Have you ever booked a ticket to a far-flung destination only to discover there was a loooong layover? Or found your flight delayed by several hours after you’d already checked in and cleared security?

Then, you’ve known how it feels to sit in uncomfortable chairs for hours on end and to wander aimlessly eating airport food. The next time you’re faced with this travelers’ dilemma, consider purchasing a day pass to an airport lounge.

Though airline club lounges are traditionally reserved for frequent flyers and road warriors who purchase annual memberships, many domestic carriers offer the option to purchase a pass on the day of your flight (provided that you’re flying that airline).

During a recent seven-hour layover at Denver International, Larissa purchased a pass to the United lounge. For $59, she had a quiet work space with comfortable chairs, unlimited fast internet, and complimentary snacks and soft drinks.

International travel can present more challenges, particularly if your airline doesn’t have a lounge in a given country (or at all). In these instances, we’ve discovered LoungeBuddy, a website and app that allows you to purchase access to airport lounges in nearly 60 countries throughout the world.

During a recent trip to France, we learned early in the day that our return flight from Paris (Charles De Gaulle) to New York (JFK) would be delayed by two hours. The delay grew as the day wore on, and we considered exploring the French countryside a bit more, but we needed to return our rental car to avoid overage fees.

By the time we reached the airport, that flight delay had been extended to six hours — enough time to warrant exploring lounge options. We were flying on Norwegian, an excellent budget airline, but one that has no airport lounges. Enter LoungeBuddy. We could purchase access to the Star Alliance lounge for 30 euros each, which gave us access to a buffet supper, open bar and soft drinks, and unlimited internet, all with comfortable seating and access to private restrooms and showers. It helped take the sting out of the long delay.

If you will be facing a long delay at an airport, consider purchasing time at a lounge to make your experience more pleasant; the additional fee is small compared to the total cost of your trip. Our flight from Paris finally landed at JFK after midnight, around six hours late. And then, of course, we sat on the tarmac for an hour because a gate wasn’t available. Too bad no one has developed GateBuddy.


(Each airline has different policies regarding day passes to their lounges, and terms and fees for lounges available via LoungeBuddy vary based on location. We recommend checking before your trip so you know your options.)

Philadelphia natives Larissa and Michael Milne have been global nomads since 2011. Follow their journey at changesinlongitude.com.