Priority Pass Alternatives: 4 Options That Don't Rely on a Bank
What are the real alternatives out there to Priority Pass. This is the thought that popped into my head as I entered the SATS lounge in Singapore and snapped the above photo. To answer this question I found 2 alternative lounge membership programmes and two pay-per-use programmes that don’t rely on specific bank accounts or credit card programmes.
In short, the alternatives to Priority Pass are:
- DragonPass, with unlimited access membership costing USD 399 per year
- TAV Passport, with unlimited access membership starting at USD 390 per year
- LoungeBuddy, for pay-per-use access starting from USD 25 per visit
- Plaza Premium, also with pay-per-use access starting from USD 31 per visit
DragonPass is my favourite alternative to Priority Pass, offering similar coverage with unlimited lounge visits costing $399 per year.
The alternatives are outlined below:
|Alternative||No. of Airports||Price|
||>600||$399/£268 per year|
|TAV Passport||~460||$390 per year|
||>1,000||$25-$80 per visit|
|Plaza Premium||37||$31-$80 per visit|
For comparison, Priority pass membership costs:
- $99 annually and $32 per visit (no free visits included)
- $299 annually and 10 free visits, extra visits at $32 each
- $429 annually and unlimited free visits1
All prices in US dollars or British pounds.
Out of these alternatives, I found:
- DragonPass the best alternative for Priority Pass, particularly for British travellers;
- TAV Passport a good option for those frequently flying to large international airports;
- LoungeBuddy only useful for people with an American Express credit card who don’t fly often;
- Plaza Premium useful if flying a lot in Asia.
As there are no membership fees for LoungeBuddy and Plaza Premium, they can be good alternatives to consider in general for anyone not using lounges too often.
1. DragonPass, membership starting from USD 99 per year
DragonPass is a lounge membership programme that includes access to lounges in over 600 airports. It has global reach, though I’ve found the best value appears to be around Asia and the UK. Membership also includes discounts on airport restaurants, transfers, and meet & greet.
DragonPass has a large footprint of lounges and offers a comparable service to Priority Pass.
Lounge access with Dragon Pass costs:
- $99 or £68 for 1 visit per year
- $219 or £128 for 8 visits per year
- Unlimited visits for $399 or £268 per year
Additional visits, including for guests, cost $31 or £19.50 each2.
The above prices are USD or GBP and were quoted Q1 2020. All plans include discounts on restaurants (up to 25%), limousine airport transfers (up to 5%), and meet & greet services (up to 5%).
Overall, I found DragonPass to be great value for travellers based in the UK: DragonPass includes access to lounges at many smaller airports in the UK (think Southampton, Cardiff, and Doncaster as examples) and the £268 annual fee is lower than Priority Pass.
I found the subscription to be slightly better in UK terms, and this seems to be supported by DragonPass having a UK call centre available.
DragonPass Availability: Cities and Lounges
DragonPass includes lounge access at over 600 airports, for example:
- USA, over 40 airports such as Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, JFK & Newark, Honolulu and more (notably missing DFW);
- UK, over 30 airports, in addition to each London airport, they also include the likes of Manchester, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and even small airports such as Southampton (one of my favourite little airports);
- Europe, over 100 airports, including Frankfurt, Nice, Verona, and all three Milan airports (to give you an idea of how extensive their coverage is).
Every big international hub airport I checked has lounge access available with DragonPass including London, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Istanbul.
China has the single largest footprint of lounges in the DragonPass network, with over 200 available (I didn’t realise there were so many airports in China!).
The DragonPass website or app can be used to figure out what services are available at any airport. Though I found the search bar on the website not to work very well (e.g. I wanted to search for “Aspen” but the search returned 0, yet when I scrolled through I could find “Aspen Airport ASP”).
How to use DragonPass
To use DragonPass:
- Sign up on website
- Download app or wait for card in the mail
- Use app or card to access lounges
Sign up for DragonPass membership is done on their website. I believe it’s possible to sign up on their app, but I’ve never tried it and I’ve heard it’s not a great process.
Lounge access with DragonPass is via card (easy and less complicated) or via their app (I feel it’s a little harder to use).
Restaurant, limousine, and meet & greet discounts are all only available via the app.
