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Travel Savings Strategies

O-Hare-Terminal3Choosing to fly during the off-season is an easy way to save money; however, there are many other ways you can pad your wallet when your travel plans take you to the airport.  The key to saving big is a little pre-flight strategizing.

For example, if you only fly on commercial airlines a few times a year, you may have a hard time justifying the costs associated with an airport lounge membership.  Still, it’s hard to resist the comforts and services provided at these luxurious airport hangouts.

Some of the perks of lounge membership include:

Peace and quiet:  Most airport lounges offer a respite from the chaos taking place in packed concourses.  These high-end sanctuaries feature large comfortable furniture where you can rest your weary body.  In addition, you have access to several large-screen televisions, current newspapers and magazines, as well as computers, Wi-Fi and plenty of power sources where you can plug in your own mobile device.

Food and beverages:  Airport lounges typically feature a generous supply of free snacks, such as crackers, pretzels, nuts, fruit and candy.  Depending on the airline and the airport, you may even score a free sandwich or other satisfying finger foods.  In addition, most lounges provide free soda, beer and wine to guests.

Personal assistance:  Forget about standing in long lines that snake throughout the airport in order to get help rebooking a flight or making changes to your existing reservation.  Airline-affiliated lounges house multiple employees who are trained to manage seat assignments, trace lost luggage, check upgrades and verify connections.  Basically, anything that requires a customer service agent can be taken care of in an airport lounge.

While the benefits may sound appealing, the cost of an annual lounge membership can lead to major sticker shock.  If you are pinching pennies, but still want to enjoy the perks of these airport oases look into purchasing a one-day pass.  This option is available for Admirals Club, Sky Club and United Club for $50.  Meanwhile, you can get into the US Airways Club for just $29 when you purchase a day pass online or $50 if you pay at the door.  Another option for frugal flyers is to look for Virgin America lounges, which don’t charge annual membership fees.  Rather, you simply pay a $40 entry fee and you may enjoy all of the lounge’s benefits for a 24-hour period.

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About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.