Priority Pass: 950+ airport lounges at your fingertips – The Definitive Guide

By | October 4, 2016 | 0 Comment

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Priority Pass unlocks the doors to over 950 airport lounges worldwide. Priority Pass members may access lounges and enjoy a comfortable and relaxing experience at the airport typically reserved for premium or elite passengers, regardless of their airline or class of service.

Founded in 1992, Priority Pass has long been in the arsenal of the savvy frequent traveler, but the program has matured significantly over the last few years with the addition of hundreds of lounges worldwide and the roll out of a new a web site and digital membership cards.

In September 2016, Priority Pass reached a milestone: the network now includes over 950 lounges in 400 cities – that’s roughly a third of the estimated number of airport lounges worldwide, giving customers excellent options wherever they’re headed. While various competitors have cropped up over the years, the breadth and reach of the Priority Pass network remain unrivaled.

To mark this milestone, we’re offering this Definitive Guide to Priority Pass with an overview of the program, as well as examples of how to unlock the value of your membership.

What is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass is an annual subscription program which lets members enjoy access to over 950 airport lounges in more than 400 cities worldwide. The lounge network spans all inhabited continents, with excellent coverage of North and South America, Europe, and Asia, as well as numerous options in Australia and Africa. Priority Pass members may use participating lounges regardless of airline or class of service, and sometimes without even a boarding pass.

Lounge amenities vary by location, but they typically include comfortable seating in a secluded environment, complimentary Wi-Fi, newspapers and magazines, refreshments, and snacks. Some lounges offer complimentary hot meals or alcoholic drinks, showers, private rooms or relaxation pods.

Which lounges accept Priority Pass?

Historically, Priority Pass has focused primarily on independent lounges – clubs operated by local airports or global operators such as Plaza Premium or Swissport. However, a growing number of airlines including Alaska Airlines, Air France, Korean Air, Avianca, Air Canada and Air China have joined the program over time. Today, Priority Pass offers access to close to 1,000 lounges for less than the cost of a typical airline club membership in the US.

The breadth of the Priority Pass network is unparalleled. Below, you will find example of creative uses of your membership, which includes access to a broad variety of business and first class lounges, arrivals lounges, and even hotel lounges.

SEE ALSO:  Priority Pass expands agreement with Air France; fills gaps in domestic US market

loungereview.com helps you find lounges that accept Priority Pass: just click on Lounges Near Me or Advanced Search at the top of your screen, click on the By membership or credit card tab, then select Priority Pass. We will display a list of Priority Pass lounges along with pictures, details on location and amenities, and reviews.

For every lounge in our index which accepts Priority Pass, we prominently display the Priority Pass logo under the Access Rules tab.

Korean Airlines KAL Lounge - Seoul (ICN) Concourse A, a Priority Pass lounge

Korean Airlines KAL Lounge – Seoul (ICN) Concourse A, a Priority Pass lounge

How do I get a Priority Pass?

Memberships

The most straightforward way to join Priority Pass is to purchase a membership. (Click here for a 10% discount!)

Priority Pass offers three different membership levels. Subscriptions are available worldwide. The table below summarizes the plans offered in the US.


Priority Pass Standard
  • $99/year – or $89/year (save 10%!)
  • No visits included. Admission fee: $27 per visit.
  • Guest admission fee: $27.

Priority Pass Standard Plus
  • $249/year – or $224/year (save 10%!)
  • 10 visits included, then $27 per visit.
  • Guest admission fee: $27.

Priority Pass Prestige
  • $399/year – or $359/year (save 10%!)
  • Unlimited visits included.
  • Guest admission fee: $27.

All memberships include access to the full network of 950+ lounges, as well as the convenience of a digital card (note that some lounges outside the US are not equipped to scan digital cards, so we recommend carrying your physical card.)

The question of which membership to choose is a personal one. The optimal choice depends on your travel patterns, whether you also are a member of an airline lounge, how often you fly in premium classes of service, and the lounge availability at your typical destinations.

