How to Get into Airline Club Lounges Without Becoming a MemberI rarely fly Air Canada but I recently found myself wandering around their beautiful Terminal 1 in Toronto. My interest was piqued when I saw a sign for an airline club I hadn’t heard of before … the Plaza Premium Lounge. I decided to put my American Express Platinum Card to the test (If you’re interested in signing up for American Express Platinum Card)  I’ve been very happy with this credit card, even though it comes with a hefty annual fee, because it gets me into all of Delta Air Lines’ clubs (I fly them often). The card also comes with a Priority Pass, which gets members into an additional 600+ airport lounges worldwide. Sure enough, when I arrived at the entrance my eyes opened wide with glee when I saw a big sign saying ‘By Invitation’, featuring enlarged logos of a variety of American Express cards and Priority Pass. Yes! I had found another place to kill time in.

How to Get into Airline Club Lounges Without Becoming a Member 2I went to the desk and showed the agent my ticket and my American Express Platinum Card. She was super friendly so I decided to ask her a few questions. The most important was whether or not I could bring a guest into the lounge with me. She said, ‘of course.’ This cards allows you to bring your spouse and either a third person or two children. ‘Sweet!’ I thought. Then I made a mental note not to have more than two kids.

The lounge was quite plush on the inside and it had a much stronger free wireless signal than the free Toronto Pearson Wi-Fi, computers to use, all kinds of free hot and cold food, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. There was even a shower, which is perfect for freshening up before a long flight. The food looked good and I was bummed that I had just eaten a big dinner but I grabbed a cookie, sat in the corner, and made some Skype calls.

What’s also important to know is that the American Express Platinum Card (as of November 1, 2013) also gives you a $200 airline fee credit towards incidental fees such as checked bags, in-flight drinks, upgrades, and change fees. In addition, I love the fact that there are no international transaction fees, and when staying at some luxury hotels, the card can also get me a room upgrade, free breakfast, and a guaranteed 4 pm late check-out. As an added bonus, for those who don’t yet have Global Entry (I’m not sure what you’re waiting for since it’s the best thing to happen to international travel in a while—see my post), the Platinum Card will reimburse you for your Global Entry enrollment fee, which is $100.

If you don’t travel often, this card is not worth it but if you do, then I seriously don’t know what you’re waiting for. Being able to go into an airline club lounge before your trip or on a layover keeps most frequent travelers sane—especially when there are delays. If you think the $450 annual fee is too high, then keep in mind that a membership alone to Delta’s Sky Club is $450! And a membership for the Priority Pass’ unlimited lounge access is $399. Add it all up and throw in all the other American Express Platinum extras and you realize this is the best deal out there for frequent travelers. No wonder all my savvy road warrior friends have one.

I guess I shouldn’t be touting it so much because they just may raise the price!

Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links but I would recommend this card regardless of whether they paid me a referral fee or not because it’s just that good. As always, thanks for your support!




51 Comments On "Getting Into Airline Club Lounges Without Becoming a Member"
  1. wgchinn|

    Does anyone know if you can use the Costco American Excpress Platinum Card for the above?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good question! I’m not sure but I would call the number on the back of your card or try the next time you are traveling

      1. wgchinn|

        Called the Costco Amex Customer Svc, Apparently the Costco American Express Platinum card is not the same color as the card being referenced above.

    2. LoungeBuddy Team|

      Hi wgchinn, unfortunately, you cannot use your Costco AMEX to access any airport lounges. Basically, only the AMEX Platinum and Centurion (black) Charge cards give you access, along with other cards like the Delta Reserve AMEX.

      1. wgchinn|

        I don’t know if you understood that the Costco Amex Card in question is a Platinum Card.

        1. LoungeBuddy Team|

          Hi wgchinn, I understand that the Costco Amex is a Platinum card, but it is a credit card and not a charge card. Only the Platinum Charge Card gives you the lounge benefits. There are a few exceptions such as the Delta Reserve Credit Card, but that carries a ~$400 annual fee. In essence, any AMEX that has an annual fee of <$200 or so likely does not have free lounge access with it.

  2. naoma4|

    My husband is a member and gets us into airline lounges when traveling overseas. I am
    appalled at the “manners” of some in there. Some people think nothing of putting their
    dirty shoes all over the furniture and “coffee tables.” I wonder where they come from with
    such manners?

