Is Priority Pass Worth It?
If you plan to be using an airport lounge more than 3 times a year then Priority Pass standard membership is absolutely worth it. You will get cheaper entry to lounges than you can buy online on a pay-as-you-go basis. You will also have access to a huge range of lounges no matter where you are travelling. Standard Plus and Prestige memberships offer good value if you plan to use airport lounges more frequently.
Are you interested in Priority Pass lounge membership?
Want to know more about the features and to see if it is right for you? Great then check out this detailed review of membership below, but first, let’s start with an important question!
1. What is Priority Pass Membership?
Priority Pass in an airport lounge membership program. It’s one of the biggest and has been going on for 30 years.
In terms of lounge choice and locations it probably has one of the best range of options available including;
- 370 lounges in Europe
- 440 lounges in the Asia Pacific region
- 70 lounges in the Middle East
- 150 lounges in Latin America
- 150 lounges in North America and Canada
There is a choice of lounges available at airports with Priority Pass. In London Gatwick for example there are 4 lounge choices available to Priority Pass members in the South Terminal.
2. How Does Priority Pass Membership Work?
Priority Pass is a membership scheme. You choose a membership level that best suits your travel needs and then pay a membership fee. This gives you access to the lounges at a discounted rate as Priority Pass member.
3. Do You Need to Book a Lounge with Priority Pass Membership?
With Priority Pass membership you don’t book a lounge in advance – you just turn up at the lounge and show your Priority Pass membership card, or the app, plus your flight boarding card.
Not booking a lounge is great because it gives you the flexibility to decide if you want to use a lounge when you get to the airport. Sometimes you may arrive later than planned, or security might take longer than expected which reduces the amount of time in the airport. This might mean you decide not to use a lounge after all and if so, with Priority Pass, it hasn’t cost you anything, whereas if you had booked a lounge it would have done.
The disadvantage of not booking a lounge means that very occasionally you might not get access to a lounge because they are full. If this is the case they give priority to those that have booked in advance. This can sometimes happen at peak times or if there have been a number of flight delays and passengers are still in the lounge after the normal 3 hours duration for example.
4. Priority Pass Membership and Number 1 Lounges
Number 1 Lounges are one of the most popular lounges, particularly at London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and Birmingham.
To ensure that Priority Pass members are able to access the lounge there is now the facility to book lounge access in advance at these lounges. The fee is £6 for most of the lounges and £15 for the Clubrooms which are a VIP experience.
5. What are the Priority Pass Membership Levels?
There are 3 lounge membership levels available.
- This is available for £69 per year. Each is then charged £20 per visit for the member and also for any guests.
- The £20 fee for the member and any guests is charged to the card that you used when you signed up for Priority Pass membership.
Standard Plus Membership
- This is available for £189 each year.
- This includes 10 visits for the member.
- Guests are charged at £20 per visit
- This is available for £339 each year.
- This includes unlimited lounge visits for the member
- Guests are charged at £20 per visit
6. Priority Pass Membership Scheme Benefits
The main benefits of the scheme are;
- Great choice of lounges available to Priority Pass members throughout the world
- Great value access to lounges with differing membership levels
- No need to book a lounge for most lounges giving you flexibility
- The option to book and guarantee your space at the busiest lounges in the UK
- Other member offers such as meal deals
- Membership app for easy access to lounges and to easily find lounges
- Airport guides for the most popular airports give details on all the facilities
- Option to book transfers and car rentals in the app
7. Which Priority Pass Membership Level is Right For Me?
The simple answer is it depends on how often you plan to be using a lounge. Here is my guide to help you work out the Priority Pass lounge membership option for you;
Less Than 3 Times Per Year
If you are planning on using an airport lounge 3 times a year or less then a membership scheme probably isn’t the best option. You can buy lounge access online through sites like holidayextras.com for £30-35 per person depending on the airport and demand.
Professional Traveller Note:
Bear in mind that sometimes the cheaper deals available for lounge passes only allow access 2 hours before your flight departs. Given that you need to be at the gate generally 30-45 minutes before your flight departs, depending on the destination, this option can mean you have very limited time actually in the lounge.
More Than 3 Times Per Year
The Priority Pass membership at £69 per year plus £20 per visit is ideal for using lounges infrequently.
