Newbie question: Lounges

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by jasonmh26, Sep 2, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. jasonmh26

    jasonmh26 Silver Member

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    I have learned a lot reading the posts on this site, but I have several basic questions that seem silly but I have not been able to pick up the answers to.

    I have not had elite status or really flown first class, and therefore have not been in an airport lounge. I see pictures of the airport lounges where they have food and drinks. I am wondering if, when you have lounge access, are the food and drinks included or do you pay for them in the lounge? For the nicer lounges that have a menu to order from and someone serves you, is the food included but you leave a tip for the server?
    I'd rather know how it works before I go than make a faux-pas.
    Thanks,
    Jason
     
  2. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    Hi Jason,

    The answer on free food depends on where you are and which airline you're flying, almost which lounge you're in. The food at the United Club in O'Hare is free, but you only get salty mix and apples for free at the Admirals Club at the same airport, with nicer foods for sale (in my non-status experience). You might get more helpful answers if you have questions about particular airlines or airports.

    I haven't ever been to a club with waiter service, and so can't speak to that. We didn't tip those picking up dirty dishes and trash in the Thai lounge in Bangkok, which seemed to be the standard.
     
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  3. dc_traveler
    Original Member

    dc_traveler Silver Member

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    It really depends on the lounges -- they vary a fair amount by airline. When a server or bartender provides drinks at an airline lounge (for domestic lounges usually some alcoholic beverages are complimentary but one has to pay for more "premium" drinks), I always leave a cash tip. Do you have a specific lounge or lounges in mind? This is a great community -- I am sure folks will be able to provide you with more detail.
     
  4. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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  5. jasonmh26

    jasonmh26 Silver Member

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    Thanks all for the answers. I didn't really have a specific one in mind, just wanted to hear how it worked. From what I am hearing, each one could be different.
    Thanks,
    Jason
     
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  6. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

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    One point to note...flying first class domestically or being an elite member of a domestic FF program generally doesn't get you lounge access.

    Flying international (generally transoceanic) first or business, or in economy as an elite, will generally get you lounge access.

    The market norm varies overseas; in Europe or Asia, if you are a high enough elite (generally mid-tier) in a US program, you'd get lounge access even if flying domestically in economy within that country.

    Another fact to be aware of: mid-elites in foreign FF programs typically get lounge access in North American lounges, even when only flying domestic and in economy.

    Simple, right? ;)

    If you are keen on lounge access, you might consider two things:
    The American Express Platinum Card. The annual fee for the card is just a little less than $500, but gets you access to AA, DL, US, AS and all Priority Pass Lounges (excluding UA lounges)...basically for the price you'd pay to buy lounge access to any one of those carriers. They also give you a $200 annual rebate against airline nuisance fees, among other benefits.

    If you are a Star Alliance pax, you might consider going for Aegean Gold. Details here: http://upgrd.com/sitinfirst/what-is...-club-continental-presidents-club-access.html
     
  7. joejones
    Original Member

    joejones Silver Member

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    Most lounges are set up like a buffet where you take what you want, so tipping is not an issue. The only exception is with bartenders, and this only comes up in the US where many lounges have bartenders in order to comply with local alcohol licensing laws. In that case you leave a buck in a tip jar or something like that. Outside the US you will almost never see a bartender in an airline lounge -- they just leave a bunch of bottles out on a counter.

    There are lounges which have sit-down restaurant-style service, but they are few and far between, and the only ones I know of are for long-haul first class passengers only.

    (Incidentally, on the alcohol licensing issue, I recall reading about the first Admirals Club which opened at LGA in the late thirties. IIRC, in order to get an alcohol license from the state back then, they had to register as either a commercial bar or a members-only club. They opted for the latter because a commercial bar had to have a glass door at the entrance, but this required them to have annual general meetings for members, which they didn't really want to deal with. They ended up having AGMs for members for several years, but only advertised them in a local Irish newspaper which they figured none of the members would read)
     
  8. knick1959

    knick1959 Silver Member

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    Hope I can ask a related question and not cause too much of a tangent ..