Additional Perks of DragonPass
DragonPass also includes that small discount on airport transfers, restaurants, and meet & greet services.
There may also be spa and shop discounts coming in the future. To quickly count how many airports had lounges I had to extract the data from their website; in this data I found a handful of airports which listed “shop” and “spa” discounts, but without listing which shops or spas it was available at.
How DragonPass Compares
I feel that DragonPass is the best like-for-like replacement for Priority Pass. To me it seems a little rough around the edges, but the core product of providing membership access to lounges is very competitive.
I also feel the support set-up of DragonPass isn’t as polished as Priority Pass. It seemed hard to get in touch with a real person and their app doesn’t seem to to be doing well. I found the best option for talking to someone might be by using their UK based phone number.
2. TAV Passport, for $390 per year
TAV Passport is a lounge and other travel related benefits membership program with global reach from its home base in Turkey.
Lounge access with TAV Passport costs 2350 Turkish Lira (or approx. 390 USD) per year, including lounge access for card holder and an accompanying guest3.
Extra privileges are available at airports in Turkey, such as fast track through security.
I found TAV Passport to be a good option for people who travel extensively around the globe.
TAV Passport Availability: Cities and Lounges
TAV Passport lists 460 lounges available in many countries, such as:
- USA, just over a dozen cities including Dallas (DFW), Atlanta, New York (JKF only) and Seattle amongst others
- UK, only the major cities, London (LHR, LGW, STN), Manchester, and Edinburgh - though also includes Derby and East Midlands
- Europe, over 60 airports including the likes of Frankfurt, Paris, Prague, Geneva, and many more
TAV Passport also includes major hub airports such as JFK, Heathrow & Gatwick, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai and of course Istanbul.
A full list of airports is available on TAV Passport’s website as a handy Excel sheet that includes details of where to find the lounge within the airport.
How to use TAV Passport
To use TAV Passport:
- Sign up by calling the call centre or by completing the details on the website (click “buy now”, then select the TAV Passport, then enter details)
- A card is mailed to you (it costs an extra 100 Lira / 17 USD for the card to be mailed to an address outside Turkey)
- Present the card at participating lounges for access
Note: You do NOT have to live in Turkey to sign up to TAV Passport, according to the TAV Passport website.
Many of the other discounts (such as airport transfers) and privileges of TAV Passport are booked by calling their call centre.
Additional Perks of TAV Passport
TAV Passport includes lounge access for 1 guest accompanying the card holder.
Other additional perks are usually focussed on Turkish airports, such as complimentary accompanying children under 18, and fast track through security. The discount on airport transfers is apparently available globally, though I haven’t tried it.
How TAV Passport Compares
I like the feel of how mature the TAV Passport programme is. It’s not a new product, like DragonPass or Priority Pass. Unfortunately the lounge footprint isn’t too big. I’m also going to guess the reason it seems cheaper than Priority Pass is due to currency exchange rate differences; TAV Passport feels like it should be more expensive to me.
I do also like that TAV Passport includes access for 1 guest. Every other lounge programme I’ve looked at charges for additional guests. In some Turkish airports, children under 18 can also accompany at no extra charge.
3. LoungeBuddy, pay-per-use access starting from USD 25 per visit
LoungeBuddy is a pay-per-use lounge access app with the advantage of only paying for the lounge access as it’s used4.
Example prices at time of writing include:
- London (Heathrow): $45 for Plaza Premium; $52 for No. 1 (T3); $89 for Lufthansa
- Singapore: $35 for Plaza Premium; $36 for dnata; $36 for Marhaba
- Dallas (DFW): $39 for The Club
All of the prices here are in US dollars.
At the $30-40 range, I found most lounges provided a place to sit, power sockets available, and some complimentary drinks and food. The better ones in this price range include hot food and alcoholic drinks.
At the higher end of the price range (over $50), expect a traditional business class lounge experience: Complimentary beer, wine, spirts, and a buffet or fresh cooked food.
Lower priced options are available, I even saw some cheaper than LoungeBuddy’s introductory price of $25. Probably the reason they don’t advertise lower prices is that at this price point (roughly $20), the “lounge” is little more than a place to sit. Power sockets may not even be available.
