How to Use Priority Pass When There Are No Lounges

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  • Priority Pass is the most commonly offered lounge program for travel rewards cards, but some airports and/or terminals lack lounges.
  • Priority Pass members can enjoy a complimentary hour in a Minute Suite, which counts as one lounge visit.
  • There are dozens of restaurants that are part of the Priority Pass network, but only certain members have access; if you do, you can enjoy a free meal through credits from Priority Pass.

Almost anything is better than waiting at the gate.

One of my favorite travel rewards card perks is airport lounge access. And for most travel cards, lounge access is basically synonymous with Priority Pass membership.

In most cases, this is fine. Priority Pass is a pretty decent network, with lounge options in most major airports. But there are still airports -- or, in some cases, terminals -- that lack Priority Pass-accessible lounges. 

You may not be entirely out of luck, however. What some people may not realize is that the Priority Pass network isn't exclusive to lounges. It also contains a few non-lounge options in select airports.

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Minute Suites

Dubbed "The Traveler's Retreat" on its website, Minute Suites are sort of like tiny hotel rooms (except you'll usually find a wide couch/daybed instead of a bed with a mattress). Minute Suites often have computers and televisions, and may even have access to showers (additional fees for showers may apply).

You can find Minute Suites in 10 different U.S. airports, including:

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Baltimore/Washington (BWI)
  • Charlotte (CTW)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Nashville (BNA)
  • LaGuardia (LGA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)

An eligible Priority Pass membership gives you access to a one-hour stay in a Minute Suite. In other words, one Minute Suite stay for one hour counts as one lounge visit. You can stay for additional time at the rate of $34 per additional hour. Up to three guests can stay with you in your Minute Suite at no additional charge.


Another non-lounge option for some members are the dozens of restaurants that are part of the Priority Pass network. You can find options in both domestic and international airports. 

Essentially, your Priority Pass card will act as a payment card in the restaurant. The main member will receive a $28 credit toward their bill in participating restaurants. In most restaurants, you can also get up to $28 in credit for a guest, as well. 

(I had a lovely meal in Washington D.C. during a layover, just steps from my gate, and the credits covered everything but the tip! I recommend tipping on the full bill amount.)

Note that if you're traveling alone, you only get one credit; you can't double dip if you don't have a guest on your bill. Some restaurants may allow more than one guest, but that seems to be rare in my experience.

It's generally good etiquette to mention you'll be using your Priority Pass card when you're seated. Some restaurants will swipe your card upfront, while others will wait until the end of your meal.

Unfortunately, not all Priority Pass memberships include restaurant access. You'll need to have received your membership from your Chase credit card, or have purchased an eligible membership directly from Priority Pass. (Capital One used to offer restaurant access as part of its Priority Pass membership, but that ended last year.)

A great perk made even better

Airport lounge access is an amazing card perk that I cannot recommend enough. (At this point, I enjoy lounges so much I'd probably pay for them if I didn't have access through my cards.) But when airport lounge access isn't an option, my Priority Pass membership can still save the day -- or, at least, the layover. 

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