With increased security restrictions , complex check-in proecedures and heavy peak hour traffic, it’s always advisable to head to the airport 2-3 hours earlier.But once you are done with formalities,you have to sit in the airport until boarding for couple of hours minimum. Or if you are flying between cities with a long layover,you desperately need a place to relax. This could be a boring wait and even difficult, especially while travelling alone. The only way to beat this is the premium lounges that’s present in all airports. But getting inside can be quite an expensive affair. Sometimes it’s more than your actual plane ticket.So if you are wondering how to get free airport lounge access, this post is just for you.
Benefits & Amenities of Airport Lounges
Every airport in the world have premium lounges, both in the domestic and international terminal. This is however accessible only after check-in and security check points and before boarding. So before we head to how to get the free airport lounge access, it’s important to know what do you get in lounges
- Free Food : Yes, why would we ever say no to a delicious buffet spread , everything from starters, soups,main course and more importantly desserts. Depening on the access type, you may get free alcohol while some offer it on a chargeable basis.
- Lounge chairs : The best part about lounges is the massage chairs, recliners and business tables. With a long flight ahead, you may really want to rest those legs and get some relaxation. The boarding gate chairs may not be friendly either for relaxation or to get some work done on your laptop. Airport lounges offers you the luxury comfort you desire.
- Facials & Beauty services : Some international lounges offer facials, makeup and a whole lot other beauty services. This also includes spas and massages in certain airports.
- Clean Rest rooms : Some people have the aversion to use rest rooms in public spaces, especially airports. Lounges offer luxurious clean showers and rest rooms for the traveller and this one reason alone is worth all the effort.
- Fast Wifi :Though several airports have started offering free Wifi services, these are usually limited to an hour and have limited speeds. Lounges have unlimited free access to internet and generally faster than the publically available ones
Cost of lounge access
Most domestic lounges in India cost approximately 750 INR (13 $) while an international lounge may cost upwards of 2500 INR (38 $). But then, here are ways to get it for free.
Ways to get free Airport lounge access
1.Fly Business Class / First Class :
This is an option that goes without saying. Every airline offers complimentary lounge access to all their business and first class passengers. However this is valid only for the current trip and not for future economy travel tips, even with the same airline.This is also valid if you get a complimentary upgrade to business for whatsoever reason. However this access is valid only for the current trip and not for future economy travel tips, even with the same airline.
2.Premium Credit Cards :
One of the foremost ways to get a free airport lounge access is to get a credit card that offers the same. Most popular cards have separate credit card for loung access. A few examples include:
- HDFC Regalia card : This gives you complimentary lounge access (to both international and domestic) for a certain no of visits. However th card will cost you 3000 INR / year (50$)
- Citi Premier Miles Credit Card : The Citibank Premier miles card offers 6-8 complimentary lounge vists per quarter . This also comes at an annual fee of 3000 INR/ year (50$)
- SBI : The SBI Signature Corporate Card & SBI Platinum Corporate Card also offers complimentary access to airport lounges. This is also charged exactly at 3000/year but you can avail only 2 lounge visits/quarter
- American Express : American Express Platinum Travel Credit Card offers you the lounge access option. However this costs 3500 INR plus taxes for the initial year and 5000 INR plus taxes for every year after. This can tend to be expensive for domestic trips. However Amex has premium travel lounges in a few international airports by themselves . Additionally you get access to VIP lounges elsewhere and this can truly be beneficial.
Other banks including ICICI, Standard Chartered Bank etc also offer similar access in their premium cards.
Hack to avoid credit card annual fees :
You can try this , if you generally spend a lot on credit cards. Call up the customer care . You usually get priority service for these cards. Tell them you are a big spender and you feel this extra charge is not appreciated. More ofter than not , atleast the first year charges are completely waived off.
3. Free Lounge Access with Ola Select(India)
Ok, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have known that this comes with a complimentary lounge access. As a Level 4 contributor to Google Maps, I was given a one month trial to use Ola Select by Google. When I browsed through the Select membership benefits, I came to know about this complimentary access.
- Benefits of Ola Select
You’d wonder why this option may seem favourable than the above credit cards. The reason is as follows. The dependence to use Cabs has quadrupled in the last year. The emergence of Ola & Uber has created an awareness to prefer cabs than using our own vehicles. Most people have actually ditched their cars and travel by cabs on a daily basis to office. However given the increased demand, the rates usually surge 2-3X with lesser availability. Sometimes you don’t even get a cab, if its late night or at peak hours. In case you are an Ola select Member you get the following things:
No surge pricing on cabs (at any time) , Skip booking queue (priority request), No cancellation charges, Prime/Sedan cars at a Mini hatchback rate , Airport Lounge Access, Priority Customer support, Wifi inside cabs and special invites to City events etc. Cost of Ola Select is approx 3000INR for a 6 month period.
Hope this article was useful to you in some way possible. Do comment if you know any other smart ways that could get you the much desired airport lounge access.
Do check out my post on getting cheap international flight tickets.