I originally posted this in response to a poll, but figured to start a new topic so....
Charging a fee......I pay the lowest possible fee to get airline club access. $99 per year to Priority Pass. In addition to the annual fee, there is a $27 per visit. The inconsistencies that I have found from club to club are startling. Yesterday, I had a 7:00PM scheduled flight from BDL (Hartford/Springfield) to PHL. I finished up very early and headed to the airport hoping to catch an earlier flight. There was an outside chance of catching the 1:31PM and a great chance for the 3:14PM. No luck on the 1:30...the 3:14 had checked in full, so that was going to be a long shot.
I figured to kill two, maybe fours hrs (5PM flight), in the USAir lounge. Having run to the airport without lunch, I was hoping for soup, maybe a few snacks, at least. This wonderful Lounge collected my door fee. The offerings were a bowl of picked over trail mix and a powdered coffee machine!! I dropped my stuff in a fairly comfortable chair and headed back out to the airport food court area. I bought myself a sandwich and headed back to the USAir Lounge. As I entered the door, the polite attendant, that had accepted my fee just 5 minutes earlier, had transformed into Brian Urlacher and was coming at me to impede my forward progress. She growled that "outside" food was not allowed!! Startled, I was dodging from left to right and apologizing for my ignorance to the rule. Unimpressed with my words, she continued her onslaught to keep me from entering the main lounge area. I'm sorry to report, I was no match for her ferocity. I humbly asked for my money back and I would sulk back to the general population area to consume my sandwich. Of course, she refused to issue the credit. No other employees were present. I sighed, swallowed my pride, choosing to live and fight another day. I'll get that credit the old fashioned way.... call CS and plead my case.
The bottom line...fees are no guarantee of anything. Service or amenities are by luck of the draw, or so it seems. What are your thoughts?
I am a Chase United Presidential Plus Card holder which gives me access to all United and their Partner lounges. Since I almost always travel via United and/or a Star Alliance Member (Lifetime Premier Gold MileagePlus Member), I do not pay any lounge entry fees. As a Premier Gold MileagePlus member, I always get free lounge access to any of the Star Alliance Members on international trips. And since my wife will not fly international trips in economy, we would get access to the Star Alliance lounge anyway...I have always felt that it is not worth the money to get access to lounges. I have been very happy with this arrangement...On my recent trip to Norway and Iceland, I flew First Class on Lufthansa (using my points) and had access to a wonderful First Class Lounge in Frankfurt both on the Orlando to Frankfurt as well as the Frankfurt to Orlando routes..wonderful service and food and space.,
Many of the USAir clubs are particularly pathetic, and I will often pass on using them altogether—they're that bad. No club that I know of, though, allows outside food. That's pretty much a standard.
I'm a regular United Club member, so have access to all Star Alliance clubs. As a 1K it costs $375 per year or $875 for three years (though I should'be bought a lifetime at $2650 when they still had it). Given I do about 150,000 miles per year domestically, it's worth my while. I considered Priority Pass, but since there's no guarantee that it will be accepted across a carrier or alliance, I never considered it much of a bargain. At $99 plus $27 per visit, that's a maximum of 10 club visits per year before a regular annual membership is a better value. Sure, I'm restricted to Star, but then I don't travel out of alliance so it's not a concern.
You might want to consider getting the AMEX Platinum Card. I have it and it gives me the following:
Free Airport Club Access to all USAir, American and Delta Lounges anywhere in the world when presenting the card at the entry desk.
Reimbusement of $200 per year for any fees associated with the airline of my choice (food, specialty drinks in the Lounge or drinks on the plane if not in First Class, bag fees, ticket change fees, etc.)
A FREE membership to the Priority Pass program you now have (they call it Priority Pass Select) that opens the lounges beyond those listed above and lounges in other countries and you DO NOT have to pay the $27 fee at the Priority Lounges...the Platinum Card covers it and you get free entry.
Regular kickbacks on other areas (the most recent was an e-mail offer AMEX sent me for a $50 rebate applied to my card for spending $50 at any Daily Grill location (I eat there every year when I go out west and they sent me the offer at the exact time I was going there!) This example is just one of many rebates they offer to me during the year.
The annual fee for the card is $450, but, if you're paying for the Priority card program and the $27 entry fee each time it doesn't take many entries to cover the cost of the card...and you can't beat the airline re-imbursement deal) and I get the AMEX rewards points. I have found that in every year I have had the card I get more back in rebates (airline, restaurant, etc) than the card costs me.
