Saving a fortune in Moscow with My Priority Pass
If you guys have been following me over the years, on that crazy journey to every country in the world, and now to the 7 Summits, and every territory on our planet, you’ll know that long term travel is an expensive lifestyle! Equally though, with that in mind, you’ll see me fly with random airlines most people have never heard of, flying economy unless I’m partnered with a brand, and especially when it’s short-haul flights. Justifying thousands of dollars for a few hours from A to B just doesn’t make sense to me.
Russia World Cup 2018
The last couple of months I’ve been dotted around Europe, working with Visit Greenland, and Visit Faroe Islands, sometime in Denmark, climbing Europe’s highest peak in Mount Elbrus, and finally I ended up in Moscow for the Football World Cup! I’m a huge, huge football fan, and I’ve been fortunate enough to live a dream when I attended the World Cup final in both Brazil and South Africa! That run came to an end when I arrived in Moscow and really struggled to get tickets for any games, due to the strict ‘Fan ID’ system that had been applied.
It wasn’t the end of the world though, far from it in fact, I based myself centrally in Moscow and spent a few days hopping from the FIFA Fan Fest (the official big screen area to watch games), to random little bars, to huge street parties. Meeting people from all over the world, ‘cheers’ to each others countries and off on our merry way. The whole event has been a huge success, but it seriously takes it out of you burning the candles at both ends. Early starts for touristic stuff, late nights for football and parties! Thankfully, my travel experiences have been transformed by Priority Pass though!
Moscow Airport Lounges – my first Priority Pass Experience
Firstly, I flew to Moscow on the opening weekend of the tournament. I was connecting in Moscow and then flying South to the base of Mount Elbrus, I was sure I was going to miss the Uruguay game. Thoughts of break-downs in communication between Russian airport staff and me. Fast forward 15 minutes, and was sitting in the Priority Pass lounge, drinking free-flow beer, big screen, feet up in the massage chair. My flight to the south of Russia cost about $100 or so, but my food, drink and football experience in the lounge was free, despite me having a late lunch, and dinner, and about 6 beers. Too good to be true. Anyway, off I went to Mineralnye Vody airport, 3 hours later, rested, fed and watered. The days of sitting around airport gates, awkwardly propped against a cold wall trying to find a plug socket for my phone or MacBook are no more! Spotty, or paid, WiFi, over-priced food, all a thing of the past as I saunter into each airport, access the lounge, and don’t pay a penny other than the $300 or so yearly membership. Best travel investment I ever made.
All Star Lounge, SVO airport, Moscow (Terminal F)
I work online, whether it’s my blog, my SEO/Media company, my charity, or my travel planning to all 215 countries and 7 Summits, I NEED to be constantly online. Airports are hit and miss with quality WiFi, good food, an area to focus and concentrate. Signing up to Priority Pass literally changed all that for me. I had spent the last few days in Moscow, meeting friends, partying with every nationality from Brazilians to Senegalese, and I needed to catch up on work. I was meeting my girlfriend in Athens at lunch-time for our trip to Santorini so I had an early flight leaving Moscow, and I was way behind on work. Knowing I wouldn’t be getting much done when I saw my girlfriend, I had one option. Go to the airport super early, churn out a few hours work and make it happen.
I was flying from the SVO airport, about an hour from Moscow City Centre, my flight was at 8.20AM, so boarding was around 7.30AM. Hmm, lounges are probably not open.
So I hopped on the awesome Priority Pass App (which is amazing by the way, apart from the fact the lounges are ranked/rated, that’s kinda annoying), tapped in my Airport Code, then selected Terminal F and choose the ‘All Star Lounge’. 24 HOURS. BOOM!
God I love this thing! So I organized transport from my hotel at 4am and headed to the airport, checked in to my flight with more than 3 hours to spare and headed straight to the ‘All Star Lounge’. There’s a feature on the App that shows exactly where the lounge is. In this case it’s in Terminal F, up the escalators in front of Gate 53 (it’s also accessible If you’re in Terminal D and E, about a 10 minute walk).
