Before purchasing a VIP pass to an airline lounge, it is a good idea to understand which lounges are eligible and to understand that not all lounges have been newly built or remodeled, this feature says. Also consider Priority Pass, a program that enables access to lounges and is not run through an airline. "Bottom line, if you fly just one airline and fly a lot, join that airline's club, with United an especially good choice thanks to reciprocal privileges. But if you fly on multiple U.S. carriers frequently, the American Express Platinum Card makes sense," writes George Hobica, founder of airfare site Airfarewatchdog.com.

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