Priority Pass Review; Access Business Class Lounges for Free (even when you’re flying economy)
During my trip to every country in the world, I flew over 300 times! And I collected a grand total of ZERO air miles, and I was upgraded to business class a grand total of ZERO times. I also didn’t understand air miles, or how business class lounges work so, when in airports, I sat on the floor, chasing wifi signals and paying for overpriced food. Then, in my last year, I discovered Priority Pass. And it changed my travel life. So here is my Priority Pass Review and how you too can access Business Class lounges for free!
Table of contents
- Priority Pass Review; Access Business Class Lounges for Free (even when you’re flying economy)
- What is Priority Pass
- How do you get Priority Pass?
- What is an Airport Lounge?
- Can anyone access any Airport Lounges?
- Do all Lounges have showers, alcohol, food etc?
- Which Priority Pass membership is Best?
- Can I get a Priority Pass Discount?
- What are the Best Priority Pass Lounges?
What is Priority Pass
Very simply, Priority Pass is a membership program that allows you access to ‘Business Class’ airport lounges. You can access these airport lounges EVEN IF YOU FLY ECONOMY.
It doesn’t matter which airline you’re flying with, or which class of cabin your ticket is in, IF YOU HAVE PRIORITY PASS MEMBERSHIP, you can enter the lounge.
So you’re flying with a budget airline like Ryan Air, or Air Asia, and your ticket cost $20? That’s fine. You can still waltz into the airport lounge, drink champagne, sit in the massage chair, and mingle with the Business Class passengers who paid $4k for their ticket. Amazing.
They have over 1300 business class lounges in airports in over 130 countries! You almost never fail to find one when you fly (except once for me, in Stockholm!)
How do you get Priority Pass?
There are basically 2 ways to get Priority Pass.
1: You either sign up directly with Priority Pass and choose one of their 3 yearly membership options (ranging from $150 to $400 or so – more on that below).
2: You use a premium Credit Card that, as part of the yearly fee you pay for that credit card, they give you a Priority Pass membership ‘for free’.
What is an Airport Lounge?
If, like me, you’re really not used to this swanky lifestyle, you may not even be aware of these airport lounges! Well, originally, when people paid those crazy prices for Business Class, or First Class, flight tickets they didn’t want to mix with the plebs like us! They got their own little section to wait between checking in for the flight, and the 2 or 3 hours before boarding. These areas are called Airport Lounges, or business class lounges.
In these lounges, they have free-flow alcohol, huge food buffets, comfortable chairs. And it’s all ‘free’.
Over the years, they’ve got better and better and better still. Some now have sleep pods, and movie theatres. Spas and gyms! Especially outside of the US (and even more especially in Asia).
But, what happened, as people started flying more and more both for work and leisure, lots of people wanted access to these lounges. But they couldn’t afford a Business Class flight, yet they could afford to pay a little bit of a premium to access the lounges. And Priority Pass was born! You pay a yearly fee, and you can access these lounges, regardless of your actual flight ticket. Simple.
Can anyone access any Airport Lounges?
Anyone who is flying business class or first class can access a lounge that is tied to their airline.
Anyone with a Priority Pass can access a lounge that Priority Pass has a partnership with (over 1300 globally, almost every airport in the world has a lounge you can use if you’re a member).
Some lounges also let people enter if they pay on the spot to enter. Lounge access varies from $30 to $150, normally around $75 or so to enter.
Do all Lounges have showers, alcohol, food etc?
Most lounges have showers, free-flow alcohol and good. Some have cocktail waiters! But some smaller airports, in countries like Tanzania and Kenya, the lounges won’t have showers. But normally you can find some food, beer and wine etc. The quality can vary BUT remember, a ‘bad’ airport lounge is still a million times better than no airport lounge!
What are the Different Priority Pass Memberships?
There are 3 different types of Priority Pass Memberships, and each costs a different amount. I had 3 different versions of the Priority Pass over the years, so I feel quite well qualified to advise!
Priority Pass Standard
- $100 a year*
- NO free lounge passes.
- Unlimited Discounted lounge access for you and a guest
- A yearly membership of roughly $100 (it can differ, see below). This allows you to become a Priority Pass member, and then allows you to pay a discounted rate for each lounge of roughly $32 per visit.
Priority Pass Standard Plus
- $250-$300 a year*
- 10 free lounge passes.
- Unlimited Discounted lounge access for you and a guest
- So you pay the yearly free, and you can enter 10 lounges per year. Your 11th lounge visit, and beyond, is roughly $32 per visit.
Priority Pass Prestige
- $400 a year*
- UNLIMITED free lounge passes.
- Unlimited Discounted lounge access for your guest
- You can visit multiple lounges in every airport as many times as you want. If you’re in a great airport like Singapore, or Dubai, you can bounce between lounges, sleep pods, restaurants etc. It’s crazy.
