Are airport lounges worth the splurge?

Koru Lounge

There’s just something so satisfying about sashaying into an airport, collecting your boarding pass, and checking straight into the VIP lounge. From Qantas and Qatar to Air New Zealand and Emirates, lounges are laden with luxury. Think plush armchairs, gourmet meals, bar service, hot beverages, hot showers, private work stations, lighting fast WIFI, and more. No doubt about it, escaping a concourse of crowds, relaxing in a comfortable chair, and enjoying a pre-flight glass of wine can completely transform a trip.

But, all this does come at a cost. Airport lounge memberships certainly aren’t cheap, with access to these privately operated hospitality clubs often costing hundreds of dollars a year. So, is it worth it?

Koru Lounge
Koru Lounge

Ultimately, the answer really depends on your income, your priorities, and how often you travel. Here’s some factors to consider:

Frequent flyers

If you find yourself bunking down in airports once every month or so, membership to your favourite airline lounge could be worth the splurge. For example, if you’re a loyal Air New Zealand flyer it might be worth forking out for annual membership to the Koru programme. Individual memberships start at $599 a year, and unlock access to a glut of benefits. This might seem pricey to some and a drop in the ocean to others, so whether or not it’s ‘worth it’ is largely determined by personal values and circumstances.

Day tripper

Airport lounges can seem like they’re reserved for well-heeled travellers, but with a little hacking anyone can enjoy a VIP experience. Often lounges will sell day passes, with prices ranging from around $20 to $60 depending on the calibre. If you’re not sure if a lounge is participating, all you have to do is head to the counter and ask! If they’re not open to the public or you’re not willing to pay, simply bunk down at Starbucks.

Lounge hopping

La Raizet International Bessie Coleman Vip Lounge
La Raizet International
Bessie Coleman Vip Lounge

If you love the idea of airport lounges but find yourself flying with different airlines, a network based membership could be a savvy option. Products like Priority Pass or LoungeBuddy ask you to pay an annual membership fee, then a surcharge for each lounge you enter. It’s a little more complicated than a traditional pass, but it’s much more flexible, especially if you like to mix up your airlines.

Credit card perks

Chances are, you use a credit card almost daily. So, if access to airport lounges is a top priority why not switch to a provider that offers travel benefits? Some premium credit cards include access to a host of global airport lounges, which means all you have to do is flash your plastic as you waltz in. This CANSTAR guide offers a great overview of what’s on offer in NZ.

Public ‘pay in’ lounges

screen-shot-2017-06-21-at-2-49-26-pmIf you don’t want to buy your way into a private airport club, public ‘pay in’ lounges can be a great alternative. They’re popping up in airports across the globe, and offer perks like comfortable chairs, snacks, beverages, fast Wi-Fi, shower facilities, and more. They’re usually much cheaper than their privately owned counterparts, and incredibly flexible. If you’re travelling anytime soon, it’s definitely worth checking out Plaza Premium Lounge. The pay per use lounges treat guests to first-class airport services in Canada, China, Australia, Britain, Malaysia, India, and beyond.

Do you think airport lounges are a worthwhile investment? If you’re a devotee, we’d love to hear about your experiences across the globe.