One of the most notable benefits that come with many premium credit cards is a Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass is a network of over 1,000 airport lounges located around the world, and a membership allows you access all of them, regardless of what airline you’re flying with, what status you have, and what cabin you’re in.
Members can also provide ratings on the lounges that they visit, and the company has compiled the data for the “Lounge of the Year Awards” for 2016. There is a global winner, as well as winners in specific regions.
The Best Priority Pass Lounges for 2016
Global and Europe: Plaza Premium Lounge at London Heathrow
The Plaza Premium Lounge at London Heathrow is the winner of “Lounge of the Year” globally, and is also taking home the prize of best lounge in Europe. This specific lounge is located at Terminal 2, which is the one where most Star Alliance airlines (except Air India) fly out of.
You won’t have access to this lounge if you’re flying out of other terminals; however, other Priority Pass Lounges are available in Terminals 3, 4, and 5 at London Heathrow.
North America: The Club at SJC
The Club at SJC is the winner of “Lounge of the Year” in North America. Interestingly, this lounge is actually owned by Airport Lounge Development (ALD), which also owns Priority Pass. In a way, I think this lounge serves somewhat as a “vision” of what Priority Pass is hoping their offerings would look like, so it’s nice to see that members also rated the lounge highly.
Asia Pacific: Asiana Lounge at Seoul Incheon International
There are quite a few of Priority Pass lounges in Asia, many of which are actually different airlines’ Business Class (or in some cases, First Class) Lounges. This Asiana Lounge is located in Concourse A at Seoul-Incheon, and looks beautiful. You can actually access this lounge even if you don’t have a PP membership; Asiana charges just 30,000 South Korean Won (~US$25) per person for access if you’re flying Asiana, which is a pretty good deal.
Africa & Middle East: Petra Lounge in Amman
The Petra Lounge at Amman International is a handsome lounge that I’d describe as an “upscale Business Class lounge.” Priority Pass members obviously love this lounge, but many on LoungeBuddy also agree that it’s a great spot for relaxing before your flight. Just keep in mind that the shower facilities require an additional fee (which is a pet peeve of mine with some lounges), and apparently lounge attendants may try to sell you additional hours since the included access is limited to 3 hours.
Latin America & The Caribbean: VIP Lounge in Guadalajara
If you’re visiting Mexico and stopping by Guadalajara, you might want to check out this VIP Lounge, which is the winner of “Lounge of the Year” in Latin America and the Caribbeans. The lounge features an awesome pool table, and a game room with a Play Station console. The lounge is nicely furnished, though has no shower facilities.
Other than “Lounge of the Year,” there are also awards for lounges with the best staff and service. For example, the Alaska Lounge at Seattle-Tacoma was recognized as having “Best Attitude and Service” from lounge staff, which is hardly surprisingly given my experience with Alaska staff.
Getting Access to Priority Pass Lounges
My favorite (and probably the cheapest) way to gain access to Priority Pass Lounges is by having a credit card that offers a free membership. For example, the American Express Platinum Card offers a membership for the cardmember (no guests). Chase offers a membership with unlimited guests with their Sapphire Reserve and Ritz-Carlton cards; Citi offers its Prestige Card holders a membership with two guests.
Of course, you can always pay for the Priority Pass Membership outright. For an annual membership fee of $399, you can get the “Prestige” membership, which comes with free access to all Priority Pass lounges. On the cheaper end, a $99 annual membership fee gets you access, but each visit will incur a $27 fee. Recently, Japan Airlines launched a partnership with Priority Pass, where you can redeem JAL miles for a membership. Though unless you have JAL miles burning a hole in your pocket, I’d argue there are far better ways to use your JAL miles.
Sometimes a lounge being a “Priority Pass Lounge” carries somewhat of a negative connotation, and there are definitely lounges around the world that I would consider to be below par. But I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by some Priority Pass Lounges, and this list goes to show that the are great lounges around the world to which you may already have free access.
Do you agree with this list from Priority Pass members?
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The Club at SJC looks a lot like the Priortty Pass lounge that opened at MSP just in time for the Ryder Cup. Not sure if the MSP lounge is operated by the same group as the SJC lounge, but I think it’s the same group. Comp beer, wine, and booze, and not just cheap stuff. Small bites, a salad bar, soups and desserts. Very much like a Centaurian Club. Hopefully a model for more to come.