Five reasons to take a pass on airport lounges

So you are flying into an airport either really early in the morning, or late at night. There is a layover in the airport for several hours. Or the departure of your flight has been delayed for many hours due to airplane maintenance issues, inclement weather or perhaps an Act of God.

So do you sit quietly in your seat, by your appointed Gate? Drown your sorrows in a super size Big Mac combo or do you suck it up?

Or alternatively, do you splurge for a day pass on one of those exclusive airport lounges, reserved for the air travelling elite?  Map Happy via Huffington Post has just listed some  good reasons to skip the airport lounge.

These are my five reasons why to pass on airport lounges:

1. Don’t Give in to the Hype.

Generally, in these lounges there is no such thing as a free lunch, or free snacks, nibbles and beverages.

In the past you may have walked by swanky-sounding apparently private lounges, called “United Club”, “Empire Club”, “Founders Club” and thought to yourself, what I wouldn’t give for unlimited champagne and caviar. Well, reality check. Your $50 dollar Ulysses S. Grant or even your $100 Ben Franklin, does not take you very far in these overpriced places. Generally, $50 bucks+ gives you entrée to a semi-exclusive place where you still have to pay for salted or unsalted chips and pretzels, mediocre cheese plates with crackers and uninspiring red and white wines.

2. Airport lounges are not oases of calm, peace and reflection.

Who doesn’t want to escape the loud gate change announcements in the terminal and the multitude of people everywhere? My experience at the Delta Sky Club in Terminal B of the Atlanta airport is very similar to the poor gentleman who blogged about his horrible experience at this airport lounge. Yes, there was free WiFi. But the place was crowded, noisy and the chairs were crammed together and very uncomfortable. And the food was worse.

3. Not all lounges are created equal.

Just because certain lounges can justifiably boast that they have superior/exclusive luxury facilities; spas and beautifully appointed showers and Michelin-starred catering, don’t be fooled.  Lounge amenities vary and there are hardly any lounges that provide premium spirits and beers for free.

4. It’s not worth the money.

Just because you had a horrible experience with a one day pass, don’t double or triple down and blow $400 big ones on an annual pass. Bottom line. Unless you are a perpetual air warrior, constantly travelling for business and pleasure, the math still does not work. You will still be hosed by the airlines and airports at the end of the day, in terms of paying for over-priced amenities at most airport lounges. You will never obtain a proper return on your $400-500 annual investment. The Fixed Price of airport lounges will cost you considerably more than the non-exclusive a la carte option. As in Vegas, the house, or in this case, the airport always wins. For the most part, paying for annual passes, is a sucker’s bet.

5. It’s confusing.

With so many different lounge choices available, along with a multitude of rules, determining to which lounges you can have access can be challenging. Where do you find multiple lounge profiles with reviews, photos, and amenities, so you can find exactly what you need and require?  Whether it’s a business center to catch up on work, a haircut, or a well-deserved full body massage?

If you are stuck for a long layover, I strongly urge you to stretch your legs. Go for a walk. Get a little exercise and hunt down a local pub or bistro in the airport. With reasonable food and service and free WiFi.

The feeling of not being ripped off.  Priceless.

Mitch Wolfe

Mitch is a writer, author and cultural commentator who is both a hopeless and hopeful romantic. He loves to travel and comment humorously on his misadventures.

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