Airport lounges open to casual fliers

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Even without an annual membership, many coach travelers can make use of a club or a lounge by buying a one-day membership.

Brent Griffith, who is a co-founder of the LoungeBuddy app that guides users to airport lounges, says his favorite—the American Express Centurion Lounge—is accessible to American Express cardholders for $50 regardless of the airline that they use. In various airports, American Airlines’ and United Airlines’ lounges are $50 with a ticket. Virgin Atlantic charges $40–$75. US Airways sells its day pass for $29 at the time of booking a ticket online or $50 at the door.

Most lounges provide a quiet place to sit, eat complimentary snacks and charge electronic devices. Some lounges have buffets, complimentary cocktails, free massages, sandwiches and showers.

A service that’s called Priority Pass allows consumers to access certain lounges at a reduced rate for an annual fee. The lowest cost Priority Pass is $99 annually and $27 per visit, which means that a traveler would have to use the card at least five times in a year for it to be worth the cost, compared with paying $50 per visit.