For those with an eligible credit card and travelling on any airline, these are welcome options to grab a drink or bite to eat before your next flight.
Priority Pass has gone from having one location in Australia just two years ago (Cairns) to 22 across seven airports.
About this guide
This guide is an intro to the Priority Pass airport lounge membership program, getting into what it offers for someone who might have heard of it but hasn’t ever really looked into it.
I explore some of the more appealing Priority Pass locations in Australia and around the world (it is updated with the newest lounges added to the Priority Pass network), along with the credit cards that include access in some form or another.
Many folks have heard of the Priority Pass lounge program as it comes with several credit cards but I would wager that few have used it to its maximum potential.
You’ll get unlimited visits to Priority Pass lounges with the American Express Platinum Charge, with Priority Pass memberships of different flavours coming with a range of other cards too.
Locations in Australia
By swiping your Priority Pass card or using the app, you and eligible guests can receive AUD36 per person off the total bill for food and/or drinks at the Velocity Expresso & Bar at Gold Coast Airport:
It is open from 5:30am until 9pm daily and offers ‘roasted and ground coffee, mouth-watering cakes, pastries, gourmet sandwiches, rolls and a full bar including a full range of beers, spirits and Australian wines by the glass’. It is located near Gate 3 in domestic departures but can be accessed by international passengers before they pass through outbound immigration.
This eatery does not have very positive reviews, averaging about 5/10 on most review sites like Facebook, Google and Foursquare but may be a good option to pick up a coffee, drink and/or snack.
You can also access the following outlets at Sydney Airport (Chicken Confidential in the international terminal is the recently added one):
these at Melbourne Airport:
these three at Brisbane Airport:
A single-use lounge pass can be used at the eateries for AUD36 off for one person, i.e. an eatery is considered the same as a lounge for access purposes.
Rex Lounges at Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide Airports
Rex operates three small but relaxing lounges in Australia.
They offer complimentary wifi, snacks and the usual hot and cold drinks, with beer and wine served from 3pm, and massage chairs.
A private meeting room can be arranged at the lounges in Sydney and Melbourne.
In Sydney, the lounge is located in domestic Terminal 2, which is used by all airlines except Qantas. Qantas passengers departing from T3 can also use this lounge but as you will have to re-clear security for your flight, you are probably best just dining at one of the two Priority Pass eateries in T3. Note that there are also two eateries in T2.
In Melbourne, the lounge is located in Terminal 4, used by Jetstar, Tiger, Rex and some Virgin Australia passengers.
And, in Adelaide, the lounge is located in the domestic section of the airport—international passengers should leave enough time after visiting the lounge to clear passport control and a liquid security check.
Depending on the location, the lounges are open from at the latest 6am on weekdays, 7am on Saturdays and 8am on Sunday, closing at 7pm at the earliest each day.
If you have the Amex Platinum Charge card and are flying Virgin Australia, you’ll also have access to the Virgin Australia Lounges at all three airports.
The Virgin Australia Lounges are more spacious than the Rex Lounges but may get crowded
Note that Platinum Charge cardholders also have access to the American Express Lounges in the international terminals at Sydney and Melbourne.
Full list of Australian locations
Most Priority Pass facilities in these two countries are located in international terminals, however, some eateries as well as the Rex Lounges are located in domestic terminals.
- Adelaide: Rex Lounge
- Brisbane: Plaza Premium Lounge and three eateries (two in Domestic and one in International)
- Cairns: Reef Lounge
- Darwin: Catalina Lounge
- Gold Coast: one eatery
- Melbourne: Plaza Premium Lounge and three eateries (in International) and the Rex Lounge in T4 (for Jetstar, Tiger, Rex and some Virgin Australia flights)
- Sydney: eight eateries (four in T1, two in T2 and two in T3) and the Rex Lounge in T2
Locations in New Zealand
- Auckland: Strata Lounge
- Christchurch: Manaia Lounge
- Queenstown: Manaia Lounge
About Priority Pass
Since its launch in 1992, Collision Group’s Priority Pass has grown to be the biggest independent airport lounge access plan.
