If there is ever a time to splurge and treat yourself to lounge access, it’s during the holiday season, when airports around the United States are as busy as can be. So, if you’re tempted to leave behind the hectic terminals and frustratingly uncomfortable boarding areas for a luxurious lounge with all sorts of perks, these seven airport lounges in the US are the spots to do it.
1. United Polaris Lounge, Houston, TX
The airline-specific United Polaris Lounge in The George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is unbeatable. Those who can afford to fly United Polaris or first or business class on Star Alliance partner carriers are able to find respite in this exclusive escape that looks like a beautiful boutique hotel. At IAH, the United Polaris Lounge is located in Terminal E by gate E12. The outstanding lounge is complete with a full bar, buffet, WiFi, fancy shower suites, and private relaxation rooms for napping (in Saks Fifth Avenue bedding) or just unwinding as you watch airplanes take off in the distance. United Polaris was the first US airline lounge to offer sit-down dining, and you can enjoy Southern food specialties.
The only way to access the luxurious Polaris Lounge at IAH is to be flying on a Polaris flight. If that’s way out of your budget, don’t fret. The United Club is right next door and anyone can get a day pass for just $50. It may not be as glamorous, but there is WiFi, outlets at each seat, and sometimes even kale salads.
2. American Express Centurion Lounge, San Francisco, CA
American Express Centurion lounges can be found in several airports across the country, but the one at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is probably the most lavish. If you have an American Express Centurion Card, Platinum Card, or Business Platinum Card, you can access this lounge and enjoy the complimentary food carefully curated by Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning chef Christopher Kostow. If you’re flying with up to two friends, they can join you in the lounge for free.
There’s also complimentary WiFi and outlets, shower suites, soundproof space for children, and workspaces. The lounge is located in Terminal 3 by gate 74. Holders of other American Express cards can purchase a day pass to the Centurion Lounge for $50 — much less than your average meal created by a Michelin-starred chef.
3. Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse, New York, NY
The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in Terminal four is reminiscent of a nightclub in the meatpacking district with plush red couches, a cocktail bar, and pool table. If you didn’t have time to get a blowout before heading home for the holidays, don’t worry; the lounge is complete with a Bumble & Bumble salon that has an array of complimentary mini-treatments and a variety of other services available for a fee.
The menu at Virgin Atlantic’s JFK Clubhouse puts airport restaurants to shame. Guests can choose what they’d like from a menu of dishes, such as dim sum, burgers, chicken tikka masala, and more.
You have complimentary access to this lounge if you’re flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class or are a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold member. Elevate Gold members, first or Main Cabin Select on Virgin America, can enter for $75 per adult. You can also get into the lounge if you’re a Delta Diamond, Platinum, or Gold Medallion member on a same-day nonstop flight to the UK operated by either Virgin Atlantic or Delta. Singapore Airlines First Class Suites passengers and first- or business-class passengers on TAM can also get into the lounge.
4. Airspace, Cleveland, OH
The Airspace Lounge at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) is an excellent place to relax before your flight and one of the cheapest lounges to hide out in an American airport. Admission isn’t all-inclusive like other lounges; each guest may select from a complimentary light meal or alcoholic drink with additional light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages available for free.
The fee to enter the Airspace Lounge at the Cleveland main terminal is just $20 with $7 from the entrance fee credited toward your food or bar bill. Anyone can visit the lounge regardless of what kind of ticket, airline, or credit card they have; however, American Express Platinum Card holders receive complimentary access with a guest at all Airspace Lounge locations.
The space is compact, but there are several semi-private conference rooms available if you need a quiet place to work. Each seat is complete with a power outlet, and the complimentary WiFi is fast and available throughout the area. Visitors will enjoy the panoramic view of CLE’s runway as they wait to catch their flight.
5. The Star Alliance Lounge, Los Angeles, CA
The Star Alliance Lounge at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is located on the sixth level of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. The mega space is complete with a movie theater and library. There’s complimentary WiFi throughout and even iPads available for use. For a drink, head to the balcony bar overlooking the terminal or the outdoor bar and deck that’s complete with a waterfall. All beverages and food are complimentary.
If you’ve got first-class tickets on a Star Alliance carrier, you’ll be able to relax in the VIP room, which is often frequented by celebs. The Star Alliance Lounge at LAX is accessible for any business-class or first-class ticket holder flying on a Star Alliance carrier or Gold members flying with any other ticket on a Star Alliance flight.
6. Alaska Airlines Board Room, Seattle, WA
The Alaska Airlines Board Room at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is a two-floor lounge with plenty of room and great views of Concourse C. Access includes an array of complimentary food and the beloved Alaska Airlines Bloody Mary. If you prefer caffeine, you’re in luck as the lounge has unlimited Starbucks coffee.
The cozy lounge is an ideal place to revive and is fully equipped with charging stations, reliable WiFi, and free access to the digital version of The New York Times. Day passes can be purchased by anyone for $50. If you purchase a membership (starts at $295) within a month after buying the day pass, you’ll be refunded for the cost.
7. American Airlines Flagship Lounge, Miami, FL
The American Airlines Flagship Lounge at Miami International Airport (MIA) offers premium services to flyers from qualifying flights. First-class travelers can enjoy excellent sit-down meals at the dining area in the Flagship Lounge, which is located in Terminal D near gate 30. Guests who aren’t flying first-class can still enjoy an upscale buffet, specialty cocktails, and wine.
The renovated space is accessible for qualifying AA and Oneworld carriers’ first- and business-class passengers, as well as AA Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum elites. There is WiFi throughout and shower suites for travelers who need to freshen up.