Worth It: Fly The Friendlier Skies


Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn’t get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that’s how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our daily recommendation of random things that we’ve actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we’d actually tell our friends about. And now we’re telling you.

Assuming my flight goes according to plan tonight (knock on every piece of wood in a one-mile radius), it will be the eleventh airplane I’ve boarded in less than two months. Yeah, I fly a lot, usually in and out of the country’s most craptacularly trafficked airports (NYC, ORD, ATL — I know you bitches well). And despite the fact that sometimes I feel like I live at these misery factories, I’m not a premier flier — I usually have no choice but to function as a free agent with airlines, and so I’m always in the last boarding group. I never get upgraded. No free checked bags for me. No matter how frequently I fly, it’s never any less shitty than the last trip.

That is, unless I give myself a little treat, and they are found in abundance in the airline luxury lounges.

I used to think these clubs were purely for money-throwing cartoon ducks wearing spats, but after hour four of a seven-hour delay at ORD, I started sobbing and limped towards the frosted sliding doors of the United Club. Walking in there was the only good thing that happened to me that day.

The privilege of entering these clubs is usually reserved for first-class ticket holders or Super Mega Platinum OT Level III status flyers, which I am not. However, the international airline industry is nothing if not out to hold your wallet hostage, and this means that it’s quite easy to buy your way in. Capitalism, ahoy! If you have four figures burning a hole in your pocket, you can get yourself an annual all-access pass with the airline of your choice. Or, if you’re like me, you can get yourself a single-day pass for around $50. (Or at least that’s what I’ve paid with United and Delta.)

Yes, buying one of these passes is a bit indulgent. But if I’ve got the cash and am looking at a layover that’s more than two hours, I invariably buy myself one of these bad boys. Flying really can be hell, and this makes it a little better. That’s all the justification I need. You can purchase a pass in advance, or usually you can buy one at the entrance. Delta Sky Clubs, United Clubs, US Airways Club, American Airlines Admirals Club… Almost all of the major airlines have these sanctuaries, and not just at monster airports or traditional hubs — if you’re flying United out of Guatemala City or Delta out of Jacksonville, there’s a private lounge for you. Aer Lingus in Boston? You’re covered. International airlines are your friend, too. They’re all in on this. (There’s a pretty thorough list of existing clubs here, but you should always just check on your airline’s website.)

The quality of a given lounge depends on the airline and the airport, but one thing is guaranteed: sitting in one is infinitely better than sitting in the open terminal. There are snacks (bagels, cereal, muffins, trail mix — depends on the time of day). Coffee. A bar. Sometimes an open bar. Sometimes a serve-yourself open bar (I’m looking at you, MSP Sky Club, you saucy minx). There are nice bathrooms with seats that are not covered in urine, where marble countertops are gleaming and hand lotion is yours for the taking. Some lounges have special quiet rooms (my personal favorite), or changing rooms, or rooms with cubicles if you want to feel like you’re working at the undergrad library. Some have fireplaces and cloth napkins. Some just have wonderfully comfortable armchairs. All have free wifi and power outlets in glorious abundance. And that alone makes it worth it.

Airline lounges, prices vary. Check your airline’s website for prices and locations.

Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don’t send us stuff.

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