Why frequent flyers need Priority Pass – and a 40% off Black Friday Deal!

By | November 20, 2017 | 0 Comment

Priority Pass is a subscription program that unlocks the doors to over 1,000 airport lounges across 500 cities worldwide. Members enjoy a comfortable and relaxing experience at the airport typically reserved for premium or elite passengers—regardless of their airline or the class of service they’re traveling in.

Historically, Priority Pass has focused primarily on independent lounges—clubs operated by local airports or global operators such as Plaza Premium or Swissport. Over time, the network has expanded to include clubs operated by airlines (including Alaska Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Korean Air, Avianca, Air Canada, Air China, and Virgin Atlantic) and even select airport restaurants.

Priority Pass offers costs less than the cost of a typical airline club membership in the US, and comes bundled with several premium credit cards.

Here are a few reasons why Priority Pass should be in every frequent flyer’s arsenal.

BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL: Get 40% off Priority Pass!

Reach beyond airline 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. The only lounge, operated independently from the airlines, The Club at SJC, is open to Priority Pass members.
  • Las Vegas airport is 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

Use airline lounges for a fraction of the cost of a typical membership

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. United charges up to $550 for an annual United Club membership – $190 more than Priority Pass Prestige, which includes access to twice as many lounges.

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

SkyTeam Lounge - Vancouver, BC (YVR)

SkyTeam Lounge – Vancouver, BC (YVR), 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), and Royal Jordanian (Crown Lounge at Amman airport).

SEE ALSO:  Three new Priority Pass lounges in the US

As of this month, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Los Angeles airport is even open to Priority Pass members, although only in the mornings until 12:30 PM, and without some of Virgin Atlantic‘s signature amenities such as pre-flight dining.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles, CA (LAX) | © Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Los Angeles, CA (LAX), a Priority Pass lounge | © Virgin Atlantic

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 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

… Or dine for free at an airport restaurant

In an attempt to help members find a haven at more airports than ever even, Priority Pass has recently added airport bars restaurants to the program. At select locations, members can take $28 off their bill, courtesy of Priority Pass. Even better, the scheme works even when multiple diners use Priority Pass, and the discounts are cumulative.

Taste local spirits at Portland airport—or a meal at two traditional restaurants. Enjoy a complimentary meal at no less than six restaurants at Sydney airport. And dine for free at Lexington, KY airport, where there is no traditional lounge. You can even play golf (and eat) at Minneapolis airport.

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 among 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 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, including in Montego bay and Delhi.

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 several Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounges in London.

SEE ALSO:  Priority Pass members lose access to United Clubs

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

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

How do I get Priority Pass?

Memberships

The most straightforward way to join Priority Pass is to purchase a membership. Click here for a 40% Black Friday 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 six 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.

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 1000+ 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.

SEE ALSO:  Priority Pass: 950+ airport lounges at your fingertips - The Definitive Guide

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.
  • Two 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 available upon request.

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.

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.

Bottom line

Priority Pass is expanding aggressively, and is currently the best value for airport lounge access.

There are certainly challenges with the proliferation of Priority Pass memberships. Some lounges restrict access at specific hours, while others turn Priority Pass members away at peak times—or seemingly random times. In response, Priority Pass is expanding beyond the core lounge market with new, creative schemes that grant members substantial discounts on restaurants at several airports worldwide. The lounge network is also continuing to grow, with close to 100 lounges joining over the last 12 months.

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, and call out any known restrictions.

Featured photo: Sala VIP Colomer (AENA Colomer) – Barcelona (BCN)

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