Are Priority Pass lounges usually crowded – and is lounge access with extra membership perks actually worth it? We share all the details and insider info on navigating Priority Pass lounges in this informative guide.
From in-lounge perks to other membership benefits Priority Pass members get, you’ll find out what the fuss is about and how to avoid crowded lounges below!
What Is a Priority Pass Lounge?
Priority pass lounges are airport lounges available to Priority Pass members. They offer benefits like free food and drinks, comfy seating, free Wi-Fi, conference rooms, and even spas or pools at selected lounges.
When you visit a Priority Pass lounge, you can make better use of your time spent waiting at the airport and side-step the chaotic departure area for a more relaxing traveling experience.
At a Priority Pass lounge, you can take advantage of free boozy or non-alcoholic beverages, pre-flight snacks, relaxing massages or facials, play games, take a nap, charge your devices, or get down to business in the conference room.
Priority Pass lounges are frequently used by business travelers, but people traveling for pleasure can also enjoy the benefits and perks of Priority Pass membership.
So are these airport lounges typically busy and crowded or quiet and relaxed spaces? We’ll take a look next.
Are Priority Pass Lounges Usually Crowded?
Priority Pass lounges are available in more than 1,400 airports around the world and many of the locations are in some of the busiest airports.
That might make you wonder if Priority Pass lounges are usually crowded – and if they are, is it still worth getting a membership?
The truth is that Priority Pass lounges, especially those located in busy airports, are often crowded and sometimes reach maximum capacity.
Crowded Priority Pass lounges are more common during peak travel season – June through August in the Northern Hemisphere and November through February in the Southern Hemisphere.
When a lounge reaches maximum capacity, Priority Pass members will be denied entry or placed on a waitlist for entry. The maximum capacity varies by the lounge.
At less-busy airports and during off-season travel periods, Priority Pass lounges aren’t usually crowded. If you remember to pre-book your lounge access through the Priority Pass app ahead of time, you can avoid being denied entry and skip the waitlist.
With crowded Priority Pass lounges sometimes being an issue, is it still worth getting a membership? That depends on how much you’ll use the other Priority Pass membership perks.
If you do run into a crowded Priority Pass lounge but are still allowed to enter (if it hasn’t reached maximum capacity), you’ll still find plenty of quiet zones in the lounge that feel a lot more secluded than sitting in the airport departure area.
There are also plenty of options for Priority Pass members outside of the lounge itself, like visiting Be Relax Spas outside of the lounge or grabbing food with a voucher at an airport restaurant.
So why do Priority Pass lounges get so crowded and how can you avoid the rush to ensure you get access before your flight? There are a few reasons these lounges can fill up quickly and ways to avoid an overcrowded lounge.
Why Do Priority Pass Lounges Get Crowded?
Airport lounges in the Priority Pass network are not exclusive to Priority Pass members, so you’ll be competing with airline travelers flying business or first class who get access to these lounges, too.
During peak travel season and before major events and holidays, Priority Pass lounges fill up quickly because of the higher-than-usual traveler volume.
Another reason for crowded Priority Pass lounges is the broader availability due to many credit cards offering free Priority Pass membership as a cardholder perk.
Add to these factors the option for every member to bring along a guest or two, and it’s easier to see how Priority Pass lounges can hit maximum capacity in some of the world’s busiest airports.
You can get ahead of the crowds by arriving to the airport well before you planned departure time, choosing to fly during the low season, and visiting less-crowded Plaza Premium lounges with your membership card.
How to Reserve Priority Pass Lounge Access
While the answer to “Are Priority Pass lounges usually crowded?” is sometimes a resounding yes, there’s a surefire way to side-step the overcrowding issue and ensure you get guaranteed access to the lounge.
Some Priority Pass lounges offer the option to pre-book and reserve lounge access through the app or on the website’s lounge page. Right now, there are 41 lounges that offer this awesome perk.
If the Priority Pass lounge you’ll be visiting doesn’t offer the option to pre-book, you can always join the lounge waitlist if you arrive and the lounge has already reached maximum capacity.
When this happens, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be invited into the lounge before your flight departure. But you may only have wait 10-15 minutes to get access to the lounge.
After joining the waitlist, a lounge employee will notify you when there’s an available space. Some members take this opportunity to utilize other Priority Pass membership perks outside of the lounge, like vouchers for airport restaurants and bars.
Priority Pass Membership Benefits
Priority Pass lounges are just one of the benefits of becoming a Priority Pass member. With your membership, you’ll also be able to access perks like free fitness memberships, pre-ordering at airport restaurants, spa treatments, and private airport transfer booking.
