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Ultimate Guide to the Priority Pass Program

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Tom Goward | 23/06/2020

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Many dread waiting out a long layover before a flight, but with lounge access waiting at the airport can be one of the most enjoyable parts of air travel. Refuges of calm, quiet and comfort, where food and drink is free, seating is comfortable and glossy magazines are complementary.

It’s a common misconception that lounge access is reserved for elite frequent flyers and those travelling at the pointy end of the plane. In actual fact, there are many ways to access airport lounges, one of which is through a lounge membership program such as Priority Pass.

What is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program, with an extensive lounge network across more than 1,300 airports in 148 countries. The program allows members to access airport lounges irrespective of airline, travel class or frequent flyer status.

Membership Plans

Priority Pass offers three membership options, ranging from pay-per-visit up to full unlimited visits:

  • Standard: US$99 annual fee; US$32 entry fee
  • Standard Plus: US$299 annual fee; 10 free visits then US$32 entry fee
  • Prestige: US$429 annual fee; unlimited visits

Each membership level incurs a US$10 card delivery charge, and a US$32 each time you bring a guest with you. Priority Pass is also known for offering sign-up discounts of more than 25%, plus you can save 10% anytime by joining here.

Priority Pass Membership Plans

Free Priority Pass via a Credit Card

Don’t want to pay for your membership? Fortunately, there are a few credit cards which offer free Priority Pass membership as a perk. One of our favourite offers is the American Express Platinum Card which offers free and unlimited Priority Pass access (excluding Priority Pass Restaurants).

With this card, you can even gift a second Priority Pass membership to one additional cardholder, which means you could get lounge access for up to 4 people when travelling together! To enrol into Priority Pass you will need to call Amex on 1800 673 760.

American Express Platinum

 


Receive a welcome bonus of 80,000 Membership Rewards points when you apply online, are approved, and spend $3,000 on your new card in the first 3 months from the Card approval date.

Earn Rate: Up to 2.25 MRP points per $1 spent uncapped
Annual Fee: $1450 ongoing
Click here to learn more…

What do Priority Pass lounges offer?

Being run by independent operators, the offerings will differ between each lounge. Generally, the standard offerings include comfortable seating, food and drinks, (normally a buffet or à la carte dining) and internet access. Below are a few overviews of Priority Pass lounges:

The House Sydney

Operated by No1 Lounges for Etihad Airways, The House lounge at Sydney airport features adequate seating, restaurant-style à la carte dining, an extensive serviced bar, barista coffee and great airport views. For those in need of a freshen-up, luxury shower suites are available with L’Occitane products. Access to this lounge costs an additional fee of AUD$20 per person.

The House Sydney

Plaza Premium Melbourne

Although being located in a basement with no windows, Melbourne Airport’s Plaza Premium Lounge offers amazing food, a good range of beverages and a pleasant space to relax before your flight. The lounge has been designed with functionality in mind, making good use of the relatively small space available. With a bar, barista, buffet and à la carte dining, Plaza Premium doesn’t disappoint in terms of food and beverage options.

Plaza Premium Melbourne

Plaza Premium Dubai

With its subdued lighting and dark neutral tones, the brand new Plaza Premium lounge at Dubai International is nothing short of spectacular. The massive lounge offers relaxation seats which can be converted into private napping areas, work stations, a cigar lounge and five shower suites. The lounge offers a wide selection of freshly prepared Arabic, Asian and International dishes, and a great selection of beverages with brewed tea and coffee, plus soft drinks and alcoholic beverages from Aerobar.

Plaza Premium Dubai

Strata Lounge Auckland

Strata Lounge is the official Auckland Airport operated lounge. This lounge is well designed with zones for working, dining and relaxing. An extensive selection of food and beverage options are provided for self-service, although the lounge lacks a bar and barista coffee. Shower rooms are also available for use, allowing you to freshen up before your flight.
Strata Lounge Auckland

Plaza Premium Hong Kong

Plaza Premium has four lounges at Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok International Airport, three of which are available for use by Priority Pass members. The lounge located near gate 35 is especially impressive. With freshly-made cuisine, luxury shower facilities and rest cabins this lounge is a great place to relax and unwind before your flight.

Plaza Premium Hong Kong

Is Priority Pass worth it?

For many travellers, Priority Pass is likely to prove quite valuable. If you regularly fly in economy and don’t hold elite status, but still want to experience the luxury of lounge access, Priority Pass may be good for you.

The type of membership that is best for you will depend entirely on how often you will visit a Priority Pass lounge in your membership year. The sweet spot for a standard membership is 6 or fewer visits, standard plus is best for between 7 and 15 visits and prestige offers the best value for more than 15 visits. This can be seen in the below table.

 StandardStandard plusPrestige
Annual Fee$99$299$429
Included visits none10unlimited
Single-visit cost $32$32N/A
6 visit cost $291$299$429
7 visit cost $323$299$429
14 visit cost $547$427$429
15 visit cost $579$459$429

In Summary: a few things to note

Priority Pass is a relatively affordable lounge access option in comparison to many airline lounge memberships. For frequent travellers who are not loyal to a particular airline, Priority Pass may prove quite valuable. For those who hold elite status with an airline, paid lounge access such as Priority Pass does not make much sense. Either way, there are a few things to note before signing up:

  • Lounge access is not guaranteed: During busy periods Priority Pass members are sometimes denied entry to some lounges which are already at capacity.
  • Some amenities may not be included: Although Priority Pass gives members lounge entry, that doesn’t mean everything is complimentary. Sometimes there may be additional fees to enter a lounge or to use facilities such as showers or high-end alcohol.
  • Sometimes there are better alternatives: Many lounges in the Priority Pass network also offer paid single-entry access, which in some cases may work out cheaper.

It is also worth mentioning that none of these are deal-breakers. All lounges often deny access due to crowding and charge for some services. Even considering this, Priority Pass may prove useful depending on your circumstance.

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Tom Goward

Tom is a Hobart-based writer with a passion for aviation and travel.

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Priority Pass FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

In Australia, Amex Platinum, Amex Business Platinum, Citi Prestige and BOQ Specialist Signature Visa offer complimentary (unlimited) Priority Pass access. Yes, you can! The card reader will often show you've already entered (when visiting the same lounge multiple times) but you can also lounge hop and visit as many lounges as you like with an unlimited membership. The majority of Priority Pass lounges offer free drinks and food to guests.
dot dot faq

Which card gives free Priority Pass?

In Australia, Amex Platinum, Amex Business Platinum, Citi Prestige and BOQ Specialist Signature Visa offer complimentary (unlimited) Priority Pass access.

Can I use Priority Pass multiple times in one day?

Yes, you can! The card reader will often show you've already entered (when visiting the same lounge multiple times) but you can also lounge hop and visit as many lounges as you like with an unlimited membership.

Are drinks free in Priority Pass lounges?

The majority of Priority Pass lounges offer free drinks and food to guests.

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