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Accessing airport lounges can feel like a luxury, thanks to the appeal of a comfortable seat and complimentary beverages. To get in, you typically either have to pay up for an annual lounge membership, travel with someone who’s willing to let you tag along as a guest, or carry a premium-tier credit card with a high annual fee that comes with lounge access as a benefit.
But for weary travelers, the price can be more than worth it, particularly for families with young children. Here are five perks that can make the cost of lounge access worthwhile for families.
1. Food and beverages
Airport food courts aren’t known for their gourmet quality, yet you might be painfully aware of the markup at the register for a meal. According to The Hustle, bottled water from airports like Los Angeles, New York-JFK, Portland and San Francisco was double the price compared to street prices. If you’re traveling with your entire family, the cost of a light snack and beverage for the group can creep up, quickly.
Many airport lounges offer complimentary snacks if your family is feeling peckish, as well as non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. A few premium lounges, like American Express Centurion Lounges, even serve hot food with menus designed by award-winning chefs.
2. Entertainment rooms
Keeping kids entertained at the airport ahead of your departing flight or during a layover can be challenging in the middle of a busy terminal. Families can pass time in lounges that have rooms specifically designed for children.
Airport lounges sometimes offer entertainment for kids, like toys, books or games that are age-appropriate, so you can keep your kids engaged and occupied during the wait.
» Learn more: When an airport lounge day pass is worth the splurge
If someone in your group needs to clean up after a coffee (or juice) spill, some lounges might make it easy to do so. Delta Sky Clubs, for example, generally offer the convenience of shower facilities.
This option can be especially helpful if your family is up against an early return flight home. Instead of fighting the clock to get everyone freshened up ahead of arriving at the airport (and potentially missing your flight), you can take advantage of this useful amenity if it’s available.
» Learn more: Where you can grab a shower at the airport
4. Access to Minute Suites
If you’re looking for more privacy out of your lounge experience, you have options. Priority Pass members, for example, have access to Minute Suites. This time-booked room is like a mini hotel room for your family, providing privacy and comfort.
Dropping in for a one-hour power nap will usually cost you $42, but as a Priority Pass member you have complimentary access for that first hour. Reserving a Minute Suite not only takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the terminal, but also gives children (and parents) a peaceful escape — whether for sleep, for nursing, or to catch up on work while the kids wind down.
» Learn more: 5 Priority Pass lounges that are worth a visit
5. Spa access
Kids aren’t the only ones who get to have fun at airport lounges. Some lounge locations offer spa services to help you relax ahead of your flight. If you’re traveling with older children, a quick massage can be a good way to kick-off a trip, as kids and other family members help themselves to snacks and drinks in the main lounge area.
Is lounge access a good choice for you?
The price of access into a lounge, in general, can start from $99 per year for limited access or can cost $550 annually through a credit card. Whether lounge access is worthwhile for your family depends on a few factors.
For example, consider how often your family travels each year and how many people travel together in the group. If the extent of your travels is one family trip at the end of the year, paying the annual fee on a premium card may not be worth the cost, particularly if you don’t find value in the card’s other perks.
Another factor to keep in mind is the guest access restrictions of your desired lounge network. Some lounges limit the number of guests members can invite into the lounge. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers may access Centurion Lounges, but they'll be charged an extra $30 to $50 for guests unless the cardholder has spent $75,000 in one calendar year on the card. Terms apply.
Before applying for a credit card for its airport lounge access benefits or signing up for a lounge membership, revisit the airport expenses your family had during your last trip. With this context in mind, you can make an educated decision to learn whether a particular lounge is right for you.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card