CityPress - - Business - AN­GELIQUE RUZICKA busi­ness@city­ SAA (Cape Town) Bri­tish Air­ways (Cape Town) The Premier Lounge, op­er­ated by Bid­vest (in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal, Cape Town) The Premier Lounge, op­er­ated by Bid­vest (do­mes­tic ter­mi­nal, Cape Town) Bid­vest Premier Lo

When it comes to air­port and air­line lounges, the ben­e­fits are abun­dant – there’s com­fort­able seat­ing, un­lim­ited food and drinks, tele­vi­sion, ac­cess to shower fa­cil­i­ties (handy af­ter a long flight), free news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines, mas­sages and free Wi-Fi, to name a few things.

It’s im­por­tant to make a dis­tinc­tion be­tween air­line lounges, which are op­er­ated by specific car­ri­ers, and air­port lounges, which are run by in­de­pen­dent op­er­a­tors. Air­line lounges are only ac­ces­si­ble to cer­tain ticket hold­ers of cer­tain air­lines or peo­ple with cer­tain bank cards. For in­stance, In­vestec card­hold­ers have ac­cess to SAA-owned lounges and Bid­vest Premier Lounges. There are cer­tain rules that ap­ply even then, such as you can only have com­pli­men­tary ac­cess for chil­dren un­der the age of 12 (up to four at a time per card­holder) and you can’t in­vite guests.

But if you don’t have the right ticket or bank card, you can still ac­cess air­port lounges for a fee When it comes to in­de­pen­dent lounges, you also have to pay for kids if you take them along, but chil­dren un­der the age of two gen­er­ally get in for free. Check be­fore­hand what the cost would be if you plan on tak­ing the whole fam­ily.

How can you book a slot in the lounge?

Once solely the pre­serve of VIP pas­sen­gers, air­port lounges are now ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one for a fee or for “free” if you have the right bank card or air­line ticket. For ex­am­ple, with Ned­bank and Green­backs platinum cards, which cost R55.40 per month, you get lo­cal lounge ac­cess with Bid­vest, lim­ited to eight vis­its per year.

“It comes at no cost to our clients. There are no spend re­quire­ments. The Amer­i­can Ex­press gold charge card comes with the same level of ac­cess. For our in­ter­na­tional clients, we of­fer the Amer­i­can Ex­press platinum card, which comes with Pri­or­ity Pass ac­cess. This al­lows un­lim­ited lounge ac­cess to over 1 000 lounges world­wide. Again, there is no spend re­quire­ment, and there is no fur­ther cost to the client be­yond the R3 750 an­nual ser­vice fee for the Platinum Card,” says Dave Bekker, se­nior busi­ness man­ager at Amex Is­su­ing SA.

If you have a ticket with one of the major car­ri­ers, such as SAA or Bri­tish Air­ways, find out if you have ac­cess to one of their lounges through your ticket. Of­ten the cost of lounge ac­cess is built into the price of a busi­ness-class ticket.

(see ta­ble). AIR­PORT LOUNGE (see ta­ble). COST TO AC­CESS


Oth­er­wise there are other lounges that are ac­ces­si­ble to any­one, re­gard­less of air­line ticket or class, such as the six pre­mium lounges at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional in Johannesburg

Your slot can be booked in ad­vance through the air­port’s web­site and en­try for some South African lounges starts at R232.60. If you have the right bank card, you sim­ply have to present it at the en­trance of the lounge.

While the ac­cess fee to the in­de­pen­dent lounges sounds costly, es­ti­mate how much you will typ­i­cally spend on drinks and food at the likes of Mugg & Bean, Spur and buy­ing a news­pa­per or magazine, and so on. You may find af­ter you add it all up that the lounges make bet­ter fi­nan­cial sense when you throw in other lux­u­ries such as a hot shower and a mas­sage.

But the ben­e­fits and perks of­fered by the banks don’t al­ways stay the same. The FNB ini­tia­tive with Co­mair, which


Open to pas­sen­gers of Star Al­liance and SAA or In­vestec card hold­ers pro­vides ac­cess to the Slow Lounge, for in­stance, has been the vic­tim of its own suc­cess.

It came to a point where, on av­er­age 50 000 FNB cus­tomers were us­ing the Slow Lounge at OR Tambo ev­ery month – some­thing had to be done.

As a re­sult, the de­ci­sion was made to cut the num­ber of al­low­able vis­its across the board and to ap­ply lim­its based on the re­ward level you were on.

If you like hav­ing ac­cess to the lounges, re­view your card and ben­e­fits on a regular ba­sis to make sure if the ac­cess you are get­ting to the lounges is still worth the money you pay on all the charges you pay for your bank ac­count.

If not, there’s no harm in shop­ping around, mak­ing sure you buy the right air­plane ticket, or down­grad­ing your card and pay­ing for ac­cess to the lounges your­self when you need it and can af­ford it.

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