10 features you can expect from a Priority Pass airport lounge
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Priority Pass is the world’s largest collect of airport lounges with more than 1,300 airport lounges in more than 600 cities in almost 150 countries around the world. If you’re flying out of a major airport there’s a very good chance there’s a lounge awaiting you that is accessible with Priority Pass.
You can receive a complimentary Priority Pass membership with the Platinum Card from American Express U.K. You can also receive two free lounge passes with the Preferred Rewards Gold Card from American Express U.K., which you can use to access virtually the same lounges as those who belong to the Priority Pass program.
So, if you can access a Priority Pass lounge, what is awaiting you behind those closed doors?
1. A comfortable seat
In a Priority Pass lounge, there will usually be a comfortable seat for you to sit in, whether that’s an armchair for slumping into or a hard-backed chair or stool next to a desk or table should you want somewhere to place some personal items, or use a laptop or tablet.
You may be occasionally denied entry to a Priority Pass lounge if it is full. If there are no seats left for anyone, then it makes sense for the lounge to stop more guests at the door, rather than people standing around unable to find a seat.
2. A quiet atmosphere to relax in
This can vary depending on how busy the lounge is, but you’ll usually find it quieter and more peaceful than the terminal itself. Almost all Priority Pass lounges do not make boarding announcements, so you won’t be interrupted by calls for boarding for flights you aren’t even on. This is because a Priority Pass lounge allows access for passengers of dozens and dozens of flights, so at a busy airport you could hear announcements every sixty seconds if they made each one in the lounge too.
Plenty of lounges have screens showing flight departure information like gates and boarding status. Just don’t forget to keep your eye on the time and/or one of these screens so you don’t miss your flight!
3. Fast, free Wi-Fi
This can also be expected at any decent airport nowadays, but Priority Pass lounges shouldn’t have convoluted sign-in processes (like having to obtain a unique voucher code) and shouldn’t have download or time limits. Look for little signs on tables and counters, which should clearly display the Wi-Fi password if there is one required, otherwise the front desk staff can advise you what this is.
4. Easy charging stations and somewhere to work
If your devices are low on power and you’re not sure if your flight has the ability to charge them, there should be plenty of power points in your Priority Pass lounge. New lounges may have both universal plugs and USB chargers, older lounges may require a universal adapter if you’re abroad. Look for these plugs both near the armchair seating, and the desks/tables — there should be plenty of plugs dotted around the lounge.
If you need to catch up on work, I regularly write TPG articles in Priority Pass lounges. At a minimum, you can expect an appropriate-height table or bar space with a matching chair to work at. Some of the bigger and better lounges also have business centres with a traditional office desk and chair and may also have printing facilities and a telephone room if you need to make an important but private phone call.
5. Clean, private bathrooms
I’ve seen some truly grim bathrooms in airport terminals on my travels, but most Priority Pass lounges have their own bathrooms that are usually kept clean, well-stocked and there’s unlikely to be a long queue. Unfortunately, due to some unavoidable space limitations in some airport terminals, some Priority Pass lounges don’t have their own bathrooms and the staff may direct you to bathrooms nearby in the terminal.
6. Reading material
If you would like to spend your time in the lounge catching up on the daily news or flipping through some travel inspiration in glossy magazines, look for a wall of reading material (likely to be near the entrance). You are welcome to read whatever you like while in the lounge, but don’t take any material with you without the express permission of lounge staff.
7. Complimentary basic alcohol
Along with unlimited water, tea, coffee, soft drinks and juices, you can expect at least basic alcohol to be complimentary. This includes various local and imported beers, a handful of white and red wines, usually some sparkling wine/prosecco (though it probably won’t be proper Champagne), and basic spirits. They may be self-service or a have a bartender available to serve them for you.
Many Priority Pass lounges will have more premium beverages like Champagne and top-shelf spirits available for purchase. Where alcohol is illegal in a country like Kuwait, the lounge may not legally be allowed to sell alcohol, so the lounge might be dry.
8. Plenty of snacks
You may be served a meal on the plane, but it could be many hours between your last meal at home or work and the next meal on board. Priority Pass lounges can fill the gap with plenty of light food options. There’s usually some sort of nuts, crisps or pretzels and likely to some cheeses and deli meats. I usually find fresh fruit available, and depending on the time of day, there may be cut vegetables for snacking on or making into a salad or sandwich. For breakfast time, you can expect bread, pastries and some combination of cereals, yoghurt and fruit salad.
I can’t remember the last time I purchased overpriced food in an airport terminal as the food available in the lounge is usually sufficient to tide me over.
9. Hopefully, some hot food options, too
Good Priority Pass lounges have hot food options available like soup (with bread rolls) and perhaps also a curry with rice or a hot pasta dish with sauce. While not gourmet (think school cafeteria rather than Michelin-starred), these options can be great if you’re hungry enough to want something more substantial than cheese and crackers.
Given the British Airways Galleries Club lounges at Heathrow have similar hot food for their flagship lounges, this is an impressive offering by Priority Pass lounges.
10. Shower facilities, maybe
This is a maybe because this varies hugely from lounge to lounge. If you’ve just come off an overnight flight, having slept on board in your clothes and have a few hours to kill before your connection, it can make a world of difference to be able to shower and freshen up. You can check on the Priority Pass app if the lounge you are looking at has shower facilities. If it does, it’s best to enquire about this with staff as soon as you enter the lounge as there may be a wait to use it — some lounges that do have showers may only have one.
If there is a shower provided, you won’t need to bring your own towel — the lounge will provide this for you, as well as basic toiletries like soap and shampoo.
I love my Priority Pass membership through my Platinum Card. Lounges around the world do differ — there are those I didn’t want to leave and those that were pretty basic and could do with some improvements. But almost every single Priority Pass lounge I’ve even been in has been noticeably better than waiting in the terminal outside.
Featured image by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy
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