  3. naoma4|

    I know not why people MUST travel with pets. I live near a very fancy hotel and a short distance north of it is a PET MOTEL But, they accept pets at the hotel.. I also do not stay where animals are allowed. (allergies). When i stay at time shares you are not allowed to bring animals in — if you do you are hit with a $250 “fumigation fee.” I guess I don’t understand people who MUST travel with animals.

    1. sallyann73|

      Well, I MUST travel with my dog. She is a very quiet, well behaved, and clean Grand Champion Showdog who is also in training to be a medical alert service dog. She has traveled many many miles going to dog shows. I think she should also get frequent flyer miles as well as frequent hotel guest perks and points!

  4. JessR|

    Priority Pass membership rocks! I have it through my Amex Platinum card. One thing to note, while access to Clubs with PP is free (with membership) there is a Guest Visit Fee of US$27, which will be billed to your Amex if you bring someone else who is not a member.

  5. Marcy Schackne|

    My $95 annual fee for the Diners Club card gets me into lounges around the world (not so many in the US, though) It also covers car rental collision/damage from the FIRST dollar (as PRIMARY insurance) when other cards cover you, but only after your deductible is paid. Lounge benefit has been well worth it for me.

    1. LoungeBuddy Team|

      Marcy, you’re right! The Diners Club has one of the lowest fees/highest number of lounges ratios out there! There are only ~15 lounges in the US that you get access to, but several hundred around the world in all.

  6. Giovanna|

    Based on Johnny’s sage advice, I just upgraded to AMEX Platinum. I am planning a trip to South America, and I am wondering about Platinum’s Travel Desk. Is there an advantage to having them book my airline tickets, or should I do it directly via American Airlines? Do they charge a booking fee? I need to insure my trip, too. Is AMEX’s travel insurance better or cheaper than other companies? Thanks so much, Johnny, for your great service to the traveling community!!!

    1. Giovanna|

      I am replying to my own comment, but just wanted to share some information I have spent quite a bit of time gathering. If you book a trip with the AMEX Platinum concierge, there is a $39 booking fee. I am not sure what that gives you in benefits. However, if you book your flight on line at the AMEX travel site, it is free of charge. Again, I don’t know the benefit of doing this opposed to booking directly with American Airlines, but perhaps someone on this blog has experience with this. Also, the AMEX Travel Insurance program gave me the best quote for protection on my trip, so I will definitely go with them. Thank you again, Johnny, for this forum.

  7. Mark Warner|

    The Priority Pass website states a $27 per person fee for guests. Does the AmEx Platinum wave the fee?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      No. It looks like you will have to pay the guest fee

    2. LoungeBuddy Team|

      AMEX Platinum does not waive the fee for guests, but you can get an additional card and with the additional card, you’d get an additional priority pass membership. However, you would have to pay the $175 annual fee for the secondary card. At 7 uses per year, it pays for itself with the $27 fee you’d have to pay for that guest otherwise.

  8. Dan Kraft|

    I have a question about the airport lounges. If I am traveling out of Miami on one of the partners airlines of american or Delta, will I be able to show my ticket and use that lounge? Or should I use one of the private lounges like you described?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      If you have the AMEX Plat card and are traveling on AA or DL then go to one of their lounges

  9. Kathleen|

    Hi I tried to use my American Express platinum at the Alaska Airlines lounge at LAX, I was flying Alaska but they said no only Priority Pass or their club memebership was accepted so are the Priority Pass and Platinum American Express interchangeable ? Should they have let me in with just the Platinum ?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      They aren’t interchangeable but if you have AMEX Plat you they give you a free Priority Pass (you need to apply for it)

      1. Kathleen|

        Thanks so much for the quick reply, I will apply for it ASAP. I love your website and blog!

  10. Steve|

    Does it work on United?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      It doesn’t

      1. LoungeBuddy Team|

        The full priority pass membership allows you to enter many of the United Clubs, but the version you receive with an AMEX Platinum card (Priority Pass Select) does not allow you to enter any United Clubs.

        1. Johnny Jet|

          Good to know!

  11. Kiera Reilly (@KieraReilly)|

    This sounds great – I especially like the no foreign transaction fees – but the problem is, whenever I go overseas, I find that it is very difficult to use an American Express card as many establishments will not accept it because of their fees that they charge vendors. I just returned from Kauai, and I was surprised that at almost every place I went, the American Express card was unwelcome.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      That is the one problem with AMEX. A lot of small merchants don’t accept it so I always carry a Capitol One Visa card too.

