If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the American Express Platinum, or the Citi Prestige, one of the most underutilized perks is the free membership to Priority Pass. This gets you free access to 1000+ lounges around the world whenever you fly. Most of these lounges have comfortable seating, free food, and free alcohol. This means that unbearable flight delay is just more time at the bar.
Part of the reason why people don’t use this perk more is that, for some cards, it needs to be activated. For example, for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you have to call in or make a request online to get the physical Priority Pass card mailed to you.
Lounges can be a hit or a miss.
The best lounges have hot food (bbq chicken, beef brisket, etc.) and a bartender making your favorite artisan drinks. Some even have complimentary massages and shower facilities.
The worst lounges have crackers and maybe beer.
Ranking the Lounges
In America, there are 38 lounges you can access with your Priority Pass membership. To rank these lounges, we looked at their Yelp ratings.
For tie breakers, we consider the number of reviews; the more reviews a lounge has, the more likely they are good (or bad). That means for lounges with a ≥3.0, the more reviews, the better they are.
We excluded 4 lounges that didn’t have Yelp pages/ratings: Mortgage Solutions Financial Premier Lounge (COS), The Club at CVG (CVG), Chesapeake Club Lounge (BWI), and The Royal Palm Lounge (SFB).
We merged the ranking of two lounges that shared the same Yelp page: The Club at SEA (Concourse A) and The Club at SEA (South Satellite — S Gates).
Here is our ranking of the remaining 33 Priority Pass lounges in America:
The average rating among the lounges is 3.2. Lounges had an average of 27 reviews.
In terms of lounge brands, The Club has the largest footprint in America with 10 with an average rating of 3.5. The Club makes up 26.3% of all Priority Pass lounges in America.
Air France / KLM has the second largest footprint at 7 combined lounges. 3 lounges are co-branded (Air France / KLM), 3 lounges are just Air France, and 1 lounge is just KLM.
The Best Priority Pass Lounge: The Club at SJC
With 62 reviews and a Yelp rating of 4.3, The Club at SJC stands head and shoulders above the competition. It’s open from 5am to 10pm and has everything you would want in a lounge.
There’s ample seating, plugs, and endless coffee, meaning that you can work (or pretend to work) to your heart’s content.
For hot foods, there are scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, bacon, oatmeal, and soup. There are also cold items like sandwiches, fruit, and cereal.
For drinks, they have a bar, all-in-one coffee makers, and soft drink machines.
Their bar is stocked and ready to make almost any drink you want. What amazes me is their bottled beer selection. Most lounges have maybe 2 or 3 options. They have 19. Their selection ranges from Sapporo to Corona, from Drakes to Blue Moon.
There are also showers available. This might not seem like a big deal but if you have a long layover or you’re arriving after a long flight, a shower is the first thing on your mind.
The daily entrance fee is $40, but you get to enter for free if you have a Priority Pass.
The Worst Priority Pass Lounge: Club America (MIA)
Club America is the only lounge with a Yelp rating below 2.0. With a score of 1.3 it stands alone as the worst Priority Pass lounge in America.
It’s closest competition for the title is the Art & Lounge at EWR with a rating of 2.2, almost a full point higher.
For food, you’re limited to cookies, pretzels, and (old) fruit. For drinks, reviews mentioned cold coffee, broken soda machines, empty bottles of alcohol, and limited selection of beers.
The entrance fee of $56. Even though you can get in for free with Priority Pass, I would probably stick with the fast food in the terminal.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
UGC disclosure: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.