    If, via credit cards, I have club passed for US Air and United ... do I have to have a ticket for one of those airlines to use the lounges? IOW, if I'm flying on AA but happen to stop at an airport with a United or US Air lounge, do I have to be worried about them knowing what flight I'm actually on?
     
  9. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    I have never been asked for my boarding pass at the United Club since I have a membership card. I have always been asked for my boarding pass at Star Alliance lounges. I would be surprised if your BP would be required if you have a pass or club card (for that club) in a domestic airport. Internationally the standard does appear to be to check the BP. I do not have experience with the US Lounges.
     
  10. joejones
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    joejones Silver Member

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    The key point in that question is "via credit cards"

    It depends on the terms of your credit card. I know that with the Platinum AMEX, for instance, you have to be traveling on the airline in order to access their lounge. If your access is through Priority Pass, they don't care which airline you're flying.
     
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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    To continue the line of thought that joejones was heading down, if you get the passes directly as a result of the CC (Chase definitely issues them for the United Club; dunno about US but I think they do) then you do not have to be flying to use them.
     
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  12. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Correct for DL and AA access, but not the case for US or AS.

    In the case of US Air, you don't need to be flying on US or any Star carrier...your Amex card gets you in. In the case of AS, their access is via Priority Pass Plus (free with Amex Platinum), and flying on AS or an AS partner is not required.

    https://www295.americanexpress.com/cards/platinum/benefit.do?benefitTemplate=template_c&benefitId=1
     
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  13. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    Sounds like you're at square one (which is OK)

    The starting point for considering whether to join one of these clubs is which airline and airport you plan to use, where you plan to go and how often you plan on flying and how much time you plan to spend at the airport before the trip or during connections.

    Then you should look at that airline's web site to see a description of what services they provide and how much it will cost you.

    DTWBOB
     
  14. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

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    ...then compare to the cost/benefit of the Amex card. Except for heavy UA flyers, you'll likely find the Amex card, net of the $200 nuisance fee rebate, to be a better value than actually paying to join a domestic airline lounge.
     
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  15. dc_traveler
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    dc_traveler Silver Member

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    I agree completely with NYBanker. This year I have been flying mainly on American, Delta, and US Airways and have been using the Amex Platinum Card (plus included Priority Plus membership) to access lounges in the US. Although the annual fee is steep on its face, the $200 airline fee rebate NY Banker mentions above cuts the price down, and other benefits make the card worth it in my opinion.
     
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  16. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    I don't have the Amex Platinum card but I believe that the $200 fee actually works out to $400 in rebates because the $200 is per calendar year. If you were to get the card now and pay the $450 fee, you'd get $200 of rebates in the second half of 2012 and another $200 of rebates in the first half of 2013.

    If that's not the case, I'm open to correction.
     
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  17. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    For AA the rule is booked on an AA code, regardless of operating metal. For AS I believe the Board Room access rule with Priority Pass recently changed and one must actually be booked AS metal now.
    Sortof. For card year one it is $400 but it is still only $200 per calendar year. So unless you're planning on dumping the card when the renewal comes up in 2013 it is a bit confusing to account for all the rebates against one annual fee. Unless you're happy claiming that the next fee is going to realize none of them.
     
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  18. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    What happens if you switch off between the standard and Mercedes cards each year. Does the one card know that you already got the rebate on the other card?
     
  19. pyndasky

    pyndasky Silver Member

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    I also agree with NY Banker. If you're not a heavy flier, a day pass might be the best option.... for long layovers, if you can consume large amounts of alcohol and need wi-fi access, even better!!! (although I am not endorsing wifi and heavy alcohol consumption). I fly United about 90% of the time, so with a 3-hour layover, I can make a serious dent into the annual fee.
     
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  20. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    I don't travel enough to justify an annual pass or AMEX Plat card, but still want lounge access when I travel. I've been buying Chase UA card day passes on Ebay for less than $25 a piece. A couple of drinks, a tiny snack, and a quiet place to work and planespot is definitely worth that to me. I know those passes are technically "non-transferable" but I've never had any problem using them.
     
  21. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I could if my goal in the airport was to bee as drunk as possible. Turns out that isn't the case so much anymore. ;)
     
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