Even if you have spent enough and flown enough to hit elite status on one of the big international airlines, chances are you’re out of luck when you’re flying into and around Latin America. You won’t find airport lounges from United, AA, Delta, or British Air. Instead, you’ll see lounges for their dominant airlines: LATAM, Avianca, Copa, and Aeromexico.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get access though, even if you’re not an elite status member of one of those airlines. You can buy your way in with Priority Pass. This is a program that gives you access to lounges all over the world. Sometimes they’re affiliated with an airline, sometimes with a credit card or private membership program. You’ll find a participating lounge in almost any airport where you could have a layover, including ones in the USA.
The total number of lounges around the world stands at more than 1,000 now and the number keeps going up a bit each quarter. You get a printed guide when you join, but when you download the app you’ll get new additions in the updates, plus you can see if there are any restrictions.
Here’s a sampling of what’s available in Latin America at the international gateways as of late 2017.
South America Priority Pass Lounges
Buenos Aires – Star Alliance Lounge
Santiago – Avianca Sala VIP, Salones VIP Pacific Club, and The Lounge
(You will also find Salones VIP lounges you can access in Puerto Montt, Iquique, Calama, Punta Arenas, and others.)
Montevideo – Aeropuertos VIP Club Partidas
Rio de Janeiro – GOL Premium Lounge and Plaza Premium Lounge
Sao Paulo – GOL Premium Lounge, Executive Lounge GRU, Star Alliance Lounge
Brasilia – Aeroportos VIP Club
La Paz – The Lounge VIP
Lima – Caral VIP Lounge and Sumaq VIP Lounge And Business Center
(Peru also has Priority Pass lounges in domestic airport terminals, including Arequipa, Cusco, and Iquitos)
Quito – Layover Stay, Salon Mitad del Mundo, Salon Quito
Guayaquil – Aeropuertos VIP Club
(Ecuador also has lounges in Cuenca and Baltra)
Georgetown, Guyana – Roraima Airways Executive Lounge
Bogota- Avianca Sala VIP and Sala VIP LATAM
Cartagena – Sala VIP
Medellin – Avianca and Copa lounges
(Colombia also has Priority Pass lounges in 9 other airports, including Cali and three Coffee Triangle airports)
Central America Priority Pass Lounges
Panama City – Copa Club and Tocumen Royal Saloon
San Jose – VIP Lounge Costa Rica
San Pedro Sula – Salas Internacionales VIP Club
Tegucigalpa – Salas Internacionales VIP Club
San Salvador – Avianca Sala VIP and Aeroconnections VIP Lounge
Guatemala City – Los Anejos Lounge
Mexico Airport Lounges
Mexico City – Avianca operated by Global Lounge, Lounge 19, and The Grand Lounge Elite in Terminal 1. Aeromexico Salon Premier Ciudad de Mexico, Salon Aeromar, and Terraza Premier Aeromexico by Heineken in Terminal 2.
Guadalajara – VIP Lounge
Cancun – Mera Business Lounge
Los Cabos – VIP Lounge
Mazatlan – Oma Premium Lounge
Puerto Vallarta – VIP Lounge
(Mexico also has Priority Pass lounges in 17 other cities, including Oaxaca, Leon/Guanajuato, and Merida.)
So, where are the holes in that list above? The two notable ones are Belize City and Managua. For the moment anyway, you’re out of luck if you get delayed in either of those gateways. Order a good Central American rum at the bar and swap vacation stories with your new friends.
Note that some premium credit cards with annual fees of $400 or more throw in a Priority Pass membership as one of their perks, offsetting part of what you pay. These include the highest Chase Sapphire cards and American Express Platinum.
Otherwise, there are three levels of membership. The lowest one is pay-as-you-go, where you are guaranteed a rate of $27 per airport lounge visit. The next tier up gives you 10 included visits per year, then you pay $27 per visit after that. At the top level, you get unlimited visits all year long. Take a look at how many times you would have used it in the previous year to work out what’s best after you go here for details: