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It’s safe to say travel is back in full swing and access to airport lounges with a Priority Pass membership can elevate a traveler’s airport experience in a good way.
As a moderate traveler, I’ve had experiences working remotely from the airport via a personal hotspot and VPN, long layovers, or dealing with delayed or canceled flights and it has sometimes put a negative impact on my mood, especially before a trip I’ve been looking forward to.
This year, I decided to purchase a Priority Pass Membership, and having access to comfortable chairs, free WIFI, complimentary food and drinks, and fewer crowds in the airport has been a great benefit for me.
If you’ve been thinking about becoming a member, here’s everything you need to know about the Priority Pass network, including Priority pass cost, priority pass levels, information on getting low-cost or free lounge visits, my overall Priority Pass review, and if Priority Pass is worth it.
What is Priority Pass?
Priority Pass is a membership program that provides travelers with access to over 1,300 airport lounges, dining, retail, and spa discounts across 600 cities and 148 countries.
Generally, flyers with first or business class tickets, elite status with a specific airline, or purchase an annual membership will have lounge access.
With Priority Pass, travelers with low-tier tickets like economy class or premium economy are given access too.
Priority Pass membership can be obtained directly from the company’s website or through Priority Pass Select, a service offered with a premium credit card by a financial institution.
Priority Pass Benefits
For a frequent flyer or even travelers that fly at least three times in the calendar year, a Priority Pass membership can be a great investment given the services they offer. Below are some amenities offered if you have a Priority Pass card.
- Free Wi-Fi
- Charging stations
- Free food and drinks, including table service or buffet-style food, snacks, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks)
- Free newspapers and TV
- Conference rooms or Business centers, including computers, printers, phone services, or fax machines
- Showers or private sleeping suites
- Massages and other spa services
- Comfortable seating and quiet spaces
- Book airport transfers
- Access to exclusive retail and dining experiences
Another great Priority pass benefit is free guest access. Members have the ability to bring up to 2 guests with them, sometimes for free depending on their membership level.
This is great for those traveling with a partner or friend. If a free guest is not included in your membership you must pay an additional charge of $35.
If you’re traveling with kids, children under the age of two are exempt from charges.
Make sure to read the fine print on your membership for the Priority Pass guest policy or any restrictions and limitations to your Priority Pass or Priority Pass Select membership.
How Much is Priority Pass?
The cost of Priority Pass memberships depends on the membership plan. Membership options are classified into three categories: Standard, Standard Plus, and Prestige.
Here’s more information on each membership tier to determine which one is right for your travel needs. Priority pass plans can be purchased directly on the Priority Pass website.
Priority Pass Standard membership is designed for the occasional traveler and has a $99 annual fee. This membership level allows you access to the Priority Pass network of airport lounges for $35 and a $35 guest fee.
A Standard Plus membership is for the regular traveler, typically someone that travels once or twice a month. The annual membership fee starts at $329 and includes ten free visits to Priority Pass lounges, then $35 for every visit after, and a $35 guest fee.
If you’re a frequent traveler, a Priority Pass Prestige membership may be right for you. The cost is $469 per year and provides members with unlimited lounge visits for members and a $35 guest fee.
How to get Priority Pass Select from Credit Cards
If you do not want to pay for a Priority Pass membership, Priority Pass Select provides Priority Pass membership to cardholders and up to 2 additional guests for no additional fee, giving them access to lounges and experiences by enrolling with their credit card issuer.
If your financial institution offers this as an added benefit to your credit card, enrollment is required for you and your authorized user.
Which credit cards offer Priority Pass
Below is a list of credit cards that offer unlimited access to lounges with Priority Pass Select and up to two guests for free. Please note that these are premium credit cards that cater to consumers with good to excellent credit and have high annual fees.
In addition to Priority Pass Select which provides access to airport lounges, these cards may include other travel perks such as credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®, statement credits for shopping or dining, and more. There are also cards, not listed that offer limited lounge access.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express Card
- Mastercard® Black Card
- Mastercard® Gold Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
How to Maximize Your Priority Pass Membership
Since the cost of a Priority Pass membership and the annual fee for premium travel credit cards can be high, it is best to maximize your Priority Pass or Priority Pass Select membership benefits.
This can be choosing an airport that has multiple lounges in the event you can’t get access to one, booking suite services in smaller airports, arriving early to the airport to stay in the lounge for the 2-3 hour max time, or using restaurant dining credit if lounge access isn’t available.
The Priority Pass App
Priority Pass offers a mobile app that includes a list of airport lounges accepting Priority Pass, maps and directions, reviews by Priority Pass members, and other information regarding operating schedules.
The Priority Pass app also gives users the ability to check in to a lounge by scanning their QR code and boarding pass.
As mentioned, Priority Pass memberships offer more than just a lounge experience. Members can view additional perks that are available in airport terminals such as dining, retail, and spa services.
You can also use the Priority Pass app to book transportation services like airport transfers and car rentals.
Are Priority Pass Lounges Usually Crowded?
Depending on the country, airport, size of the lounge, and time you’re traveling, it is possible for the Priority Pass lounge to be full. Since joining the Priority Pass program earlier this year, there have been times I had to wait before entry, but it hasn’t exceeded 5-10 minutes.
If there is a long wait time, it is during peak travel season or travel times, you may be able to access a different lounge in the same or different airport terminal.
If you choose the latter, make sure to give yourself enough time to get to your correct terminal and gate to catch your flight. If you have a long stayover or stopover between flights, going to a different terminal can work for you.
Final Thoughts: Is Priority Pass Worth it
As mentioned earlier, I’ve had a Priority Pass membership for almost a year and the value I’ve received in the 10 months has been great. If you are a frequent flyer that deals with a lot of layovers or wants an enjoyable airport experience in the best lounges in the world, Priority Pass is absolutely worth it, especially for travelers that spend money on food and spa services in the airport.
As a premium credit card holder where Priority Pass Select is already an added perk, you might as well be using the service regardless of the airline you are flying or ticket class booked.
Join Priority Pass today and get up to 25% off your selected membership.