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The ultimate guide to Alaska Airlines lounge access

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 4/12/2021 Benji Stawski
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

If you frequently fly on Alaska Airlines, access to one of the carrier’s airport lounges can significantly improve your preflight experience. And luckily, getting inside isn’t too difficult.

Today, we’re going to take a look at the different ways to gain access to Alaska lounges. The airline’s entrance into the Oneworld alliance brought some new rules on who’s allowed in. Aditionally, some major changes to the paid membership option are coming later this year that you should familiarize yourself with.

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In This Post

Alaska Lounge overview

Alaska Airlines offers a rather extensive lounge network for a primarily domestic and short-haul airline. It operates a total of seven lounges across five airports throughout the U.S.

a room filled with furniture and a table: Alaska Airlines lounge at LAX (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Alaska Airlines lounge at LAX (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

The following locations are currently open:

  • Anchorage (ANC) — Concourse C, near gate C-1
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Terminal 6 on the mezzanine level, near gate 64
  • Portland Airport (PDX) — Concourse C, across from Gate C5
  • Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) — Concourse D, just beyond the Central Security Checkpoint
  • Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) — North Satellite on the mezzanine level, above gates N13-18

Meanwhile, the following locations are temporarily closed due to the pandemic:

  • New York-JFK — Terminal 7, on the Mezzanine level, just above security
  • Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) — Concourse C, on the mezzanine level next to Gate C-16

Come late summer 2021, the airline will open its long-awaited lounge in San Francisco (SFO)’s Terminal 2.

Related: Which airline lounges in the US are currently open?

Alaska lounge amenities include fast Wi-Fi, easy access to power outlets, barista-made espresso beverages, a full bar featuring complimentary local craft brews, West Coast wines and spirits and complimentary pre-packaged snacks, such as steel-cut oatmeal, fresh pancakes, various soups and cheese.

Paid membership

Like most major airlines, Alaska Airlines sells annual memberships to its lounges. The price is based on whether or not you have MVP elite status, as follows:

(Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines) © The Points Guy (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

However, come October, there will be significant updates to the membership options.

Lounge memberships will be split into two tiers: Alaska Lounge and Alaska Lounge Plus. The standard membership will provide access to Alaska Lounges only. Meanwhile, the extended option will offer access to a network of partner lounges, including all American Airlines Admirals Clubs and some United Clubs.

Here’s how the pricing will break down:

  • Alaska Lounge membership: $450 annually or $350 for Alaska Airlines elite members
  • Alaska Lounge Plus membership: $600 annually or $500 for Alaska Airlines elite members

New lounge membership enrollments and renewals made before the two-tier structure goes into effect in October will be grandfathered into an Alaska Lounge Plus membership for the year.

Related: Alaska Airlines confirms San Francisco lounge is opening soon; updates membership pricing

Alaska is smaller than the legacy carriers like United and American and the standard lounge membership prices are also much more reasonable, especially for frequent flyers. Membership includes access for you and up to two guests or immediate family members, with additional guest passes available for purchase at a reduced rate of $25 per person (versus $50 for day passes for non-members).

You’ll need to present a same-day boarding pass from any airline to use Alaska lounges. If you’re visiting one of Alaska’s partner lounges included in this membership, you may need a boarding pass for that specific airline.

Day passes

As mentioned above, non-members could visit Alaska Lounges for $50. However, you can get 50% off your passes if you pay with your Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card.

As with some other airline lounges, you can get free access if you’re on active duty. Military members must be traveling on active orders and show their active orders to gain entry.

Related: 6 things you need to know about Alaska’s new lounge access rules

a large room with tables and chairs: The Alaska Lounge at SFO is set to open by late summer 2021. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines) © The Points Guy The Alaska Lounge at SFO is set to open by late summer 2021. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

Elite status

Alaska Airlines offers one of the most underrated elite programs, thanks largely to the generous mileage multipliers that elite members can earn. There are three tiers of status in the program: MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75k. If you qualify for MVP Gold 75k, which normally requires 75,000 elite-qualifying miles, you’ll earn four Alaska lounge day passes. With day passes normally selling for $50, this equates to a nice $200 benefit for top-tier elites. Alaska even lets you share these passes with friends and family, giving you more flexibility in how and when you enjoy your lounge access.

Related: Guide to elite status match with Alaska Airlines

Alternatively, now that MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members have Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald status, they can access Alaska Lounges on qualifying long-haul international itineraries operated by Alaska or a Oneworld partner – regardless of what class of service they are flying. Alaska elites don’t get access when traveling solely within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

That said, if you have Oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status in any program other than Alaska Mileage Plan or American AAdvantage, you can access Alaska Lounges when flying any Oneworld flight the same day. Eligible elites are allowed to bring one guest.

a group of people standing in a room: (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Certain non-Oneworld elites have access to Alaska Lounges as well. Specifically, Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum members, Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Platinum & Gold members and Icelandair Saga Club Gold members can access Alaska Lounges on eligible international itineraries that connect to/from Alaska Airlines.

Related: What is Alaska Airlines elite status worth?

Ticket type

The legacy U.S. airlines don’t include lounge access as a benefit for standard domestic first-class passengers, only for international and premium transcontinental flyers. But since Alaska doesn’t really have an international route network, it makes sense that it would offer the use of a lounge to domestic first-class customers.

Passengers traveling on a paid first-class ticket or a first-class award ticket can access Alaska lounges on the day of their flight. Alaska is also clear that passengers who upgraded to first class, whether it was a complimentary upgrade, a paid upgrade or an upgrade with miles, won’t have access to the first-class lounges. It’s important to note that this does not include access to any partner lounges.

Related: Everything you need to know about Alaska’s partnership with Oneworld

Priority pass

What if you want to access an Alaska Airlines lounge but don’t fly with the carrier frequently enough to earn elite status or justify a paid membership? The good news is that most Alaska Airlines lounges participate in the Priority Pass program, including:

  • Anchorage (ANC) — Concourse C, near gate C-1
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Terminal 6 on the mezzanine level, near gate 64
  • Portland Airport (PDX) — Concourse C, across from gate C5
  • Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) — North Satellite on the mezzanine level, above gates N13-18
  • New York-JFK — Terminal 7, on the Mezzanine level, just above security (temporarily closed)

These lounges are often quite busy and have been known to restrict access to Priority Pass members during peak hours, but if there’s space available, you should be able to get in. Otherwise, you may be able to join a waitlist.

If you don’t currently have a Priority Pass membership, here are a few top cards that include it (enrollment required):

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Everything you need to know about the Priority Pass program

Bottom line

Alaska Airlines offers different ways to access its lounges, including reasonably priced paid memberships, day passes for elites and participation in the popular Priority Pass program. The airline is also unique in that it offers lounge access to domestic first-class passengers (excluding those who were upgraded). Whether you’re a frequent Alaska flyer, are a Oneworld elite or just looking for a day pass before a single trip, you have several different options to make your pre-departure experience more relaxing.

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg.

Featured image courtesy of Harriet Baskas/Alaska Airlines

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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