Crowded airport lounges everywhere? Here are some solutions

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Relaxing in an airport lounge can be a great way to start a vacation. There’s something about sitting in a comfy chair, sipping bubbles, and charging your devices before boarding a plane full of strangers.

However, airport lounges are becoming increasingly popular and are no longer a secret. As more and more rewards credit cards add this benefit as a card benefit, more and more people are using it. Can you fault travelers for making the most of their card benefits? I don’t blame them at all.

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Crowded airport lounges can be noisy and stressful, defeating the purpose of visiting one. Looking for other places to go beyond the crowded living room? Here are some alternatives.

Look for affordable airport restaurants before your flight

My favorite thing about airport lounge access is being able to snack on food and drinks for free. This benefit significantly reduces my travel costs.

If you are traveling during a popular time and expect the lounge to be crowded or full, you can plan ahead and have some airport bar or restaurant options in mind. The good news is that not all airport restaurants are overpriced.

Before your flight, review food and drink options to find an affordable option that fits your budget.

Use your lounge benefits to dine at participating restaurants

If you’re lucky, you might be at an airport with a restaurant that accepts your lounge pass. The Priority Pass airport lounge program partners with select airport restaurants.

Here’s how it works: You’ll show your Priority Pass membership card and get a dollar amount to spend at a participating restaurant. Usually, you’ll receive up to $28 per person to spend on food or beverages, including alcohol.

This can be a great way to leverage the benefits of your lounge while getting away from the crowded airport gate area. Make sure you don’t forget to tip your bartender or server.

Here is a quick list of a few options at US airports:

  • Boston Logan International Airport: Stephanies
  • Denver International Airport: SweetWater Mountain taps
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport: Bobby Van’s Steakhouse
  • Seattle/Tacoma International Airport: Trail Head BBQ Bar
  • Washington Dulles International Airport: Chef Geoff’s

Use your other lounge membership benefits

If you have a Priority Pass lounge membership, you may be able to take advantage of other benefits instead of using your membership for traditional airport lounge benefits. Some airports have private rest areas and spas that you can access with your membership.

For example, at participating Minute Suites, you can enjoy a free hour in a private room to rest and relax. Another option is to get a free massage at Be Relax Spa locations before your flight. Consider alternatives like this if you want to kill time before your flight without sitting in a crowded lounge.

Bring entertainment and wait at the door

And finally, another solution is to sit at the gate of the airport with everyone. You probably did exactly that before discovering the world of airport lounges – I know I did!

If you don’t want to people watch, consider bringing some form of entertainment with you. Headphones and a tablet, portable game system or book are a few options that can help keep you entertained while you wait to board your flight. If you have noise canceling headphones, these will help cut out some of the noise; just be careful not to miss any important announcements before your flight!

You can still take advantage of airport lounge access, especially if you’re traveling during a less busy time. But if you find yourself walking into a crowded lounge, know that other options are available.

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