Bring on the Long Layovers! How Airport Lounge Access Can Totally Change a Trip

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Last year my husband and I flew to Myanmar.  Well, to be more specific, we flew from Denver to Tokyo to Bangkok to Myanmar.  This multi-day, multi-flight voyage was daunting, especially as I’m a person who is not the biggest fan of flying.

On long haul trips, I can convince myself that one 12-hour flight is doable.  That got us to Japan.  But then when I found out that Thailand was another eight-hour flight away it was tough not to cry.  Until I remembered that Spencer had a credit card that came with airport lounge access in his wallet that would make everything better.

Actually, it would make everything fantastic.

Airport Lounges Are the Perfect Place to Relax and Recharge Before a Flight or Between Long Connections

When I tell friends and family stories about my travels, the actual process of getting to the place doesn’t usually enter the storyline.  That all changed last year when Spencer signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.  I know, that sounds strange, right?  What does a credit card have to do with the airport experience?

When you sign up for this card, among other things (like a statement credit toward your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ fee), you’ll receive a Priority Pass membership which gets you, and up to 2 guests, free access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide.

This completely changed the way we think about travel.  Truly, it’s a key that separates a long, frustrating layover from an opportunity to relax with a complimentary meal and a glass of wine in a quiet place.

Now, when recounting a trip, there is almost always a story that involves something about a lounge we hung out in.  “You wouldn’t believe the cheese board at the lounge in Houston,” I’ll say.  Or I might complain about how we had to take an overnight bus from Boca del Toro back to Panama City after forgetting to book a regional flight in advance during the busy season.  But the story will end with “but at least I was able to take a fantastic shower in the airport lounge before boarding a six-hour flight back to the States.”  The pattern here is pretty obvious – a trip can both start and end on a high note when you’ve got access to an airport lounge.

No Apologies – Always Take Advantage of Your Airport Lounge Access

I used to suffer through long layovers, trying to find an empty bench near an outlet to recharge my phone.  Thank goodness those days are (mostly) over.  There’s something about holding a Priority Pass that feels like a security blanket.  Now my husband and I have access to all of the things that make travel more tolerable – food, alcohol, comfortable seating, a quiet place to relax, and free WiFi.

Recently, we were traveling with friends who didn’t have airport lounge access.  We had a two-hour layover waiting to catch our second flight to our final destination. Spencer and I both knew that there was a lounge almost directly above our gate.  We debated what we should do.  What would be the appropriate way to handle this situation?  Should we suffer through a layover in order to be polite?  Or should we take advantage of the fact that there was an open bar and (most likely) a large spread of free snacks just a two-minute walk from where we were standing?

An Airport Lounge Is the Best Way to Survive the Airport

We opted for the later, explaining that we’d meet our friends back at the gate when it was time to board.  No hard feelings, I hoped they would have done the same in our situation.  And next time we travel together, maybe they’ll have signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve as well so we can all relax and sip champagne together.

My Favorite Airport Lounge

From an open bar in Tokyo to unlimited Shan noodles in Yangoon and a hot shower in Panama, it’s tough to pick an airport lounge that tops them all.  But if I had to select a favorite, it would have to be The Grand Lounge Elite at the Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City.

This airport lounge is just the best.  It’s a bit of a trek from the gates in Terminal 1, but totally worth dragging your bags there, especially if you have a longer layover.  When you walk in, you’ll be directed to a large reclining chair with several buttons.  Your attendant will show you how to activate the massage functions of this chair while asking you if you’d like chilaquiles and a margarita (fresh lime juice, there’s no pre-made mix at this lounge).

This alone is my version of heaven but wait, there’s more.  At this lounge, you can head over to the small salon for a complimentary gel manicure!  I can’t think of anything more rewarding than receiving a manicure while biding time between flights.  It’s the last thing I would ever consider doing at the airport, but when it’s free at the airport lounge, a manicure feels like the best treat ever.

Have you considered signing up for a credit card that offers a lounge access?  Now that I have access to one, I can’t imagine traveling without it!  Do you think this would make a difference in the way you travel?  Is there any reason you wouldn’t sign up for a card to get a Priority Pass membership?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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