$58 for 45 Minutes in the Lounge — Reader Mistake Story

Jun 25, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Mark, who mixed up the lounge benefits offered by one of his credit cards. Here’s what he had to say:

I consider myself an award travel veteran, but I recently made a rookie mistake. For Memorial Day weekend I took my sons to Florida to see some sights and visit friends and family. I used Ultimate Rewards points from my Sapphire Reserve card to book our flight out on American, and I used SkyMiles from my Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Card for the return trip, getting what I considered decent value for them on a busy holiday weekend. I even canceled the first flight within 24 hours and re-booked a cheaper flight when fares went down. So far, so good!

On the way back, we had a one-hour layover in Atlanta. It was 9pm, and I was hungry as well as worn out from a busy weekend, so I took my sons to the big Delta Sky Club in Terminal B — a place I’ve been a few times before when traveling alone for work. It’s nice, but the food offerings are nothing special. I swiped my Platinum Card® from American Express card and the person at the desk handed me a piece of paper. We stayed there about 45 minutes; I had a coffee, some soup and pasta, and my sons ate a little bit. Then we left to catch our flight, arriving home shortly after midnight.

What I didn’t realize until the next day was that Delta had charged me $29 for lounge access for each of my two guests. So for $58, I got a bowl of soup and 45 minutes in the lounge. My mistake was confusing the Priority Pass and Centurion Lounge access policies with Delta’s policy for Amex Platinum holders. As I now know, Delta lets the cardholder in, but charges a per-guest fee. One of my sons even has an authorized user card, but I didn’t think to bring it because I assumed I could take two free guests. If I’d had more time, I would have sought out The Club lounge in the International Terminal, which has free drinks, better food, and more snacks than any of the Sky Clubs.

Amex Platinum tops the list of cards that offer airport lounge benefits, since cardholders can get complimentary access to Sky Clubs, Priority Pass lounges and restaurants, Amex’s own Centurion Lounges and more. As Mark learned, however, the guest policies vary depending on which type of lounge you visit. You can bring two guests with you into Priority Pass and Centurion lounges, but the Sky Club benefit only applies to the primary cardholder and authorized users on same-day Delta flights — guests cost an extra $29 per person (capped at two). That’s less than the normal $59 single visit pass, but it’s probably not worthwhile if you’re only going to be in the lounge briefly.

In my experience, lounge agents simply check you in with whatever form of entry you offer. They (usually) know who’s allowed in and at what cost, but so long as your ID and admission are valid, they don’t bring it up and you won’t see fees posted publicly. To avoid getting charged unexpectedly, it’s best to know the rules yourself, including when you get complimentary access and how many guests can accompany you. Those rules change from time to time, so don’t assume you have the same degree of access if you haven’t visited in a while. Finally, make sure your membership is up to date, and carry the right card if you have access through multiple channels.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Mark for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Feature image by Rank Studios for Delta Airlines.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $2,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (only for use in the U.S.)  (Enrollment required for select benefits)

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Annual Fee
$695
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.