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A guide to guest policies for airport lounges

Aug. 19, 2022
18 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.

A recent viral tweet about airport lounges has garnered a lot of attention. It's also a good reminder to travelers that understanding the specific terms of your credit card benefits is important.

There’s no denying that airport lounges can be the best part of the on-ground experience when flying. You’ll find desirable amenities, such as complimentary food and drink, shower facilities and seating areas to kick back and relax before your flight takes off.

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But with more ways than ever to gain lounge access, the lounges can get pretty crowded. All of these ways to access lounges can also create confusion regarding who has access and how many guests they can (or can't) bring into the lounge, thanks to their credit card perks.

Let's take a look at credit cards that offer lounge access and the guest policies of each card, so you can avoid surprises when trying to enter a lounge before your next flight.

Alaska lounge

Most people gain access to Alaska lounges by having elite status with Mileage Plan or a Oneworld partner loyalty program.

AccessGuest policy
Alaska Airlines lounge memberImmediate family or two guests; additional guests $30 each.
American Airlines Admirals Club member when departing or arriving on flights with American Airlines or Alaska AirlinesImmediate family or two guests; additional guests $30 each.
Alaska MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold 100K members traveling on Oneworld airlines beyond the U.S., Canada or MexicoImmediate family or two guests; additional guests $30 each.
Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire membersOne guest who is also flying on a Oneworld airline; additional guests $30 each.
Priority Pass holder (select Alaska lounges only)Depends on the card; typically grants access for the cardholder and two guests at no cost.
Active duty military traveling in uniform and on ordersNo guests are listed in the policy.

If you hold an Alaska Airlines lounge membership, you’re allowed to bring immediate family members (considered partners and children under 21 years old) or up to two guests with you when entering an Alaska lounge (of which there are eight). Note that your guests must stay with you at all times.

For all other guests, members may purchase guest passes at a reduced rate of $30 per person. Note that members do not need to be traveling with your guest to purchase a guest pass, so you can snag this discounted rate fairly easily for any of your friends and family traveling soon. Children under two years old can enter free of charge when accompanying an adult.

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The Alaska Lounge at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Related: Six things you need to know about Alaska’s new lounge access rules

If you don’t fly Alaska enough to justify purchasing a lounge membership, being a Priority Pass lounge member may help. While Priority Pass members previously had access to more of Alaska's lounges, the airline has removed all of its lounges from Priority Pass, except for the New York-JFK lounge, which is in Terminal 7 on the mezzanine level just above security.

The JFK lounge has been known to restrict access to Priority Pass members during peak hours. If there’s space available, though, you should be able to get in. Otherwise, you may be able to join a waitlist. The guest policy depends on the credit card which provides your membership. We'll cover those details in the Priority Pass section of this guide (below).

American Airlines Admirals Club

Admirals Clubs can be accessed in many different ways, but perhaps the easiest way to gain membership is by opening a Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®. Although it has a $450 annual fee, the Admirals Club membership price by itself costs $650 a year — a considerable deal for loyal AA flyers. With an Admirals Club membership, your immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and children up to 18) or up to two guests may access the lounge with you.

Related: Three reasons why this is the best card for Admirals Club lounge access as travel returns

Access typeGuest policy
Admirals Club membersImmediate family or up to two guests.
Authorized users of the Citi/AAdvantage Executive cardImmediate family or up to two guests.
Active U.S. military traveling on orders and in uniformImmediate family or up to two guests.
First-class passengers on qualifying international flightsOne guest (children over 2 count as a guest); no guests for business-class passengers.
AAdvantage Platinum members and higher flying on qualifying international flights (regardless of class)One guest (children over 2 count as a guest).
Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members on all American and Oneworld flightsOne guest (children over 2 count as a guest).
Admirals Club day pass holdersUp to three children under 18.

Note that you can add up to 10 authorized users to the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Mastercard, granting them the unique ability to bring immediate family or up to two guests on their own.

Related: Credit card review: The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

The American Airlines Admirals Club in BOS. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Otherwise, first-class passengers or AAdvantage Platinum members (or higher) on qualifying international flights and Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members can bring one guest each. If you pay $59 for a day pass, you can bring up to three children under 18 with you to the Admirals Club as well.

