In the ever-evolving landscape of travel, the Priority Pass has emerged as a potential game-changer for frequent flyers, at least when it comes to comfort and convenience.
The burning question for many travelers is whether the investment in a somewhat pricey Priority Pass membership is truly worth it.
The pass is a way to gain airport lounge access to a global network of airport lounges as well as other airport amenities. However, the decision to embrace this membership involves weighing the costs against the benefits and considering individual travel habits and preferences.
This Priority Pass review details all the membership entails, its perks, its drawbacks, and how it works to help you answer the question “Is the Priority Pass worth it?”
What is the Priority Pass?
Priority Pass is a membership program that provides travelers with access to a global network of airport lounges and other airport amenities.
The program gives members access to more than 1,300 lounges in airports across the world, providing a more comfortable experience on those long travel days.
The lounges typically offer complimentary refreshments, free Wi-Fi, and a quiet escape away from the chaotic environment in the airport terminals.
In addition to lounge access in airports where there is not a Priority Pass lounge, the membership often includes partnerships with airport restaurants and bars, providing members with credits or discounts on food and beverages.
But is the Priority Pass worth it? The answer really depends on you, your travel style, and the frequency in which you travel to cities that have Priority Pass lounges.
The program caters to frequent travelers, offering a convenient and premium experience when flying into, out of, or transiting through airports where Priority Pass perks exist.
Our Priority Pass Experience
We have personally had the Priority Pass for years, and we use it several times a year when we travel. In fact, my husband and I both have separate memberships.
Our Priority Pass memberships are provided as a perk through our travel credit cards – the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Capital One Venture X. You can also get a Priority Pass membership through the The American Express Platinum Card.
Our memberships through our credit cards allow us to bring two additional guests into the Priority Pass lounges, which is great for families who want to bring children into the lounges with them.
For us, the Priority Pass is a huge perk to having a premium travel card and makes the high annual fee on a premium credit card worth it.
For frequent travelers who do not have one of these travel cards, you can buy a Priority Pass membership separately. Determining ‘is the Priority Pass worth it’ will really depend on how often you travel and to where.
Priority Pass Review and Things to Know
Whether you are considering a rewards credit card offer that includes a Priority Pass membership or you are looking to buy one of the Priority Pass plans outright, here are a few things you should know about the membership and the Priority Pass airport lounges to help you determine if it is a worthy investment for you.
How does Priority Pass Work?
The Priority Pass is easy to use and relatively straightforward. Members are given a membership number that can be used to login to their app to access a digital membership card. You are also sent a physical card, as well.
You can use your physical card or the digital card on the app to access participating lounges, airport restaurant credits or discounts on airport services and amenities. You can search the app for airport lounges or amenities at each airport.
The app will tell you where in the airport the lounge is located, and often include photos of the inside of the lounges.
The program offers different membership tiers, each with varying levels of access and associated fees. There is the standard membership which allows you access to lounges at a $35 per visit cost.
The Standard Plus membership, which allows you 10 visits a year to any of the Priority Pass Lounges, and the Prestige Membership, which allows for Unlimited lounge access. The Prestige Membership is typically most beneficial for frequent business travelers that will use the lounges often.
|$99 / yr
|$329 / yr
|$469 / yr
|$35 each visit
|$35 per guest
|$35 per guest
|$35 per guest
Priority Pass Lounges
Priority Pass members have access to 150 lounges or restaurants in airports in North America, 370 in Europe, 440 in Asia, 150 in South America and Central America, 90 in Africa and 70 in the Middle East.
We have personally accessed Priority Pass airport lounges on 4 continents, and the lounges have been fairly standard in each country.
The lounges typically offer complimentary light meals and drinks (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic options), plus comfier seating with plenty of charging ports for your electronic devices. You’ll also find nicer, cleaner bathrooms – some even with showers.
If you travel internationally, you’ll have many more lounges to choose from versus if you travel domestically in the United States only.
Other Priority Pass Benefits
In many airports where there is not a Priority Pass lounge, you are granted exclusive discounts to retail, dining, and spa options. Some restaurants also offer food vouchers to Priority Pass members that will cover your entire meal and the meals of your 2 guests.
We have also used our Priority Pass to book complimentary access to Minute Suites, which has helped our child overcome jet lag with a quick nap during a layover.
Pros of the Priority Pass
For us, the largest benefit to having the Priority Pass is that our travel experience is more comfortable. Comfort makes a huge difference when traveling with children. Visiting a lounge is a great way to spend a long layover. It is more relaxing and much more peaceful than the busy terminal just outside the doors.
Additionally, the complimentary food and drinks saves us a lot of money. As a family of three, a meal in an airport can be costly. Even buying a coffee or snacks from an airport kiosk adds up quickly. So, going into the lounges lets us refuel while we relax.
Finally, another great perk that makes the Priority Pass worth it is that you get Priority Pass lounge access regardless of what airline you are flying.
Cons of the Priority Pass
One drawback to buying the Priority Pass directly is that you do not have the option to bring guests in with you for free.
While our Priority Passes through our premium travel credit cards allow us to bring 2 guests in for free, if you buy a Priority Pass separately directly through the membership program, there is a $35 charge per guest, per visit to a Priority Pass lounge.
The extra guest cost in addition to the Priority Pass membership fees makes buying the membership outright a bad deal for families. However, if you are a frequent business traveler or a solo traveler, the Priority Pass could very well be worth it, despite the extra charge per guest.
Additionally, the quality of the lounges, while fine with us, is less than that of many of the legacy airline carriers lounges. So, if you are used to going into the Admiral Club or the United Club, the Priority Pass lounges may not live up to your expectations.
The food is often mediocre – but again – it’s free. And in some of the busier airports, we have had to wait for up to 15 minutes to get into the lounge because it was at full capacity.
|Lounge Access in 600+ cities
|Complimentary food and drinks (including alcohol)
|Food is often mediocre
|Comfortable seating, cleaner restrooms, sometimes with showers
|Lounge access is NOT based on the airline you’re flying
|Guests cost additional $ (unless PP is through a credit card)
How to get a Priority Pass for Free
As mentioned above, there are several ways to get a Priority Pass. You can buy the membership directly through the company, or get it as an included perk on rewards credit cards that are geared toward frequent travelers.
We have travel credit cards for the points we can accrue, which helps offset the cost of our trips, and for the perks – namely the Priority Pass. While premium credit cards have a high annual fee, they offer the Priority Pass membership plus two complimentary guests, which makes the annual fee worth it.
Conclusion: Is the Priority Pass worth it?
So, is the Priority Pass worth the cost? It depends on a number of factors, including how much you travel and how often you visit airports with Priority Pass lounges and benefits. For us, the membership is worth it, but we travel a lot and our membership is included with our credit card.
To determine if the Priority Pass is worth it for you, we recommend weighing the pros and cons, consider how much you will use it, and see if it makes more sense to buy the membership directly or apply for one of the credit cards that offer Priority Pass memberships as a benefit.
Do you have any other questions that would help you decide whether or not the Priority Pass is worth it? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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