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Are you a frequent traveler? Are you looking for a comfortable stay at airport lounges during your travels? If the answer is yes, check out my in-depth Priority Pass review.
Air travel is complicated enough on its own. But with an 18-hour layover or a 5-hour delay, those fancy airport lounges start to look increasingly alluring. This Priority Pass review will examine the fantastic membership-based airport lounge programs to turn those dreaded layovers into a comfortable stay-over.
Priority Pass is a global network of airport lounges available to members. While they talk a big game regarding countless amenities, we provide an unbiased Priority Pass review to see if it’s worth your money. So fasten your seatbelts because we’re in for a ride.
- What is Priority Pass?
- Map of Priority Pass Lounges
- How Does Priority Pass Work
- Priority Pass Amenities & Features
- Discount Accommodation
- Car Rentals
- How to Sign Up for Priority Pass
- Membership Through the Website
- Priority Pass Select Through Credit Cards
- Can You Get Free Priority Pass Lounge Access?
- Priority Pass Membership Levels
- Standard Membership
- Standard Plus Membership
- Prestige Membership
- Pros and Cons of Priority Pass
- Pros of Priority Pass
- Cons of Priority Pass
- Verdict: Is Priority Pass Worth It?
- Are Priority Pass lounges usually crowded?
- Is Priority Pass Worth It?
- How Much is a Priority Pass?
- Priority Pass
- Lounge Options
What is Priority Pass?
Priority Pass is a global membership program for travelers to access a network of airport lounges, restaurants, and mini-suites worldwide. In other words, a Priority Pass membership is the globetrotter’s key to the most luxurious lounges and other assorted airport facilities in over 1200 locations worldwide.
This is regardless of your chosen airline or class of ticket. Priority Pass is itself a deluxe lounge facility with separate lounges. Sometimes, smaller airports will combine business and Priority Pass lounges.
As part of the Priority Pass package, lounges offer complimentary refreshments, warm meals, and cool cocktails. Gone are the days of overpriced, tasteless airport food. Instead, you can kick back in your comfortable recliners, stream your favorite TV show with the free WiFi, and block out the airport clamor.
There are many ways you can sign up with Priority Pass. Depending on your preference, you can sign up with them directly or use it as a perk alongside top-tier travel cards.
Since Priority Pass is an annual membership-based service, it has different membership packages, from the most basic to the most extensive. Depending on your membership, you can expect to pay anywhere from $99 to $429 annually. Now that you know the basics, let’s delve deeper into this Priority Pass review.
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Map of Priority Pass Lounges
There are a total of 1,300 Priority Pass lounges all over the world. In the U.S. alone, upwards of 40 airports recognize Priority Pass members.
The following map shows the global distribution of Priority Pass networks. It will help you locate a Priority Pass lounge. As you can see, there are very few locations in North America. In contrast, Scandinavian Europe and East Asia have a high concentration of lounges.
So, if you’re planning a destination for a party in Europe or traveling for business in Asia, you and your travel companions will definitely enjoy the Priority Pass perks.
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How Does Priority Pass Work
Now that we have piqued your interest, let’s look at how a Priority Pass works in reality. After you’ve purchased your package, it takes a few days to arrive in your mail. You’ll see some explanatory pamphlets and the prestigious membership card when it does.
The pass works in tandem with the Priority Pass app. You can locate Priority Pass lounges through the app with a quick swipe. Once you’ve confirmed the location of a lounge, you’re all set.
Here is an example of me locating all the Priority Pass lounges at Schiphol International Airport by using the mobile app:
After you’ve gone through the tedious check-in and security process, you can navigate through the airport using your app toward your Priority Pass lounge.
Once you’re at the lounge, you only need your membership card and boarding pass. Soon after, you’ll be escorted away from the airport craziness and into your peaceful sanctuary.
If you haven’t caught on, you’ve effectively skipped the long lines and arduous reservations. Once inside the lounge, you can enjoy food from their hot and cold buffet and unwind with cocktails. While you wait, you can charge your phones, nap, or even shower!
You can stay in the lounge for as long as it is open—generally, airport lounges close at night since there aren’t as many people. If this happens, you must spend the rest of your waiting time at your terminal.
