You no longer have to be an elite traveler, a frequent flier, or even a passenger of a specific airline to enjoy the stress-free haven of an airport lounge. Over the past couple of years, several independent companies have nabbed real estate in the country’s busiest airports, bringing comfy armchairs, Wi-Fi, workspaces, snacks and drinks, and even spas and showers to anyone passing through the terminal with a few extra dollars to spare, usually between $25 and $50. And it’s not just travelers who’ve taken notice; airlines have upped their lounge game in response, with several opening their retreats to regular folks too. These lounges can be a life (and sanity) saver any time you have a long layover; in fact, they’re one of our 10 favorite ways to spend an airport connection. And they are especially useful during the holiday season, when crowds are thick and weather delays are common. Download the LoungeBuddy app (as well as other essential apps for holiday travel), and you’ll always know where to find the closest one.
Here are a few of the non-airline-affiliated lounges to look for. As for airline lounges, you can find one in most airports, and often you can buy a day pass, even if you’re not flying that airline!
Fee: From $20 (price varies depending on time of day); free entry for AmEx Platinum and Centurion cardholders and their guests.
What’s included: Wi-Fi; computers; power outlets at every seat; a credit for a free meal or alcoholic beverage (additional snacks, soft drinks, and coffees are available for free as well); printers, scanners; showers at JFK.
Locations: New York (JFK), Cleveland Hopkins (CLE), Baltimore-Washington (BWI), and San Diego (SAN).
Fee: $50 with any American Express card (includes children under 18); free to AmEx Platinum and Centurion cardholders and their guests.
What’s included: Elaborate food and drink, often prepared by well-known chefs; Wi-Fi; video games; lots of couches and private nooks; assistance with dinner reservations, flight info, event tickets, and more; printers, fax machines, copiers; TVs, magazines and newspapers; conference rooms at some locations; spa services at some locations; showers at some locations; luggage lockers at some locations.
Locations: Las Vegas (LAS), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), New York LaGuardia (LGA), San Francisco (SFO); Miami (MIA) opening early 2015.
What’s included: Wi-Fi; snacks and drinks (including wine, beer, and liquor); workstations, printers, fax machines, phones; TVs, magazines and newspapers; showers; conference rooms for an additional fee.
Locations: Atlanta Hartsfield (ATL), Cincinnati (CVG), Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW), Las Vegas McCarran (LAS), Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), and San José (SJC) airports.