You can score lounge access with a first- or business-class international ticket, with paid membership, or with a credit card that gives you elite status.
American Express’s Premier Rewards Gold Card and its Business Gold Rewards Card offer three reward points for every $1 you spend on any airline.
Use the reward points to pay for all or part of your tickets or other travel expenses. Some additional tips:
Bypass the long airport security lines
No one likes standing in long lines to get through security screening, but you don’t have to take off your shoes if you know how to work the system. In the US, the Transportation Safety Administration now permits preapproved travelers to move through security more efficiently by using its “expedited screening initiative.” To obtain the background check that qualifies you for these less burdensome screening procedures, apply for Global Entry status, a feature of the US Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler Programs. Global Entry charges $100 for an interview, though some airlines offer it to their frequent flyers for free. You’ll need to provide documents and fill out the related paperwork.
Join an airline alliance
Programs such as the Star Alliance, Oneworld and SkyTeam offer travelers special deals on flights. They also allow you to use miles you’ve earned on one airline to pay for certain scheduled flights on another. These benefits are available because some airlines ally with each other on international flights.
Set alerts to tell you about award seats
Use the online ExpertFlyer tool or the KVS Availability Tool to find coveted award seats. Set up online alerts to inform you when the award seats you want become available. To get the true value for award seats, use an airline’s alliance partner, which may offer “better service, more availability or cheaper redemption options.” Various concierge services also handle award booking. For information, check online at BookYourAward and AwardTravelConsulting.