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Maximizing Lounge Access: How Soon Before My Flight Can I Check Into the Lounge?

Have you heard about the guy who bought and canceled first class tickets in order to get into a first class lounges? It’s pretty hilarious the extent that people will go to in order to get lounge access. I know people who will show up at the airport early and plan extra long layovers to maximize the amount of time they can spend in the lounge. But just how soon before your flight can you check into the lounge? That depends on your circumstances.

If You’re Transiting or Just Have Carry-On Luggage

If you’re transiting or traveling with carry-on luggage, you’re pretty much free to check into the airport lounge as soon as the airline allows you to check in for your flight. Does that mean you should show up 24 hour before your flight and chill in the lounge? I guess you could do that. The staff might look at you a little weird, but to each his own.

Personally, if I had 24 hours to spare in another city, I’d rather spend at least half of that exploring the city and trying as many local food spots as I can. Even at lounges like the incredible Cathay Pacific Pier Lounge in Hong Kong, where you can get your own private room, access to a spa, and an incredible dining experience, I’d probably get bored after about 6 hours.

If You Have Luggage to Check In

If you have luggage that needs to be checked in, you’re bound by the airline’s policy about when exactly you can check those in. Often, that’s around 4 hours before a flight. That’s plenty of time to grab something to eat and relax before a flight. You might not be able to take advantage of premium benefits like spa treatments, since appointments can get booked up fast. That’s even more incentive to travel with a carry-on bag. That being said, ~4 hours is still enough time to enjoy the experience and photograph/document the hell out of it..

I remember sitting in the Thai Airways first class lounge in Bangkok on a lengthy layover a few years back. After getting a quick tour of the space and where the buffet was, I was ushered into my own private living room and given a menu to order from. Then I went off for a spa treatment, feeling like I had the life beat out me but still relaxed. It was super exciting but after a couple of hours, the novelty wore off. The room started to fe el a little isolated so I went off into the main seating area. And I totally did get bored after I had finished all my work and watched all the Gilmore Girls episodes I could.

Hanging out in an airport lounge is a fun way to pass the time before a flight. And with airlines constantly upping the game when it comes to luxurious lounges, it’s totally understandable for people to want to maximize the experience. And while I would personally be super grateful to spend 8+ hours in a club lounge in transit (vs the terminal or a dingy airport hotel), I like moderation. Spending time in the city I’m in sounds more exciting now than just watching

planes take off. But again, to each his own.


What’s the earliest you’ve checked into a club lounge before a flight?

Comments are Closed.
am1108 August 20, 2018

The longest I've spent is 8-9 hours in a United Club. The agent was suspicious and almost didn't let me through, until I told him I needed to do work at the lounge.

Dianne47 August 17, 2018

A couple of years ago I had a 6-hour layover at IAH before an overnight flight to IST. I spent most of that time in the Amex Centurion Lounge, having a shower just before heading to the gate. That would be about as long as I would ever want to spend in a lounge for one trip.

Proudelitist August 16, 2018

Frankly, I would rather spend time at home or in my hotel room over a lounge. A lounge is nice, but it really is little more than respite from the insanity of the terminal and some free food. What's more, many lounges are becoming crowded as status is diluted across the industry. I will only spend more than 4 hours in one if my layover is more than 4 hours.