Ask any traveler, and they’ll probably tell you that airports are a tedious experience. If they don’t, one of two things is possible: They’re lying, or they have premium lounge access. Lounges are a relaxing oasis amid the frenetic bustle of an airport terminal, offering weary travelers free food, drinks, and chairs actually big enough for your body. Lounges often have an air of exclusivity and even inaccessibility, but while they might be restricted, they’re certainly not out of reach. It’s actually incredibly easy, and even cost-effective, to access airport lounges, and the Priority Pass is the most convenient way to do it.

What is Priority Pass and what benefits does it provide holders?

Priority Pass is a membership program that gives travelers access to airport lounges around the world. While it doesn’t include all airport lounges, it’s among the largest networks of airport lounges, with over 1300 lounges around the world, including 150-plus in the US and more than 370 in Europe.

In addition to lounge access, Priority Pass also offers airport restaurant and shopping discounts. Usually, this comes in the form of a $30 stipend at participating airport restaurants, or a 10 or 15 percent discount at selected retail shops. To claim these benefits, all you have to do is show your Priority Pass card and a same-day boarding pass.

How do I get a Priority Pass? How much does Priority pass cost?

There are two ways to become a Priority Pass member:

  • The first is by signing up directly on the pass’s website. There are three options — Standard, Standard Plus, and Prestige. A Standard membership costs $99 per year, and allows you to visit participating lounges for $32 each visit. Standard Plus costs $299 per year, and includes 10 free lounge visits (and $32 per visit afterward). The Prestige membership, designed for “frequent travelers,” costs $429 per year, and provides unlimited free lounge access.
  • The second — and perhaps more cost-effective — way to become a Priority Pass member is through your credit card. Many credit cards with annual fees include a Priority Pass membership as one of the perks. These fees vary by card, as do the Priority Pass benefits attached to them. Given the high cost of purchasing direct Priority Pass membership, however, springing for a credit card that includes a Priority Pass membership will usually get you more bang for your buck.

What travel rewards credit cards offer Priority Pass?

These are some of the best credit cards with a Priority Pass membership to consider:

  • American Express Platinum Card – In addition to Priority Pass Select membership, this card also offers access to the exclusive Centurion Lounge network and Delta Sky Club, to even further expand your lounge portfolio. Cost: $695 per year.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card – This card comes with Priority Pass Select membership, as well as a $300 Marriott statement credit. Cost: $450 per year
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card – Perfect for Hilton loyalists, this card comes with Priority Pass Select as well as a $250 annual airfare and Hilton resort credit. Cost: $450 per year.
  • Citi Prestige Card – In addition to Priority Pass Select membership, the Citi Prestige Card comes with five times the points on travel-related purchases. Cost: $450 per year.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Business Card – One of the cheapest travel reward credit cards out there, this one comes with just 10 free Priority Pass visits, which could be a good option if you’re just looking to try out the program without spending too much. Cost: $95 per year.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – Chase’s Sapphire Reserve card is unique as it allows access to both Priority Pass lounges, as well as airport restaurants — in the form of a dining credit. This dining credit also often covers a guest. The card’s cost is steep, but the $300 annual travel credit helps offset the price. Cost: $550 per year.
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card – Like Chase, this card also gives travelers restaurant credits. And with $325 in annual travel statement credits, it makes the Visa Infinite more cost-effective too. Cost: $400 per year.

How much do I need to travel to make my priority pass worth the price?

Paying an annual fee for any travel-related perk means you should probably be a relatively frequent traveler. It also depends on your tolerance for airport food and beverages. If you don’t mind grabbing a quick refrigerated sandwich from Hudson News, or shelling out $12 for a beer at an airport bar, Priority Pass might not be for you. All those sandwiches and beers can add up quickly, though. With Priority Pass, you might lose out on the classic airport bar experience, but you’ll also be able to eat and drink to your heart’s content before boarding a plane, and have a dedicated space to relax and decompress. An oasis like that can be priceless, especially on long-haul or multi-layover trips.

Are drinks free in Priority Pass lounges?

Most Priority Pass lounges do serve complimentary drinks, though those drinks differ from lounge to lounge. Non-alcoholic drinks are free of charge, with lounges commonly offering a selection of juices, sodas, teas, and coffee. As for alcoholic drinks, most lounges have beer taps or fridges filled with beer. A smaller number of lounges include bars with cocktails, though in those that do, the cocktails are free.

Can I bring a guest with Priority Pass?

Whether you can bring a guest depends on your type of membership. Membership through a credit card often includes access for either one or two guests, while purchasing a membership directly through Priority Pass may mean paying for your guest — depending on your membership level. If you’re planning to bring a guest into a Priority Pass lounge, it’s best to check the terms and conditions of your individual membership program.

How do Priority Pass lounges compare to other airport lounges?

