Airport lounges are semi-private areas that are used to relax while waiting for your flight. The lounges can be used either before your first flight or on a layover. Not all airports have lounges and not all terminals within the airports have lounges.
Most airport lounges are membership based but some will allow you to pay one time to enter. Generally if you pay one time to enter the lounge it will cost you $25-50. Most lounges offer free food and alcohol but not all lounges are created equal.
Here are a few of the most popular lounges:
-Delta Sky Club Lounge
-Amex Centurion Lounge
-United Club Lounge
-American Airlines Admiral Lounge
-Alaska Board Room Lounge
-British Airways Lounge
-Star Alliance Lounge
Here is a directory of lounges in North America
Since almost all lounges are operated independently it will be next to impossible for you to have membership to access all the above lounges. The best option is to locate the lounges in your home airport and airports that you commonly connect through.
I recently got the American Express Platinum Card which gives access to the Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounge, Lounge Club, and AirSpace Lounge. This is one of the better credit cards to get if you want free access to a variety of clubs. Keep in mind you must be flying out in order to use the lounges, you can’t fly into your destination and go into the lounges, they will generally check to make sure you have an outbound boarding pass. In addition to that, in order to use the Delta Club, you must be flying delta on that day. These lounges are located behind security so you don’t typically have to go back through security if you are visiting the lounge on a layover.
The American Express Platinum card has a $450 annual fee but that gives you unlimited access to the aforementioned lounges. If you use the lounges once a month that should cover the costs right there. This card also gives you $200 airlines incidentals to cover seat upgrades, pet fees, baggage fees, etc. This $200 is per calendar year so if you get the card in July you will have $200 to use before January 1 and then another $200 to use after January 1. If you cancel the card before it renews, you will have received $400 in credit for a $450 annual fee, that almost pays for itself.
Another card that gives you lounge access is the Citi Prestige card. This card also has a $450 annual fee but gives you Admiral Club access. You must be flying American Airlines in order to access that lounge. I recommend the Amex Platinum card if the main reason for applying is lounge access.
Alyssa and I were able to visit the Amex Centurion Lounge Las Vegas on a layover. This is one of the nicest lounges in the country. Everything is complementary and delicious. They have a full buffet and a full bar. They also have a great selection of coffee, tea and espresso. In addition to being very tranquil, the lounge has many comfy sitting and resting places to make your layover much more tolerable (no screaming children). The Centurion Lounge in Dallas has a spa and showers, again, all complementary to Amex Platinum card holders and two of their guests.