So we recently got to spend more time than we would have liked to at the Oakland Airport. We had a 6 hour layover there before departing to our final destination of Honolulu. On our return trip, we had an overnight layover there that resulted in us being at the airport a few hours before our flight departed. Since we were traveling on Southwest, we needed to grab some food during our time at the airport and get our devices charged up.
My biggest complaint at Oakland airport, is that places for charging up are really limited and at some gates they are just nonexistent. It was a real struggle.
Our Sad Lounge Non-Experience
Ideally, we would have spent our times at the Escape Lounge, an American Express sponsored lounge, enjoying some complimentary snacks and beverages. Although we had Priority Passes available through Mark’s American Express card and I am an American Express Gold Card Member, we were still not able to use this lounge.
Two Ways to Get In:
- Be an American Express PLATINUM card holder (and you can also take up to 2 guests in with you)
- Pay $45 per person
Well then! Access Denied. It sort of reminded me of the 1970’s song Signs by the 5 Man Electric Band. Signs everywhere telling me to keep out and that I need not apply (unless it is for an American Express Platinum card). Hmpf! We weren’t the only ones that stopped and peered wistfully into the windows either. I saw several other people stop to check it out and then walk away.
I later discovered that the reason for this is that the Escape Lounges are part of an American Express Global Lounge collection. They are promoted as an exclusive benefit for American Express Platinum card holders. I guess that makes it a good tool for American Express to get people to choose the Platinum card with it’s $550 annual fee instead of the Gold card with a $250 annual fee. But the Platinum card is still too rich for my blood!
In reality though, there aren’t that many Escape Lounge locations for it to be a big deal for me, other than on this one trip, of course.
Lounges located in the United States and the UK:
- Bradley International Airport
- Minneapolis Saint-Paul International Airport
- Oakland International Airport
- Reno-Tahoe International Airport
- Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport
- Ontario T2 International Airport
- Ontario T4 International Airport
- Providence International Airport
- Sacramento TA International Airport
- Sacramento TB International Airport
- Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky
None of these are locations that I normally find myself traveling to or through. Therefore, it is definitely not worth it for me to upgrade from Gold to Platinum solely based on this benefit.
A Happy Lounge Experience
At least at HNL we were able to enjoy some quality time at the Plumeria Lounge before our flight from Honolulu to Oakland. The Plumeria Lounge is a Priority Pass Lounge sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines. We even navigated the shuttle system at HNL (with our carry on bags in tow) in order to spend an hour at the lounge before boarding our flight. That was just enough time to grab a snack and an adult beverage while getting our devices charged and ready to go for our flight. Even though the Lounge was very full that day (center photo), the staff kept things well stocked and were super friendly.
(Wink, wink) It’s all good!
So if you are a Platinum Card holder, you could hang out in one of the super cool and exclusive Escape Lounges when visiting one of the listed airports. Since I am not willing to upgrade to a Platinum card, I will have to hope there is also a Priority Pass lounge or tough it out by sitting at the gate and searching for places to charge my phone while consuming overpriced airport snacks. My choice!