Priority Pass: Your Complete Guide to Airport Lounge Luxury [2020]

Experience the airport like never before with Priority Pass.
Last updated Oct 2, 2020 | By Ben Walker
Happy woman in airport lounge

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If you’re interested in leveling up your airport experience, you may want to consider a Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass members can enjoy complimentary food, drinks, and superior comfort in more than a thousand airport lounges and restaurants around the world.

The best part? You can get Priority Pass for free as a built-in benefit with many different credit cards. For travelers, it’s an invaluable perk to have when going through airports. Use this guide to see how the Priority Pass program works and which membership tier would be the right fit for you.

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What is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass is a network of airport lounges with 1300 locations and experiences located across 148 countries worldwide. The experiences include restaurants in which you get dining credit and mini-suites where you can rest and recharge. Different airports will have different Priority Pass offerings, so you may not see the same experiences at every airport. Priority Pass lounge access is available only for members and their guests. Many of the lounges are located internationally, but there are still plenty to choose from within the U.S.

Although Priority Pass lounges may be exclusive, that doesn’t mean it doesn't try to be inclusive as well. Anyone can buy a membership to the lounge network, and many popular travel credit cards come with Priority Pass Select membership included. Once you have your membership, it’s a simple matter of using the Priority Pass website or mobile app to look up where its lounges and other services are located.

If there’s a lounge in an airport you’re traveling through, make sure to stop by and have an enjoyable visit. Just show the receptionist your physical or digital membership card and your boarding pass, and you should be able to go in. Each lounge has different rules, but there may be an allotted amount of time you’re allowed to stay. Typically, you can enter a lounge up to three hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. Many lounges have flight information screens so you know when to head to your gate.

Note: Be sure to check the rules of a lounge you want to visit via the Priority Pass website or mobile app before planning your visit. There may be entry restrictions on additional guests and/or children. In most cases, you can pay for additional guests if there’s a limit on how many your membership allows at a particular lounge. The guest policy may vary from lounge to lounge.

Priority Pass benefits

For many, the benefits of becoming a Priority Pass member are broad and well worth the membership fees. Priority Pass lounges provide an escape from the busy and hectic atmosphere you can find within the boarding areas of airports. Because they’re exclusive, you don’t normally have to deal with crowds of people vying for seats. Even better, you can often enjoy free food and beverages, including alcoholic drinks, in many locations.

Lounges may also provide their guests with free access to Wi-Fi so you can continue to work or pass the time with an internet connection. Overall, an airport lounge can provide a much-needed refuge for travelers. You can take advantage of the available amenities and recharge in a quieter atmosphere. Being able to avoid the lines at the crowded airport food court doesn’t hurt either.

Priority Pass membership tiers

Priority Pass offers different membership tiers as well as Priority Pass Select membership. Each type of membership has different sets of guidelines, but they can all get you into a Priority Pass lounge. Here’s how they work:

  • Priority Pass Standard membership: For $99 per year, members and guests can enter Priority Pass lounges for $32 each. If you travel occasionally, the standard membership tier may make the most sense for you.
  • Priority Pass Standard Plus membership: For $299 per year, members get 10 free Priority Pass lounge visits. Each subsequent visit (after the 10th) costs members $32 per visit. Guest visits are $32 per guest. If you travel regularly and can take advantage of the free airport lounge visits, this tier may make the most sense for you.
  • Priority Pass Prestige membership: For $429 per year, members can enter Priority Pass lounges for free without any limits on how many lounges they can enter throughout the year. Guest visits are $32 per guest. If you’re a frequent traveler and plan to visit more than 10 Priority Pass lounges throughout the year, this tier would make the most sense.
  • Priority Pass Select membership: This isn’t a membership tier, but rather a type of Priority Pass membership you can receive only through a U.S. financial institution. For example, certain Chase credit cards and American Express credit cards offer Priority Pass Select membership as a premium benefit. This complimentary membership typically provides unlimited Priority Pass access.

