Want to get airport lounge access without having elite status on an airline? You can get in almost anywhere with a Priority Pass membership.
It’s no secret that there are two clear tiers of service when it comes to flying and when you get stuck in economy, it’s seldom pleasant. This extends to the airports as well, where access to a club lounge can be the difference between a pleasant layover and a terrible day.
Priority Pass gets you into more than xx lounges around the world now, making it a better choice than airline status for many international passengers. Since no airline has true worldwide coverage, having status on Delta, for example, won’t help you if you have to fly on an airline not affiliated with Delta. With Priority Pass though, it doesn’t matter what airline you’re flying on. You just show your pass at the right lounge and you’re in.
The Right Lounge Access Level
It’s not all or nothing with this program, which means you can purchase the level that makes sense for you. If you only travel a few times a year, it may make sense to get into lounges for a reduced rate. I travel more than that, so I have the Standard Plus level, which gives me 10 included visits per year. Ones after that are $27 and I can bring a guest in for the same price.
The top level is $399 per year (without discounts), which is in line with buying membership with United or getting their top-level credit card. This gets you into far more lounges, however, with unlimited visits (but the same $27 guest fee).
I’ve used my membership in such diverse places as Mexico City, Stockholm, Manila, and Lima. In that last one there are actually three different choices of which lounge to use. In Santiago there are four, in Sao Paulo five. Sometimes they’re independent ones, sometimes attached to an airline (like Avianca or GOL), or sometimes affiliated with an airline alliance or even a bank.
What You Can Expect in a Priority Pass Lounge
In most cases these lounges are similar to ones the airlines run. You get complimentary snacks, comfortable sofas and armchairs, places to get work done, and a bar that usually has at least some complimentary alcoholic beverages. There will be plenty of electrical outlets, reading material, and TVs with sports or news. Some have quiet areas to get some rest and some even have showers.
In the Latin American lounges, service is a big part of the experience. When I visited the lounge pictured here in this post—Lounge 19 in Mexico City’s Terminal 1—a hostess helped me find a seat and a waiter continually checked in to see what I wanted to eat and drink. I recharged all my electronic devices and got some work done. A monitor on the wall kept me updated on when my flight was departing.
Despite three hours in the airport before my flight departed, it was a pleasant afternoon and a productive one. With the Priority Pass app on my phone, I can know in advance where to go in every airport to get this experience again and again.