Airline Club cards: Is the hefty fee worth becoming an airline club member

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Most major US airlines have clubs or lounges in many major cities.  Virgin America recently opened their LOFT clubs in select cities. Southwest and Jet Blue don't have any clubs. But is a club worth the cost of joining?

Clubs offer some free munchies, drinks, WiFi, more comfortable seating and, occasionally, showers and sleeping rooms. Annual passes aren't cheap.  It's $450 for Delta Clubs and $475 for United Airlines --although rates are lower if you have elite status with an airline.

You can also buy day passes. These are typically $50.

Even if you're stealing a bunch of snacks to take on board, it's hard to justify these prices unless you fly a lot, but in certain cases, it may be worth it. For example, if your flight is canceled and you're facing a long line of passengers waiting to be rebooked, it may be time to run to the lounge.

The lounge has its own agents who are typically skilled at changing tickets. There's not much of a line, and, if it's important for you to be at your destination as early as possible, that $50 might get you booked before everyone else and gives you a place to wait during your delay. 

You can also keep track of flights on the in-lounge monitors.

The American Express Platinum Card carries a $450 annual fee, but one of its benefits is free access to American, Delta, and US Airways lounges.  American Airlines sells its own membership for $500.  So if you're a single traveler, you're better off carrying the card.

Certain cards, like the United Card from Chase, come with a free lounge pass and most clubs allow members to bring a guest for free. 

Here are a couple of links to help you decide:

American Airlines Admiral’s Club

United Card from Chase



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