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If you are travelling for business or pleasure then you want to be as comfortable and hassle free as possible. If you are travelling frequently then you are probably a member of one, if not more than one airlines frequent flyer club. You may not know what to do with all the points you are earning, or even how they work, however there are many other simpler ways to benefit.

Trying to stay with one airline club does have enormous benefits, especially if it falls into one of the two biggest airline alliances, namely, Star Alliance or One World. As your miles increase and as you travel more the more you will eventually become one of their 'elite' members, with a superior status to the standard membership level. Some airlines will recognise their most frequent flyers by giving them the Gold Card or the next tier of membership. This alone is worth it especially if you have earned it the hard way - through economy class travel.

Your superior status will generally give you additional kilogram's, priority check in, priority upgrades, priority boarding, priority on waitlists (some airlines are even beginning to offer immediate confirmation), and very importantly the use of the airport lounges.

Airport lounges vary enormously, some offer great food and drinks, with shower facilities, work stations, perhaps even a massage service, or computer games to help you pass the time. Some though are cramped and their 'extra' services really are only a comfortable chair, and complimentary drinks. Choosing which lounge to use can be a complicated yet very important part of your comfortable travel experience.

There is both outside and in the travel industry, an enormous misunderstanding that you can only use the lounge of the airline that you are travelling on. NOT SO. This means that you have a lot more choice than you previously thought, if you are travelling as a Gold Card Member of one of the two alliances mentioned previously. Let's say for example that you are travelling as a gold card member of Royal Orchid Plus (Thai Airlines) which is a member of the Star Alliance. As long as you are flying on any of the Star Alliance airlines then you can use ANY of the lounges that falls under Star Alliance, you are not restricted to using Thai's lounge if you are flying Thai. You could use any of the lounges such as United, SAS, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Varig, Ansett Australian, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, and of course Thai. Star Alliance is constantly growing and in the near future you will have even more lounges at your disposal with the addition of Singapore Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Lauda Air, and Tyrolean to Star Alliance.

All you have to do is present a same day boarding pass on a Star Alliance airline, and your gold card, and you will be let in !

This gives you enormous choice. For example the Thai lounge at Hong Kong's International Airport is great and they serve wonderful Dim Sum in the mornings, the food however in the afternoon however is not that great, so you may be better using United's, which has excellent fruit and some cheese selections. Uniteds' lounge also has much better computer facilities and is larger thus less cramped.

In London, if you smoke you will not be able to do so at Thai's lounge but you can at United and SAS's lounges . Again Uniteds' lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 is enormous, with excellent computer facilities, a very large smoking section and very highly trained professional staff.

This gives you the ability to choose, if for example you need to connect to the Internet with your computer, and all the four terminals at Thais lounge in Singapore are taken, you could always go and see if the stations at United's lounge are free.

Generally the airlines aren't too happy with this as more often than not the other airline lounge charges the one you are flying with, but at present there is nothing that they can do.

Feel you won't be able to make it to gold status or above or just want to make sure you can make use of a lounge when flying? Find out how you can buy your way into lounges with Priority Pass. May we wish you a comfortable journey.


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