If you are a frequent air traveler or have any travel rewards credit cards, you may be familiar with the Priority Pass program. Priority Pass is a network of airline lounges, restaurants, spas and other airport properties that can help make your travel a bit more relaxing.
A Priority Pass membership allows you access to select airport lounges and other properties in the Priority Pass network, all across the world. And given that Priority Pass memberships are not that difficult to get, many frequent travelers will want to take advantage.
We break down what Priority Pass comes with and whether it’s worth getting.
What Is Priority Pass?
Priority Pass is a network of over 1,300 lounges, restaurants, spas, suites and other airport properties throughout the world. Members of Priority Pass can enjoy the relaxing in these airport lounges while gaining access to food, drinks and other perks as they wait for their flights.
While many of the properties included in the Priority Pass are traditional airport lounges, there are other airport properties that are also included in the Priority Pass network.
What Perks and Benefits Come with Priority Pass?
The main perk and benefit that comes with a Priority Pass membership is access to the network of airport lounges, spas, suites and other properties. With over 1,300 locations in airports throughout the world, having a Priority Pass membership can make the difference between a hectic experience in the airport and a smooth and relaxing day of traveling.
Here are some of the benefits that may come with Priority Pass membership:
- Airport lounge access on airport properties worldwide.
- Lounge amenities include drinks, food, and free alcohol at most lounges.
- Free Wi-Fi and charging stations.
- Sleeping suites to relax in.
- Showering facilities.
- Discounts at retail stores and spa services.
- Private conference rooms for meetings.
- 24/7 membership support from multilingual advisors.
While a Priority Pass membership can be pricey, it may be worth it if you are a frequent traveler. Also, many travel credit cards include a Priority Pass Select membership for cardholders, so you may be able to become a member of Priority Pass without paying any additional fees.
How Do I Sign Up for Priority Pass?
There are two main ways that you can sign up for Priority Pass.
- Through a Credit Card: The most common is that Priority Pass membership is a perk of many travel rewards credit cards. If you are approved for a credit card that offers a Priority Pass Select membership, you will need to activate your membership through the website of your credit card company.
- Directly from Priority Pass Website: If you don’t have a card that offers a Priority Pass membership, you can sign up for Priority Pass on their website.
How Much Does Priority Pass Cost?
There are three different tiers of Priority Pass membership, so you can choose one based on your needs and budget.
- Standard Membership: $99 / year. This tier of membership allows you lounge access to the Priority Pass lounge network for $32 per visit. In addition to the annual fee, any guests you bring in will have to pay $32 per visit.
- Standard Plus Membership: $299 / year. A Standard Plus membership gives you 10 free visits per year. After those 10 visits, you will be charged $32 for each lounge visit. Any guests you bring in (even on your free visits) will cost $32 per visit.
- Prestige Membership: $429 / year. The top-tier Prestige membership offers unlimited visits throughout the year, but any guests that you bring in will be charged $32 for each visit.
How To Get Priority Pass for Free
A much more common way to get a Priority Pass membership is to hold a credit card that offers a Priority Pass membership as one of the card’s perks or benefits. It is common for travel rewards credit cards (especially luxury rewards cards) to offer a Priority Pass membership as a perk of having the card.
Note that while you may be getting Priority Pass for free, there is often an annual fee attached for cardholders. You should weigh the full value of the credit card’s benefits to determine whether the annual fee is worth it.
If you do get a Priority Pass membership from a credit card that you hold, make sure that you check your card’s benefits guide to understand the terms and conditions. Not all Priority Pass Select memberships from credit cards are equal. Some have unlimited complimentary access, while others only offer a certain amount of free visits per year. Some memberships allow you to bring guests at no charge, while others will charge you for any guests that you bring. It’s important to understand the terms of your Priority Pass membership to avoid unexpected surprises and fees.
What’s the Difference Between Priority Pass and Priority Pass Select?
Priority Pass is the name of the company that offers Priority Pass memberships. The Priority Pass memberships that come with credit cards are termed Priority Pass Select.
While Priority Pass makes a distinction between the Priority Pass memberships that they sell on their website and the Priority Pass Select memberships available through credit card companies and banks, in practice there is not much of a distinction.
Lounges generally will not be able to tell what kind of membership you have when you present your Priority Pass card. That is another reason why you should make sure to understand the benefits of your particular Priority Pass membership, so you are aware of what is included and what will generate an additional charge.