By attempting to offer members a premium experience, with a chance to relax and refresh before a flight, the idea behind Priority Pass is that it doesn’t matter what class your ticket is or what airline you fly, you can still enjoy premium facilities before you fly.
So, if you are flying Scoot, Jetstar or Qantas, whether in Economy, Premium Economy or higher cabins, you can enjoy the same comforts of having lounge access when you travel.
It’s handy for those travellers who fly on a range of airlines, primarily in Economy or Premium Economy, and are not (or can’t be) especially loyal to a particular alliance.
Since the start of 2015, over 150 new lounges have been introduced into the network, with many in Asia, as a response to the growing number of travellers who would rather enhance their travel by lounge access rather than in-flight upgrades.
Whether you purchase one of the three membership options or your membership comes as part of your credit card plan, there are over 1,000 lounges, in more than 130 countries worldwide, offering a range of amenities to deal with the stress that often accompanies travel.
Some of the benefits of lounge access might include:
- Free wifi
- Snacks, soft drinks, and complimentary alcoholic beverages
- Access to power or charging stations
- TV and comfortable seating (ideally!)
- Showers and spa facilities (often with an additional fee)
Priority Pass does not operate the lounges themselves, they negotiate access for their members to use lounges around the world, so amenities do vary across airports.
You can get a feel for what each lounge has to offer at the Priority Pass Lounges index.
Credit cards that offer unlimited access
One neat thing about the unlimited access with the Amex Platinum Charge, Citi Prestige Visa and BOQ Specialist Signature Visa is that in an airport with multiple lounges, you can just walk out of a lounge if you don’t like it and go find another.
The American Express Platinum Charge comes with full membership with unlimited visits for the Platinum Charge cardholder and a supplementary cardmember per account.
One complimentary guest is also permitted per enrolled Platinum Card member, with additional guests charged at USD32 per visit. The Business version of the card also provides for unlimited entries but there are no complimentary guesting privileges, with each guest charged USD32.
The Citi Prestige Visa has a complimentary Priority Pass membership for the primary cardholder. You’re entitled to unlimited visits to Priority Pass lounges and may bring one guest per visit. Additional guests will be charged for.
The BOQ Specialist Signature Visa also includes a complimentary Priority Pass membership for the primary cardholder, with unlimited entry for you and a guest into the network’s 1,200+ lounges.
Credit cards that offer single-use passes
The Amplify Signature Visa from St.George/Bank of Melbourne/Bank SA gives you two entries each year you have the card.
The Citi Signature Visa comes with a Priority Pass standard membership, including two lounge visits for the primary cardholder each cardholder year.
The Westpac Altitude Black account also comes with a Priority Pass membership entitling you to two visits per cardholder year.
Notable Priority Pass lounges globally
With so many lounges worldwide and such a wide range of operating companies, it is hard to say which may be the best, but here are lounges that could be well worth the visit.
Lounges in Hong Kong
Being one of the world’s busiest airports, there are four Plaza Premium lounges in the Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok International Airport. Features include 24-hour entry, showers, internet, TV, buffets and conference areas but some readers have not been impressed with the shower facilities and customer service.
The latest lounge to be added here is a Plaza Premium First Lounge, which requires a co-pay of 200 HKG (= ~AUD35) for Priority Pass members to access. It is a step above a regular lounge, with à la carte dining and complimentary massage treatments. The first ‘First’ lounge to open was in Kuala Lumpur and it looks like this concept will be expanded to other airports.
Lounges in Singapore Changi Airport
This airport boasts multiple lounges in each terminal, totalling 11 in the entire airport.
With so many to choose from, which you visit will depend on terminal and departure time, as certain lounges are only open at specific times.
