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What is this mysterious card that seems to grant access to relaxing airport oasis?

Priority Pass

This is the card that is a relative unknown as most people don’t know about this card or aren’t maximizing their annual fee usage with this card.

All three major credit card companies allow you to get Priority Pass access for free, but you have to request it via a web form or phone call. This is because every time you use Priority Pass, Priority Pass picks up the access fee for the lounge which in turn they pass on the bank or credit card company. Don’t have a card? Well you could pay for membership, but it is not as ideal as just getting a credit card. But details can be found here. You can get the "Prestige" benefits and let your credit card company fit the bill

Which brings me to a funny caveat, I have been sitting in these contract lounges before, when someone comes up expecting to swipe their Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the lounge attendant say they need a separate card to gain access. These people are usually stunned and think wait I thought I comes with free lounge access, to which the attendant replies yes but you have to sign up for the card first. And then they either get flustered, embarrassed or angry. And yet this keeps happening. So PSA sign up for Priority Pass as soon as you get your new card.

Spoiler Alert, not all Priority Pass are created equal. If you are taking traveling companions some will only let you bring 2 guests in whereas one will let you bring in an “unlimited number”, which is detailed below. Since you already get free visits why not invite your seat mate on the flight? One caveat is the lounge will still limit you, so don’t think about bringing in the whole plane.

Priority Pass isn’t a cure all for every airport however, as some airports either don’t have lounges or don’t contract with Priority Pass. And it really is hit or miss as to which airports have a Priority Pass accessible lounge. Some very large airports and hubs like Charlotte North Carolina, and Salt Lake City, Utah, don’t have a club while smaller ones like San Jose or Honolulu do. However, internationally Priority Pass shines in Asia and Europe. That is where most of the clubs are located and that is where you can truly get the maximum use of the card.

What to expect from these lounges? Well as stated these are contract lounges and as such the quality varies. Some get you free food, where as others are very basic, some are amazing like the Plaza in Hong Kong, and some provide free showers. The app iOS and Android provides details as to which features are available and where.

What is the catch? Well sometimes lounges will not let people in if there is no space or if they are serving their own flights first. One example is Alaska Airlines open their lounges to Priority Pass and during peak travel times and days they will have a sign out front that states they aren’t letting in Priority Pass customers. When you see the sign, it doesn’t hurt to try anyways. I have been able to gain access each time that I have seen the sign even with extras in tow. Another example is the KAL lounge at LAX. It is only open from 12:00 -8:00 pm with a note on the app and website that says “hours vary according to KAL international flight schedules”. It is always a good idea to check the app and verify your flight times vs the allowed times.

Something new that Priority Pass has added, likely due to the lack of available lounges in US airports is to add restaurants, something I intend to try later this year. Apparently, what happens is you show up swipe your card and get credit for 27$ in free food at the location. Which is a nice benefit and a unique answer to an interesting problem.

So maximize your card benefits and enjoy your layover all while saving money! So did you know about this benefit before? Have you used a lounge in the priority pass network? Which was your favorite? Sound off in the comments below!

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