How To Use a Priority Pass Membership
Once you have activated your Priority Pass Membership and received your physical or digital card, you are ready to use your membership.
Here are some helpful things to know when getting started:
- Download the Mobile App: You can find participating Priority Pass lounges through the Priority Pass website or mobile app. That way you’ll know where the lounges are and how to plan your travel day to take advantage of the lounge access and amenities. The website or mobile app is also a good way to check on the hours of the Priority Pass lounges as well as any restrictions, terms or conditions that may apply.
- Know the Lounge Hours and Restrictions: Many Priority Pass lounges do carry restrictions on when you can visit the lounge. This might be certain hours where the lounge does not accept Priority Pass guests, or a restriction based on how long you can stay in the lounge. It’s also possible that when you arrive to check-in at the lounge, it may be full or not accepting additional guests at the time.
- Have Your Membership Card and Boarding Pass Ready: When you arrive at a Priority Pass lounge, you will need to show the attendant your Priority Pass membership card. Many lounges will accept both the physical card or the digital card through the mobile app, but check to make sure beforehand. You may also need to show the attendant your boarding pass. Once the lounge attendant has scanned your membership card and boarding pass, you will be admitted to the lounge.
Generally, everything in the lounge will be complimentary, but make sure to ask the lounge employees if you’re not sure.
Pros and Cons of Priority Pass
Here is a look at some of the pros and cons of a Priority Pass membership:
Pros of Priority Pass
- Membership may be offered at no cost as a card membership perk for certain travel rewards credit cards.
- Access to nice amenities such as complimentary food, drinks and Wi-Fi while traveling in airports throughout the world.
- Can make the airport and traveling experience more relaxing and less stressful, especially for long layovers.
Cons of Priority Pass
- Membership may not be worth purchasing if you do not travel often.
- Not all airports have lounges.
- Lounges may be full or not accepting Priority Pass members when you want to travel. Some research ahead of time is recommended.
Is Priority Pass Worth It?
Whether a Priority Pass membership is worth it will depend on your own travel habits, expectations and budget. If you are not a frequent traveler, you will likely not find it worth it to pay an annual fee as well as an additional fee for each lounge visit. If you’re only an occasional airport traveler, most airport lounges allow people to purchase day passes. Day pass rates depend on the lounge, but in most cases, it will likely be cheaper than an annual Priority Pass membership plus a $32 visit fee.
If you have a Priority Pass Select membership that comes with a credit card that you hold, then it will almost certainly be worth it to activate your membership, since it comes at no additional cost. In fact, having a Priority Pass Select membership can help justify the annual fee that comes with many credit cards.
Priority Pass FAQs
You can usually bring guests to Priority Pass lounges, but there may be a fee charged for guests. The Priority Pass memberships that come with different credit cards have different rules about guests, so you’ll want to make sure you check the terms and conditions of your membership to understand the guest policy of your membership.
Yes, generally everything inside a Priority Pass lounge is complimentary. This includes food, drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) as well as other amenities. There may be an additional charge for some items, depending on the lounge, which should be clearly marked. If you’re not sure about what is and is not included with your Priority Pass lounge membership, make sure to ask a lounge attendant.
There is no set tipping policy that is consistent across all Priority Pass lounges of different types. If you are drinking alcoholic beverages inside a traditional airport lounge, then it is customary to leave a tip for the bartender. If you are using your Priority Pass membership to eat at an airport restaurant, it is recommended to leave a tip for your server based on the full menu price of your meal.
With over 1,300 locations all around the world, nearly all medium or large-sized airports have at least one Priority Pass lounge location. Many large airports have multiple Priority Pass locations.
Here are a few of the airports where you can use Priority Pass:
-Dallas / Fort Worth (DFW)
-New York (JFK)
-Los Angeles (LAX)
-Las Vegas (LAS)
-San Francisco (SFO)
For more up-to-date information on lounge locations and access, visit the Priority Pass website.
There is no limit to how often you can use your Priority Pass membership in one day, though individual lounges may put restrictions on admission. You’ll have to show your boarding pass when you enter a Priority Pass lounge, and some lounges may only allow members within a certain time before your flight. If you are traveling to an airport that has multiple Priority Pass lounges, there is usually no restriction from visiting multiple different Priority Pass locations in one airport in a single day.
Featured photo courtesy of Club Aspire Lounge at London Heathrow Airport