The Priority Pass network of airport lounges adds Wellington, Vancouver and Toronto to its international footprint this month, along with Switzerland's Lugano and Lebanon's Beirut Rafic Hariri airports. These follow December's addition of lounge-sharing arrangements at Las Vegas, Washington and New Delhi.
Priority Pass continues to drill into a narrow niche for travellers. Business class passengers enjoy access to an airline's own lounge by default – as will many frequent flyers, even if they're shuttling about in economy.
Infrequent travellers, on the other hand, can purchase one-time entry into many independent facilities such as Plaza Premium Lounges (many of which are Priority Pass partners).
However, there are times when business travellers end up flying economy outside their normal airline or airline alliance –- and some credit cards aimed at business travellers and high-income individuals also include free Priority Pass membership as a perk.
Indeed, with the impending loss of ' Anytime Lounge Access' for Platinum Frequent Flyers, top-tier members of Qantas' Frequent Flyer loyalty scheme will welcome the option of independent lounges.
In Australia, the Priority Pass membership provides access to Virgin Blue's The Lounge facilities in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, plus the United Airlines Red Carpet Club in Melbourne. Notably absent is an international lounge in Sydney's Terminal 1.
Wellington's Corporate Box lounge, which is available to Priority Pass members as of this week, is the only New Zealand lounge in the programme -- read our review of the facilities available.
Lounges are also available at all major connecting hubs to reach Europe and the US, although some of better quality than others. The Servisair lounges at London Heathrow are particularly grim: we've walked into them, then given up finding a seat and walked back out to find a Starbucks (which tells you how desperate we were!).
You can browse the entire directory of Priority Pass lounges here. Membership costs vary depending on how many lounge visits are included: for Australian and New Zealander travellers, prices range from US$99 per year plus US$27 per visit to a flat US$399 for unlimited access.
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