Also, I love that I can add the Priority Pass card to my Apple Wallet. That makes it easy to check in when traveling internationally since I never know if I’ll have service in an airport or not. Plus, the map for the lounges is loaded locally, too, so you can offline it for use even if you don’t have service.
Here is how it looks in the app to add to your Apple Wallet as a digital membership card:
Priority Pass Amenities & Features
You’ve had a small glimpse of a few Priority Pass amenities at your disposal. But there’s a lot more. Let’s take a detailed look at them.
Usually, lounge access is minimal, if not completely unavailable, to regular flyers. One of the only ways to enjoy the grandeur of the lounge experience is through a business-class ticket. Well, not anymore! With Priority Pass, you are entitled to all the facilities and privileges of a business-class lounge. These include:
- Meals and buffets
- Numerous charging points
- Complimentary drinks
- WiFi access
- Shower facilities
- Free newspapers and magazines
- A tranquil, noise-free space to relax
- Skip the line at check-in and security at some airports
- Dining, retail, and spa discounts
And guess what? You can share all of this with a guest! If you’re not flying alone, your traveling companions are always welcome as guests in the Priority Pass lounges.
Besides designated lounges, Priority Pass offers its members the chance to enjoy a proper meal at a restaurant for a discounted price.
If your airport does not have a lounge, or if you don’t want meals from the airport lounge, you can flaunt your membership card and have a pleasant dine-in experience at the airport.
Your membership card awards you a restaurant credit. This is usually around $28 per person. That’s worth a whole main course!
When you have a layover flight, one of the most annoying things can be waiting at the airport for hours and hours. Luckily, with the Priority Pass, you can actually gain discounted access to temporary accommodation.
This includes sleep pods at Dubai International Airport and minute suites in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Dallas-Fort Worth airports. But the real cherry on top is that the Priority Pass is partnered with IHG.
This means you can also enjoy benefits outside the airport by taking advantage of spectacular discounts across various hotel chains. You must access the IHG website through the Priority Pass Portal and enter your membership number.
Many people don’t know that they can actually get easy car rentals through Priority Pass. Thanks to their partnership with Avis, you can enjoy the Avis Preferred Plus program at no additional costs.
Through this program, members can benefit from high priority or car availability and a free additional driver. When we said there are many Priority Pass amenities, we weren’t kidding.
How to Sign Up for Priority Pass
Let’s admit it. Priority Pass membership must be looking pretty enticing right now. So, how exactly can you become a member? The process is straightforward, depending on how you become a member. You can either sign up directly through their website or various credit cards.
Membership Through the Website
The easiest way is to sign up directly through the Priority Pass website. Once you follow all the steps and register successfully, you’ll receive your membership card in the mail in a few days. Alternatively, you can opt for a digital membership card to use Priority Pass facilities immediately.
This direct membership is recommended because it makes things a little easier down the road than the membership through credit cards with travel perks.
Priority Pass Select Through Credit Cards
Priority Pass Select refers to Priority Pass membership through a credit card. If you’re a US citizen, you can actually avail of Priority Pass Select through various US financial institutions.
For example, many travel credit cards have a Priority Pass Select membership. Multiple credit cards and travel cards provide Priority Pass membership as a perk.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- The Platinum Card from American Express
- Hilton Honors Inspire Card from American Express
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
As you can see, most of them are American Express cards. However, American Express recently restricted specific Priority Pass amenities, such as restaurant credit. You’ll have to do your research about these cards first. More importantly, Priority Pass Select isn’t for you if you’re not a US citizen.
Can You Get Free Priority Pass Lounge Access?
You might have heard from many travelers that free lounge access is fake news. Nonetheless, that’s just hearsay. While there is a visitation fee of $32 per lounge visit, that only applies to Standard and Standard Plus memberships.
Even with Standard Plus, you get free for the first ten lounge visits. Moreover, Prestige membership offers exclusively free lounge visits for the entirety of your membership. That’s right; there are no limits and no visit fee.
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Priority Pass Membership Levels
When you’re signing up, you will come across three membership offers from which you must select one. These membership levels are Standard, Standard Plus, and Prestige. Accordingly, members can enjoy different amenities based on the package they purchase.
