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Rewards Canada's Guide to Business Class Lounge Access

 

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Having elite status with an airline frequent flyer program or flying in business or first class can almost always guarantee you access to the typically quiet and good-for-the-soul business class lounges at airports across the globe. What if you don’t have elite status or never fly in a premium cabin? Can you still access business class lounges? The answer is yes, absolutely you can! If you have followed Rewards Canada even for just a little while you would already have known that answer but here we help you out along with all the newbies on how to take advantage of the various methods of using Business Class lounges to get you out of the hustle and bustle of many busy airports in Canada and around the world.

The Rewards Canada Guide to Business Class Lounge access is broken down into the following sections

  • Single Entry Options
  • Third Party Lounge Access Programs
  • Credit Cards with Lounge Access
  • Airline Lounge Access Programs

Single Entry Options

Unbeknownst to a lot of Canadian travelers is the fact that you can walk right up to many third party lounges (those that are not owned or run by airlines) and pay to access that lounge for a single visit. The fees tend to be reasonable and access is usually granted for 2 to 3 hours. The two primary providers of lounges in Canada are Plaza Premium and Swissport (formerly Servisair) You can also buy access to these lounges and more via WestJet, Lounge Pass or you can use an app called LoungeBuddy to buy access to select lounges as well.

Plaza Premium

Plaza Premium has a dozen lounges across Canada in Edmonton (2), Toronto (6) and Vancouver (3 + 1 Arrival Lounge). They also have lounges in 8 countries in Asia and the Middle East. Costs for Plaza Premium Lounges in Canada are US$32 for 2 hours, US$40 for 3 hours and US$56 for 6 hours. Children aged 2-11 enjoy a 30% discount.

Website: www.plaza-network.com

Executive Lounges by Swissport

Swissport runs three lounges in Canada:the Rocky Mountain and Chinook lounges in YYC along with the National Bank World MasterCard lounge in YUL. Outside of Canada they operate 43 lounges in the U.K. Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.Lounge access rates via Swissports website for their Canadian locations was $33.60 at time of publishing. You can also join LoungeMiles for free with Swissport It is their loyalty program that rewards you with a giftvoucher for every 5 lounge visits.

Website: www.executivelounges.com

WestJet Lounges

WestJet runs a ‘lounge’ program that provides access to select Plaza Premium and Servisair lounges across Canada as well as a couple of other lounges in Quebec, London UK, Dublin Ireland and Jamaica. You can book single entry visits for most of the lounges online or present your WestJet boarding pass along with payment right at the lounge. Prices vary depending on the lounge and the time of day you visit. For some lounges this is cheaper than the walk up rate, for example WestJet guests can enjoy 20% off select Plaza Premium lounges.

Website: www.westjet.com/guest/en/travel/special-arrangements/lounges.shtml

Lounge Pass

Lounge Pass is run by the same company that owns Priority Pass (see below in the 3rd party access programs) and offers single entry options to over 300 lounges in over 190 countries. In Canada they provide access lounges in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Their pricing of US$40 or more tends to be higher than WestJet, Swissport, Plaza Premium and Lounge Buddy but they do have access to some lounges that the others don't like the Air France KLM lounge in Toronto Pearson's Terminal 3.

Website: www.loungepass.com

Lounge Buddy

Want to find lounges that offer single entry options? An app launched a few years ago called Lounge Buddy can help. The app has grown over time and even now allows you to buy single entries into select lounges around the globe. Here in Canada you can use the app to pay for access to Plaza Premium Lounges in Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. At time of publishing LoungeBuddy's rates started at US$31 for entry into any of their Canadian locations.

Website: www.loungebuddy.com

 

Third Party Annual Lounge Access Programs

Priority Pass

Rewards Canada Partner - See discount offer below

The most famous and largest of all lounge programs, Priority Pass has been around for many years and offers access to over 9500 lounges all over the world. They are also the most aggressive in adding new lounges with a few new lounges being added each month. Priority Pass requires users to purchase an annual membership and depending on the level of membership that you buy you may or may not have to pay an entry fee each time you enter a Priority Pass lounge. The fee tends to be less than the walk up rate for lounges that provide that option. There are some credit cards in Canada that provide the Priority Pass program as part of the benefits and will cover the annual cost along with providing some free lounge visits. You can see those listed below in the credit card section.