The Airport Wellness Oasis offers a complimentary shower facility and 20-minute fish spa treatments.
The Skyview Lounge with impressive views appears to be one of the best rated of the 11.
Aspire The Lounge and Spa at London Heathrow T5
With this brand new lounge, you can enjoy many of the usual lounge benefits including complimentary food, beverages, Wi-Fi, etc. with the added bonus of travel spa treatments to rejuvenate yourself before or between flights.
They also offer state of the art ‘rest pods’, to relax and reset for the journey ahead. If you need to catch upon some work, there are also designated quiet spaces, with high speed Wi-Fi and a multitude of charging posts to stay connected.
Whether you are resting up or catching up on work, this lounge has everything you could need to make the most of your trip.
Three US West Coast and one NYC Alaska Lounge locations
For those doing a West Coast trip, perhaps including an Alaskan cruise, having access to these clubs in Portland, Anchorage and Los Angeles is a big plus. A New York JFK location opened in April 2018.
An eatery called Barney’s Beanery in LAX’s Terminal 2 was added to the network in June 2018, offering food and beverage credit of USD28 per person.
Note that Alaska’s three lounges in its Seattle hub will be leaving the Priority Pass network as of 1 September 2018.
Minute Suites and Sleep Pods in the US and Dubai
A nifty addition to the network, you can now get some space, privacy and shut-eye between flights in a private room or pod, currently at Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia and Dubai’s airports.
Dubai International Business Class Lounge (Terminal 1)
This 24-hour lounge is useful for those travellers who have flown into Dubai on an Emirates or Qantas flight (which all operate from Terminal 3), have spent a few days there, and then are leaving on a different airline, e.g. most oneworld and Star Alliance carriers operate from Terminal 1, where this lounge is located.
Compared to the five Marhaba lounges at Dubai International, this lounge is reported to be more spacious, and have a bigger buffet offering and better views of the tarmac, if you can put up with the uglier design.
Sala VIP Pau Casals, Barcelona El Prat (Terminal 1)
Apparently known for luxurious facilities and unique spacious design, this lounge offers with floor-to-ceiling glass views, with specified zoned areas, for rest, entertainment or work.
Quiet zones are equipped with low lighting and chaise lounge chairs.
If you want to have a shower, make sure you book it upon arrival as there is only one available.
Digital Membership via the Priority Pass app
With a revamping of the Priority Pass brand, website and app, Priority Pass has also introduced a Digital Membership Card for American Express Platinum Charge and Citi Prestige cardholders.
Paid Membership Plans
There are some paid membership plans if you don’t have access to Priority Pass through your credit card. (There’s a 10% discount on paid Priority Pass memberships here for Point Hacks readers)
Standard membership – USD99 annual fee
- Per visit member fee – USD32
- Per visit guest fee – USD32
This is best for those who may travel up to 5 times per year.
Standard Plus – USD299 annual fee
- Per visit member fee -10 free visits within 12 months
- USD32 for each additional visit
- Per visit guest visit fee – USD32
This is best for those who will use the membership between 5-16 times per year.
Prestige – USD499 annual fee
- Per visit member fee – All Inclusive
- Per visit guest fee – USD32
This is best for those who will use the membership more than 16 times per year.
Summing up: I’d love to hear your experiences with Priority Pass lounges
I’ve tried to highlight some of the better lounges in the Priority Pass program in this guide, but there are definitely a few which you’d probably pass on too.
That’s probably the biggest downside to the program—knowing whether it’s worth using up some of the limited access you might have on what might be a crappy lounge.
One way to get around this is to research lounges before you visit using the LoungeBuddy app, TripAdvisor or Google, and pick carefully on where you use your access if it’s limited.
I’d also love for anyone who has got heaps of value out of Priority Pass to leave a comment and let us know your favourite Priority Pass lounges. Thanks!
Supplementary images courtesy Priority Pass and respective lounges.