Checking-in is always a simple process with PP. You can either present your physical card (they send you a credit-card sized member card when you sign up) in addition to your boarding pass, or the digital version (from the app, or Apple Wallet etc) in addition to your boarding pass. 30 seconds and a signature later and you’re in.
I had checked the lounge had WiFi of course, but also that it had a shower. Food and drink come as standard. What I also do when I enter a new lounge is surveying my surroundings, to make sure I don’t miss out on any of the awesome stuff (some may include a 15-minute complimentary massage for example! Alas, in Moscow that’s not the case!).
You can see the layout of the First Class Lounge is essentially broken up into 2 sections. The ‘lounge’ area, and then the ‘food area’. There is also a meeting room and kids play section too so you’re all set depending on what you need.
Because I was there to early, I commandeered a lounge section to myself, just next to the hot-shower cubicle, set-up my laptop, grabbed my free coffee, my free orange juice, a couple of croissants and some jam and got to work. When the coffee was up, round 2, and 3 and 4. I even had time to set-up a cheesy photo shoot when people weren’t looking, check it below!
The alcohol in the lounge is always my favourite part (you can take the boy out of Ireland, but you’ll never take Ireland out of the boy!), and the alcohol selection was great here. Red, white and sparkling wine. Shorts, beers. The lot. However, believe it or not, I abstained. 6 am was not the time, and I do occasionally actually work quite hard, so it was just OJ and coffee for me. How depressing.
You can see around the lounge there are flat screen TVs, international newspapers, and endless soft drinks and snacks to kill time with. Also, there are almost always plug sockets aplenty so you can get recharged before your flight.
Anyway, a few advertising deals done and dusted, some content created, yet more flights booked and my 3 hours were up. Time to board my flight to Athens. I didn’t spend one single Ruble in my time in Moscow airport, yet I was full, rested, and up-to-date. In fact, I actually made money from the work I did during my time in the lounge. I was off to Athens in the meantime, see you on the other side!
Why I LOVE my Priority Pass
I’ve had my Priority Pass membership for 2 years now, and there’s no looking back. Since renewing my membership in February, I’ve visited 22 lounges in 4.5 months, that is CRAZY! If you figure, 3-5 glasses of wine, champagne, beers in each one, at least one meal (sometimes 2/3 depending on how long the layovers are), snacks, WiFi and showers, I guess I ‘spend’ the equivalent of $65 minimum in each lounge, often way in excess of $100, especially in the lounges of expensive countries, where a beer may cost me $15 in the airport, and a sandwich $10-$20, but not a penny in the lounge!
That’s well over $1k worth of stuff in a less than half a year. Not to mention the stress factor, knowing you’re going to be comfortable, able to take a nap, have a shower, rather than freaking out about some layover. It’s amazing. There’s just no going back to be honest, once you’ve experienced what it’s like to have lounge access at every airport you visit, regardless of whether you fly economy or not, then the thought of killing time at the airport gate is a nightmare. I have my PP set to auto-renew.
One final thing, if you fly 10+ per year (5 return flights), then my advice is to opt for the ‘unlimited’ lounge option. Last year I had the ’10 lounge pass’ and I found myself wondering should I spend one of my 10 passes when I only had a 90min layover etc, now with the unlimited version, even if my layover is 10 minutes, I nip to the lounge, grab a bottle of water and a piece of fruit and head to the gate! Enjoy!
I love Priority Pass, as you guys can see. Here’s a link to get you 15% off your yearly membership! That means the Prestige option (the one I have, with unlimited lounge visits) is $339 instead of $399, or the Standard Plus (10 visits) is now $211 instead of $249. Pretty sweet. If you want to live the dream instead of being propped up against a cold wall, over paying for food and chasing WiFi, live it up in the luxury lounges, discount HERE (ONLY UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER 2018)!