The three levels of membership that Priority Pass provides are as follows

Standard Membership – full annual fee US$99
Standard membership provides access to over 950 airport VIP lounges at a cost of US$27 per person per visit. The members designated payment card is charged by Priority Pass with the lounge visit fee following a visit. Guests are charged US$27 per visit.

Standard Plus Membership – full annual fee US$249
Standard Plus membership includes 10 free visits for the member and additional member visits are charged at US$27 per visit. Guests are charged US$27 per visit.

Prestige Membership – full annual fee US$399
Prestige membership Includes unlimited lounge visits for the member. Guests are charged US$27 per visit.

LIMITED TIME SPECIAL OFFER! To celebrate Priority Pass' 25th Anniversary they are offering up to 25% off memberships if you join by June 30th:

Standard Membership – full annual fee US$99
Special offer – 25% discount on first year membership – US$74

Standard Plus Membership – full annual fee US$249
Special offer – 20% discount on first year membership – US$199

Prestige Membership – full annual fee US$399
Special offer – 10% discount on first year membership – US$359

To access this special anniversary offer please visit here


REGULAR SPECIAL OFFER! Rewards Canada is partnered with Priority Pass and for this feature we are pleased to provide our readers the following discounts on their annual memberships:
1

Standard Membership – full annual fee US$99
Special offer – 20% discount on first year membership – US$79

Standard Plus Membership – full annual fee US$249
Special offer – 10% discount on first year membership – US$224

Prestige Membership – full annual fee US$399
Special offer – 10% discount on first year membership – US$359

To access this special offer for Rewards Canada readers please visit here

Website: www.prioritypass.com

Swissport

Swissport has an annual pass for ~C$436 that provides you with unlimited free access to any participating Aspire or Swissport Lounges in the UK, Canada, Denmark and The Netherlands. The annual pass includes bringing in 1 guest for free. Most other annual programs, the guest(s) have to pay the entry free. It also come with LoungeMiles, their loyalty program that rewards you with a gift voucher for every 5 lounge visits.
Website: www.executivelounges.com

Dragonpass

Dragonpass is similar to Priority Pass in numbers of lounges and the passes the provide. Their website states they have over 850 lounges participating which makes them the second largest program globally. Their pricing is even very similar to Priority Pass.

The three levels of membership that Dragonpass provides are as follows

Preferential Membership – full annual fee US$89
Preferential Membership provides access to over 800 lounges at a cost of US$27 per person per visit. Guests are charged US$27 per visit.

Special Offer (Preferential Membership + 8 Visits) – full annual fee US$216
Preferential Membership with a discount for buying 8 visits up front. Additional visits are charged at US$27 per visit. Guests are charged US$27 per visit.

Prestige Membership – full annual fee US$435
Prestige membership Includes unlimited lounge visits for the member. Guests are charged US$27 per visit.

Website: en.dragonpass.com.cn

 

Credit Cards

Credit Cards can be a great way to gain access to many lounges in Canada and beyond. The majority don’t have their own programs per say but provide free membership into the Priority Pass program as mentioned above. The cards that do have their own access programs or tie into separate ones are The Platinum Card from American Express, the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard and the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card.

The Platinum Card from American Express



This is the mack daddy card of lounge access with many different options providing access to over 1,000 business class lounges worldwide. The lounge access benefits for the Platinum Card are as follows

  • Canadian Platinum Lounge benefit: Free of charge access for the cardmember + Spouse and 2 children or one guest participating lounges in Canada
  • Access to Delta Sky Clubs for no charge for the cardmember who are holding an Delta flight boarding pass. Additional guests must pay an entrance fee
  • Access to American Express Centurion lounges and Centurion Studio lounges for the cardholder and immediate family or 2 traveling companions (1 companion for Studio)
  • Priority Pass Prestige Membership with one guest included per lounge visit. All additional guests are US$27 (see Priority Pass above)

Find out more about The Platinum Card from American Express here

Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard



This card has the largest lounge access program out of all the cards that they can call their own. Up until a few years ago it dwindled from around 350 lounges to less than 150 worldwide as Diners Club went through changes in ownership. Now that those changes have taken place the program is stronger than ever with over 700 lounges available to cardholders including 16 in Canada. The card used to offer free membership in Priority Pass but that benefit was removed as many of the lounges in Diners’ own program overlapped with Priority Pass. I currently have this card and love it for the lounge access here in my home airport (YYC) but also for the access at many of the other airports around the globe. Unfortunately if you do not currently hold this card you cannot apply for it. BMO bought the rights to the brand in Canada and the U.S. and stopped accepting applications for it while they made their transition it from Citibank. I have been told by BMO that there are no plans to open up the personal card for applications. Boo!! To see what lounges are covered by Diners Club you can visit their Airport Lounge Locator or download the Diners Club app for your smartphone.