Priority Pass free with a credit card*
- Free with your premium credit card (like an Amex Platinum, which you pay around $750 a year for)
- You can take a guest into the lounge with you for free each time
Which Priority Pass membership is Best?
I’ve had the Priority Pass Standard plus (10 visits), the Priority Pass Prestige (unlimited) AND the Priority Pass free with my Amex Platinum. Which is best?
Well the Standard Plus (10 visits), I found quite stressful. If I had, let’s say, an hour layover, I found myself thinking ‘should I waste one of my 10 visits just for an hour?!”. In the end, I only used 9 of my 10 because I was always worried of wasting it, and keeping it for a ‘longer layover’. Eurrrgh.
Because of that, I upgraded to the Prestige the following year. And I LOVED it!! I could use all the lounges everywhere, freely. I visited over 50 lounges a year for 2 years. That’s well over $5000 worth of lounge visits (and a lot of Champagne!). I would recommend this card to anyone who flies 10+ times a year.
Finally, I worked out how air miles work, and I started trying to use credit cards to collect airmiles in the UK (much harder than the USA, but still very possible). I went for the expensive Amex Platinum, 595GBP, and that gave me TWO free Priority Passes AND each of those PP holders could bring in a guest. That was amazing. But 600 quid for a credit card was wild, so I no longer have that.
So which is best? If you don’t fly often, Standard Plus. If you do fly often, Prestige. And if you’re kinda wealthy, then get the Amex Platinum and get 2 passes and free guest access!
How much does Priority Pass Cost?
It differs depending on which of the 3 memberships you choose. Standard, standard plus, or Prestige. It also depends on which country you live in, so the exchange rates can tweak it a little too. Remember, you need to get your Priority Pass card sent to your address, so you can’t lie here folks (I know you were thinking that!).
You can see the Priority Pass costs for Ireland, UK and USA below. In Euro, Dollars and Pounds. They vary a little, but not too much.
Can I get a Priority Pass Discount?
Sometimes throughout the year, Priority Pass discounts appear on their website. But you never know when. For me, if I need access to airport lounges (which I do!), I just go to the site and buy the Prestige.
Can I get Priority Pass with my Credit Card?
In the UK, it’s only the Amex (American Express) Platinum that gives Priority Pass access. Gold Amex gives a measly 2 lounges visits per year. And the Platinum is 575GBP (personal) or 595GBP (business)
What are the Best Priority Pass Lounges?
The general rule is that in the Us, they’re ‘ok’. Still free food, booze and wifi. And still a LOT better than no lounge. But as soon as you leave the Americas, you get the VIP stuff. The best priority pass lounges, in my opinion, are:
- Petra Lounge in Amman Airport. That was AMAZING!
- Oman Air lounge in Bangkok Airport. This is the one I use ALL the time.
- SkyTeam Lounge at London Heathrow
- Star Alliance Lounge at Paris (Charles De Gaulle)
- Concourse B lounge in Dubai
*FREE RESTAURANT CREDIT WITH PRIORITY PASS?
Did you know in some busy airports (London Gatwick, Sydney etc), Priroity Pass, rather than give you lounge access, give you $20 credit to spend at restaurants. AND if you have the unlimited option, you can hop between all the restaurants on the list!
- Not a lounge, but I love the credit at Grain Store Cafe & Bar at London Gatwick!
Is Priority Pass or Dragon Pass or Loungebuddy Best?
I love Priority Pass personally. When you sign up, you get a digital membership card INSTANTLY. So you can use a lounge that day. They’ve also got the most lounges in their arsenal, so they win for me. Dragonpass is in second place, like Priority Pass but not as good. And Loungebuddy is a platform where you can buy one-off lounge passes. So it’s a distant third.
Can I get Priority Pass with Amex?
Yes. But only Amex Platinum. That comes with a yearly fee of 575GBP in UK, and $750 in USD.
Is it worth getting the Amex platinum because of the ‘free’ Priority pass? If you try to be a travel hacker, collecting Airmiles, changing credit cards regularly etc, then yeah sure. If not, then it’s much easier (and cheaper) to just get your Priority Pass membership directly.
Final thoughts on my Priority Pass Review; Is Priority Pass Worth it?
I think you can sense my love throughout this Priority Pass review! For years, I suffered in airports, Then I discovered the lounges, but couldn’t work out how so many people who affording business class tickets. It turns out they didn’t. They had just read a Priority Pass review or 2 before me, and signed up! Now, I never travel without being a priority pass member. And each time I’m on my cheap economy ticket, I love strolling into the business class lounge and acting like I belong. Never gets old! Haha, hope this helps!
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