Amex Centurion Lounges

These cards grant you access to Amex Centurion Lounges, with the guest policies depending on the card you have:

Card nameGuest policy through Jan. 31, 2023Guest policy starting Feb. 1, 2023
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTwo guests; additional guests $50 each.Adult guests will cost $50 each (but cardholders who spend more than $75,000 on purchases annually can continue to bring two free guests); children 2-17 years old $30 each; under 2 years old free.
The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressTwo guests; additional guests $50 each.Adult guests will cost $50 each (but cardholders who spend more than $75,000 on purchases annually can continue to bring two free guests); children 2-17 years old $30 each; under 2 years old free.
The American Express Corporate Platinum Card®Two guests; additional guests $50 each.No change.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express CardNo complimentary guests; $50 each for two guests.No change.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express CardNo complimentary guests; $50 each for two guests.No change.
The Centurion Card® from American ExpressTwo guests; additional guests $50 each.No change.
The Business Centurion Card® from American ExpressTwo guests; additional guests $50 each.No change.

The information for the Centurion Card, Business Centurion Card and Corporate Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Amex Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders

The Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card are two popular luxury travel cards that grant you complimentary access to the Centurion Lounges (enrollment required).

While you can bring two guests with you for no charge through Jan. 31, 2023, Amex announced changes that will go into effect on Feb. 1, 2023. Unless you spend $75,000 or more in purchases per calendar year on your card, you’ll be charged $50 per adult guest in the future. This change won't impact Corporate Platinum cardholders.

If you're traveling with children, understand that anyone over two years old counts as a guest. Children under two years old can — and will continue to — enter free of charge, while those aged 2-17 will have a $30 guest fee from February 2023.

The American Express Centurion Lounge at Denver International Airport (DEN). (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

While solo travelers may be thrilled at the prospect of less-crowded lounges down the road, those who often travel with friends or family will face a different dilemma.

Related: Solo travelers rejoice: Why I’m in favor of new Amex Centurion Lounge guest rules

Delta Reserve and Business Reserve cardholders

When flying on Delta, Reserve and Business Reserve cardholders can access both Delta Sky Clubs and the Centurion lounges. If you choose to visit the Centurion lounge instead, you can pay to bring up to two guests at the per-visit rate of $50 per person.

Centurion and Business Centurion cardholders

If you’re a Centurion or Business Centurion cardholder, you can bring up to two guests or immediate family members (spouse or children under 18) for no charge. Additional guests will cost $50 per person. The upcoming guest changes outlined for Platinum cardholders will not affect Centurion cardholders.

Capital One Lounges

Capital One currently has just one lounge, located in Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). However, additional lounges are slated to open in 2023.

Related: A complete guide to Capital One’s airport lounges — with new locations now slated for 2023

Access typeGuest policy
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit CardTwo guests (children under 2 are complimentary); $45 each for additional guests.
Authorized users on the Venture X cardTwo guests (children under 2 are free); $45 each for additional guests.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Spark Miles for Business cardholdersCardholders receive two lounge passes annually; you can use one to bring a guest. Additional guests cost $45 each (children under 2 are complimentary).
Day pass holders$65 each (though children under 2 are free).
The Capital One Lounge at DFW airport. (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Venture X cardholders can add up to four free authorized users to the card. Each of these people can bring two guests (plus children under 2) into the lounge. Thus, one credit card can provide admission for numerous people into a Capital One Lounge.

Related: You and 14 friends can all access the airport lounge with this card

Delta Sky Club

There are multiple ways to gain entrance into a Delta SkyClub, whether you hold a Delta SkyClub executive membership or are an eligible Delta Medallion member. Like other airline lounges, the guest policies depend on your access type.

Access typeGuest policy
Delta Sky Club Executive and Lifetime membershipTwo guests or immediate family; additional guests cost $50 per visit.
Delta Sky Club Individual member$50 per guest for two guests or immediate family
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card$50 per guest for two guests or immediate family; receive two one-time guest passes per year.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card$50 per guest for two guests or immediate family.
Delta SkyMiles Diners Club, TRUST Club Platinum and TRUST Club Gold cardholdersTwo guests (children over 2 counts as a guest).
Delta Gold Medallion status or higher (SkyTeam Elite Plus status)One guest.
Delta One or Delta SkyTeam Premium passengerNo guests allowed.
The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express$50 per guest for two guests.
Single-visit passNo guests allowed.

The information for the Delta Diners Club, Delta TRUST Club Platinum and the Delta TRUST Club Gold Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Delta's new Sky Club at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines)

Generally, the only way to gain complimentary guest access is to purchase a Delta Sky Club Executive membership or be a Delta Gold Medallion member (or higher). If you’re a cardholder of either the Delta Platinum or the Reserve, you’re limited to two guests or immediate family and must pay $50 per guest.

Related: Delta’s latest promo helps you earn elite status faster, includes award tickets

As with the Tweet referenced in the introduction, Delta considers anyone over age 2 to be a guest. Children under 2 receive complimentary entry. On the other end of the spectrum, children up to age 21 can gain entry as family members on categories of admission which allow for guest entry for immediate family members.

