwart
Labels: airline club memberships, business traveler, frequent flier, lounge, Oasis, woman road warrior