How to get Priority Pass for free

If you want to become a Priority Pass member, you don’t necessarily need to pay for annual membership fees. Here’s how to get Priority Pass for free with the right travel rewards card:

Chase Sapphire Reserve

As Chase’s premium travel card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is an excellent choice if you travel often enough to take advantage of its perks and benefits. Cardholders get a $300 annual travel credit, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit, and access to the Chase travel portal. In Chase’s travel portal, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to more than a dozen travel partners. Chase transfer partners include companies such as Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, IHG, and Hyatt.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Benefits

  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 3X points on travel and at restaurants
  • $60 annual DoorDash credit in 2020 and 2021
  • Priority Pass airport lounge access

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express is one of the most popular travel cards available. Amex Platinum cardmembers receive up to $200 in annual airline fee credits, up to $200 in annual Uber savings, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit, Centurion lounge access, and much more. You also receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status. For flexible award travel, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to more than a dozen Amex transfer partners. These travel partners include both hotels and airlines, including Delta Air Lines, Emirates, and Marriott.

Best Luxury Travel Benefits

Benefits

  • 75,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • 10X points on purchases at U.S. gas stations and supermarkets
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $15 in free U.S. Uber rides each month ($20 in December)
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Terms apply

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige is one of the best credit travel cards in the Citi credit card lineup. As a cardmember, you receive $250 annual travel credit, TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit, and complimentary hotel stays. Plus, you can transfer your Citi ThankYou Points to more than 15 Citi transfer partners. Travel partners include airlines like Aeromexico, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.

Luxury Travel Benefits

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige

Citi Prestige

Benefits

  • 50,000 bonus point sign-up offer
  • 5X points on airline purchases and at restaurants
  • Up to $250 travel credit every calendar year
  • Complimentary 4th night hotel stay
  • Transfer points to airline partners

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

If you want luxury benefits and Hilton Honors points, you might consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. This credit card offers complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status, free weekend night rewards, up to $250 Hilton Resort statement credit, and $250 annual airline fee credit. With so many credits and benefits, you can easily offset the $450 annual fee.

Fabulous Rewards for Hilton Fans

Benefits

  • 150,000 bonus point welcome offer
  • 14X points on eligible Hilton purchases
  • $250 in annual Hilton Resort credits
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

If you prefer Marriott Bonvoy hotels and points, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card could be an ideal choice for you. This card offers up to $300 annual Marriott Bonvoy statement credits, an annual free night award, complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit. It’s a no-brainer for frequent travelers who like to stay at Marriott hotels.

Luxury Hotel Benefits

Benefits

  • Limited time offer: Earn up to 125,000 Marriot Bonvoy points in your first year
  • Limited time offer: complimentary Platinum Elite Status for all of 2021
  • 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms apply

Priority Pass lounges and restaurants: how they work and where they’re located

In general, you can expect Priority Pass lounges to offer comfortable seating, Wi-Fi connection, and some form of food and beverage options. This may include a self-serve buffet of food choices, along with water, soda, juices, and/or alcoholic drinks. If it’s a Priority Pass restaurant, you can expect a full-service restaurant experience. This includes seating and a restaurant menu where you can typically spend up to $28 in credit on food and drink.

Note: If your Priority Pass Select membership was issued through an American Express card, you won’t receive any Priority Pass restaurant benefits. Priority Pass Select memberships issued through Chase and Citi should still receive the restaurant benefit.

You can find Priority Pass lounge locations in more than 55 airports across North America, with about 30 of those airports located in the U.S. You can find the full list of locations on prioritypass.com. Here are some of the most popular U.S. airports with selections for top Priority Pass lounges and restaurants:

(Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of these restaurants may be closed or offering limited service at this time.)