Here is how the total costs for 1-6 visits per year work out;
- 1 visit per year – total cost £89 (£69 fee plus £20 visit)
- 2 visits per year – total cost £109 (£69 fee plus £20 visit x 2)
- 3 visits per year – total cost £129 (£69 fee plus £20 visit x 3)
- 4 visits per year – total cost £149 (£69 fee plus £20 visit x 4)
- 5 visits per year – total cost £169 (£69 fee plus £20 per visit x 5)
- 6 visits per year – total cost £189 (£69 fee plus £20 per visit)
Here is how the cost per visit works out;
- 1 visit per year – £89
- 2 visits per year – £54.50 per visit
- 3 visits per year – £43 per visit
- 4 visits per year – £37.25 per visit
- 5 visits per year – £33.80 per visit
- 6 visits per year – £31.50 per visit
More Than 6 Times Per Year
6 lounge visits a year is the tipping point between Standard and Standard Plus membership. For example, 7 visits as a Standard member would cost £69 membership fee and then £140 (7 x £20 visit fee) – making a total cost of £209. That means it would be cheaper to buy the Standard Plus membership which includes 10 free visits.
Here is how the total costs work out for the year;
- 6 visits per year – total cost £189
- 7 visits per year – total cost £189
- 8 visits per year – total cost £189
- 9 visits per year – total cost £189
- 10 visits per year – total cost £189
- 11 visits per year – total cost £209 (£189 fee plus £20 visit x 1)
- 12 visits per year – total cost £220 (£189 fee plus £20 visit x 2)
- 13 visits per year – total cost £249 (£189 fee plus £20 visit x 3)
- 14 visits per year – total cost £269 (£189 fee plus £20 visit x 4)
- 15 visits per year – total cost £289 (£189 fee plus £20 visit x 5)
- 16 visits per year – total cost £309 (£189 fee plus £20 visit x 6)
- 17 visits per year – total cost £329 (£189 fee plus £20 visit x 7)
Here is how the cost per visit works out;
- 6 visits per year – £31.50 per visit
- 7 visits per year – £27 per visit
- 8 visits per year – £23.62 per visit
- 9 visits per year – £21 per visit
- 10 visits per year – £18.90 per visit
- 11 visits per year – £19 per visit
- 12 visits per year – £19.08 per visit
- 13 visits per year – £19.15 per visit
- 14 visits per year – £19.21 per visit
- 15 visits per year – £19.26 per visit
- 16 visits per year – £19.31 per visit
More Than 17 Times Per Year
Prestige Membership is the best option if you are planning on accessing a Priority Pass lounge more than 17 times a year. Again this is the tipping point between Standard Plus membership and Prestige membership.
For example, 22 visits as a Standard Plus member would cost £329 (£189 fee plus 10 free visits, then a further 7 visits at £20 each). That means it would be cheaper to buy the Prestige membership which includes unlimited visits once you get to 17 visits a year.
If You Are Mainly Using Number 1 Lounges and Paying a Fee to Book Them
Number 1 Lounges are the most popular lounges at London Gatwick, London Heathrow, and Birmingham. To guarantee access with your Priority Pass membership card you can now pay a £6 additional fee to ensure you can access the lounge.
If you are going to be primarily using these lounges it changes the calculations above as follows.
- 2 visits per year – total cost £101 (£69 fee plus £20 visit x 2 plus £6 booking x 2)
- 3 visits per year – total cost £147 (£69 fee plus £20 visit x 3 plus £6 booking x 3)
- 4 visits per year – total cost £173 (£69 fee plus £20 visit x 4 plus £6 booking x 4)
- 5 visits per year – total cost £199 (£69 fee plus £20 visit x 5 plus £6 booking x 5)
This means that the tipping point between Standard and Standard Plus membership is more than 4 visits per year. However, when you look at the cost per visit it means you might be better off just using a pay-as-you-go access;
Here are how the costs per visit work out;
- 1 visit per year – £95
- 2 visits per year – £50.50 per visit
- 3 visits per year – £49 per visit
- 4 visits per year – £43.25 per visit
This means that if you are using lounges that require a booking fee all the time you might be better off just booking pay-as-you-go access for less than 4 visits per year.