Plaza Premium lounges

Who does and doesn't have access to Plaza Premium lounges has changed recently. Plaza Premium introduced a $59 lounge pass a few months after many of these lounges left the Priority Pass network. Furthermore, recently, Capital One cardholders gained access to Plaza Premium lounges.

Access typeGuest policy
The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressTwo guests plus children under two; additional guests require a day pass, and costs vary by location.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit CardTwo guests plus children under two; additional guest costs vary by location.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Spark Miles for BusinessNo guests allowed; you can use one of your two annual complimentary passes to bring a guest.
Priority Pass members (select lounges)Policy varies by how you get your Priority Pass membership and its relevant guest policy.
Day passNo guests allowed.
Plaza Premium Lounge at Heathrow Airport (LHR). (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

Prices to enter Plaza Premium lounges can vary greatly, so what you might pay for a day pass or to bring an extra guest may range from $35 to $65.

Related: Under new management: Plaza Premium now running most Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses

Priority Pass lounges

Premium travel cards like the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer cardholders complimentary Priority Pass Select memberships — giving you access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide. The guest policy depends on the type of card you have, so we’ve outlined the differences for our top card picks for Priority Pass lounge access below (enrollment required):

Access typeGuest policy
The Platinum Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card from American ExpressTwo guests; additional guests cost $32 each.
Capital One Venture XTwo guests free.
Chase Sapphire ReserveTwo guests; additional guests cost $27 each.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardTwo guests; additional guests cost $32 each.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® CardTwo guests; additional guests cost $32 each.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card10 visits per year that can be used by you and any guests; additional visits cost $32 each.
Citi Prestige® CardTwo guests or immediate family; additional guests cost $27 each.
U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® CardFour guests; additional guests cost $27 each.
The Ritz-Carlton™ Rewards® Card (not open to new applicants) primary cardholder and authorized usersUnlimited guests.

Enrollment required for select benefits.

The information for the Hilton Aspire card, Citi Prestige Card, Altitude Reserve and Ritz-Carlton Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: The best credit cards for Priority Pass lounge access

The Turkish Airlines Lounge at MIA airport is part of Priority Pass. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Most cards that grant you Priority Pass Select membership allow lounge access for you and up to two guests. There’s an additional guest fee that ranges between $27 to $32, depending on the card you have. Employees can limit the number of guests for capacity controls, so you may not be guaranteed to bring multiple guests if a certain lounge is especially crowded.

The notable exceptions here are the Citi Prestige and Ritz-Carlton card, which offer a quite generous guest policy. If you have a large family, these cards could be worth holding onto.

Related: Reader question: Can I use multiple Priority Pass memberships to bring in extra guests?

United Club

United has relatively straightforward guest policies: United Club members may bring one adult and dependent children under 21 or bring up to two guests. Any additional guests will be charged an extra fee. If you want complimentary access, the United Club Infinite Card offers a complimentary United Club membership — up to a $650 value.

Related: Best for loyal flyers: United Club Infinite Card review

Access typeGuest policy
United Club membershipUp to two adults or one adult and dependents under 21 years of age.
United Premier Gold status or higher (or Star Alliance Gold member)One guest; the guest must be on the same flight.
Star Alliance first-class passengerOne guest
Active U.S. military personnelFamily members traveling on the same flight as the military member.
United or Star Alliance business-class passengerNo guests allowed.
Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Worldwide membersOne guest.
Virgin Australia Velocity elites with Gold, Platinum or VIP status when flying on an international United or Virgin Australia flightOne guest only if the member is flying on a United-operated flight.
United Club one-time passNo guests allowed.
The United Club at EWR airport. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Members with United Premier Gold status or higher can bring one guest, but note that your guest must be on the same flight as you; this policy went into effect in May 2021. Star Alliance first-class passengers may also bring one guest into United Clubs.

If you’re a one-time United Club passholder or a business-class passenger on a United or Star Alliance flight, you’re not allowed to bring any guests with you — unless you have a child who's under two years old.

It's also worth noting that these access policies do not apply to United's Polaris lounges. These are accessible only by passengers flying in long-haul Polaris business class with United or flying in long-haul business or first class with a Star Alliance partner airline.

Related: The best credit cards for United Airlines flyers

Bottom line

Whether you have lounge access through your credit card or airline elite status, the guest guidelines will vary greatly. Some lounges allow you to bring free guests, while others charge a fee that can be as high as $65 per person.

As a general rule of thumb, you can bring children age two or younger at no additional charge. Past this age, as frustrating as it may seem, you'll need privileges for free guests or will have to pay up to bring your child into the lounge with you.

Featured photo of the American Express Centurion Lounge at JFK Airport by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

Featured image by The American Express Centurion Lounge at JFK Airport. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
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  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees