Priority Pass offers 'Spring Break Special' for airline club access

As a fan of airline clubs for the respite they offer from the cacophony of the concourse, I am always looking for ways to access them economically. I was very pleased to learn that Priority Pass, which allows access to more than 1,200 airline clubs worldwide, is offering "Spring Break" special pricing.

Unlike individual airline club memberships, which limit members to clubs operated by their main airline and sometimes (but not always) those operated by affiliate airlines, Priority Pass has entered into arrangements with a number of airlines that allow its members access to more than 1,200 airline clubs worldwide. Annual rates are on par with individual airline club memberships, but the flexibility it offers leaves individual airline clubs standing at the gate.

For example, Priority Pass offers three different membership levels, each with different annual fees and “co-pays” to use the clubs. The Standard level can be obtained for as little as $84 for the first year on the current "Spring Break" special ($99 per year after that) and requires a $32 fee per club visit. The Standard Plus can be purchased for $253 for the first year ($299 annually thereafter) and includes 10 free club visits. The Prestige level can be obtained for $364 for the first year ($429 a year after that) and includes unlimited club visits.

Compared to memberships to clubs operated by individual airlines, those prices can represent real bargains.

For example, an annual membership in The United Clubs starts at $550, depending on one’s United MileagePlus status, plus a one-time $50 initiation fee. A United Club membership allows access to only 45 club locations according to the United Club page at Infrequent travelers can choose to buy access at a cost of $59 per visit. In addition, the United Clubs are among those that require that a member be flying on that day to be granted admission. Later this year, the rules will become even more restrictive: effective Nov. 1, 2019, United Club members, guests, and one-time pass holders will need to provide a same-day boarding pass for travel on United, Star Alliance™ or a contracted partner.

American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs can offer a slightly better value. While annual membership carries no initiation fee and rates run from $500 to $650, depending on one’s American AAdvantage status, American (NYSE:AAL) also offers “day passes” for $59. Unlike United (NYSE:UAL), American’s day passes can be used at any number of Admirals Clubs on the day the pass is purchased. American’s network allows access to “more than 50 Admirals Club locations worldwide,” according to However, like United, admission after Nov. 1 will be limited to members and guests who have boarding passes for same-day travel on American or a partner airline.

Delta Air Lines' (NYSE:DAL) Sky Club offers more than 45 locations at international airports worldwide. It offers an Individual Membership for $545 per year, which covers the member. Guests are an additional $29 per visit. It also offers an Executive Membership for $845 per year, which includes up to two guests per visit. Delta discontinued offering single visit passes in November 2018.

Potential for substantial savings

Depending on how much you travel and how frequently you visit airline clubs, a Priority Pass could result in substantial savings over a membership in an individual airline’s club. As with any purchase, it is important to crunch the numbers based on your individual preferences and how you travel.

For example, a traveler with a standard-level membership who makes four round-trips a year and uses an airline club at each airport would pay eight $32 fees plus the $84 annual fee, for a total of $340 dollars, resulting in an all-in cost of $42.50 per club visit. Given the total cost, one might well consider paying an additional $24 for the Prestige pass and the unlimited access it offers.

A traveler who flies five round-trips per year and uses a club at each airport could find the Standard Plus membership very reasonable indeed at a per-visit cost of $25.30. Additional visits, at $32 per, will of course change the value calculation.

As with all membership levels, the per-visit cost of the Prestige level membership will be determined by the number of visits made annually.

In my estimation, however, the flexibility available with Priority Pass is an even more valuable benefit.

For several years, I was a member of The United Club. At Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA), my home airport, the United Club is in Terminal A, which is fine if I’m actually flying United. As often as not, however, I fly Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK), which uses Terminal C, or Southwest (NYSE:LUV), which uses Terminal B. In either of those instances, the United Club simply isn’t convenient, while the Alaska Airlines Boardroom is more convenient if I’m on Southwest and steps from my gate when on an Alaska flight, and admission to the Boardroom is covered by Priority Pass.

I have also been a member of American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs. However, my travels don’t take me between any two city pairs predictably, so the flexibility of being able to visit a United Club, an Alaska Airlines Boardroom, a SwissPort lounge, Air France VIP Lounge, Canadian Maple Leaf Lounge, Virgin America Loft, or any one of the more than 850 clubs offered is enticing indeed.

Because of the reduced number of club locations available through a United Club membership following the merger of United and US Airways, I decided not to renew my United Club membership. A Priority Pass card may soon have to fill the empty card slot in my wallet.

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Photo by Carl Dombek
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