Let’s take a closer look at the different Priority Pass membership benefits you can expect.
Priority Pass Lounge Access
Access to the famed Priority Pass lounges are one of the main reasons for membership. These plush spaces offer a comfy, private space to unwind, recharge, grab a bite or drink, and get work done before your flight.
With more than 1,400 lounges in airports around the world and more being added every month, you’re never far from a Priority Pass lounge experience when you fly.
Airport Dining Credits
Priority Pass membership includes airport dining credits totaling $28 per person, applicable for you and a guest (if you’re bringing someone along). The app will show you which restaurants accept dining credits.
The Priority Pass app also gives you access to their partner airport restaurants so you can pre-order and quickly see which places accept dining credits.
Free Fitness Memberships
Priority Pass members get free WithU membership, offering a digital personal trainer that can help you create a fitness routine that works for you to meet your health goals.
Worldwide Car Rental Access and Discounts
Renting a car at the airport is a lot easier with Priority Pass member access to 50,000+ rental locations around the world. Pre-book your rental at a discount with the Priority Pass app.
Online Duty Free Shopping
The Priority Pass app lets you shop duty free online and get discounts with Inflyter. Shop thousands of items tax-free starting months ahead of your flight up to an hour before takeoff.
Unwind at Be Relax Spas
Priority Pass membership allows you to take advantage of pre-flight spa treatments at Be Relax Spas like massages, aromatherapy, facials, manicures, and more before your flight.
Play at Game Space
Look for Priority Pass lounges featuring Game Space, a gaming lounge that offers access to built-in gaming stations and chances to play today’s most popular games while you wait.
Book Private Airport Transfers
Membership lets you book private airport transfers at any of the 1,100+ airports offering this service directly through the Priority Pass app. Prebook your transfer to ensure availability.
Digital Membership Cards
Whether you just got your membership or can’t seem to keep up with a physical card, Priority Pass offers digital membership cards so you never have to worry about getting access to the lounge or your benefits.
Bringing a co-worker, family member, or friend along on your travels? Priority Pass membership enables you to invite guests to the lounge with you, sometimes at no cost (depending on your membership plan).
How Much Does Priority Pass Membership Cost?
Since Priority Pass lounges can sometimes be crowded or hit maximum capacity that can result in your entry being denied, you should consider the membership cost to see if becoming a member is worth it.
Priority Pass membership can be free with certain credit cards (Priority Pass Select membership), but otherwise, you’ll pay anywhere from $99 to $469/year for membership that includes airport lounge access.
- Select: Free with credit card annual fee
- Standard: $99/year
- Standard Plus: $329/year
- Prestige: $469/year
Select Priority Pass Membership | Free
Credit cards that offer free Priority Pass Select membership include Chase Sapphire Reserve, Capital One Venture X Rewards, Mastercard Gold Card and Mastercard Black Card, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, and Citi Prestige Card.
You’ll also get Priority Pass Select membership free with the American Express Card, The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express, and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire, Surpass, and Business cards.
With Select membership, you’ll typically get 2-10 free lounge access passes annually and pay $20-$35/visit after that. Complimentary snacks, drinks, and other lounge perks are included.
Some credit cards offer the included $28 dining credit per visit, but some have recently dropped this perk. Check your card conditions to see if you’re still eligible for the dining credit.
Standard Priority Pass Membership | $99/year
Standard Priority Pass membership comes with all the program’s benefits and perks at a price of $99/year and is meant for infrequent travelers.
You’ll pay $35 each time you access a Priority Pass lounge and an additional $35 per guest you bring along with Standard membership.
If you travel solo just twice a year and want to use the lounge twice per trip at $35/visit, you would pay a total of $239 for your membership that year.
With the included $28 dining credit per person, per visit, you might consider your actual total to be $183/year after the money saved on airport dining in this example.
Standard Plus Priority Pass Membership | $329/year
Standard Plus Priority Pass membership comes with all the program’s benefits and perks for $329/year. It’s a plan for occasional travelers who typically travel up to 10 times annually.
With Standard Plus membership, you get 10 free lounge visits per year and pay $35 for each additional lounge access or guest you bring. This membership plan usually offers the best value for travelers.
If you travel solo 10 times in a year, you’ll pay the $329 base price for your annual membership. But if you work in the $28 dining credit you’ll get per visit, your actual total would be just $49/year after the money you’ll save on airport dining.
Prestige Priority Pass Membership | $469/year
Prestige Priority Pass membership is for frequent travelers and comes with all the Priority Pass benefits and perks, plus unlimited free member lounge visits, at a cost of $469/year.
While all your lounge visits are free under this membership plan, your guests will still need to pay $35 for each lounge access.
While the base cost is $469/year, the cost is quickly lowered when you consider how much the included $28 dining credit per visit will save you.
If you travel 20 times in a year with Prestige membership and use your full $28 dining credit each time, it’s almost like you’re making $91/year to keep your membership!
Things to Consider
We’ve determined that Priority Pass lounges are usually crowded at busier airports during peak season, but tend to be quiet with plenty of availability in less-busy airports and during the low travel season.
Here are a few more things to consider about Priority Pass membership and lounge access before you spring for Select, Standard, Standard Plus, or Prestige membership.
- Read the fine print for membership through a credit card. American Express and Capital One cards don’t offer the Priority Pass $28 dining credit anymore. You can still get this perk with other cards, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige credit cards, but be sure to read the fine print to ensure you’ll have access to this benefit!
- Take advantage of the other perks. Lounge access and airport dining credits are some of the most popular benefits of Priority Pass membership, but discounts on duty free shopping, restaurants, rental cars, and free spa services are also great perks to take advantage of.
- Find the best membership value for you. If you get free Priority Pass Select membership through a credit card and don’t mind the card’s annual fee, that may be the most cost-effective way to become a member. Without a credit card-linked membership, the Priority Pass Standard Plus membership may be the best value as long as you travel often enough to justify the base $329/year cost.
- Always pre-book your lounge if possible. If the airport lounge you plan to visit offers pre-booking online or through the app, do it! This is the only way to guarantee lounge access and can save you a lot of hassle, especially in busier airports where the lounges fill up quickly.
- Check for membership discounts. Priority Pass regularly runs promotions offering discounts like 30% off annual membership through the website. That discount drops the Standard membership to $69/year and Standard Plus to $279/year. Prestige membership is not often discounted.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s not just “Are Priority Pass lounges usually crowded?” – travelers also have questions about whether Priority Pass is losing lounges, how many lounges are included in the network, and lounge time limits.
Take a look at the FAQs on Priority Pass lounges below to learn more.
Do Priority Pass lounges fill up?
Priority Pass lounges often fill up at the busiest international airports and during the peak summer travel season. At less-busy airports and outside of the peak season, it’s less common for Priority Pass lounges to be overcrowded or reach maximum capacity.
You can pre-book your lounge reservation, arrive at the airport earlier than usual, and try to plan travel during the off-season or shoulder seasons to increase your chances of getting into the lounge.
Are airport lounges too crowded?
Airport lounges have become more crowded over the years as credit card companies, airlines, and special membership programs have opened up their exclusive lounge access to more and more people.
However, if the lounge hasn’t reached maximum capacity when you arrive, you’ll find it’s still much less crowded than waiting at the departure gate.
Is Priority Pass losing lounges?
No, Priority Pass isn’t losing lounges - in fact, it’s adding new airport lounges on a monthly basis.
Priority Pass added 60+ Plaza Premium airport lounges to their network in June 2023 so members have even more options to choose from when traveling domestically or internationally.
How many lounges do you have access to with Priority Pass?
Priority Pass members get access to over 1,400 lounges at airports around the world. Lounges in the Priority Pass network can be found in North America, South America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, and Africa.
New lounges are added on a regular basis so it’s a good idea to check the website regularly for updates.
How long can I stay in a Priority Pass lounge?
Most Priority Pass lounges have a 3-hour time limit for lounge access, but it can be 5 hours or more depending on the location and lounge rules. Delays and cancellations can “restart” your time limit.
In most cases, these time limits aren’t strictly enforced. If you’re concerned about how long you’ll be there or overstaying, check with an employee when you arrive.
So, Are Priority Pass Lounges Usually Crowded?
Priority Pass lounges can be crowded to the point of hitting their maximum capacity during the peak summer travel season or in the world’s busiest airports.
But outside of those parameters, you’ll find that Priority Pass lounges are much less crowded spaces to hang out and wait in than the sometimes-chaotic airport departure areas.
If you’re able to pre-book a lounge reservation, arrive at the airport a little earlier, or plan your travel outside of the peak season, your reward will be much less crowded Priority Pass lounges.
Crowded or not, these comfy airport lounges can transform your travel experience and make it a little less rushed, noisy, and boring.
If the membership price works for your budget, lounge access is just one way you can make your Priority Pass membership the best thing that’s happened to your traveling experience!