Intro to Priority Pass Lounge Access

The Priority Pass program has been getting a lot of good press lately due to their expansion of both their lounges and airport restaurants. A fellow traveler recently asked me about the lounges and how to get access to them. I was boarding a plane so didn’t have time to explain it, so I sent them to our website to read up on the Priority Pass program. Well, the next email I got from them was rather surprising. There wasn’t anything recent on TWG for them to read about Priority Pass (Grant did write about using the Priority Pass app back in October 2015).  So here’s one for you, fellow traveler, and I’m sorry I sent you on a wild goose chase.

What Is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass is a program with more than one thousand airport lounges all over the world. More often than not, people pay a yearly membership fee for unlimited Priority Pass lounge access. But there are credit cards that come with free Priority Pass lounge access as one of their benefits.

And this benefit can be tricky because depending on which credit card you have, the rules and benefits are different. Costs (if not free) vary as do the number of guests you can bring into the lounge with you.

For instance, all versions of the American Express Platinum Card provide free lounge access for the cardholder and up to two guests. The American Express Hilton Surpass Credit Card charges $27 per person per visit. Some Chase cards come with Priority Pass lounge access. Both the JPMorgan Chase Ritz Carlton Credit Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Cards grant free access to the cardholder and don’t limit the number of guests. The Citi Prestige Credit Card grants free access for the cardholder and also immediate family members OR up to two guests. Some cards have limits on the number of times you can use the lounge, and then after that charge per visit. You can see from this list, it’s important to know which cards allow for what! And people have reported that “unlimited” doesn’t always mean “unlimited”, with lounges denying entry based on their capacity.

I learned the hard way a few years ago, since all the Priority Pass cards that you’ll receive once you have the credit cards look alike, to make sure I know which Priority Pass card is which. I got charged $27 for a visit because I grabbed the wrong card when I left home. I took the card that charges for access rather than one of the ones that grants me free access. Now of course I have all my cards marked. Your system doesn’t matter, just don’t get the cards confused!

I don’t know about you, but I find the whole idea of having airport lounge access really changed my experience of travel. It just makes the whole experience more relaxing and less stressful. I like the Priority Pass lounges and find it to be a useful credit card benefit. My first choice is always a Centurion Lounge, but I’ve also been pleased with many of the Priority Pass lounges in Canada as well as in Europe, especially this past year when I discovered the Priority Pass lounge in Rome (FCO). That might be my favorite one so far!

Do you have any unique ways of keeping track of which Priority Pass card is which? How often are you using these lounges? Have you tried any of the Priority Pass restaurants? Let me know!

13 thoughts on “Intro to Priority Pass Lounge Access

  1. Kalboz

    The Priority Pass Select card offers a welcome reprieve at airports while traveling in coach, but there are some restrictions/issues:

    – KE Lounge LAX: offers access noon – 8:00 PM. So, if you’re flying economy at midnight or later to Asia, and arrive at LAX after 8 PM, you are SOL.
    – DFW: Minute Suites offer single admittance, only 1 card per visit per Cardholder will be allowed. While The Club at Terminal D will deny entry (or place you on a wait list) even though there is a huge sign at check in that clearly says capacity 386 persons.
    – IAH offers 2 clubs, Air France and KLM, managed apparently by the same people. Air France offers better food and beverage selections but closes at 5 PM. Otherwise, no issue to enter here – each member is allowed to bring one companion.
    – ICN: KL Lounge offers an average experience that is comparable to the Asiana Lounge. Both at Terminal A, in dire need of refurbishment, and food selection improvement.

    So, it’s not all hunky dory especially if you are traveling as a family of four.

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      Great addition to the conversation, Kalboz. We all have specific PP lounges that we use and know from experience. It would be so valuable if info like this was crowd sourced. And true enough, larger family groups have their challenges with all the lounge programs. Thanks for reading and taking the time to fill in the gaps.

      Reply
  2. BothofUs2

    Recently tried using Priority Pass Select in PTY at the Copa Lounge. Got the card through Chase Sapphire Reserve. Lounge agent insisted that the access was only for cardholder and one guest, not myself and 3 additional family members. Fortunately we we’re in J and were able to show the boarding passes which allowed us in. Frustrating to have the benefit but it isn’t recognized everywhere.

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      I haven’t been through Panama, but it does seem like access to PP lounges can sometimes be glitchy. Glad it worked out for you and your family, though. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  3. MM

    I have had the PP for almost a year and have not used it until recently. Even though I have traveled abroad, the lounge was always in another terminal and I was afraid I did not have time to find it and return to my departure terminal. I finally was able to use it recently in Portland, OR at the restaurant. My husband and I each have Chase Sapphire Reserve and were able to select many pastries and coffee for our flight. Neither of us used the allowed $28 per person, even with bags of food!

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      I know what you mean about wanting to check out a lounge when traveling but not being sure if you have enough time. That happens to me, too. I used to transit through PDX a lot, but not this past year. I look forward to trying those restaurants:) Thanks for taking the time to comment, MM.

      Reply
  4. Marty

    I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve & the Citi Prestige card. It seems as if both offer PP memberships. I realized I only have 1 PP card, so I’m not sure which PP membership it is that I’m using.

    A few questions:

    Are there differences between the two membership “levels” with these cards?
    Any idea on how to figure out which one the membership is linked to?
    Is there any advantage to getting a second membership through the other card?

    I usually travel solo for business and occasionally will bring a guest.

    Reply
    1. Shelli Post author

      Good questions, Marty. It’s my understanding that the PP lounge access that comes with the Prestige card is maximum of up to 2 guests or immediate family members. The PP lounge access with the Reserve card gives access to you and your travel companions and doesn’t give a qualifying number of guests. I have no idea how to tell which program your card is linked to. I would imagine there’d be a number to call or certainly you could ask the lounge agent the next time you access the PP lounge. Also, be sure to check online because there are PP lounges that have different rules about guests, such as the lounge at PTY mentioned above in the comments. Hope this helps you figure out the best plan for you. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
      1. Tonei Glavinic

        If you call Collinson, the company that issues Priority Pass, they can tell you which bank issued your Priority Pass card. You may also be able to figure it out by signing up for an account on the Priority Pass website, which will show you how many guests your membership includes – that should tell you which card it came from.

        (The lounge agents won’t be able to tell you anything about your PP membership – they can’t even tell whether your membership includes any guests, they just tell Priority Pass how many guests you have and then PP determines whether to bill you based on the agreement with your credit card issuer.)

        Reply
  5. rmh

    is there a site that lists which priority pass lounges allow day pass purchases and how much those day passes cost?

    love the site!

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Priority Pass Restaurant Review: The Pasta House & Schlafly Beer at St. Louis Airport (STL)

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