The short answer is: it depends. Priority Pass lounges tend to be more abundant and better appointed outside the US — particularly in Europe. So if you’re a frequent international traveler, you may notice more upscale benefits than if you solely travel within the US.

What can I access with my priority in the following airports?

Priority Pass in Los Angeles (LAX)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in LAX:

  • Terminal 1- Be Relax Spa
  • Terminal 6 – Gameway
  • Tom Bradley International Terminal – Los Angeles AMERICA! (retail)

Priority Pass in New York (JFK)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in JFK:

  • Terminal 1- KAL Business Class Lounge
  • Terminal 1- Lufthansa Business Lounge
  • Terminal 1- Air France Lounge
  • Terminal 4 – Air India Maharaja Lounge
  • Terminal 4 – Wingtips Lounge
  • Terminal 5 – Be Relax Spa
  • Terminal 7 – Alaska Lounge
  • Terminal 7 – Coach (retail)
  • Terminal 7 – M&M’s (retail)
  • Terminal 7 – Michael Kors (retail)
  • Terminal 8 – Bobby Van’s Steakhouse

Priority Pass in Denver (DEN)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in DEN:

  • Concourse B – Sweetwater Mountain Taphouse

Priority Pass in San Francisco (SFO)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in SFO:

  • International Terminal- Air France-KLM Lounge
  • International Terminal – Mustards Bar & Grill
  • Terminal 2 – Lark Creek Grill
  • Terminal 3 – Yankee Pier
  • Terminal 3 – San Francisco Giants Clubhouse

Priority Pass in Atlanta (ATL)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in ATL:

  • Concourse B – Minute Suites (rest pods)
  • International Terminal – The Club ATL
  • International Terminal – Emporio Armani (retail)
  • Concourse F – Michael Kors (retail)

Priority Pass in Dallas (DFW)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in DFW:

  • Terminal A – Minute Suites (rest pods)
  • Terminal B – Gameway
  • Terminal B – Be Relax Spa
  • Terminal D – The Club DFW
  • Terminal D – Minute Suites (rest pods)
  • Terminal E – Gameway

Priority Pass in Miami (MIA)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in MIA:

  • Central Terminal Concourse E – Turkish Airlines Lounge
  • Central Terminal Concourse F – Club America F
  • North Terminal Concourse – Corona Beach House
  • D Gates – Emporio Armani (retail)

Priority Pass in Seattle (SEA)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in SEA:

  • Central Terminal – Trail Head BBQ Bar
  • Concourse A – The Club SEA
  • North Satellite – Bambuza
  • South Satellite – The Club SEA

Priority Pass in Las Vegas (LAS)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in LAS:

  • Terminal 1 – The Club LAS
  • Welcome to Las Vegas (retail)
  • Marshall Russo (retail)
  • Terminal 3 – The Club LAS

Priority Pass in Newark (EWR)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in EWR:

  • Terminal A- AMERICA! (retail)
  • Terminal A- Touch of Color (retail)
  • Terminal B- Lufthansa Business Lounge
  • Terminal B- AMERICA! (retail)
  • Terminal C- AMERICA! (retail)

Priority Pass in Chicago (ORD)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in ORD:

  • International Terminal 5 – Swissport Lounge

Priority Pass in Houston (IAH)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in IAH:

  • Terminal A – Cadillac Mexican Kitchen
  • Terminal C – Landry’s Seafood
  • Terminal D – Air France Lounge
  • Terminal D – KLM Crown Lounge

Priority Pass in Boston (BOS)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in BOS:

  • Terminal B – Stephanie’s
  • Terminal B – Boston AMERICA! (retail)
  • Terminal C – The Lounge
  • Terminal C – Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar
  • Terminal E – The Club
  • Terminal E – Air France Lounge

Priority Pass in Charlotte (CLT)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in CLT:

  • Atrium- Minute Suites (rest pods)

Priority Pass in Orlando (MCO)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in MCO:

  • Terminal A- The Club MCO
  • Terminal B- The Club MCO

Priority Pass in Honolulu (HNL)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in HNL:

  • Inter-Island Terminal – The Plumeria Lounge
  • Overseas Terminal – IASS Hawaii Lounge

Priority Pass in Portland (PDX)

With Priority Pass you can access the following in PDX:

  • Concourse C- Westward Whiskey
  • Concourse C- Capers Cafe Le Bar
  • Concourse D- Capers Market

Is Priority Pass worth it anymore?

The usefulness of Priority Pass really depends on your personal travel habits. If you only travel a couple times a year, buying a Priority Pass membership probably isn’t worth it — either directly or via a credit card. If you travel frequently, though, or even once a month, lounge access can relieve stress on both your mind and wallet. This is particularly true for those who travel internationally, where Priority Pass lounges tend to be newer, with more options.