If you’re a frequent traveller, you might be wondering how to make your airport experience a bit smoother. One of the best options is with an airport lounge pass.
Major airlines tend to offer business and premium passengers the option to use their lounges as part of the ticket. But, if you’re flying an airline that doesn’t have a local lounge, or you simply want to avoid the hassle of finding a seat in a busy airport, the airport lounge can be an affordable way to relax pre flight.
There are several providers of airport lounge passes. Which is best? We explore the options so you don’t have to!
One of the more popular options, and rightly so. Priority Pass offers access to over 1200 airport lounges across the world, including most of the London and UK regional airports, an unbeatable choice of Indian and Chinese airport lounges and most of the key North American airports such as JFK/EWK, LAX and DFW.
In fact, if you fly regularly and you’re in need of an airport lounge pass then this is probably going to be your first choice.
However, it isn’t the cheapest of the bunch. The basic membership of US$99 means you still need to pay $27 for each visit to any lounge. The Standard Plus package at $249 gets you 10 free visits, with any subsequent visits $27, or the unlimited Prestige Package comes in at $399. All guest passes are $27 across all packages.
What do you get for your money? Top quality facilities including access to shower facilities, good WiFi, complimentary food and alcohol and even spa facilities in some locations.
Sign up for your Priority Pass via the logo below and receive a 10% discount.
If you travel mostly in Asia then Plaza Premium might be a good choice for you. With 160 lounges in 37 airports across 17 countries, Plaza Premium offers a limited selection in Europe (only London LHR and Rome FCO) and all North American lounges are in Canada (Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Edmonton).
However, if you spend a lot of time in the Middle East (Abu Dhabi/Riyadh) or Far East such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok – then you may find this a wise investment.
There is no full membership package like with Priority Pass, instead you book in for a time at the airport of your choice. Prices start from around $30 for lounge access with additional fees for spa services, meet and greets, taxi or other concierge services.
You can also buy a gift card and load it with between 2 to 10 visits. This starts from US$98 for 2 visits (with full lounge and service access) to $349 for ten visits.
The perks of using Plaza Premium include luggage handling, shuttling to a hotel of your choice (if you have awkward flight times for example) and escorting to your gate when you need to depart.
You can check out and sign up for the Plaza Premium lounge gift card via the link below.
A sort of aggregate booking option, Lounge Buddy is an app that helps you find and reserve a space in a broad range of lounges including pretty much all of those mentioned above. Find a lounge from around $25 world wide including in pretty much all major international destinations (and many more obscure ones too).
It’s a great option that doesn’t include any membership fees. Simply search for your desired lounge in whichever airport you’re flying from, book a slot and turn up. Simple as that.
The two options mentioned above offer their own lounges, but with Lounge Buddy you can even pay for access to the airline lounges too.
The app is currently only available for iOS, but Android users can still book via the website here:
Another behemoth of the airport lounge world, DragonPass offers over 970 premium airport lounges around the world; including key North and South American airports (JFK/LAX/MEX), European (major and regional) and a very solid lineup of Asian airports.
If you’re trying to decide between Priority Pass and DragonPass then it could be a tough call. The pricing is roughly the same at $99 for a yearly standard pass, $219 for preferential with 8 free visits and $399 for premium unlimited visits. Guests and standard visits are $27 each although members get one free visit with the basic package.
The difference between DragonPass and Priority Pass is that DragonPass offers all the extra concierge options such as meet and greet, further discounts on restaurants in the airports and limousine services.
So Which Is Best?
For many travellers, simply buying one or two passes a year will be enough, perhaps as they go on holiday. LoungeBuddy would be the best option for the casual airport lounge frequenter. If, however, you’re looking at using airport lounges regularly it will depend on where you are heading and how often.
Asia/Pacific users will be most likely happy with a Plaza Premium gift card which they use 2-5 times a year.
If you’re trotting across the globe to more regional airports, DragonPass and PriorityPass will be the ones vying for your money.
PriorityPass actually comes bundled with some premium bank accounts, such as Amex and Citi – so that may save the choice for some people. But Dragon offers those tempting extras such as the concierge services. It may come down to a coin toss, but for us, PriorityPass shades it for the wider choice of premium airport lounges.
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