You can get access to airport lounges by flying in premium cabins (business class or First Class), earning elite status with an airline, or by having a premium travel credit card that grants lounge access as one of its perks.
Generally speaking, as long as you’re flying in a premium cabin (i.e., business class or First Class), you’ll be able to access some kind of lounge before you depart, unless you’re flying from a very small airport with no premium facilities.
If you’re flying in economy class, there are many ways you could get lounge access as well. First of all, if you have elite status with your airline, then whenever you fly with the airline (or in some cases, its partner airlines as well) you’ll be able to access the lounge regardless of your class of travel.
For example, Star Alliance Gold members can access any lounge operated by a Star Alliance airline as long as they have a same-day boarding pass on Star Alliance, even if it’s in economy class.
Otherwise, there are many global lounge network memberships that you can use to access airport lounges. Priority Pass is the big one, although there’s MasterCard LoungeKey and the LoungeBuddy app as well.
While you can pay outright for these memberships, the most popular way to get them is as a perk on a premium travel credit card. For example, the American Express Platinum Card and the American Express Business Platinum Card offer you unlimited Priority Pass lounge visits along your travels. If you fly frequently, this single perk alone can go a long way towards justifying the annual fees on some of these cards.
The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite gets you six complimentary Priority Pass lounge passes per year, while the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite gets you four complimentary visits per year.
Lastly, airline co-branded credit cards might have lounge access perks as well. For example, the CIBC Aerogold Visa Card for Business gets you an annual one-time lounge pass to visit Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges on an Aeroplan reward ticket.
Last updated 23 November 2018. Any questions? Contact me.