Airline Clubs Quickly Becoming Last Bastion of Tranquility in Air Travel

Airline clubs, many travelers say, have largely withstood the airlines' cutbacks.

Their flight from Roanoke, Va., to Charlotte had been delayed because of weather, causing them to miss their connection to Florida. Their wait for the next flight: four hours.

"Today, this is a real value," said John Bartlett, a regional vice president with an insurance company. "If I was sitting out there at the gate for four hours, it would be rather unpleasant."

Last week, comedian David Letterman devoted one of his famous "Top Ten" lists to the topic of airline cutbacks. Without further ado, from CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" Top 10 Ways Airlines Are Cutting Back

10. Pilots have to pay for their inflight cocktails.

9. Ticket agents urging travelers to stay home.

8. To maximize space, seats no longer recline a luxurious inch-and-a-half.

7. Oxygen mask compartments replaced with video poker screens.

6. Instead of complimentary pillows, wadded-up clothing pulled out of checked luggage.

5. Difference between first class and coach? A bite-size 3 Musketeers bar.

4. From now on, planes will taxi from one destination to another on the interstate.

3. I don't know, but how hard is it to open them peanuts, am I right people?

2. In case of water landing, your only flotation device is the fat guy in 16F.

1. Inflight "movie" is home video of the pilot "Gettin' It On."

Most major old-line carriers offer club access to travelers for a fee, either a one-day pass or yearly membership. Some allow frequent fliers to cash in miles for membership. Typically, information and application forms can be found on airlines' Web sites. Other companies, such as Priority Pass (( also offer access to a wide range of airlines' clubs. The clubs are typically located at airlines' hub airports and airports where they have a significant number of flights. Some examples of fees to use clubs:

US Airways Club: $25 one-day pass. Yearly fee: $275 to $375.

United Red Carpet Club: $50 one-day pass. Yearly fee: $300 to $500.

Northwest WorldClubs: Yearly fee: $250 to $450.

American Admirals Club: $50 one-day pass. Yearly fee: $300 to $450.

Delta Crown Room Club: $50 one-day pass. Yearly fee: $275 to $475 (free to Platinum frequent fliers).

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