  • The idea of purchasing a membership that requires payment on a per-use basis may feel unappealing. However, most lounges, if they accept pay-in guests, typically charge between $45 and $60 per visitor. At $27 per guest, lower-tier Priority Pass memberships deliver value to customers who require lounge access a few times a year. The value increases for couples, who would be charged twice the full one-time admission fee without Priority Pass.
  • Prestige memberships offer the best value for frequent travelers, or those whose itineraries frequently involve several connections. As a comparison point, Alaska charges up to $450 a year for a full Board Room membership which includes only five Alaska lounges – that’s $90 more than an unlimited Priority Pass membership. Alaska Airlines Board Room membership also come with American Airlines Admirals Club access, but only when flying on American or Alaska. In contrast, Priority Pass members may use a lounge regardless of the airline they’re flying. United charges up to $550 for an annual United Club membership – $190 more than Priority Pass Prestige. The airline operates a large network of United Clubs, and a membership comes with worldwide Star Alliance lounge access – but only when traveling on Star Alliance. Airline lounge memberships also don’t include such as access to Arrivals lounges, or access to third party lounges at many destinations, where Priority Pass fills the gap.
SEE ALSO:  Three new Priority Pass lounges in the US

10% off a Priority Pass membership!

Premium credit cards

Some premium credit cards, notably in the US, also come with a bundled Priority Pass membership. While their annual fee is greater than the cost of a standalone Priority Pass membership, credit cards can be a cost effective way to join if you value the total package of benefits that they offer. Memberships bundled with credit cards are called Priority Pass Select, in order to distinguish them from paid memberships. Priority Pass Select is similar to Priority Pass Prestige and members enjoy unlimited access to the same network of 950+ lounges. There are however subtle differences when it comes to the guest policy or the availability of a digital card, which vary by credit card issuer.

For illustration purposes, the following credit cards in the US come bundled with a Priority Pass Select membership:


American Express Platinum Card
  • $450/year
  • Unlimited lounge visits for the primary card holder and each additional user.
  • No guests included, guests $27/visit, charged to the American Express Platinum Card.
  • Digital card available, providing quick and easy access at most lounges.
  • Also includes access to the American Express Centurion Lounges, and to Delta Sky Club lounges when traveling on Delta (The Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Club lounges do not participate in Priority Pass.)

Citi Prestige
  • $450/year
  • Unlimited lounge visits for the primary card holder and each additional user.
  • Two guests included. Additional guests $27/visit, charged to the Citi Prestige card.
  • Digital card available, providing quick and easy access at most lounges.

Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • $450/year
  • Unlimited lounge visits.
  • Multiple guests included. The maximum allowed number of guests varies by lounge.
  • Digital card NOT available. Be sure to carry your physical member card.

The cost of a premium credit card is higher than the cost of a Priority Pass Prestige membership. However, the total package of benefits – airline miles, discounts, elite status in specific programs, other benefits – may tip the scale in favor of a credit card, depending on your personal needs. The Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire Reserve card also have a generous guest policy, which makes a difference if you often travel with a companion.

SEE ALSO:  Priority Pass members lose access to United Clubs

Note that credit card issuers typically do not enroll card members in Priority Pass automatically. Be sure to request your membership card from your bank after you are approved for the credit card. Also note that you will not be admitted into a lounge upon presentation of your credit card – be sure to carry your digital or physical Priority Pass card.

HSBC Club Lounge - Istanbul Ataturk (IST), a Priority Pass lounge

HSBC Club Lounge – Istanbul Ataturk (IST), a Priority Pass lounge

How do I use Priority Pass?

Using Priority Pass is simple: just show up at the lounge of your choice with your credentials (Priority Pass card or digital card), and let the attendant know how many guests you are bringing in. The receptionist will swipe or scan your card, and have you sign a digital or paper receipt showing the number of guests. If guests are not included in your membership, they will be automatically charged ($27/guest) to your linked credit card.

It is important to note that lounge agents do not have visibility into the details of your Priority Pass membership – specifically, they cannot warn you if you will be charged for your visit, or if you are bringing guests beyond your free allowance. Be sure to understand the details of your contract, which are spelled out in the welcome letter from Priority Pass.

Should you need to leave the lounge for a moment, just let the receptionist know. Most lounges offer in and out privileges.

