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There are various types of airport lounges including airline lounges, credit card/bank lounges, and contract/third-party lounges. As there are different types of lounges, every lounge or every “group” of lounges has their own access policies – whether that is a First Class ticket, a premium travel credit card, or a lounge membership. If you don’t want to tie yourself down with a specific lounge membership for one type of lounge and if you do not fly in a premium cabin or hold elite status, but still want to access lounges, your best solution is to get Priority Pass.

What is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass is a lounge membership program – it includes the world’s largest collection of airport lounges. If you have a membership, you can access the lounges that belong to Priority Pass. There are various lounge access membership programs out there, but PP is the largest.

How Does Priority Pass Work?

If you have a Priority Pass membership, you can simply show up at a participating lounge and access it based on your membership. You do not need to have airline elite status or fly in a premium cabin to access these lounges.

However, it is important to note:

  • some lounges only let you access them a few hours prior to departure
  • some lounges only let you stay for a certain amount of hours
  • lounges can get busy and there could be a waitlist
  • some lounges will not accept guests (even if your Priority Pass membership includes free guests)

Therefore having a membership doesn’t 100% guarantee you lounge access as not only do you need to actually be flying out of the terminal in which the lounge is located, but you must also meet the access requirements of that specific lounge you want to access. The rules are more strict than other ways to access airport lounges (for example, if you have elite status with an airline you can generally access the airline’s lounge the same day of your flight and aren’t subject to a restriction on how long you can stay, etc.).

Types of Lounges Included

Priority Pass does not include world-class and amazing international First Class lounges – like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Qantas First Class Lounge, etc. Instead, Priority Pass mainly includes third-party contract lounges that aren’t associated with any airline. However, some airline lounges do participate in Priority Pass (with restrictions, of course).

While there are some amazing participating lounges out there (like in Punta Cana, where there is a roof-top swimming pool, for example), don’t expect participating lounges to be anything like an International First Class Lounge. Generally, you’ll find the nicest Priority Pass lounges in Asia and the worst in North America.

Priority Pass Membership

You can buy a Priority Pass membership directly from them – the actual cost varies depending on what currency you want to pay in and where your billing address is. If you are buying a membership directly from them, there are three levels:

  • Standard: you pay an additional fee for every lounge visit (EUR30)
  • Standard Plus: you get 10 free lounge visits, then pay for every additional lounge visit (EUR30)
  • Prestige: all of your lounge visits are free

The current cost, respectively, is EUR89 / EUR289 / EUR459.

If you want to bring a guest, all membership levels will charge you a guest fee of EUR30.

Membership via a Premium Travel Credit Card

Most premium travel credit cards with annual fees of $550+ already come with a free Priority Pass membership as part of their lounge access portfolio. For example, if the issuer of your premium travel credit card operates their own airport lounges, you’d generally get access to those by having your credit card AND in addition, you would also get a PP membership.

If you receive a PP membership via a credit card, you generally don’t need to pay anything to access a lounge and you can bring in two guests for free. However, this depends on the credit card you have.

All in All

Priority Pass works great when you need to access a lounge at a smaller airport, that may not have airline-specific lounges, or if you don’t frequently travel enough to hold airline elite status. The quality of participating lounges does vary greatly depending on where in the world you are – some lounges are better than others. In most cases, it is generally better to get a premium travel credit card that includes a membership rather than to buy a membership from Priority Pass directly due to the cost, and also you’ll have more travel benefits with a premium travel credit card.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.