Many seasoned travelers consider Priority Pass to be a golden ticket for an elevated airport experience. Priority Pass includes access to over 1,300 lounges worldwide and promises a serene escape from the bustle of airport terminals, complete with comfortable seating and complimentary snacks and refreshments. However, like many good things in life, it comes with its own set of challenges – namely, overcrowded lounges.
When Priority Pass was introduced, it was a game-changer for frequent flyers. Instead of being tied to a specific airline’s loyalty program, travelers could now choose between several lounges, irrespective of their airline or ticket class. The proposition was tantalizing: Pay an annual fee, and gain access to a world of airport luxury.
But with growing numbers of cardholders, and an ever-increasing demand for travel, these once-peaceful sanctuaries have, on occasion, begun to feel more like the main terminal.
What credit cards include Priority Pass access?
While Priority Pass can be purchased by itself, most people get access from a credit card. The following credit cards in the United States include Priority Pass access:
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Capital One Venture X Business
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Citi Prestige Card
- The Platinum Card from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card from American Express
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
- U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card
- U.S. Bank Altitude Connect Visa Signature Card
- Bank of America Premium Rewards Elite credit card
Why are Priority Pass lounges usually crowded?
There are several reasons why airport lounges, including Priority Pass lounges, are usually crowded:
- Popularity of Travel Cards: The explosion in popularity of premium travel rewards credit cards – like the American Express Platinum card which offers Priority Pass as a perk, has significantly increased the number of people with access.
- Economic Factors: As international travel has become more accessible and widespread, airports have seen an uptick in passengers, leading to more folks looking for a comfortable spot to wait.
- Limitations in Space: While the number of Priority Pass members has grown, the number and size of lounges have not kept pace. In some popular airports, space is at a premium, making expansions challenging.
Tips to Navigate Crowded Lounges
If you’re a Priority Pass holder or are considering a credit card with Priority Pass access, don’t fret! Here are some strategies to maximize your lounge experience:
- Time Your Visit: If possible, try to visit lounges during non-peak hours. Early morning or late night can be less crowded than mid-day or early evening.
- Consider Smaller Airports: If you have flexibility in your travel itinerary, consider flying out of smaller, regional airports. They may have fewer lounge options, but these tend to be less crowded.
- Use Priority Pass Apps: The Priority Pass app often provides real-time information about lounge occupancy. Before heading to a lounge, check the app to get an idea of its current status.
- Diversify Your Cards: While Priority Pass offers extensive coverage, having memberships or day passes to other lounge networks can provide additional options if your go-to lounge is crowded.
- Stay Informed: Lounge policies can change. Some might limit the hours when Priority Pass members can enter, or even cap the number of guests. Always check the latest rules on the Priority Pass website or through direct communication with the lounge.
- Be Understanding and Courteous: Remember, lounge staff are doing their best to accommodate everyone. A bit of understanding and patience goes a long way. If a lounge is at capacity, consider asking the staff when a good time to return might be.
The Priority Pass card remains a valuable tool for travelers seeking comfort and convenience. While overcrowded lounges can be a challenge, with a bit of planning and flexibility, you can still find that peaceful airport oasis you’re craving. The world of travel is ever-evolving, and as with any journey, sometimes it’s all about the adventure of navigating the bumps along the way. Safe travels!