If you would like to visit different Priority Pass lounges, you will typically be charged per visit (except for the Prestige and Select memberships.) However, be sure to inquire as there are exceptions: some lounge operators let customers roam freely between clubs at no cost. For example, at Las Vegas airport, patrons may switch between The Club at LAS locations in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. At Dubai International airport (DXB), customers may use any of the three Marhaba lounges for the cost of a single entry within a three hour window.

Marhaba Lounge - Dubai International (DXB) Terminal 1C, a Priority Pass lounge

Marhaba Lounge – Dubai International (DXB) Terminal 1C, a Priority Pass lounge

In any case, feel free to approach the lounge attendant should you have any questions. Priority Pass customer support can also help answer questions on the phone. However, note that if you forgot your credentials, lounge staff will be unable to assist.

Tip #1: Access airline lounges for a fraction of the cost

While the bulk of the Priority Pass network is comprised of independent airport lounges (clubs operated by local airports or independent operators), many airlines participate in the program as well. In other words, as a Priority Pass member, you get to enjoy Business and First class amenities at a fraction of the cost!

The Priority Pass network includes the following airline lounges:

Air France Lounge - Houston, TX (IAH), a Priority Pass lounge

Air France Lounge – Houston, TX (IAH), a Priority Pass lounge

Asiana Business Class Lounge - Seoul (ICN) Concourse A, a Priority Pass lounge

Asiana Business Class Lounge – Seoul (ICN) Concourse A, a Priority Pass lounge

  • Many lounges operated by Chinese carriers. The Priority Pass network includes numerous Air China, China Eastern, Hainan, and Shenzhen airlines lounges throughout China – in addition to a dizzying number of independent lounges.
  • Most shared Star Alliance Lounges worldwide. Locations include Buenos Aires, Nagoya, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Sao Paulo. Star Alliance Lounges feature a stylish environment, a hot buffet, power outlets at every seat, and shower suites.
Star Alliance Lounge - Buenos Aires (EZE), a Priority Pass lounge

Star Alliance Lounge – Buenos Aires (EZE), a Priority Pass lounge

This list is not exhaustive. Other airlines who participate in Priority Pass include British Airways (Galleries Washington Dulles), SWISS (SWISS Business Lounge Geneva), Turkish airlines (Lounge Nairobi), Royal Jordanian (Crown Lounge at Amman airport), and Virgin America (The Loft at LAX.)

10% off a Priority Pass membership!

Tip #2: Enjoy access to International First Class lounges and hotel lounges!

We’ll confess that the perk is limited in scope – but Priority Pass does include access to a handful of hotel executive lounges and First Class lounges:

  • At Seoul Incheon airport, Priority Pass members may use the club lounges at the two Matina hotels, located inside the main concourse, where they will find a substantial food and beverage selection as well as business facilities.
  • One of the latest additions to the Priority Pass network, the Club Millesime at the Sofitel London Heathrow, a stone’s throw away from Terminal 5, is open to all Priority Pass members, even without a boarding pass. The executive lounge offers food at meal times as well as showers.
  • Air China offers access to its International First Class lounge at Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3E. While expectations should be realistic – the lounge is no match for the world’s finest First Class facilities – the club offers a secluded retreat with full hot meals, private napping rooms, shower suites, traditional Chinese tea ceremonies, and a soothing bird’s view over the concourse and its water features.
Air China International First Class Lounge - Beijing (PEK) T3E, a Priority Pass lounge

Air China International First Class Lounge – Beijing (PEK) T3E, a Priority Pass lounge

Tip #3: Enjoy a full meal on the ground at Plaza Premium lounges

Virtually every airport lounge offers complimentary snacks. Many offer finger food, or an assortment of sandwiches and soups. Some, however, feature free full meals.

Plaza Premium, the world’s largest independent lounge provider, prides themselves in raising the bar with elaborate dining worldwide featuring freshly prepared food, an emphasis on local fare, and live cooking stations at many locations.

Priority Pass includes access to virtually every Plaza Premium lounge worldwide, offering travelers a reliable way to enjoy a full meal ahead of their flight at many airports. What’s more, the Plaza Premium network is growing constantly, with locations at major airports such as London Heathrow, and recent new openings at Siem Reap and Rio airports.