The Standard membership is marketed for the occasional traveler. It costs $99 annually and has a $32 member and guest visit fee. However, the $99 membership fee merely gives you access to the program.
To enter any Priority Pass lounge, you must pay a $32 visitation fee every single time. If you only board one or two flights yearly, you’re paying at least $131, which isn’t worth it.
Standard Plus Membership
The Standard Plus membership is ideal for the regular traveler. It costs $299 annually and has a visitation fee of $32. However, the first ten visits are free. This is perfect for seasonal vacationers or international students who won’t exceed the first ten free visits.
If you’re a frequent flyer, then the Prestige membership is definitely the way to go. It costs $429 annually. The steep registration fee pays for itself with unlimited free lounge access.
Let’s say you’re a businessman who travels once every month, making for 24 non-stop flights (if you’re lucky.) If you use the lounge facilities even half of those times, you only pay $36 for every visit.
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Pros and Cons of Priority Pass
For a final verdict on this Priority Pass review, let’s look at an unfiltered pros and cons list.
Pros of Priority Pass
Let’s summarize all the good things we’ve learned about Priority Pass:
- Any airline, any ticket. You don’t need to be a business class or high-end airline passenger.
- Membership is an add-on perk for many travel rewards credit cards. You’re paying much less by opting for a travel rewards credit card if you travel frequently while getting a very high return.
- Amazing amenities. Not only are you taken care of inside the airport, but you are also given discounts and credits on accommodations and car rentals.
- In some airports, Priority Pass members can actually skip the long, tiring lines.
- Priority Pass app. The app is the most convenient thing about Priority Pass. You need to do a fair amount of research about locations, amenities, and so on, and the Priority Pass app has all the answers.
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Cons of Priority Pass
It won’t be a fair Priority Pass review if we don’t look at the potential negatives of a Priority Pass membership:
- Not all airports have lounges. Only 40 out of the thousands of airports in the US have Priority Pass. Some large hub airports such as Denver, Chicago Midway, and LaGuardia don’t have Priority Pass lounges.
- The remaining 1,160 Priority Pass locations are outside of the US. Unless you travel internationally, you might not be able to use your membership.
- Lounges can reach capacity, restricting you from entering them.
- Like all airport lounges, some Priority Pass lounges have a cut-off time. This means you might not be able to stay for more than three hours at a time.
- It would be best if you did a lot of research. Because of the sparsity of lounges and max-cap limitations, you will have to do a lot of research to see whether or not you can access a particular lounge.
See Related: SeatGuru Review
Verdict: Is Priority Pass Worth It?
With the end of this Priority Pass review, we’re left with one question: should you become a member? Here’s the thing: Priority Pass can be the best airport lounge membership, only if you’re the right fit for it.
The Standard Membership is ultimately futile whether or not you’re a regular flyer. Also, purchasing a Priority Pass membership would be redundant if you travel in business class.
You’ll already be privy to the same amenities through your business class ticket, so Priority Pass would just be doubling up. Suppose you’re a regular or frequent flyer, making at least ten trips annually. If you don’t want to pay the additional $32 for each trip, go for Standard Plus.
Otherwise, you should consider the Prestige membership if your livelihood involves incessant traveling. Even in the worst-case scenario where you only travel once a month, you’ll save a lot of money.
Are Priority Pass lounges usually crowded?
Priority Pass lounges can vary in crowd levels depending on location, time, and date. While some lounges may experience peak times, Priority Pass’s extensive network of over 1,300 lounges globally ensures numerous options for travelers. Thus, while it’s possible to encounter a crowded lounge, the vast selection and availability typically mitigate this issue.
Is Priority Pass Worth It?
Some Priority Pass lounges are the same as all airports, but some higher-quality lounges are impressive and less crowded. Suppose you must spend a lot of time at the airport or travel internationally. In that case, you should consider getting a Priority Pass card, as you’ll get more for your money using amenities such as showers, food and drinks, and reliable internet access.
How Much is a Priority Pass?
Priority Pass offers three tiers of membership plans: the Standard Membership for $99 annually, the Standard Plus for $299 annually, and the Prestige Membership for $429 annually.
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.