My thoughts on “shameless tricks for free airport lounge access”

I’m always interested in learning new methods to getting perks for business travel, so when an article called 5 glass of wineshameless tricks to get free airport lounge access showed up on USA Today I read it immediately.  While some methods to getting travel perks really are very helpful, some are certainly less so.  There are helpful tricks in this USA Today story, but some verge on shady or worse.  Below I’ve listed their tricks for free airport lounge access, along with my take on each.

Bank on charm

Dressing to the nines, as you’ve likely been advised, can only get you so far. Sometimes you have to mercilessly play up the swagger, bat those eye lashes just a bit faster, and exhibit your smooth talking skills.

Michael Herlihy, who basically lived at airports when he worked in the aerospace industry, said “the trick is finding the agent who is having the worst day and making sure you land in his or her line. Then if you’re super nice to them and ask nicely with a decent reason why you want to go [into the lounge], they can give you a day pass.”

This is actually a reasonable suggestion, although I don’t know about finding an agent who looks like they’re having a bad day. However, when I fly I can often find something that the airlines did wrong.  If you can play the victim card (along with how loyal you are) well enough you’ll give the agent the justification they need to let you in.  Also, if an airline is already giving you a concession for something that’s their fault this is the perfect opportunity to request for a day pass to the lounge to be included.  (Not to mention, it doesn’t hurt to also ask for miles or an upgrade on your next flight when receiving a concession from an airline)

Bluff on by

The attendants at the entryway of most lounges can be pretty staunch gatekeepers. So, sneaking on by isn’t likely to work, but it can. In China, Herlihy said he would expediently charge through the entry like he belonged there while waving and spouting hello in Chinese. The employees would look confused, but he didn’t stop to chat.

This one is funny, and my guess is it probably would work occasionally, but it falls into the shady category for me.  This suggestion sounds like something that would work well on a sitcom, but not so much in real life. If I did this I would probably end up walking through the wrong door and eventually get dragged away by security.  It sure would make for a great blog post, maybe I should try it!

Play lounge hawk

Shave off your creepy mustache, stand tall with a casual lean just beyond the lounge entry, then when a patron walks by, ask to ride on through the doors on their coat tails. Lounge members and first class passengers are permitted one guest per day, and it might as well be yours — all it takes is asking.

This is less shady to me than the previous method (and luckily I’m a lady without a mustache), but still seems a little shady to me.  However, if you made friends with someone on a flight, and then see them heading to the lounge without a guest I totally think it’s cool to ask if you can be their guest if you feel you made a good enough bond.  But asking a stranger to let you be their guest, creepy mustache or not, is just weird.  I haven’t ever had a stranger ask for access from me before but if they did I would definitely say no.

Make a crying reference

While checking in at Turkish Airlines, traveler Trish Sellers found out that she and a friend were not seated together for the flight. When the attendant asked if that was okay, she joked, “Oh no, I think I’m going to cry!” Lost in translation, the attendant responded with sympathy, shouting, “no no, please don’t cry!” She promptly upgraded them to first class, which also granted them access to the lounge.

If an airline is a fault for something, or inconveniencing you in some way I see no problem in making the airlines feel guilty to try and get something out of them.  Saying you’re going to cry may be more than necessary, but maybe saying something like “this is really inconvenient, is there anything else you can do for me?” could surprise you on the result.  The worst they can say is no.

Tell dignity to step aside

If at some point you manifested a lounge pass but were unable to use it before the expiration date, hang onto it. Technically it’s no longer valid, but it could be your best parlay. Try this: wait until the lounge entry gets busy, then approach, present the expired voucher, get publicly turned down, and in the most charming way possible, express your surprise and disappointment within earshot of those passing by. Someone entering the lounge just might hear your case, take pity on your error, and invite you in as their guest.

If your intentions are not to knowingly use an expired pass as a valid pass, but instead to use it to try and get another person to take you in as their guest when you are denied access, I see no actual ethical problem in this method.  However, I don’t really see this actually working.  I’ve never tried it, or heard anyone else try it, but it sounds to me like a waste of time and effort to me.  And to be honest, this just sounds so skeezy to me. Similar to the above suggestion to just ask random people to let you be their guest, but somehow moving in to the realm of con artist.

The thing is, unless you’re traveling internationally IMO lounge access isn’t really that big of a deal. Yes it’s a more comfortable atmosphere, but the food is sub-par and the free wine offerings are just okay. Frankly it’s just not worth the effort to me—yes I’m in airports all the time, but I’ve got my routine down so I’m rarely waiting to board a flight for more than half an hour. If I happen to have more time than that I’d rather sit at Vino Volo and pay for delicious food and great wine, rather than spend 30 minutes trying to con some stranger into letting me be their guest at a lounge.

For some more realistic ways on getting lounge access check out this post from The Points Guy.

Readers, what do you think about lounges? Are they worth the expense? Have you ever tried to talk your way into one?

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  1. Most of this is outdated like getting an upgrade when dressed nice.

    One trick I would use is when offered a voucher to take a later flight for say $500, ask them to include a day pass or two along with it. It cost them nothing if they have the authority.

  2. I once was stranded at the Johannesburg airport because they messed up my connecting flight’s ticket and had to reissue one which resulted in me missing my flight. The next one wasn’t for 8 hours. This meant I’d have to stand outside in the check in area for at least five hours.
    I cried (real tears) and that got me into the airport, and then when someone saw me crying on the phone with my husband he suggested I talk to the lounges. I got into the business lounge.
    I agree that there was really nothing special about it, but because I had to be there such a long time, I was able to get some snacks and not keep such an eagle eye on my luggage since I was in a safe environment.

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