Discovering your safe place
Have you ever found yourself increasingly trying to escape lately? If you’re not being chased by weather, work, or kids you’re probably finding that all the noise from your physical and technological environment is forcing you to find an escape. There’s a lot of noise out there. We’ve got social media, texts, calls and if you happen to hang around airports enough (and we know you do), you can add garbled announcements and everything else that a storm of chaos washes onto the shores of your beach vacation. We’re so digitally stimulated it takes us a bit of time to realize the discomfort and mild panic we suffer when unplugging, even for a moment. But, we also recognize the sense of quiet and pleasing calm from unplugging.
As wild and unruly as the airport environment often seems, the key stressor is really a lack of control. Airlines can’t control the weather any more than you can control the mood of the next person you encounter. Lack of information contributes to a lack of action. You’ve got nothing and no one is telling you anything! This is why we arm ourselves with apps, notifications and all the needed tools; and that’s just to board your flight. You just hope that all the chaos is over once you’re seated. Good luck with that. But, you know? In seeking shelter from the storm of travel turmoil, you do have quite a bit of control over your emotional destiny. You just have to know where to find it. Did you hear that? You can breathe again.
Yes, calm, peace of mind, civility are hard to find while traveling. Even if you buy a first class ticket, there’s no guarantee that on your flight, you won’t sit by the odd person who insists on becoming the next “belligerent passenger” headline and social media pariah. But the airport does offer a way to escape for those who want the best possible odds for an enjoyable journey. We call it Lounge Class.
Airports put the ‘maze’ in amazing
Airports come in all sizes, ages, and, for you sports fans, degrees of difficulty. You might have heard someone grumble, “Don’t you just hate going through [insert some airport name]?” If there was ever an example of fitting a square peg into a round hole, the attempt to retrofit older airports with new amenities is the perfect depiction of it. Yet, they manage to carve out spaces for travelers like you hoping to make you like them in return. It might take some maneuvering through older airports to find your escape, but you often can eventually find it by heading right to the airport lounge.
So what’s the secret to getting in?
Interestingly, this is one of Priority Passes most frequently Googled and Binged phrases, and one of our most frequently asked questions. It’s actually not that complicated but, to be blunt, it takes money. Travelers pay for lounge access directly through a perk from their employer, a credit card, an airline membership or by having elite status with any of the aforementioned, which also costs money to attain.
Wait. Are there really ‘elite’ employees, though?
Alright, but you get the picture.
Bottom line: You need a form of membership. You can also ask some stranger to let you be their guest to enter a club, but that takes a bit of schmoozing and is probably not the preferred method for the introverts of the world. You can take your chances on finding an unaffiliated lounge that lets you pay by the visit, but that can prove spendy for a one time pass. If it’s an airline club you’re seeking access to, you have to be part of their family in some way; whether that’s buying a ticket on that carrier, paying for a membership, or day visit, or flying your way to elite status.
There are many ways to get into an airport lounge, and then there’s the really smart way
If you’re a Priority Pass member, you have the best of many worlds. Literally. There are over 1000 lounges across the globe with the flavors of each destination craftily woven into an experience designed to promote the better side of air travel. Whether you’re flying in first, or business class, or are making an everyday trip in the every-person cabin known as coach, you can have access to an escape – a place where civility and calm prevail; and productivity abounds, if you’re so inclined. Travel chaos begets more travel chaos until you detach from it. Whether it’s to regroup your thoughts to fix some damaged travel plans; or to simply start your holiday on a civilized note, having a place to engage your inner peace at the moment you need it most is as easy as having the membership with the broadest reach. But how good of a value is it if you already have other perks with other companies? It’s time to go holistic.
Misery, the invisible tax?
There’s a recent economic pricing trend among airlines, that some might call an invisible tax. Basic economy fares are springing up among the largest airlines in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. These fares offer travelers nothing more than a seat, which you can’t reserve ahead of time, and offer no checked bags, no early boarding, and sometimes no overhead bin space. While policies differ, some of these bare-bones fares only allow a single carry-on item that fits underneath a seat. The airlines say they’re responding to an unassailable fact: passengers buy based on price more than any other factor. In the end, you can still have what you think you’re going to miss; you just have to pay a little more for it. In fact, when making a side-by-side comparison between domestic basic economy fares and standard economy fares, the difference is sometimes small enough to make it worth bumping up to the next fare class.
While this doesn’t have much to do with gaining access to lounges, there is a key dynamic to pay attention to. The airlines are casting as wide a net as possible in order to keep travelers from going elsewhere. When it comes to lounge access, travelers would be smart to pay attention to how wide a net they’ve cast.
What’s your time and emotional health worth?
Some might be happy flying their favorite airline and enjoying the perks of elite status. But what happens when that’s not an option on the next trip or if your desired lounge isn’t available where you’re going? You’re going to need a bigger net.
It feels good to belong to a club or exclusive group, but that feeling ends when you can’t get into the next lounge because your uber-elite, mega-titanium aviator’s currency is not accepted there. Or you find that you have to walk to the other end of the airport to gain access to the only lounge available for your elite-status. This is what happens with airline-only or single club memberships. They’re great when you’re loyal to only one airline or airline alliance, or only use the airports that always have a lounge waiting for you. But you could rightly believe that you’re bigger than that. Let’s rephrase that: Your travel experiences could be much bigger than that.
You choose a lounge membership to disconnect from the friction-filled airport terminal environment, to jump off of that spinning cyclone of chaos. You choose a lounge membership because it’s a way for you to control your journey better; to experience a sense of civility and exclusivity. You choose membership because, quite frankly, you deserve it. Know thyself; treat thyself; and enjoy your Lounge Class.