I was at Reagan Airport today, amidst a very snowy and icy morning. Unfortunately, my flight to New York La Guardia was canceled, and to get on the next standby flight to New York JFK, I needed to do so at the airport.
Check-in counters were a mess, so I used the boarding pass from my now canceled flight to get through security.
Now, for most travelers, the instinct is to go to the customer service counter at the airport. Not so fast. Check out this enormous line…
Mind you, I actually didn’t take a picture of the whole line. It extended farther back than this.
You’d be crazy to wait in this line. If you did, the chances of finding a somewhat workable option with the agent is slim to none, because the people in front of you already had first dibs.
A savvy traveler doesn’t wait online. I instead opted to head to the American Airlines Admiral’s Club, where there was literally no line. I was able to walk up to an agent to confirm a new flight and add myself to the standby list for an earlier flight within minutes, and didn’t have to bother to wade through the immensely long line in the concourse below.
The Number 1 Reason You Need Lounge Membership
There’s a bunch of credit cards out there that offer lounge membership – some for credit card specific clubs like the Centurion Lounge, others for contract lounges like Priority Pass, and others for the airline specific clubs themselves, like the American Admiral’s Club. You want the latter — the access to the airline club directly, as a contract or credit card lounge won’t be able to help you with re-booking.
At an airline club, you’ll find more agents and less of a wait – since there’s less club members than the general population lines outside, there’s more personalized service. Now, I pay $450 a year via my Citi Executive AAdvantage card to have access to the Admiral’s Club, and because I fly close to 200,000 miles a year, I find it well worthwhile. Statistically, somewhere in that 200,000 miles is going to be a series of misconducts, weather delays, cancellations and more, and I find my club membership to more than pay me back when I can fix issues quickly. I’m excluding all the other perks such as free wifi, refreshments, and quiet seating, as I personally value all of those secondary to access to “private” agents.
Here’s my thought process…
- If you fly 25,000 miles a year on a specific carrier, you’ll value membership some, but it may not be worth it.
- If you fly 50,000 miles or more a year on a specific carrier, lounge access is worth it.
- If you fly 75,000 miles or more a year on a specific carrier, lounge access is a no-brainer.
- If you fly more than 100,000 miles a year on a specific carrier, you’d be downright crazy not to have lounge access.
It’s the number 1 reason I value airline club access, and it’s the reason I highly recommend it to you, too.
What’s the number 1 reason you desire airline club membership?
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