I’m writing this post while sitting in the Plaza Premier Lounge at Melbourne Airport waiting for my fresh chef-made Vietnamese phở to arrive. After getting a bit overexcited on arrival, I have four different beverages on the go: water, fresh watermelon juice, an iced cappuccino and a sparkling wine. I feel like a kid in a candy store.
Airports are notoriously expensive, and unless you’re way more organised than I am and have brought a packed lunch with you, you’re inevitably going to spend at least $25 on some soggy, reheated sandwich or such. Not to mention at least $4 on a bottle of water. Then there are the in-flight food and drink costs. It quickly adds up!
This is what you really need to think about when deciding whether a Priority Pass is worth ‘splashing out’ on.
Now, for me, my membership has been a great purchase, but it really depends on a few different things, including how often you fly and from/to which destinations.
Things to consider:
- Your location
- How often you fly
- How much is it worth to you
I have the 10 pass membership, and actually only managed to use nine of them last year before my card elapsed. How did this happen when I took 30+ flights in 14 or so countries? There are several reasons, which you may want to consider.
Firstly, not all airports have a lounge. Smaller, regional airports don’t usually have lounges… or none worth visiting, anyway! If you already have a fair idea of where you will be travelling in the next 12 months, take a check through the listings on the Priority Pass website to see if there will be a lounge where you are departing from.
Secondly, not every lounge is built the same! I have been in lounges that haven’t been updated since the 70’s, where you’d be lucky to get a bag of peanuts let alone the luxury experience you paid for. I’ve sat alone in dingy, dark rooms and left early in favour of the busy, main waiting areas.
But, when you find a good one, you are begging for your flight to be delayed so you can squeeze in another glass of champagne and a crudité before, in your tipsy state, grabbing what you can to take on board.
Naturally, bigger, busier airports such as Dubai and London have decent lounges. And generally, you can always get enough snacks — and often full, cooked meals — to fill you up pre-flight to help save on in-flight costs.
How often you fly
There are three levels of membership — Standard, Standard Plus and Prestige.
3-7 Flights Per Year — Choose Standard
Standard doesn’t give you any free lounge entries, only a card that gives you access to the lounges upon payment. The price per entry is currently €28/£20/US$32.
Now, you will need to do some maths of your own to work out whether this is worthwhile, because you can actually just pay to enter many lounges without needing a card. These prices are often a bit higher, though (I’ve seen $40 a lot). So, once again, depending on your destination you can work out whether it’s worth paying for the Standard membership. A couple of flights a year is probably not worthwhile.
8-12 Flights Per Year
Secondly, we have the Standard Plus membership. This is the one I have and it’s perfect if you are a frequent traveller. You get 10 lounge access passes per year. If after seeing that your projected destinations have decent lounges (or a lounge at all!), then it’s absolutely worth it just for the savings in food and drink costs.
12+ Flights Per Year
Finally, there’s the Prestige membership. This gives you unlimited access to lounges around the world. I would imagine that this would be perfect for a business traveller who flies at least fortnightly. Perhaps you regularly fly out of a main airport such as Melbourne, which has a good lounge with delicious food and an awesome range of drinks. Not to mention the faster WiFi and desks for getting some work done.
What is it worth to you?
Having access to airport lounges is a great way to save money on food and drinks at the airport. But there are many other benefits that can add a lot of value to your membership.
The Luxe Factor
There’s no doubt that strolling into a business lounge, flashing your pass, and sitting away from the chaos of the main airport lounge feels pretty damn good. You might not be flying business class or rolling with the first class crowd, but for those few hours you can certainly pretend!
You can’t put a price on this ‘luxe factor’, but if you fly regularly it is definitely something you really look forward to when you know you have a few hours to spend at the airport.
I work online and it’s often difficult to find some down time to get stuff done when I’m on the move in a new city, so I look forward to the serenity of the airport lounge to catch up on work and life.
If you can get a couple of hours work done before your flight, you can certainly put a value on that… especially if you are a digital nomad.
Of course you can try and work in the main lounges, but you’re never guaranteed good WiFi, charging ports or even a seat. Knowing you have that at the lounge helps you plan your schedule a little better.
Airports can be busy, crazy places that leave you feeling frazzled when you get off the plane at the other end. If you could pay to not have that experience, would you? Especially if you have a long-haul flight, the peace and quiet beforehand will ease you into the day ahead.
So, in summary, the Priority Pass is definitely a nice-to-have, but it can also be cost-effective, too. Weigh up the pros and cons I’ve mentioned above and see if it works out well for you 🙂
They also make great gifts for a frequent traveller. I bought one for my dad last Christmas and he said it was the best gift he’s ever received. So, there you go!