8. Priority Pass Membership Lounges in the United Kingdom
Here are the Priority Pass Lounges that are available through the scheme in UK domestic airports;
- Aberdeen – Northern Lights Executive Lounge
- Edinburgh – Aspire Lounge (Gate 16), and Aspire Lounge (Gate 4)
- Glasgow International – UpperDeck
- Manchester Terminal 1 – Escape Lounge, Aspire Lounge
- Manchester Terminal 2 – Escape Lounge, Aspire Lounge
- Manchester Terminal 3 – Escape Lounge x 2
- Birmingham – Escape Lounge x 2
- Bristol – Aspire Lounge
- London Gatwick North Terminal – The Gateway, Clubrooms, Number 1 Lounge
- London Gatwick South Terminal – Number 1 Lounge, Clubrooms, My Lounge, Club Aspire
- London Heathrow Terminal 3 – Number 1 Lounge, Club Aspire Lounge
- London Heathrow Terminal 5 – Club Aspire Lounge
- London Luton – Aspire Lounge
- London Southend – Skylife Lounge
- London Stansted – Escape Lounge
9. Pay As You Go Access Versus Priority Pass Membership
Here is a price comparison for the Number 1 Lounge Gatwick Airport for a December flight date;
Booking directly through Number 1 Lounges – £34 for 3 hours
Booking directly through Gatwick Airport – £34 for 3 hours
HolidayExtras – £34 for 3 hours and £26 for 2 hours
10. Is Priority Pass Membership Worth It in 2023?
This depends on your travel requirements and needs. Think about your travel plans, how often you get to the airport, and any layovers or long connection periods you might have when travelling for example.
Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to use an airport lounge – if you only have an hour once you get through security for example. By the time you have had a coffee, it will likely be time for boarding.
However, a lounge pass is not just about whether you can use the full 3 hours of time available. A lounge pass also gives;
A quieter space before flying – this is ideal if you are a nervous flyer like me and find airports overwhelming and noisy.
Better WIFI with plenty of charging points and a good space to get some work done – airport lounges are a great place for finishing up work before you get home or getting organised for your trip away.
Food and drink is included – if you do have lots of time at the airport before you fly then free food and drink can mean that lounges offer great value. You only need to have a couple of drinks and a meal and you will have probably spent £20 on airport catering.
11. Priority Pass Membership FAQs
What is the Difference Between LoungeKey and Priority Pass?
LoungeKey is an airport lounge membership scheme that is operated via credit card companies ie to gain access via LoungeKey you need to have a credit card that gives lounge access as one of its rewards. It can be quite difficult to work out what the best travel rewards credit cards are. Thankfully the ever helpful Points Guy does all the heavy lifting in working out the best offers for you.
How Many Lounge Visits Do I Get With Priority Pass Membership?
The number of lounge visits you get depends on the membership level you have. Well, that is not strictly true – you can get lounge access as many times as you want with each pass. However, the cost varies depending on which membership level you have.
For the standard membership, you don’t get any included visits. You pay an annual fee of £69 and then you pay a discounted rate for each visit of £20.
For a standard plus membership, you get 10 included visits for an annual fee of £189 and then you pay a discounted rate for each further visit.
For a Prestige membership, you pay an annual fee of £339 and you get unlimited lounge visits included.
Are Drinks Free with Priority Pass Membership?
Non-alcoholic drinks are always free with Priority Pass membership. Some alcoholic drinks such as beer and wine can be included. This depends on the lounge you are visiting. Generally speaking, premium alcoholic drinks such as spirits, champagne, etc incur an additional cost.
12. Priority Pass Membership Pros and Cons
If you are still trying to weigh up whether membership is right for you then you might find this list of pros and cons about Priority Pass lounge membership might be helpful,
- Good value with a variety of membership levels to suit needs and usage
- Fantastic selection of lounges available throughout the world
- No need to book lounges in advance giving flexibility on the day of travel
- Ability to guarantee a place at the most popular lounges in the UK
- Membership app to save carrying a card and find lounges easily
- All the benefits of lounge access at the best prices
- Only makes sense if using lounges more than 3 times a year
- Sometimes lounges will deny Priority Pass members access if they are extremely busy
13. Further Reading
If you have found this article about Priority Pass Lounge Access useful you might also like;
My Airport Lounge Membership Comparison post – which compares the most popular membership scheme
Cheap Airport Lounges – how to find the cheapest access for you
You can find more information on my Airport Lounges page
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