Depending on where and when you’re traveling, you may have to face a crowd at a Priority Pass Lounge.
Being in airport lounges instead of crowded gate areas can decrease travel stress, but depending on where you’re traveling and the airline you bought your tickets from, lounge access is not always feasible. Priority Pass membership is one way to enter a lounge and relax before your flight.
But Are Priority Pass Lounges Usually Crowded, and is this membership worth it? Here is all you want to know in this article.
- How crowded are Priority Pass Lounges?
- What is a Priority Pass Lounge?
- How does a Priority Pass membership work?
- Priority Pass price
- Other ways to get Priority Pass Lounge access
- Alternatives to Priority Pass
- If you’re anxious about overcrowding in Priority Pass Lounges
How crowded are Priority Pass Lounges?
Priority Pass Lounges are not all the time crowded, but they can get crowded. If you visit a popular airport on a busy travel day or when many other travelers are passing through the airport, you may experience a busy lounge.
In these cases, entrance may be denied. Some airport lounges, inclusive of the Priority Pass network, state that entrance can be denied and is subject to capacity limitations. One NerdWallet Nerd was recently on the waiting list for over two hours trying to enter into the Priority Pass Lounges.
If you’re flying during the peak travel season, don’t expect guaranteed lounge entrance just because you have a membership.
What is a Priority Pass Lounge?
Priority Pass is a membership scheme that gives members access to a network of airport lounges around the world. Visitors can have any level of airfare, from economy class to first.
Individual Lounges partner with Priority Pass, then members can enter lounges according to their membership level. There are above 1300 participating lounges worldwide.
Three levels of Priority Pass membership:
- Standard Plus
These membership levels vary in price. If you are a member, you can enter participating lounges and enjoy more pleasant seating areas, along with complimentary snacks and drinks. Most lounges also offer free alcoholic beverages and wifi connection.
Priority Pass also works with selected airport restaurants. If your Priority Pass membership contains access to restaurant benefits, you can dine at a participating eatery and receive a credit on your bill. The amount of credit differs by location and does not include tips.
How does a Priority Pass membership work?
Proof of active membership is needed to access lounge benefits. You can do this by presenting your physical card or if digital cards are accepted, present your digital membership card using the Priority Pass mobile app.
You will also be asked to give a valid boarding pass for that day.
Can you still access the Priority Pass lounge after check-in? In most cases no, you need your boarding pass to check in, so don’t expect to enter the lounge after a long flight.
Priority Pass price:
How much is a Priority Pass? Membership ranges from $99-$429 depending on the level. Priority Pass has three different membership types, and each membership type offers different benefits.
Here’s the Priority Pass membership price you can expect if you join the program directly rather than through a credit card or other means.
|Membership plan||Annual cost||Member visit fee||Guest fee|
|Standard||$99.||$32 per visit.||$32 per guest, per visit.|
|Standard Plus||$299.||Ten free visits each year, then $32 for each visit.||$32 per guest, per visit.|
|Prestige||$429.||All visits are free.||$32 per guest, per visit.|
Higher plans offer more benefits but at a higher price. If you travel frequently, the price may be offset by time spent in the Priority Pass lounges.
For those interested in the Standard and Standard Plus plans, keep in mind that there is more than just an annual cost. Standard plan members pay $32 per lounge visit. Standard Plus members pay the same amount after using 10 free visits each year.
If you want to bring someone else to the lounge with you, there is a $32 fee for each additional guest, regardless of membership.
Other ways to get Priority Pass Lounge access:
Credit cards with Priority Pass
Some travel credit cards have benefits like Priority Pass Select, so you don’t necessarily have to buy a membership directly from Priority Pass.
Priority Pass Select is a lounge membership offered especially through credit card issuers and other financial institutions that allows free unlimited entry to participating lounges for as long as the cardholder remains.
Some credit cards that include Priority Pass Select memberships are
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Enrollment required.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. Enrollment required.
Several credit cards that offer Priority Pass Select membership, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, allow you to bring up to two guests every time you visit the lounge unless the lounge is at capacity. Additional guests will be charged $27 per guest per visit.
Although, not all Priority Pass select memberships are the same. Some, such as those offered by American Express, do not include Priority Pass dining benefits and only allow one guest to join you in the lounge.
Some companies limit the number of lounge visits per year. Consult your card issuer to understand the certain benefits of your card.
If you don’t travel a lot, there are several ways to enter the airport lounges. Some airline loyalty programs give access to airline lounges after reaching a specific membership level. For example, Delta Sky Team Elite Plus members enjoy free entrance to Delta lounges when traveling internationally.
Some lounges also give day passes for a single visit. For example, at the Star Alliance lounge at Los Angeles airport, visitors pay $70 for three hours of access. Although not all lounges offer this option, it’s best to check before heading to the airport.
Alternatives to Priority Pass:
If lounge congestion or underwhelming quality bothers you, consider these Priority Pass options for a better experience at your next airport. Given their large footprint overseas, these make them a great option for frequent international travelers.
Airlines at times have their own lounge networks as well. Examples are
- American Airlines: Admirals Clubs.
- Delta Air Lines: Sky Clubs.
- United Airlines: United Clubs.
Holders of premium airline credit cards, elite members, and international premium cabin flyers generally have access to these less crowded lounges.
If you’re anxious about overcrowding in Priority Pass Lounges:
Priority Pass can be a valuable membership, particularly if you frequently fly through long layovers or busy airports.
Although, the lounge may be crowded during peak travel times and may have a limited entry period for Priority Pass members. In other words, membership does not surely guarantee access to the lounge.
Priority Pass lounges are usually crowded, but may still be a better choice than waiting at the gate for your flight. Terminal gates often do not have many facilities and are usually used in more crowded airport lounges. It’s also a better idea to check Priority Pass lounges to see exactly how busy they are, particularly if you have a credit card with Priority Pass as points.
1. What are the advantages of Priority Pass?
Priority Pass memberships offer the advantage of being able to enter the Priority Pass lounges around the world. With over 1300 available lounges, having a membership could be useful for frequent travelers who want a place to wait for flights away from the terminal gates.
2. What are Priority Pass lounges like?
Priority Pass lounges usually provide a welcome retreat from busy terminal gates. This could include having a more comfortable space to sit and relax before your flight, and particular lounges also provide complimentary food and drinks.
3. Are Priority Pass lounges overcrowded?
It depends on the location, but it’s not unusual for Priority Pass lounges in busy airports to be overcrowded. This is likely because the entrance to Priority Pass lounges is a common benefit on many famous travel cards. Also, particular lounges might not give much space, to begin with, so the lounge could quickly become crowded during busy times.
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