Priority Pass LAX (Los Angeles)

  • Rock & Brews (Terminal 1)
  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (Terminal 2)
  • Alaska Lounge (Terminal 6)
  • Point the Way Cafe (Terminal 6)
  • KAL Lounge (Tom Bradley International Terminal)

Priority Pass SFO (San Francisco):

  • Air France - KLM Lounge (International Terminal)
  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (International Terminal)
  • San Francisco Giants Clubhouse (Terminal 3)
  • Yankee Pier (Terminal 3)

Priority Pass JFK (New York City):

  • Air France Lounge (Terminal 1)
  • KAL Business Class Lounge (Terminal 1)
  • Primeclass Lounge (Terminal 1)
  • Air India Maharaja Lounge (Terminal 4)
  • Wingtips Lounge (Terminal 4)
  • Alaska Lounge (Terminal 7)
  • Bobby Van’s Steakhouse (Terminal 8)

Priority Pass Newark (Newark, New Jersey):

  • Art & Lounge (Terminal B)
  • Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (Terminal B)

Priority Pass Miami (Miami):

  • Turkish Airlines Lounge (Central Terminal Concourse E)
  • Club America F (Central Terminal Concourse F)
  • Corona Beach House (North Terminal Concourse D)
  • Avianca VIP Lounge (South Terminal Concourse J)
  • VIP Lounge Miami (South Terminal Concourse J)

Priority Pass Atlanta (Atlanta):

  • Minute Suites (Concourse B)
  • The Club ATL (International Terminal/Concourse F)

Priority Pass Chicago (Chicago):

  • Air France - KLM Lounge (International Terminal 5)
  • Swissport Lounge (International Terminal 5)

Although these lounges are available at the time of writing, Priority Pass lounges change often, so be sure to check the Priority Pass website or mobile app for the most up-to-date information.

FAQs about Priority Pass

How does Priority Pass work?

You can buy a Priority Pass membership through the Priority Pass website or receive a Priority Pass membership through certain credit cards from Chase, American Express, and Citi. Once you’re a member, you can access more than 1,300 airport lounges and experiences in countries all over the world.

Is Priority Pass worth it?

If you’re a frequent traveler, it can be well worth it to get a Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass lounges offer a welcome reprieve from busy airports, and offers complimentary food, drinks, Wi-Fi, and a comfortable area to rest in.

How can I get a free Priority Pass?

Certain rewards credit cards from Chase, American Express, and Citi offer a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership as an added benefit for cardholders. With these credit cards, you can get free visits to Priority Pass lounges:

Is food free in Priority Pass lounges?

Yes, there is typically free food available for Priority Pass members and their guests in Priority Pass lounges. This can range from self-serve buffets to finger foods to snacks. There will generally be complimentary drinks as well.

Can I use Priority Pass twice in one day?

There’s no limit on how many Priority Pass lounges and restaurants you can visit in a day. So if there are three Priority Pass lounges in an airport, you can visit all three in one day at the airport. If you want to go back to the same Priority Pass lounge or restaurant during one airport trip, you may have to check the rules of the specific lounge or restaurant on the Priority Pass website or mobile app. Some lounges and restaurants may not allow another visit on the same Priority Pass membership for a certain amount of time.

Can a family member use my Priority Pass?

A family member cannot use your Priority Pass card to get into a Priority Pass lounge, as they would need their own membership card. If your family member wants to get into Priority Pass lounges, they could do any of the following:

  • Purchase their own Priority Pass membership
  • Open a credit card with Priority Pass benefits
  • Be added as an authorized user on a family member’s card that has Priority Pass benefits
  • Enter a Priority Pass lounge as the guest of a friend or family member who has a Priority Pass membership

Does Priority Pass automatically renew?

Priority Pass membership will automatically renew if the membership was purchased directly from Priority Pass and the customer agreed to automatic billing at the time of purchase. If you have a Priority Pass membership through a financial institution, they’re set to automatically renew. You can request to have this changed by reaching out to Priority Pass directly.

The bottom line on Priority Pass

Priority Pass lounges and restaurants can provide program members with a welcome break while they’re traveling through airports all over the world. Whether you’re on a layover in a foreign country or waiting to board a flight at your home airport, you can utilize Priority Pass lounges for its complimentary (for members and their guests) services.

Grab a meal or snack and relax with a drink in hand, making use of the free Wi-Fi in the lounge. If you travel on a regular basis, it’s essential to unwind a bit between connecting flights, long hauls, and stopovers. Remember, you can either buy a Priority Pass membership directly from its website or receive a free membership when you qualify for various credit cards. For additional lounge options, look into other credit cards with airport lounge access.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Benefits

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits