I have to admit, I spend way too much money on Credit Card annual fees to give me access to various airport lounges, but for me, the benefits outweigh the cost. Picking the right credit card is a very personal choice, but for me, its the Citi Prestige and Amex Platinum cards. I’ve made these two choices because I’m loyal to American Airlines. I opted not to open the Citi American Airlines Executive card because I fly American, I wanted miles that I could transfer to another airline, but that is a different story.
Through the credit cards, you get Airport Club access and I personally find it very valuable. Most people dread going to the airport and I don’t blame them, there is nothing to look forward to. Crowded terminals, noisy boarding areas, and expensive food. The Airline lounge is quiet, relaxed, and mostly free snacks/alcohol. If your flight is delayed or you have a layover, the lounge is a great place to sit back, relax, and have a few beers. The free Wifi also makes getting work done or catching up on emails a breeze.
Not all lounges are created equal. American Airlines is in the process of updating their lounges and most of the new ones are quite nice and the added food options are great, but the AA lounges just can’t measure up to the American Express Centurion Lounge. If you fly out of LGA, DFW, SFO, LAS, MIA, or SEA the Amex Platinum Card makes a lot of sense. The Centurion lounges offer an amazing selection of food. Each location has a unique chef and food option vary, but all offer full meals rather than just snacks. There is also a ton of free alcohol options, not just domestic beers and wine. Sadly, Centurion lounge employees do not have the same access to airline reservations that the Airline lounges offer and often that can be the most important reason to have airline lounge access.
If a flight is delayed or canceled, you can go to the Airline Lounge for rebooking. The employees are generally able to do more than a typical gate agent. (or willing to do more) Countless times, I’ve gotten a better seat, moved to an earlier flight, upgraded, etc. All you have to do is ask. For me, this is the greatest perk of the airline lounge. I loved my experience in the Centurion lounge, but not having access to airline employees could become frustrating. If I had to chose, I would pick the Admirals Club over the Centurion lounge.