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Are Priority Pass Lounges Usually Crowded?

Last updated 02/21/2023 by

Benjamin Locke

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Priority Pass lounges are airport lounges that you can access if you purchase a Priority Pass membership. You can pay for different levels of plans with additional benefits, depending on how often you travel. As Priority Pass lounges are not tied to business-class or first-class travel and thus are more easily accessible, the lounges can be crowded depending on the time of year.
You might imagine the best airport lounges look like a hot club in New York City, where people are rejected at the door by some type of airport lounge bouncer. In reality, you can usually get right into airport lounges if you are traveling first class/business class, or if you have purchased a Priority Pass. The Priority Pass program was created by a company called The Collinson Group in 1992 to give economy and premium economy travelers access to airport lounges. The passes are not expensive compared to buying an upper-echelon plane ticket. But does that mean the Priority Pass lounges are full of people? They can be, but it depends on what time of year you go and where you are headed. If you’re worried about crowds, you might want to avoid them on weekends and holidays.

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What exactly is a Priority Pass?

In 1992, The Collinson Group introduced Priority Passes as an option to let travelers experience the tangential perks of traveling first/business class without having to purchase a ticket. From the airline lounges’ perspective, it could be difficult to maintain economic feasibility with only a select group of first-class/business-class travelers. So Collinson decided to make a deal with airports and airlines to offer the general public access to quality airport lounges through a membership program.
The idea was a success, and The Collinson Group now employs over 1,700 people worldwide. Although it started with a Priority Pass for airport lounges, Collinson now offers “market-leading airport experiences, loyalty, engagement, protection, and travel and medical assistance programs. The Priority Pass currently enables members to have access to 1,300 airport experiences worldwide with operations in 148 different countries and 60 different cities.”

How crowded are Priority Pass lounges?

First, let’s establish that you can’t stay in the lounge for whole days at a time. Typically, you can stay in the lounge for about one to four hours. As Priority Passes are relatively affordable and come as a perk with certain credit cards, there are quite a few Priority Pass members. However, the demand really revolves around when you travel.
For instance, if you travel in the United States around Christmas, Thanksgiving, or the 4th of July, expect the lounges to be crowded. If you travel in Asia during Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), expect the lounges to be crowded. The weekends will obviously have more travelers, so expect those times to be crowded, too. If the Priority Pass lounge gets too crowded, expect to be turned away. However, if you travel on a random Tuesday morning at non-peak times, you should be okay.

How much is a Priority Pass?

Priority Pass membership plans have different price points that give you different abilities to access airport lounges. The Priority Pass has three levels: Standard, Standard Plus, and Prestige.
StandardStandard PlusPrestige
Annual fee$99$329$469
Member visit fee$3510 free visits, then $35Free
Guest visit fee$35$35$35
Effectively, each pass offers more and better access to airport lounges. The first level of the pass, at $99, lets you access Priority Pass lounges for $35 per visit. It’s more of a discount card that allows you to enter airport lounges for a small price. At the top end, the Prestige Pass gives you unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges around the world. Regardless of the level of pass, if you bring guests to a lounge, expect to pay $35 per visit per guest.

Priority Passes: Pay upfront or get a Priority Pass credit card?

You can obtain a Priority Pass either by paying for a membership or by getting one as a perk from a credit card company (the Priority Pass Select Membership). Here are some examples of credit card programs offering Priority Pass access. Keep in mind that they may charge annual fees.

Capital One Venture X

With the Venture X Rewards Credit Card, the cardholder, plus all guests traveling with the cardholder, will get free access.

Pro Tip

Capital One Venture X traditionally offered a variety of travel perks in conjunction with their lounge access. However, as of January 1, 2023, the Capital One Venture X card will ONLY offer lounge access. If you are looking for other travel benefits in addition to lounge access, then you might want to consider another card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The cardholder plus two guests will get lounge access, and all additional guests will be charged $27 per visit.

Citi Prestige

The cardholder plus two guests will get lounge access, and all additional guests will be charged $27 per visit.

US Bank Reserve Visa Infinite

The cardholder will receive four complimentary visits per year for themselves and four complimentary visits per year for guests. After the four complimentary visits, each cardholder and guest will be charged $35.