I found LoungeBuddy to be good for anyone who only flies a few times per year. There’s also no risk of paying for a membership that doesn’t support the airports you fly to: Using LoungeBuddy to book in advance means you know there will be a lounge at that airport you can use.
LoungeBuddy Availability: Cities and Lounges
LoungeBuddy is well represented around the world, able to provide some sort of access at nearly every airport I checked.
Some examples, in addition to the above, include:
- Australia: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane
- Asia: Bangkok (both airports), Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Taipei, Tokyo (Narita not Haneda)
- Canada: Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton
- US: Seattle, JFK, DFW
- Europe: Paris (both airports), Frankfurt, Munich, Stockholm
Many many more lounges are available, there are well over 1000!
How to use LoungeBuddy
Steps for using LoungeBuddy:
- Download the app
- Sign up
- Make booking to use lounge
Payment must be made with an American Express credit card.
Additional Perks of LoungeBuddy
I couldn’t find any additional perks. They have a large network and pay-per-use access: A simple system.
How LoungeBuddy Compares
I like that there are no membership fees with LoungeBuddy, only pay for what you use. I also usually have an American Express in my wallet, so it’s no big deal for me, I understand others may not be so accepting of this.
I found the price of LoungeBuddy quite high compared to Priority Pass however. If visiting lounges more than 2-3 times per year, Priority Pass may be a better option.
4. Plaza Premium, casual access starting from USD 31 per visit
Plaza Premium is a lounge operating company which also sells pay-per-use access to its lounges. It is based in Hong Kong but maintains a global a network of its own lounges and agreements to sell casual access to other lounges5.
Lounge visits are booked for each use, and can be done so using the website. No paid memberships are available (though some credit cards include Plaza Premium access).
Access to Plaza Premium and partner lounges typically costs between $31 and $80. Some examples of this cost are:
- $53 for Plaza Premium lounges at Heathrow
- $76 for the Ahlan lounge in Dubai
- $43 for Plaza Premium lounge in Singapore
- $31 for Plaza Premium lounge in New Delhi
All of the above prices are in US dollars.
I find Plaza Premium to offer a good experience to sit in and have a small snack and a beer or glass of wine.
At the more expensive end of the scale, expect a business class lounge experience with a buffet and/or cooked food, and beer, wine and spirits.
I’ve also experienced a bit of crowding with Plaza Premium lounges, particularly in Hong Kong and New Delhi. This can be due to airlines using them as contract lounges (in the case of Delhi) or generous credit card schemes (such as in Hong Kong).
That said, the Plaza Premium lounge in Melbourne - which I’ve never found to be busy - is excellent.
Plaza Premium Availability
I found Plaza Premium lounges to be available in 37 airports. In addition to the above, Plaza Premium has lounge access available in:
- Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney
- Taipei, Hong Kong
- Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver
There are no lounges in the US partnered with Plaza Premium at the time of writing.
How to use Plaza Premium
To use Plaza Premium:
- Go to their website
- Search for the airport you want to visit the lounge in
- Make a booking
There are no apps (for booking lounge access) and I found the sign up procedure to not be too complicated.
Additional Perks of Plaza Premium
Spa, massage, and shower services are also available to purchase. Purchasing a shower alone can be cheaper than the lounge access (a shower is my favourite lounge perk that I’m always on the look out for).
How Plaza Premium Compares
I found Plaza Premium to have a small network and charge a comparatively high entrance fee for it.
The best use of Plaza Premium lounges I found is when the access is complimentary courtesy of the airline or a credit card.
The best alternative I’ve found to Priority Pass is DragonPass. TAV Passport can be a good option if flying around the world frequently; LoungeBuddy can be good if flying around the world infrequently (only 2-3 lounge visits per year).
I prefer the membership options (Priority Pass, DragonPass, or TAV Passport) over pay-per-use lounges. I don’t find value in pay-per-use lounges. In most airports I visit I’d rather put the money to a meal at a restaurant or cafe and sit there while waiting for my flight.
Written by Chris who travels frequently for work and understands what it can be like to arrive somewhere new and unfamiliar.
I wrote Landing Last Minute to help the hurried traveler get necessary information about any destination.