Whether you’re traveling for work or leisure, your time at the airport could be the most hectic and stressful part of your trip. Or, with airport lounge access, your time at the airport could be an opportunity to unwind and prepare for an amazing trip.
You might desire access to an airport lounge for a variety of reasons. Maybe you have a long layover and need Wi-Fi to stay productive. Maybe you need a cocktail in a comfy chair to stay sane. Or maybe you’re flying with your kids and you need some space for them to run around before the next plane ride. Whatever your reason, having airport lounge access can really level up your travel experience.
And getting into an airport lounge doesn’t have to cost a fortune. LoungeBuddy allows you to book single-use access to a lounge, on demand, and for as low as $25. LoungeBuddy was recently acquired by American Express, so only Amex cardholders can use the LoungeBuddy app to book lounge access. If you already have an Amex card, you’ll want to know how this app works. And if you don’t have an Amex card, this might be a reason to get one.
Keep reading to find out how the LoungeBuddy app works — and whether it’s right for you.
What is LoungeBuddy?
LoungeBuddy is an iPhone app that allows you to input your trip to see what lounges are available and which you already have access to based on your elite status or memberships.
American Express card members can book access to airport lounges on demand. You can reserve access to a lounge months in advance for a specific date or at the last minute. If you book access for the current day, you’ll receive access instantly. So if your flight is delayed and you want to live it up while you wait, you’ll be able to pay for immediate access to a lounge directly from the LoungeBuddy app.
How to use LoungeBuddy
You can book a pass to get into a variety of different airport lounges around the world via the LoungeBuddy app or web portal. Here’s how to use the LoungeBuddy app on your iPhone to get access to a lounge:
- Click the “Purchase Access” button from the home screen to see a list of partner locations.
- Click on your airport and scroll through the lounges available for booking on LoungeBuddy. Click the “Get Access” button and then tap “Get Access Now.”
- Enter the number of guests to see the final rate for access.
- Enter your American Express card information.
- Click “Complete Purchase.”
- Show the lounge desk agent your confirmation code within one hour of your reservation time to get access.
How much does LoungeBuddy cost?
The amount you’ll pay for lounge access varies by lounge and the number of guests in your party. Although access starts at as low as $25 per person, most airport lounges are within the $35-$60 range. There’s no membership fee to use LoungeBuddy, so you’ll pay only for the lounge pass. With some lounges, you’ll pay for a limited time period. Other passes are for a full day pass, or as long as the airport stays open.
If you use your American Express Green Card to book access through LoungeBuddy, you can earn up to $100 in statement credits, which means you could get up to four lounge visits free of charge. That’s pretty generous for a card with only a $150 (See rates and fees) annual fee and many other perks, including a $100 CLEAR credit and 3X points on eligible travel and transit purchases, and at restaurants worldwide.
Where is LoungeBuddy accepted?
You can use LoungeBuddy to book instant access to more than 200 lounges worldwide, in locations ranging from Australia to Armenia to Atlanta. To find out whether there’s a participating lounge available at your airport, you can check the complete list of LoungeBuddy locations or search for your airport on the web portal or app.
Here’s how many LoungeBuddy lounges you’ll find at the 20 busiest airports in the world:
|Airport||Number of LoungeBuddy Lounges||Price Range (as of March 17, 2020)|
|Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (U.S.)||2||$39-$46|
|Beijing Capital International (China)||2||$29-$44|
|Dubai International (United Arab Emirates)||10||$39-$143|
|Los Angeles International (U.S.)||None||N/A|
|Tokyo Haneda International (Japan)||None||N/A|
|O’Hare International (U.S.)||None||N/A|
|London Heathrow (United Kingdom)||9||$15-$84|
|Hong Kong International (China)||3||$49-$89|
|Shanghai Pudong International (China)||7||$17-$37|
|Paris-Charles De Gaulle (France)||3||$33-$39|
|Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands)||2||$28|
|Indira Gandhi International (India)||8||$19-$27|
|Guangzhou Baiyun International (China)||4||$17-$37|
|Frankfurt am Main Airport (Germany)||5||$39-$76|
|Dallas/Fort Worth International (U.S.)||3||$39-$48|
|Istanbul Atatürk International (Turkey)||None||N/A|
|Incheon International (South Korea)||None||N/A|
|Soekarno-Hatta International (Indonesia)||1||$36|
|Singapore Changi International (Singapore)||8||$26-$35|
|Denver International (U.S.)||None||N/A|
LoungeBuddy vs. Priority Pass
Priority Pass is a membership program that gets you access to more than 1,300 airport lounges around the globe. You’ll certainly have more lounge options using Priority Pass to access the list of Priority Pass lounges. But you’ll also pay an annual membership fee, unlike with LoungeBuddy.
Priority Pass currently has three membership options:
- Standard: For $99 per year, you can pay $32 per lounge visit
- Standard Plus: For $299 per year, you get 10 free lounge visits, then pay $32 per lounge visit after that
- Prestige: For $429 per year, you gets unlimited lounge visits at no additional charge
For all membership options, the fee to bring a guest with you to an airport lounge is $32. Although that might seem pricey, you'll find that some of the best travel credit cards come with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership. Getting one of these credit cards is even more valuable because most of them also allow you to bring up to two guests free of charge.
There are other perks to having a Priority Pass membership as well. You gain access to more than 800 offers, which include discounts on retail, dining, and spa services at the airport. Priority Pass restaurant credits can get you a free or discounted meal at dozens of restaurants across the U.S. And you can often double the credit if you bring a guest.
Frequent travelers who want airport lounge access during every trip will be better served by a Priority Pass membership than by using LoungeBuddy, as Priority Pass has more locations and added perks. But for those who want an occasional visit to an airport lounge at a low cost, LoungeBuddy comes out ahead. There’s no commitment and no annual fee, so if you go a year without taking a trip, you’re not losing anything. And the on-demand access allows you to decide last-minute whether you want to utilize the convenience of an airport lounge.
Is LoungeBuddy worth it?
If you already have an American Express rewards card, you’ve got nothing to lose by downloading the LoungeBuddy app to your iPhone. There are no annual fees, and you can check out the price of a lounge near you to assess whether it’s worth it.
If you think you might use LoungeBuddy a few times per year, you might want to consider applying for the American Express Green Card. The $100 LoungeBuddy credit nearly offsets the $150 annual fee, and you’ll get plenty of other travel perks with the card as well.
Given that most airport lounges get you complimentary beverages and snacks and unlimited Wi-Fi, you might end up spending just as much procuring snacks from the airport convenience store or paying for airport Wi-Fi as you would spend on getting into a lounge through LoungeBuddy. Plus, you’ll be able to escape the chaos of the crowded airport and relax in style.
That said, if you're interested in access to Centurion Lounges, you won't be able to get that with LoungeBuddy. You'll be better off looking at getting access through a card like the American Express Platinum Card, which also gets you access to Priority Pass lounges as well.
Bottom line on LoungeBuddy
There are many different factors that will determine whether using LoungeBuddy will be worth it to you. But since there’s no commitment, you can decide on-the-spot if an airport lounge is worth the cost. Whether you need a shower, a cocktail, or a space to work uninterrupted, booking access to an airport lounge through LoungeBuddy is an inexpensive way to make traveling more comfortable.