Hilton Honors Business

The cardholder receives 10 complimentary visits per year. The cardholder will pay $35 per visit after the 10 complimentary visits.
Looking for a credit card that offers perks for frequent travelers? These cards come with travel assistance, among other benefits.

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Where are Priority Pass lounges located?

Due to business activity and population size, the largest number of Priority Pass lounges are located in the Asia Pacific region. There are currently 440 Priority Pass locations in the Asia Pacific area compared to 150 in North America, 140 in Latin America, 370 in Europe, and 90 in Africa. They are at most major airports, but not all of them.

Perks of Priority Pass lounges

All Priority Pass lounges will typically include WiFi, TV and entertainment, and some variety of food, drink, and other refreshments. However, some Priority Pass lounges, mainly outside the US, offer a whole other level of service.
This can include the following benefits:
  • Hot showers
  • Beds
  • Massage chairs
  • Smoking rooms
  • Mini-theatres

Child entertainment and play areas

These will differ from country to country. For example, the consumption of cigarettes is far higher in the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East than it is in North America. Expect to find smoking lounges littered around Asia and the Middle East, but not so many in North America or Europe.

Other Priority Pass perks

Priority Pass memberships not only offer Priority Pass lounge access but offer further airport-related perks as well. Priority Pass members can download the Priority Pass app, which gives them discounts on several airport-related services such as dining, retail, and spa services. The non-lounge services can be redeemed through the app, but the traveler must pay upfront for the service.

Lounges may not be all-inclusive

When you get access to a Priority Pass lounge, not all perks and benefits will be free. For instance, high-grade top-shelf alcohol might require a separate payment. If you insist on Patron instead of Jose Cuervo tequila, you might need to pay extra.
If you sit in one of the massage chairs, you can sit down and have a machine give you a massage. But if you want to get an actual massage, there might be an extra fee. The massage service has started to change, however, with the “Be Relax” airport partnership with Priority Pass. A visit to a “Be Relax” massage service in an airport will count as a lounge visit on your Priority Pass.

Are Priority Passes worth it?

In terms of paying upfront, Priority Passes are worth it for those who travel a lot, particularly outside of the United States. First, international travelers will have much longer layovers than those that only travel domestically, so they can maximize their idle time in a lounge setup. Second, the airport lounges in places like Dubai or Seoul, South Korea, offer more exclusive services, such as children’s entertainment and massage chairs. A Priority Pass can give you access without paying thousands of extra dollars for a first-class ticket.
The Priority Pass you get as part of credit card offers can be well worth it, too. For instance, the American Express Hilton Honors card, with 10 complimentary visits per year, can be very useful no matter how often you travel. You never know how long layovers can be, so you might use a lounge more often than you planned. Be advised, however, that the Priority Pass is separate from other lounge networks.


How many guests do you get with Priority Pass?

This depends on the type of Priority Pass membership. If you pay for a Priority Pass upfront, then you can bring unlimited guests, but each guest will cost $35 per visit. If you use premium credit cards with a Priority Pass Select membership program, then sometimes you can bring guests for free.

Does Priority Pass get you into every lounge?

No, Priority Pass only gives you access to airline lounges that are part of the Priority Pass network.

Does Priority Pass let you skip lines?

Yes, in some airports, a Priority Pass will allow you to skip lines for your complimentary lounge access.

Is Priority Pass losing lounges?

Yes, Priority Pass has lost lounges because of the dissolution of a partnership that they had with Plaza Premium. This doesn’t mean they are constantly losing lounges, though. They could find a new partner that adds just as many new lounges.

How many times can I visit a lounge with a Priority Pass?

A Priority Pass holder can visit airport lounge networks as much as they desire. The only caveat is they might have to pay to enter, depending on the level of the pass.

Can two people use a Priority Pass?

Only one person can have their name on a Priority Pass. However, if you are have a Priority Pass, you could bring a second person as your guest.

Key takeaways

  • Priority Pass lounges are airport lounges that you can access by purchasing a Priority Pass. Different benefits are reflected in the price and level of the pass: Standard, Standard Plus, or Prestige.
  • You can also access a Priority Pass lounge with certain high-end credit cards via the Priority Pass Select Membership.
  • Priority Pass lounges offer different benefits in different locations. Locations outside the U.S. will typically offer more services.
  • Priority Pass lounges can be crowded, but it depends on the time of year and the location. If they are too crowded, they have the right to turn you away.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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