Airport Lounges
Credit: Courtesy of No1 Lounges

From the resplendent to the modest, even the most basic airport lounges are better than what lies beyond their doors: the actual airport. And lounge life, once you’ve experienced it, is hard to give up.

Travelers with access to airport lounges are guaranteed comfortable seating while they wait for their flight (no more sitting on the floor or on top of a suitcase). Airport lounges also offering free Wi-Fi, complimentary food and beverages — yes, even alcoholic drinks — and generally make the entire traveling experience better.

Some upscale lounges even offer showers, sleeping pods, and spa treatment rooms to help travelers seriously unwind before boarding.

Many travelers believe that lounge access comes by making a life-long commitment to a single airline — that it's a perk reserved only for the frequent fliers who rack up an impossible amount of miles to open lounge doors wherever their preferred airline happens to fly.

Lounge access is also granted to travelers flying in premium cabins.

But Priority Pass members needn't fly only with a single airline — or splurge on first class tickets — to enjoy lounge access. With Priority Pass membership, travelers can enjoy entrance to more than 1,000 lounges in over 500 cities across the world. And you don't even need to sign up for any one airline's loyalty program.

How to Join Priority Pass

Travelers can join Priority Pass in one of two ways: by purchasing a membership directly from the company, or by receiving a complimentary membership as a credit card perk.

Travelers buying memberships directly have three options. Standard membership starts at $99 per year (in which all lounge visits cost $27 each), while a Standard Plus membership runs for $249 (the first 10 lounge visits are free, and all subsequent visits cost $27). Travelers who opt for a Prestige Membership ($399 per year) will enjoy unlimited, free lounge visits, with guest access costing $27 per person, per visit.

Several credit cards offer Priority Pass membership, though the terms of that membership depends on the card.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders and their guests, for example, get free access to Priority Pass lounges — as do Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Citi Prestige cardholders.

Platinum and Business Platinum American Express cardholders also get free access to Priority Pass Lounges, and complimentary access for two accompanying guests.

Meanwhile, Hilton Honors Surpass cardholders also enjoy a free Priority Pass membership, but lounge visits are not complimentary. Both members and their guests must pay $27 per person per visit to enter.

Priority Pass Lounges

To determine if a Priority Pass is a fit for you, it's wise to see if lounges are available at your preferred airport. At John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, for example, Priority Pass members have access to three lounges: the Air France and KAL Business Class lounges, both in Terminal 1, and the Wingtips Lounge in Terminal 4.

At New York City's LaGuardia Airport, however, only one lounge is available to Priority Pass members (that's the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge, in Terminal B).

Travelers should also note that every lounge has specific conditions that may apply. The Dubai International Business Class lounge at Dubai International Airport, for example, lets Priority Pass members stay for five hours. At the SkyTeam Lounge in London's Heathrow Airport, on the other hand, Priority Pass member stays are restricted to three hours.