The Trick to Making Your Airport Experience Much More Civilized (Without Spending a Fortune!)
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. Spending hours in airports can be stressful, loud, and expensive. But it doesn’t have to be this way if you have airport lounge access! Million Mile Secrets contributor Chris recently traveled to Europe and had several great airport lounge visits. I’ve asked him to share his experiences. Chris: Thanks, Daraius! Last month, I traveled through Europe and enjoyed incredible adventures in Munich, Madrid, Paris, and Prague. I used my Priority Pass membership from the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to get free entrance to airport lounges! I enjoyed excellent food, drinks, Wi-Fi, and other complimentary amenities. These perks would have cost me hundreds of dollars otherwise!
I’ll share my experiences at 2 Priority Pass lounges. And compare those to another lounge that does not offer access to Priority Pass members.
Turkish Airlines Lounge – Washington, DC
My European adventure began at Dulles airport, located just outside of Washington, DC. I had previously read good reviews of the Turkish Airlines Lounge, so I was excited to check it out for myself.
From start to finish, this lounge was a great experience!
After checking in at the front desk, I walked to the main seating area. This space had a large buffet in the center and a section of drinks and desserts on the nearby wall. The buffet was well-stocked and did not disappoint!
I enjoyed several of the starter items, such as lentil salad and quinoa……tasty pasta and rice… …spicy chicken and meatballs… …and topped things off with a bit of cucumber yogurt and hummus.
After indulging in the delicious food offerings, I made my way to the next lounge area.
I didn’t need to shower before the flight, but I did take advantage of free drinks at the bar. They even served authentic Turkish Chai!
The Turkish Airlines Lounge at Dulles was one of the best lounges I’ve been to in the US! The delicious food options, complimentary open bar, and variety of seating and napping areas all made this a great visit!
Better yet, because I have a Priority Pass Select membership through my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, there is no limit to the number of guests I can bring to the lounge! According to the terms, if the lounge is full, your guests could be denied entry. But this is still a great perk! I plan to take advantage of this soon when traveling again through Dulles airport with a group of friends.
Erste Premier Lounge – Prague, Czech Republic
Later in the trip, I had a few hours to wait before flying out of Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague, so I decided to check out the Erste Premier Lounge.
The lounge was long and rectangular with the entrance in the center and identical amenities on either end.
After checking in at the front desk, I headed to the north side of the lounge and soon found the food and drink area.
There were just 2 hot food options – chicken schnitzel and pork schnitzel. Both were pretty good, but you would be out of luck if you didn’t like schnitzel!
There were a number of drink options, including an espresso machine……2 refrigerators stocked with beer, wine, and juices… …and a selection of 5 self-serve liquors.
Self-serve alcohol seemed to be common throughout lounges in Europe, but you usually won’t find this in the US!
After fixing a plate of food and a drink, I made my way to one of 2 sitting areas in the lounge. Both had an assortment of chairs and couches, but nothing too memorable.
I was impressed by the 2 large children’s play areas in the lounge. The walls in the play areas were bright and painted with colorful children’s art. Both were equipped with chairs, bean bags, pillows, and an assortment of other items for kids to play on.
Overall, the Erste Premier Lounge was a decent experience. I certainly can’t complain about waiting for a flight in a comfortable chair with free food and drinks, but the experience and amenities were not as nice as the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Washington, DC.
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge – Munich, Germany
Unlike the 2 previous lounges, Lufthansa lounges are not open to Priority Pass memberships. But I’ll share my experience as a point of comparison.
Lufthansa Business Class Lounges are available to travelers departing in Business Class on a Star Alliance airline or to Star Alliance Gold members. Fortunately, the first leg of my trip, Washington, DC to Madrid with a layover in Munich, was all in Business Class!
My flight from Washington to Munich in United Airlines’ Polaris Business Class was an enjoyable experience, but I was still looking forward to freshening up after a full day in Munich.
After checking in at the front desk, I headed to the lounge shower area. An attendant greeted me and directed me to one of 4 private shower suites. Each suite had a changing room and attached shower stall.
The suite also had a sink and a complimentary set of Lufthansa toiletries.
After taking a shower and changing, I walked toward the main lounge area. As I was leaving, the attendant immediately began cleaning my shower stall. It was nice to know Lufthansa cleans up after each guest!
The main lounge area had a variety of chairs, tables, and sofas. Some of the seating was gathered around televisions, but the majority was positioned around tables for eating or working.
There was also a set of seats for passengers looking to recline or take a nap.
I was hungry after walking around Munich all day, so I left my bag at a table and visited the buffet.
The buffet started with an offering of Bavarian pretzels and cheese sauce.
There was a beef stew dish with rice……and pork slices.
The drink section was next, including a self-serve coffee machine……a filtered water machine… …a cooler of bottled beers and juices… …and 2 beer taps!
I indulged in several plates of food and a few drinks before heading out to catch my flight to Madrid.
Which Lounge Was Best?
I had an excellent experience at both the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Washington, DC, and the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge in Munich. Both offered a variety of food options, unlimited free drinks, shower facilities, and an area to take a nap. I would say I slightly preferred the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge, mainly because it was at least twice the size of the Turkish Airlines Lounge. The difference was small, though.
And while I liked the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge a little more, it is only available to Business Class passengers or Star Alliance Gold Members. The Turkish Airlines Lounge is a Priority Pass lounge, making it much easier to access!
The Erste Premier Lounge in Prague was not as nice as the other 2 lounges. But still better than waiting for a flight on an uncomfortable airport terminal chair.
From my visits on this trip and others, it seems that your experience at Priority Pass Lounges will vary. Some lounges, like the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Washington, DC, are comparable to more exclusive lounges, like Lufthansa Business Class lounges. But others may not be as nice.
If you are planning to use a Priority Pass lounge on an upcoming trip, I would recommend checking out the lounge in advance on the Priority Pass website so you know what to expect!
How You Can Do It Too!
Anyone can purchase a Priority Pass membership. The price depends on the level of access and number of visits you want:
- Standard membership – $99 a year plus $27 per lounge visit (member and guests)
- Standard Plus membership – $249 a year includes 10 free visits for member (guests $27 per visit)
- Prestige membership – $399 a year includes unlimited visits for member (guests $27 per visit)
But if you have any of these credit cards, you get a free membership just for being a cardholder:
- Any version of the AMEX Platinum card (the The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, or Mercedes-Benz card) – unlimited free visits for cardholder and 2 guests
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – unlimited free visits for cardholder and accompanying guests
- Citi Prestige – unlimited free visits for cardholder and 2 guests or immediate family
- Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card – no limit on number of guests, at the discretion of each lounge
- U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card – 4 free entries per year for cardholder and 1 guest
If you visit airport lounges often, the Priority Pass memberships from these cards can more than offset the annual fee!
I really enjoyed my lounge experiences while traveling to Europe!
Priority Pass lounges can vary in their level of service and quality. Some may be top-of-the-line and similar to what you find in a Business Class Lounge. But other lounges may not offer the same experience. Even if the lounge isn’t the best, it still beats waiting in the terminal!
You can get a free Priority Pass membership with cards like the Platinum Card from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige, or the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve cards.
What’s the nicest airport lounge you’ve visited?
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