|Want to learn more about accessing US airline lounges? See my series about how to access Alaska Lounges, American Admirals Clubs, Delta SkyClubs, and United Clubs.|
In this post I wanted to take a look at how to access Alaska Lounges, especially with the airline recently joining the oneworld alliance, increasing the cost of a lounge membership, and opening a new lounge at SFO.
Alaska Airlines is unique among US airlines when it comes to its lounge access policies, as it’s the only major US airline to allow all paid first class passengers into lounges. There are of course many other ways to access the Seattle-based carrier’s lounges as well, so let’s take a comprehensive look at how Alaska Lounge access works.
Alaska Airlines Lounge locations
While American, Delta, and United, all have dozens of lounges, Alaska Airlines has a comparatively small network of lounges. Alaska Airlines has a total of eight lounges at six airports. There are Alaska Lounges in:
- Anchorage (ANC), Concourse C
- Los Angeles (LAX), Terminal 6
- New York (JFK), Terminal 7
- Portland (PDX), Concourse C
- San Francisco (SFO), Terminal 2
- Seattle (SEA), Concourse C, Concourse D, and the North Satellite
As you can see, all of the above airports have a single Alaska Lounge, with the exception of Seattle, which has three Alaska Lounges.
How to access Alaska Lounges
There are so many different ways to access Alaska Lounges, though there’s some fine print associated with some of the lounge entry options. Below I want to look at all the ways you can access Alaska Lounges, from first class tickets, to a membership, to a day pass, to a Priority Pass membership, to oneworld elite status.
Buy a first class ticket (with cash or miles)
Alaska Airlines is the only US airline to offer all paid first class passengers lounge access.
This applies to passengers who pay with cash or miles (in fare classes C, D, E, J, and I), though it excludes passengers who have upgraded (whether the upgrade is with miles, purchased, or complimentary based on elite status). Your flight must be operated by Alaska Airlines, so a codeshare flight on American Airlines wouldn’t qualify.
When visiting based on your first class ticket you can’t bring any guests with you for free.
Buy an Alaska Lounge membership
Alaska Airlines has two different lounge membership plans, at different price points and with different lounge access inclusions. An Alaska Lounge membership gets you access to just Alaska Lounges, and costs:
- $450 annually for Mileage Plan non-elite members
- $350 annually for Mileage Plan MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K members
An Alaska Lounge+ membership gets you access to Alaska Lounges, American Admirals Clubs (when flying Alaska or American), select Qantas Clubs (when flying Qantas) and select United Clubs (when flying Alaska), and costs:
- $600 annually for Mileage Plan non-elite members
- $500 annually for Mileage Plan MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K members
Regardless of which membership option you choose:
- You can access Alaska Lounges regardless of which airline you’re flying (American, Delta, and United, all only let members access their lounges when flying that airline or select partners the same day)
- Alaska Lounge members can bring two guests or immediate family members (partners and children under 21) with them into Alaska Lounges
Buy an Admirals Club membership (with miles or cash)
Alaska and American have a reciprocal lounge access agreement, so alternatively you could purchase an American Airlines Admirals Club membership. This allows you to access Alaska Lounges when flying either Alaska or American same day.
Here’s the cash cost to buy an Admirals Club membership:
Then here’s the cost to purchase an Admirals Club membership using AAdvantage miles:
With an Admirals Club membership you can bring two guests or immediate family members (partners and children under 21) with you.
Get the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card
This is along similar lines to the above point about getting an Admirals Club membership, but is worth pointing out separately.
Perhaps ironically, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review) is the best credit card for getting Alaska Lounge access.
The card has a $450 annual fee, and offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember, allowing them to access Alaska Lounges.
The icing on the cake is that those with the card can add up to 10 authorized users at no cost, and each of those authorized users receives Admirals Club access when flying American Airlines same day. This access is for the authorized user and two guests or immediate family (they don’t have to be flying with the primary cardmember).
