The ultimate guide to Alaska Airlines lounge access
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If you frequently fly on Alaska Airlines, access to one of the carrier’s airport lounges can significantly improve your preflight experience. Today we’re going to take a look at the different ways to gain access to Alaska lounges.
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A majority of airport lounges in the U.S. and around the world have been closed for months now, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented drop in passenger numbers. This includes all of Alaska’s lounges which have been closed for a while now, with the exception of the D-concourse lounge in Seattle (SEA) which remained open.
Alaska announced last week that it would be reopening the following lounges effective August 1, 2020:
- Anchorage (ANC) — Concourse C, near gate C-1
- Los Angeles (LAX) — Terminal 6 on the mezzanine level, near gate 64
- Portland Airport (PDX) — Concourse C, across from gate C5
- Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) — North Satellite on the mezzanine level, above gates N13-18
This means that the only Alaska lounges that will stay closed at the start of August are the carrier’s New York-JFK location and the Seattle concourse C lounge. There’s no word yet on whether the opening of Alaska’s brand-new lounge in San Francisco (SFO) will be delayed due to the pandemic.
Like most major airlines, Alaska Airlines sells annual memberships to its lounges. The price is based on whether or not you have MVP elite status.
Alaska is smaller than the legacy carriers like United and American and these lounge membership prices are also much more reasonable, especially for frequent flyers. Membership includes access for you and up to two guests or immediate family members, with additional guest passes available for purchase at a reduced rate of $25 per person (versus $50 for day passes for non-members). You’ll need to present a same-day boarding pass from any airline to use Alaska lounges, but if you’re visiting one of Alaska’s partner lounges that’s included in this membership you may need a boarding pass for that specific airline.
Alaska Airlines offers one of the most underrated elite programs, in my opinion, thanks largely to the generous mileage multipliers that elite members can earn. There are three tiers of status in the program: MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75k. If you qualify for MVP Gold 75k, which normally requires 75,000 elite-qualifying miles on Alaska or 90,000 elite-qualifying miles/90 elite-qualifying segments on partner airlines, you’ll earn four Alaska lounge day passes. With day passes normally selling for $50, this equates to a nice $200 benefit for top-tier elites. Alaska even lets you share these passes with friends and family, giving you more flexibility in how and when you enjoy your lounge access.
The legacy U.S. airlines don’t include lounge access as a benefit for domestic first-class passengers, only for international flyers. But since Alaska doesn’t really have an international route network, it makes sense that it would offer use of a lounge to domestic first-class customers. Passengers traveling on a paid first-class ticket or a first-class award ticket — specifically fare codes: A, D, F, P, or I — can access Alaska lounges on the day of their flight. Unlike the paid membership, this does not include access to any partner airline lounges. Alaska is also clear that passengers who upgraded to first class, whether it was a complimentary upgrade, a paid upgrade or an upgrade with miles, won’t have access to the first-class lounges.
What if you want to access an Alaska Airlines lounge but don’t fly with the carrier frequently enough to earn elite status or justify a paid membership? The good news is that several Alaska Airlines lounges participate in the Priority Pass program, including locations in Los Angeles (LAX) and New York (JFK). These lounges are often quite busy and have been known to restrict access to Priority Pass members during peak hours, but if there’s space available, you should be able to get in.
If you don’t currently have a Priority Pass membership, here are a few top cards that include it:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Alaska Airlines offers different ways to gain access to its lounges, including reasonably priced paid memberships, day passes for elites and participation in the popular Priority Pass program. Whether you’re a frequent Alaska flyer or just looking for a day pass before a single trip, you have several different options to make your predeparture experience more relaxing.
Featured image courtesy of Harriet Baskas/Alaska Airlines
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