Priority Pass: A Guide to Visiting Lounges No Matter What Class You Fly

Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?

If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.

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Table of Contents

Disclosure: The post below contains affiliate links for which I may receive compensation. That said, I only recommend and provide affiliate links to products that I personally use, and all of the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

What is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass is a program which gives access to airport lounges to its members. Its members can access the lounges in its network regardless of the airline or class they are flying, as long as there is a lounge at the point of their departure.

This is especially useful if you do not have lounge access through other means – by flying in business or first class, or by holding an airline status. The lounges will give you access to complimentary drinks and food, space to relax, as well as showers before your flight.

Which lounges can you access with Priority Pass?

Currently, Priority Pass offers access to over 1,000 lounges all over the world. While many of these lounges are airport or third-party operated “independent” lounges, there are also many airline operated lounges in the growing network.

Even if a lounge is operated by an airline, with Priority Pass, you can access the lounge with other airline’s boarding pass. For example, recently, I entered both the Oman Air and Air France KLM lounges at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport with my economy class JAL boarding pass.

The availability of lounges varies from region to region, and so, before considering getting a membership, you should look up the availability of lounges at some of your most frequently used airports on the Priority Pass website.

To see reviews of some of the Priority Pass lounges I visited to get a general idea about what you will get, check the Priority Pass lounge reviews section. Furthermore, below are impressions from four of them.

Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Asiana Business Lounge at Seoul Incheon airport.
Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Air Lounge at Vienna airport.
Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Sheltair Lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Marhaba Lounge at Dubai airport.

What types of Priority Pass membership exist?

There are four types of Priority Pass memberships, varying in their price and in the access privileges offered. Three of them can be purchased directly from Priority Pass, while Priority Pass Select membership is only available to holders of certain credit cards.

First, let’s take a look at the three main membership types:

  • Standard membership: While, at 99USD a year, it is the cheapest membership, it does not include any free lounge visit. Each lounge visit with this membership costs 27USD.
  • Standard Plus membership: For 249USD a year, you get 10 free lounge visits. Each subsequent visit costs 27USD.
  • Prestige membership: At 399USD a year, it is the most expensive membership, however, it gives you unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges.

Each of the above memberships also allows you to take guests into lounges at a cost of 27USD per guest per visit.

As for the Select membership, it is similar to Prestige membership.

How to get a Priority Pass membership?

The first, and most obvious way to get a Priority Pass membership is to get it directly through the Priority Pass website.

In that case, the quick math would be that if you expect up to five lounge visits in a year you should get Standard membership, up to fifteen lounge visits you should get Standard Plus membership, and anything more than that, you should get Prestige membership.

If you decide to get the membership directly, you can get 10% off here.

The second, less obvious, but often times preferable method of getting a membership is through a credit card. This is also the way I got my membership. While oftentimes the credit card annual fee will be more expensive than a Priority Pass membership, combined with other perks the card offers, it might be a better deal depending on your needs.

One thing to keep in mind if getting Priority Pass through a credit card is that after you receive the credit card, you will need to apply to get the Priority Pass membership card separately (confirm with your card issuer how). You cannot just use your credit card as the Priority Pass card.

Which credit cards offer complimentary Priority Pass membership?

As there are many credit cards offering Priority Pass membership and the eligibility for each card depends on where you live and so on, below I list just three of them for reference.

  • Rakuten Premium (Japan) – This is the card I use, and with an annual fee of less than a 100USD per year including the free Priority Pass Prestige membership, it is a no brainer. Only if you live in Japan, though…
  • Citi Prestige Card (United States) – One of the US cards offering Priority Pass Select membership. At 450USD per year, the card fee is a bit steep, however, combined with the other benefit including a 250USD air travel credit, it might be better value than direct membership if you are from live in the United States.
  • American Express Platinum (United Kingdom) – An example of a card offering Priority Pass membership to people in the UK. The annual fee is steep at 450GBP. Other benefits including elite statuses with major hotel chains might offset the high fee for you.

Anyways, as mentioned above, these are just three examples to give you an idea of what cards are out there.

If you are interested in getting a Priority Pass membership, I suggest you Google “credit card with priority pass” in your language first to see what options are available to you. If you don’t find a suitable credit card that you are eligible for, then go for the direct membership.

Is Priority Pass worth getting?

Before deciding to get a Priority Pass membership, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I have another way to access lounges?
  • How many flights do I expect to take in a year, and how many lounge visits would I make if I had the membership?
  • What will be some of my most frequently used departure airports and terminals? What Priority Pass lounges, if any, are there?
  • How much will it cost me to get the Priority Pass membership?

Once you know answers to these questions, you can make an informed decision about whether or not it is worth getting a Priority Pass membership for yourself.

So how about me?

Last year I flew over 130,000 miles, vast majority of which was in economy class. I also get no lounge access through airline programs given that I am not a status holder.

I use a large number of airports most of which offer a lounge. The two airports I use a lot are Narita and Vienna, both of which offer a decent (although not amazing) lounges.

I get the membership for less than 100USD a year through the Rakuten Premium card (only available in Japan).

The amount I pay for the membership is way less than the benefits I get in return in the form of savings on drinks and meals I would otherwise buy at airports in a year. Add to that the opportunity to relax in a quieter area than the general terminal area, and the ability to (in most cases) take a shower before a flight, and it’s a no brainer.

Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Relax.
Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Eat.
Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Drink.
Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Shower.
Priority Pass: A Quick Guide

Work.

While my case might be somehow special due to the cheap annual fee of the Rakuten card, I think that for people like me who take a large number of economy class flights on many different airlines, the membership is worth considering even at its full cost.

Just a reminder – if you decide to get a membership directly through Priority Pass, you can get a 10% discount through this link.

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