Unsure what a lounge offers? Search loungereview.com, and look for the Food and Drinks section. Whenever possible, we even provide full menus.

Plaza Premium Lounge - Hong Kong (HKG) West Hall, a Priority Pass lounge

Plaza Premium Lounge – Hong Kong (HKG) West Hall, a Priority Pass lounge

Tip #4: Reach beyond the airlines’ lounge networks

Most airlines do not offer lounges at smaller airports where the economics can’t justify the operation of a club. With access to independent lounges, Priority Pass fills the gap for economy and premium passengers alike. Examples include:

  • The Club at SJC. Despite frequent service by major airlines and international routes, San Jose airport, at the heart of the Silicon Valley, sees no love from the airlines. A single independent lounge saves the day, The Club at SJC, and it’s open to Priority Pass members.
  • Las Vegas airport is also snubbed by most airlines, but Priority Pass members enjoy access to both The Club at LAS locations in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3.
The Club at LAS - Las Vegas, NV (LAS) Terminal 3, a Priority Pass lounge

The Club at LAS – Las Vegas, NV (LAS) Terminal 3, a Priority Pass lounge

  • Oakland, CA (OAK) and Baltimore, MD (BWI) airports: while both airports currently lack lounges, an Escape Lounge is scheduled to open at OAK. A new The Club location at BWI will replace the now defunct Airspace lounge later this year. Both lounges will be included in Priority Pass memberships.

Tip #5: Enjoy a shower and breakfast upon arrival

Arrivals lounges are exclusive clubs for premium passengers arriving from international destinations. They offer patrons the ability to enjoy a shower and breakfast on the ground, ahead of their day in the city. Arrivals lounges are amongst the most rare and exclusive clubs – they exist only at a few major airports, and access is typically restricted to premium passengers, excluding even top elites traveling in economy. Most Arrivals lounges also close around noon, leaving passengers arriving in the afternoon without an option.

Priority Pass includes several independent pay-in Arrivals lounges. But there’s more – you can also use departure lounges upon your arrival at several international airports where lounges are physically accessible before or after customs. This gives Priority Pass members a network of Arrivals lounges that beats any airline.

  • Enjoy access to the Plaza Premium Arrivals lounges in London, Hong Kong, New Delhi and Muscat. The beautiful facilities feature shower suites, a soothing environment to relax or catch up on email, a complimentary breakfast buffet – and even a bar!
Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge - London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 2, a Priority Pass lounge

Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge – London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 2, a Priority Pass lounge

  • Kick off your day in Paris with a croissant and a shower! The recently renovated Star Alliance Lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport Terminal 1 is located before immigration, and is therefore accessible to all inbound passengers arriving in Terminal 1. The club features two shower suites, a full hot breakfast spread, and an outdoor patio. Ironically, there is no dedicated Arrivals lounge at CDG1, and arriving passengers don’t have access to the Star Alliance Lounge based on their frequent flyer status or class of service alone, so Priority Pass members enjoy a perk that’s not even offered to Business and First Class passengers.
Star Alliance Business Class Lounge - Paris (CDG), a Priority Pass lounge

Star Alliance Business Class Lounge – Paris (CDG), a Priority Pass lounge

  • Access independent Arrivals lounges worldwide. For example, at Johannesburg airport, the Ses’filike lounge located in the international arrivals zone, just before leaving the customs area, is open to all Priority Pass members.

Tip #6: Wait for someone at the airport in style

Picking up someone at the airport? This can turn into a frustrating ordeal when a flight is delayed. The Priority Pass network includes several lounges that are located landside (before security), and do not require a boarding pass. Sit back, and enjoy Wi-Fi and refreshments while you wait. Examples include the LuxxLounge at Frankfurt airport Terminal 1, where members will find comfortable seating and a selection of beverages, or the Club Millesime at the Sofitel London Heathrow outside Terminal 5.

Use loungereview.com to find out which lounges are located before security.

