Let's face it, flying just isn't what it used to be.
Years ago, you could carry as many bags on board as you wanted, free of charge. Years ago, you could recline your seat and not crush the passenger's legs behind you. Years ago, you could arrive at the airport an hour in advance and usually not worry about missing your flight. Years ago … was years ago.
That's why the airport lounge is more important than ever. A lounge is a refreshing oasis in the middle of the scorching airport desert, and you should use one as often as possible. Here are five reasons why.
1. Calm in the middle of the storm
Think of airport lounges as your ticket to sanity. An airport is jam-packed with annoyed people paying too much for a bottle of water. There's commotion everywhere you turn.
» Learn More: The credit cards that offer airport lounge access
If you need a break, head for a lounge. Their specialty is quiet, relaxing atmospheres. In a lounge, you will find large, comfortable chairs, private TVs, couches, fast Wi-Fi, showers and more. Most lounges also offer reservable workspaces that will actually allow you to get some work done.
2. Cheaper everything
While airports charge an arm and a leg for everything you can think of, lounges have plenty of free offerings. Inside a lounge, you can get free food and booze (sometimes top shelf). When an airport kiosk charges an obscene amount for a granola bar, lounges are like a breath of fresh air.
3. Family fun
Airport lounges aren't just for adults; chances are your kids will like them, too. There are plenty of lounges that offer kids rooms, which give the little ones a space to release some energy. They get to run around while you sit back and enjoy a free beer. Everyone wins.
» Learn More: How to fly with young children
4. Focused help
Lounges that are tied to airlines offer something quite amazing: A staffer who will listen and help you. The employees can aid you with practically anything, from booking a new flight to changing seats to upgrading.
5. Plenty of options
If you're the type of person who likes options, lounges will be right up your alley. The three major airlines — Delta, United and American — all offer airline club lounges.
Then there's Priority Pass, which operates more than 1,200 lounges across the world. Finally, there's the Centurion Lounges from American Express. While not plentiful — there are only nine locations worldwide — Centurion Lounges offer high-end amenities.
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 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Travel rewards bucket list: Showering on a plane How I flew for free: Round trip NYC to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards