No Platinum Status? No Worries.

Posted by   Annette on    October 1, 2013

small__5984129281.jpgIt’s a reliably awesome way to turn a travel day into a usable workday: tuck in to an airport lounge. Just show up a few hours early for your flight*, amble through security at your absolute leisure, then grab a cozy chair in a quiet lounge with free Wi-Fi. That cozy chair is generally snuggled up next to an endless, constantly refreshed supply of free food and drinks.

(Yes, there’s generally free alcohol. Yes, it’s a bad idea. Sometimes it’s the best bad idea ever. But it’s still a bad idea.)

You can pretty much count on shiny new magazines, clean bathrooms, power outlets, adapters, printers and quiet corners to sneak in a conference call. Often, there are showers, sleeping areas, video games, mini-cinemas, workout areas, spa services and good conversation.

They are always, even in the case of the most bare-bones lounge, a better place to be than the terminal. Always

How do you hook up a membership, though, if you haven’t done the travel hacking legwork or racked up enough miles to get into your air alliance’s platinum graces?

You can buy your way in with PriorityPass. I did, and I maintain that it’s the best investment I ever made in my travel sanity.

(If you're wondering, none of the links in this article are affiliate. I'm a genuine fan.)

What It Is

PriorityPass is a lounge network with 600 member lounges in 100 countries. PriorityPass doesn’t operate the actual lounges, they just partner with the operators to obtain member access. These are often of the private-operator type – you won’t access Richard Branson’s $21-million Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Clubhouse. You’ll be in a lounge more like this one.

small__4930499871.jpgWhat it Costs

I have the PriorityPass Standard Plus membership, which includes 10 visits. (As of publication, I’ve used them all.) The pass allows you to bring a guest in for $27US, which seems steep until you think about the $6US coffee, $12US sandwiches and $15US internet outside the lounge doors. Even as a pay-to-play service, it saves money on food, drinks and internet at the airport.

PriorityPass also has a “standard” $99US membership, which charges each lounge access at the guest rate of $27US, and a $399US “prestige” membership, which allows as many member visits as you can squeeze into a year, though guests are still charged.

How it Works

While PriorityPass sends you a printed list of the member lounges when you sign up, the book is quickly outdated. Check the online listings instead, or just download the PriorityPass smartphone app.

As a member, you can access any lounge in the collection. In two years of membership, I’ve only been to one tiny rural Turkish airport that didn’t have a PP lounge. They’re pretty ubiquitous.

Lounge Lizard User Tips

  • On either the online or app lounge listings, check to see what amenities you can expect before you arrive. If a certain amenity is a necessity, call the lounge first. (The staff will speak English on some level.) Case in point: I’ve shown up in need of a shower to a lounge that was listed as having one, and they didn’t. Would have been nice to know.
  • When you sign in with a guest, your card on file with PP is automatically charged $27US for the guest visit. The lounge desk won’t mention the charge to you, so you might feel like you’re getting away with something until you look at your credit card activity. You aren’t.
  • I have my member information and a photo of the card stored in my phone’s SplashID. Often, that’s all the lounge needs – not the card itself.

 

* Important: call the airline’s desk at the airport first to be sure that you can check in early enough to make the visit count. Airlines, airports and check-in desks vary wildly as to when they can open check-in for specific flights, and if you land too early you’ll likely be stuck in the airport’s entry hall for hours. Sucky.

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