LuxxLounge - Frankfurt (FRA), a Priority Pass lounge

LuxxLounge – Frankfurt (FRA), a Priority Pass lounge

Tip #7: Bring in guests for cheap

Business class passengers may not invite guests to a lounge for free. Typical airline lounge memberships include a limited number of guests, at least within the US. And most alliances let their top frequent flyers bring in guests, but only if they’re departing on the same flight or on a same-day flight on the same alliance.

Priority Pass is a simple, cost effective way to invite guests. Some Priority Pass Select memberships bundled with premium credit cards include guests at no costs. With all other memberships, guests can join for $27 – a value that’s hard to beat when the price at the door is typically $40 or above, if pay-in guests are even welcome at all.

Aspire Lounge 41 - Amsterdam (AMS), a Priority Pass lounge

Aspire Lounge 41 – Amsterdam (AMS), a Priority Pass lounge

Can I use a Priority Pass lounge if it is located in another terminal?

Priority Pass covers over 400 cities. At major airports, Priority Pass often offers lounges at various terminals. However, occasionally a Priority Pass lounge may not be located in the terminal from which your airline is departing.

The rules that govern access to terminals are specific to the airport. As a rule of thumb:

  • In the US, a boarding pass typically grants access to all terminals, with some exceptions such as New York JFK. However, you cannot enter domestic lounges upon arriving from an international destination unless you’re connecting to a domestic flight.
  • In Canada, transborder USA departures are always separate from international and domestic departures. Domestic and international departures are also segregated at most airports.
  • At many European airports, you may cross between Schengen and non-Schengen zones in order to use a lounge, as long as you have the proper visa, or a passport that grants visa-free access, at the border officer’s discretion.
  • In most of Asia, international and domestic departures are segregated. At many major airports, transfers between terminals are not possible without a boarding pass.

Keep in mind that the aforementioned guidelines are provided for illustration purposes only, as each airport has its own rules. Also, if you exit the secure zone, you will need to re-clear security. For example, Priority Pass members at Los Angeles airport (LAX) may use the fun and quirky Virgin America Loft, but due its location in Terminal 3 which is separate from all other terminals, they will need to exit security and re-clear at their departure terminal if not departing from Terminal 3.

Virgin America Loft - Los Angeles, CA (LAX), a Priority Pass lounge

Virgin America Loft – Los Angeles, CA (LAX), a Priority Pass lounge

Be sure to look up lounge locations at loungereview.com. In most cases, we offer a detailed zoomable maps in order to help you find your way at the airport. For major US airports, look up our San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle airport Definitive Guides, which include maps and details on how to lounge hop.

Bottom line

We hope that you have enjoyed our Definitive Guide to Priority Pass, and perhaps learned about creative uses of your Priority Pass membership.

With the rise of independent lounges worldwide, and the limitations of airline lounge memberships, the Priority Pass network offers an unparalleled range of lounge options, which provide value to economy passengers, and may even be of use to premium passengers under certain circumstances.

Priority Pass is on the rise, with close to 1,000 lounges in the network, and a series of new innovative projects, such as recent partnerships with Swissport: the Aspire Lounge and Spa at London Heathrow Terminal 5 is the only independent lounge within the Terminal. Operated by Swissport in partnership with Priority Pass, if offers a secluded environment, exclusively for Priority Pass members and pay-in customers.

If you’re interested in becoming a member, we offer a 10% discount on all paid memberships.

10% off a Priority Pass membership!

Featured photo: Aspire Lounge and Spa – London Heathrow (LHR) Terminal 5 | Courtesy of Swissport

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Comments

  1. American Express Platinum Card Members Now Receive Complimentary To Escape Lounges - LoungeReview.com, May 15, 2017 10:56 pm

    […] Over 1,000 lounges ranging from independent clubs to first and business class lounges around the globe, through a complimentary Priority Pass membership available to card members upon request. Recently, American Express improved the benefit by bundling access for two guests in addition to the card member. […]

  2. The Centurion Lounge lands at Philadelphia and Hong Kong - LoungeReview.com, February 2, 2017 2:08 pm

    […] flying in economy can already use two expansive Plaza Premium lounges through the complimentary Priority Pass membership bundled with the […]


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