However, this authorized user benefit doesn’t extend to Alaska Lounges — only the primary cardmember gets Alaska Lounge access.
Buy a day pass for $50
You can buy an Alaska Lounge day pass for $50 per person. This is valid for 24 hours from the first use, and you can even use it to visit multiple Alaska Lounges the same day. You can buy a day pass even if you’re traveling on another airline, and the pass can be purchased directly at an Alaska Lounge.
Get access for $25 with Alaska credit card
If you have one of Alaska’s credit cards then you can buy day passes for 50% off, meaning you can buy access for just $25 per person. That’s a solid deal, and less than you’d likely pay for a couple of drinks in the terminal.
Eligible cards for these purposes include the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card (review) and Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card (review). There are many other reasons to pick up these great cards. Note that Alaska Airlines’ Canadian credit cards don’t qualify for this benefit.
Free passes as an MVP Gold 75K & 100K member
Alaska Airlines’ MVP Gold 75K and MVP Gold 100K members receive four free Alaska Lounge day passes per year. These are deposited into members’ Mileage Plan accounts online every year, and can even be shared with friends and family.
If you do share them with others, just give them the voucher code.
Have a Priority Pass membership
Alaska Airlines and Priority Pass seem to have a love-hate relationship. A Priority Pass membership offers access to 1,300+ lounges around the world, and typically some Alaska Lounges are among them.
However, at the moment the only Alaska Lounge to belong to Priority Pass is the JFK location. Note that even where Priority Pass members get access, you may often find that there are capacity controls, so don’t take this as a sure bet.
In the United States the following are some of the most popular credit cards to come with Priority Pass memberships, along with their guesting privileges:
Have oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status
With Alaska Airlines now being in the oneworld alliance, there’s a whole new way to access Alaska Lounges based on oneworld status:
- Those with oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status in any program other than Alaska Mileage Plan or American AAdvantage can access Alaska Lounges when flying any oneworld flight the same day, even if it’s domestic
- Those with oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status in the Alaska Mileage Plan or American AAdvantage program can access Alaska Lounges when flying any oneworld flight the same day that includes travel outside of North America
In other words, a oneworld Emerald member through British Airways Executive Club could access Alaska Lounges when flying exclusively within the United States, while a oneworld Emerald member through Alaska Mileage Plan couldn’t.
Eligible oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members can bring one guest into Alaska Lounges.
Fly oneworld long haul first or business class
It’s not only oneworld elite status that will get you into Alaska Lounges, but also a oneworld long haul first or business class ticket. If you’re traveling same day on a oneworld premium cabin ticket then you can access Alaska Lounges, either at your gateway airport, or at a connecting airport.
In other words, if you’re flying Qatar Airways business class from Seattle to Doha, or British Airways business class from New York to London, you could use Alaska Lounges.
Have (non-oneworld) partner elite status
Select partner elite members can access Alaska Lounges when flying with Alaska Airlines same day. However, this comes with some catches, and is pretty niche outside of oneworld. For example:
- Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Platinum & Gold members can access Alaska Lounges when flying Alaska same day
- Icelandair Saga Club Gold members can access Alaska Lounges when flying Alaska same day
Be an active duty military member
Active duty US military personnel traveling on orders can receive a complimentary Alaska Lounge day pass. You must be able to verify your active status, provide orders, and be ticketed to fly on an Alaska Airlines flight within three hours.
There are many ways to access Alaska Lounges, ranging from a paid first class ticket, to a lounge membership (either with Alaska or American), to buying a day pass, to having partner airline elite status.
Alaska is unique in offering domestic first class passengers lounge access. On top of that, the airline has among the most reasonable membership costs for lounges, and continues to allow people to access lounges when flying on other airlines.
Lastly, I think buying access to Alaska Lounges for $25 in conjunction with a co-branded Alaska Visa could represent a good deal, especially if you have a bit of time and are going to have a drink or two.
Hopefully the above clears up everything you could want to know about Alaska Lounge access. If I missed anything, please let me know.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).