Find out more about the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard here

American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card / American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card

These cards don’t have its own lounge program but provide free access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges when travelling on a same-day departing ticket on a flight operated by Air Canada, Air Canada rouge or under the Air Canada express banner. Also applicable on same-day departing Air Canada codeshare or select Air Canada partner airline flights. The cards also provide free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above)

Find out more about the American Express AeroplanPlus Platinum Card here and the American Express AeroplanPlus Reserve Card here

American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus four free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Find out more about the American Express Air Miles Reserve Credit Card here

BMO Rewards World Elite MasterCard

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus four free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Find out more about the BMO Rewards World MasterCard here

National Bank World & World Elite MasterCard

The NBC World & World Elite MasterCards provides free access to the National Bank World MasterCard Lounge at Montreal-Trudeau airport.

Find out more about the National Bank World & World Elite MasterCards here

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus six free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Find out more about the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege here

Scotiabank American Express Platinum Card

This card doesn’t have its own lounge program but provides free standard membership into the Priority Pass program (see above) plus ten free Priority Pass lounge visits.

Find out more about the Scotiabank American Express Platinum Card here

Several cards like the Scotiabank American Express Gold Card and TD Travel Visas provide discounted annual membership to Priority Pass

 

Airline Lounge Access Programs

Finally airlines sell access to their own lounges via annual membership offers. Most do have the requirement that you are traveling with them or one of their partner airlines to be able to access the lounges however.

We only provide information on several of the larger North American airlines here but you can always check out other airlines to see if they offer similar programs.

Air Canada Maple Leaf Club



Air Canada’s annual lounge access program is called the Maple Leaf Club and offers three different access levels

Canada - $375 per year (Single Traveller) or $550 per year (Traveller + Spouse) and provides access to 16 lounges in Canada only

North America Plus - $495 per year (Single Traveller) or $730 per year (Traveller + Spouse) and provides access to over 60 lounges in Canada, the U.S. and Europe

Worldwide - $665 per year (Single Traveller) or $970 per year (Traveller + Spouse) and provides access to over 210 lounges Worldwide and also provides complimentary access to one guest.

All Maple Leaf Club memberships also provide access to Air Canada's Executive First® / Executive Class® Priority Check-in counters.

Website: www.airclublounge.com/AC/en/index.html

Alaska Airlines Board Room



With a Board Room membership, you get access to Alaska Airlines Board Room locations in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The membership also provides you access to over 60 affiliated lounges worldwide. Here are the new membership rates:

If you’re just passing through, you may buy a One-Day pass for $45 (USD) and it will allow you to visit any of the five Alaska Airlines Board Room locations.

Website: www.alaskaair.com/content/airport-lounge.aspx

American Airlines Admirals Club

American Admirals Club membership provides access to nearly 90 worldwide Admirals Club and partner lounge locations. You can buy day passes at US$59 each to access Admirals Clubs as well. Current pricing of annual pass memberships is as follows:

Website: www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/clubs/admirals-club.jsp

Delta SkyClub

Delta SkyClub annual membership gives you access to over 50 lounges around the world. Single day passes available are available at US$59. Current pricing on annual memberships are as follows:

Executive Membership Includes unlimited Club access for the member and up to two guests per visit. One-Year Rate: $695.00, 110,000 miles or $59.99 for 12 monthly installments.

Individual Membership Includes unlimited Club access for the member only. Individual Members may bring up to two guests to the Club at the rate of $29.00 per guest per visit. One-Year Rate: $450.00, 70,000 miles or $39.99 for 12 monthly installments.*

Website: www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/airports-and-aircraft/delta-sky-club.html

United Club

United Club annual membership provides access to over 45 United Clubs Worldwide. They also sell single day access passes for $59. Annual membership if have a one time initiation fee of US$50 and then cost the following:

Website: www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/airport/lounge/default.aspx

There you go. Now you know most of the ways to get access to business class lounges without being an elite level frequent flyer or flying in first or business class.


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