When I was traveling for work on a regular basis, the office use to reimburse this fee as it cost less than all of us submitting our airline club dues and fees. It also included car rental memberships as well. And had alot of other features I used for business like:
Don't know if they still offer all of this, but if you travel alot, especially internationally, it pays for itself in no time
Only downside was on one international trip, with a US carrier, that did not maintain overseas clubs, and instead used the services of a local club, not associated with an airline. It was a very nice club once I found it, but finding it was not easy as it was located in a very out of the way airport location, no one seemed to know where it was, it was not well signed, etc. But once found it was very nice, with relaxation rooms (small cubicles with beds where you could sleep), very nice shower area. You really did not need a hotel room for coming and going to the airport for a flite.
I would suspect that if it was an allowable, reimbursable business expense, that if your employer does not reimburse, that it becomes a non-reimbursed business expense and deductible for taxes.
Its definately worth asking your tax preparer.
If it is then you need to compare the tax adjusted cost to other options.
Tef, I'm going to check out if there is a similar UK Amex deal. I know that there are several that give air miles but I know of none that give lounge access. Since retiring, I have lost all of my lounge accesses ... I tried Priority Pass but found the lounges were very down-market in Europe and many other countries. I had the same deal as PP (but in GBP of course). My eyes were opened one day when the guy in front of me negotiated a fee for getting into the lounge on a 'one-off' basis at a rate lower than the $27 equivalent that I was paying! The agent on the desk explained that it was a private lounge that had a fixed Priority Pass rate but would offer deals when they weren't busy. As you can imagine, I cancelled by Priority Pass membership.
There is a UK Platinum Card from AMEX that says you get access to over 1000 airport lounges in 83 countries. I'm going to guess that the lounge access is from the free membership in the Priority Pass Program that AMEX offers as part of the Platinum benefits, but I'm not completely sure that is the case.
I know the Platinum Card doesn't work for everyone because of the fee, but I know that I get back the amount it costs me every year, so it's worth it to me because I would have spent the money anyway.
Good luck and let me know of the outcome!
@painedplatinum - similar to other postings, I don't know of a single lounge that allows outside food into their lounges (by official rules). While it seems peculiar to me and many others, it is their rule and it's their house. Sorry you didn't get your money back since you never really got to use what you paid for. Hope you get your money back. I do think people should try to be considerate of one another though. As you are probably a frequent traveler like many of us on this forum, we've all seen *bad and rude behavior* in hotels, planes, lounges, etc. and should try not to be one of those...
Lounges generally have food, but most of the domestic US lounges don't really carry things that be a healthy meal. At best I might find some cheese and fruit.
Most of the international lounges are much better stocked, but are usually based on the class of air fare you have.
My favorite lounge, is Singapore Airlines in Singapore. Absolutely fabulous lounge. But the lounge is divided into economy, business and 1st, and their is a huge difference in the lounges. And if I remember correctly, I had to have a 1st class Singapore Airways ticket to get into their lounge, which I did, but out of habit I did show them my platinum AmEx which would have gotten me into their other lounges but not the 1st class lounge.
AlRenaissance is also a Black Card holder, so he may have some other comments, for me it's!
24/7 service to get dining, flight, car, hotel reservations and usually automatic upgrades.
Dining reservations imediatly at places normally hard to get.
A two for one price on international flights if you fly business class.
Getting tickets to difficult events is a real plus. They can get tickets prior to the public and are called pre-sale. Got tickets and good seats to Jimmy Buffet, and others and they did all the work.
There are others but I don't know them all, but for 40 years they have taken good care of me.
When I had a Platinum AmEx, I did have the dining reservation service and shows, and twofers for international business class.
I think the only thing I did not have was the 24/7 reservations and automatic upgrades. They provided the membership to car companies, airline lounges, etc, but I had to make my own reservations, and wrangle my own upgrades within the vendors loyalty program.
I am a Starbuck's latte person. I learned a long time ago that I can't buy my coffee and take it in. To me, I would rather have the drink of my choice than sit in the airport lounge. I get coupons all the time inviting me to try them and I don't even use them. If they con't provide what you would like, I think it is short sighted not to allow outside food and beverages.
I do use them at some of the international ones that do offer food and latte's like Qantas and British Air.