  12. Leann Johnson|

    Can you get entry into an American Airlines Lounge in DFW if you are traveling Business Class to Costa Rica as a mileage reward ticket?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Yes. An international business class ticket gets you into the lounges.

      1. travelwoman|

        I purchased a business class ticket on Delta to the Dominican Republic. When I tried to use the Delta Lounge in Miami, I was told there was an exclusion for flights to the Caribbean and if I wanted access I would have to use my Delta Am Ex Platinum card and pay a $25 fee. Does anyone know why this exclusion exists? On the return trip, I tried again in Miami at a different location and in Atlanta where I had a long layover and was denied at both places. Seems like when you have a paid first or business class ticket, you should be able to use the lounge no matter where you are headed or coming from. Has anyone else had this experience?

  13. Dhubha|

    does a Amex Platinum Cash Rebate card qualify?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I don’t think so. Just the Amex Platinum Charge card

  14. mccooltravel|

    So many great benefits. Perhaps the most valuable perk is the free companion flight with purchase of business or first class international.

  15. John Maddonni|

    We have AAA , Korean Veterans, Visa, and a Guest rewards master card.

  16. MM|

    Can you use a DL or AA lounge with the Amex if you are flying a different carrier or must it be a partner airline?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Must be a partner airline or one if they accept Priority Pass

  17. Don W|

    All Plaza Premium Lounges in YYZ discontinued their own WIFI months ago and now rely on the standard airport service. If you need something dependable without adds, AC lounges are the better bet.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Good to know. The I couldn’t make Skype calls by the gate but I could in the lounge.

  18. rahaman|

    I agree with Johnny that is card is a great benefit for someone who travels and has a layover or gets to the airport early for a flight. it is shame that United don’t accept this card for their lounges. The credit on the TSA precheck is also a great bonus as that is something I find very useful to speed through the security gates . All business travellers should have this card and prec heck on their boarding cards.Great article Johnny !
    Peter R

  19. Rand|

    I have a complimentary Priority Pass membership. I think it was given by American Airlines, but maybe it was a credit card I hold. It’s just the most basic membership, so all lounge visits require a $27 fee, no visit is free. The American Express Platinum card presumably gives a higher level of membership where the member doesn’t pay.

  20. TimmyD|

    Johnny – have you ever heard of any sight that has reviews of lounges? When I head to a major airport such as Tokyo’s Narita I always have many lounges to choose from via Priority Pass select or from occasional Lounge Club or United club one-time passes, but I rarely can find any info on which I should head to. There is so much variation in what you get in these clubs – the Hub lounge in Seoul had an amazing buffet, as did one of the lounges in Helsinki, but many others offer very little, including the two I have tried in Narita so far.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      There’s a new site called LoungeBuddy. Here’s some info

  21. Nancy|

    Hi Johnny – I am considering the AMEX Platinum but wanted to ask if you are able to breeze through those security lineups at Pearson OK with this card? I’ve read mixed reviews on the Amex website about this benefit. Also have you used the Air Canada priority check in with this card. Any info greatly appreciated.. thanks! Nancy

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Hi Nancy, I love the AMEX Platinum card ( but I would only recommend it if you travel a lot. NEXUS and Global Entry is what speeds you through the boarder lines The American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card let’s you breeze through the line

      1. Nancy|

        Thanks for your reply! I’m based in Toronto and decided to give the card a try for frequent travel to US – hotel benefits sealed the deal for me. ps: also just ordered our first Scottevest, great product that you recommend. thanks for your great travel tips of the day. always enjoy.

  22. WLE|

    I recently in Dec 2013 presented my Amex Platinum Card to the Priority Lounge in Vancouver and was turned away being told that it was no longer “accepted” – apparently changed in May 2013
    Have enjoyed their hospitality in the past

    1. Giovanna|

      I became a Platinum member about 5 months ago specifically to get into American Airlines’ lounges, as that is the airlines we fly most often. To my great disappointment, a week or so I get a notice from AMEX that my card will no longer allow me access to AA lounges. Does anyone know if they will prorate my $450 fee if I downsize and revert back to my gold card? Or am I stuck paying $450 for a service that ends in March? Any hope that AMEX will re-negotiate with AA? Thanks.

      1. Johnny Jet|

        I would call them.

  23. Anonymous|

    costco amex platinum card works in the lounges….i always use it.

    1. Joanne|

      After March 22, 2014, American Airlines lounges will no longer accept the Platinum AMEX card for entry, unfortunately. I suspect the Costco AMEX Platinum will have the same restriction.

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