Priority Pass - Worth It?
Lounge access when traveling is one of those things which you didn't know you needed until you had it, then it becomes hard to do without. If you are inclined to spend money on food and drink in airports, tend to try and do some work or just like some peace and quiet, its worth learning about these elusive places. Most come with a business or first class fare, but we are increasingly seeing access allowed with credit cards in the US, paid entrance and special lounge programs the most famous of which is Priority Pass.
Priority Pass has gained a little notoriety over the last couple of years, its gone from a little know lounge access program to a hugely popular one since it was picked up and offered "for free" by a number of the major credit cards. Like it or not it still gives you access to more lounges around the world than other program, but is it worth it?
What we've seen recently is a big increase in customers in the lounges based in the US, this has led to some overcrowding and in turn we've seen the lounges implement restricted hours for visitors. For example the Virgin Clubhouse at LAX is open during the morning when Virgin don't actually have any flights departing.
For me where PP comes into its own is outside of the US. Some of the lounges in Asia are superb and offer great spaces along with quality food and drinks, these tend to only have business travelers and welcome others with open arms as they are a source of revenue for the airlines. Europe also has some good ones along with the Middle East.
Currently Priority Pass has three levels of membership. A pay as you go, 10 visit pack and an unlimited visit per year option. As my own travel habits have changed i have dropped to a pay as you go option which has a low annual fee and then a charge of $29 per visit. I rarely use the lounges domestically anymore and tend to use the Delta Skyclubs, however when abroad I still want to have the option particulary as layovers tend to be a longer on my International trips and having the option of a shower can be a big bonus. In saying that if my local airport had a good lounge I would probably go back to the 10 visit version.
Each case is different but if you often find yourself drinking a $17 glass of wine with an overpriced caesar salad during a layover or a delay - having the option the sit somewhere with an open bar and some tarmac views might be just what you need.