04 Jan How to Access Airport Lounges: A Priority Pass Review
Want to know how you can gain access to airport lounges when you’re not holding a Business Class ticket? Just because you’re flying in Economy doesn’t mean you have traipse around the airport terminal while waiting for your flight. You too can be sipping champagne inside the lounge as well.
Priority Pass is a membership card that gets you access to lounges worldwide, regardless of what airline you’re flying on and without having to book in advance. Just show up on the day, display your card and walk right in.
I recently got 50% off the standard priority pass membership through a Groupon deal and tried it for the first time on my trip to New York. Below I’ll give you the lowdown on what I thought of it in my Priority Pass review:
About Priority Pass
Priority Pass gets you into over 1,000 lounges worldwide, which is great if you can’t otherwise gain lounge access. Being able to sit back and relax in a comfy environment with Wi-Fi and free food/drink is always nice before a flight. With the pass you’re not restricted by the airline you’re flying with or your class of travel – just show them your membership card and you’re in!
There’s a choice of three membership plans:
Standard: £69 annual fee, £15 member visit fee, £15 guest visit fee.
Standard Plus: £159 annual fee, 10 FREE visits (£15 after that), £15 guest fee
Prestige: £259 annual fee, unlimited number of visits, £15 per guest.
Now you might be wondering, “Why pay a membership fee when I have to pay for entry anyway?” Well some airport lounges will allow walk-ins but you can expect to be paying £30 and up – while others don’t allow pay-as-you-go entry at all.
Which membership level should you buy?
If you travel with a partner then you’re going to be paying £15 for them no matter which tier you choose – unless they have a card too.
Let’s assume there’s just you travelling and you fly 10 times per year:
If you pay for the Standard option then your membership fee is £69. Each visit is £15 so if you fly 10 times that year you’ll be paying £150. In total you’ve spent £228.
If you pay for the Standard Plus option at £159 you get 10 free visits. By purchasing the Standard Plus option you’ve therefore saved £69, presuming you fly 10 times per year. After that you’re spending £15 again.
With the Prestige option you get an unlimited number of visits, you just have to pay for any guests.
Get the Standard Plus option if you’re going to use lounges more than 6 times per year. If you flew 6 times on the Standard pass you’d spend a total of £159 including the membership fee, which is the same price as the Standard Plus option, only with Standard Plus you get 4 extra visits.
Only buy the Prestige option if you plan on flying lots, over 10 times per year.
How Priority Pass works
Once I ordered my Priority Pass I downloaded the app, where I could view my pass in digital form. Using the app you can also see what lounges you have access to, along with how to find them. A real card came in the mail, along with a thick booklet listing all the airline lounges.
I first tested the card out at Heathrow Terminal en route to New York, where I used the Aspire Lounge & Spa. I simply walked up to the desk, presented my card and voila, I was chilling in the lounge.
There was a little bit of a queue for the lounge, so I’d advise you to show up with plenty of time so you can take full advantage of the facilities. And remember, the lounges can turn you away if they’re full. The lounge itself was small and compact but featured plug sockets, comfy seating, self-service snacks and a full bar with complimentary beers, wines and spirits. The bartender told me I was allowed one complimentary glass of champagne, so I wasn’t going to turn it down.
Coming back I didn’t use the Art and Lounge at Newark Airport, because it was landside, not airside, so I didn’t really have time. Even though the Priority Pass grants you access to hundreds of lounges, it doesn’t get you into every lounge, so this is worth noting.
Is Priority Pass worth it?
If you’re a regular flyer then the Priority Pass can be really worth it just so you can relax in a peaceful environment. Even if you’re spending £15 per entry, I feel like that is worth it for the tranquility, the WiFi, the comfy seats and the free food/alcohol. You’d probably spend that buying a meal in the airport anyway.
First and Business Class passengers or frequent flyers with a high tier status don’t need to buy this card, as they have lounge access anyway. But if you’re flying Economy, the Priority Pass makes your whole trip feel a bit more special.
I’ll have to test the Priority Pass with more lounges, but so far so good.
How to get Priority Pass for free or cheap
I got my Priority Pass through an offer on Groupon.com, which gave me 50% off. The Groupon itself cost £6, but I still made a huge saving on the Priority Pass. Definitely make sure you look out for discount codes and vouchers online to save you money.
Wondering how to get a Priority Pass for free? Sign up for a credit card that includes membership. There are lots of cards in the US, but in the UK, as far as I can see (after doing some online research) there’s just The Platinum Card by American Express. There’s an annual fee of £450 for this card though, so you’d need to be a high-earner using it for its other perks as well. On the whole the UK lags far behind the US when it comes to reward credit cards and travel perks – you’ll find far more cards offering complimentary Priority Pass in the US.
Do you have the Priority Pass? How would you rate it? Do you have any tips & tricks for gaining lounge access? Leave your comments below! If you want access to over 1,000 lounges around the world, just sign up for Priority Pass here.