I’m vacationing at Disney this week, and following that with a short Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas with 24 of my closest friends to celebrate my 40th birthday.  I’m blogging this week, but filling in the spaces left by my vacation with some of my most visited content.  I hope you’ll enjoy this Best of MJ on Travel post about airline clubs and why they can be worth the investment.

I’m often asked how I feel about the various airport clubs operated by the airlines. I’m a very strong believer in joining the club of the airline you fly most. Dependent upon your elite status, membership ranges from $300 to $500 dollars per year, and many airlines offer the option of using frequent flyer miles to pay for your membership.

In my experience, the club fee usually pays for itself on the one day that you find yourself delayed, cancelled, re-routed and generally messed up by whatever weather and mechanical issues can be thrown at you. Rather than join the mile long queue for the harried 2 agents assigned to somehow service 250 inconvenienced customers, you are in the relatively quiet surroundings of the airline’s lounge, and likely being assisted by some of the airline’s more talented agents.

I’ll give you an example. Recently, Lady Astrojets and I were traveling to Nashville from our home airport at Reagan National (DCA) just outside Washington, DC. I had signed up to receive flight notification text messages from the airline, in this case American. I received a text message just prior to leaving the office for the airport that our flight was over 1 hour late. By the time we arrived at security, that delay had grown to 2 hours. As I had checked us both in online, and we only had carry-on luggage, we skipped the ticket counter mess, cleared security and headed straight for the Admirals Club. I inquired about the status of our flight, and the very helpful agent went to work with his computer. I then learned that our aircraft was sitting in Boston, where the ramp was closed due to thunderstorms. Rather than say too bad, our agent asked for both our boarding passes. Within 1 minute, we were both rebooked to a non delayed flight on another airline. The agent asked us to have a seat in the lounge, he’d be right back. While we were enjoying a glass of wine in the lounge, the agent reappeared with our new boarding passes on the other airline. You better believe I wrote American to share this good story!

Do you think I would’ve gotten that kind of service at the ticket counter? No way! They don’t have the time since they have to deal with the 249 other customers! The $300 dollar annual fee works out to $25 per month. Worth every penny if you fly once per month or more if you ask me!

So…I wholeheartedly recommend that you join the lounge of the airline you fly most. And back that up with a membership in Priority Pass. Priority Pass offers memberships as low as approximately $100 dollars per year with a $24 27 dollar per visit fee. That’s an excellent deal when you’re in an airport that doesn’t have a lounge that you belong to. They offer unlimited visit packages for a higher annual fee as well. An airline lounge membership is one investment in yourself that I think you won’t regret.