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Now that travel is back on the agenda, many Australians are looking at ways to make it easy and stress free.
As Aussies tentatively dip their toes back into interstate and overseas travel after such a long time away from the airport, they are looking for ways to make their holidays more enjoyable right from the moment they get to the terminal.
Gone are the days that airport lounges were the luxury escape for first class passengers and the wealthy elite.
With airlines and airports struggling to get back to their pre-pandemic efficiency, the lounges can be a welcome relief from overcrowded departure halls, delays and cancellations.
These days, the delicious buffets, comfy lounges and fresh facilities can be accessed by all - if you know how.
Priority Pass was founded 30 years ago to give everyday travellers the same exclusive access to tranquillity as First Class passengers.
With members in over 148 countries and access to over 1,300 airport experiences worldwide, it's no wonder so many people are discovering the benefits of being a member.
How does it work?
You choose one of three membership tiers based on what best suits your needs and how often you travel.
In the Standard tier, which is for occasional travellers and costs US$99, you can access any of the Priority Pass lounges in airports around the world for US$32 each for you and a guest each time you visit.
If you tend to be at the airport a few times a year for work and leisure, the Standard Plus membership may be a better option.
For US$299 a year, you get 10 free visits to an airport lounge during the year, after which you can pay US$32 for further visits (your guests are also charged US$32).
If you spend a lot of your life at airports, jetting around Australia and overseas for work and then fitting in holidays with the family, it may be worth investing in the Prestige membership.
This plan sets you back US$429 annually and allows you to go into any of the Priority Pass airport lounges for free whenever you need to.
While your guests are still charged US$32 each per visit, with lounge access often costing US$100 or more, this package could save you a lot of money if you're a frequent flyer with an average sized family.
What are the benefits?
Airport lounges are no longer just a less crowded more comfortable place to sit while waiting for your flight to get ready to board.
These days, airport lounges create relaxing and luxury experiences that help you escape the mayhem of travel and put you in the right frame of mind to start your trip in an enjoyable way.
People have come to expect lounges that look like they come from the pages of a homewares magazine or that could be the lobby of a five-star hotel.
They also want amenities such as access to free Wi-Fi and clean, modern showers, and complimentary quality food and drink.
Who wouldn't want to start their holiday with a cocktail in a relaxed lounge?
The lounges themselves are getting more competitive, with some offering extra premium experiences such as beauty treatments and massages, modern outdoor garden decks and even access to sleeping facilities.
So it's easy to see why more and more people are seeing the benefit of forking out a little more to get into a lounge without having to pay the first class plane ticket price.
How do you access lounges?
Once you're a member of Priority Pass, you simply present your membership card (actual or digital) at the participating airport lounge, pay any fees related to your membership package and you're in.
It is worth noting that currently lounges are only allowing passengers to enter the lounge up to three hours before their flight while airports and airlines get back to their pre-Covid operational levels.
Is it really worthwhile?
If you've ever been in a hot, crowded airport terminal waiting for a flight, you can't get a decent seat and your food and drink has cost the same as a celebrity chef's classic dish, you don't need to ask that question.
One thing we all value more now is anything that improves our wellbeing and sanity.
Access to a mini oasis amongst the chaos may not be worth the price of a first class ticket but it can be well worth the cost of a lounge club membership.
Depending on what you eat and drink, you may well save money based on what you would have had at the expensive offerings of the terminal.
So as far as value goes - Priority Pass is definitely value for money in my eyes.
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