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DragonPass - A Chinese Priority Pass
Priority Pass is a well-known airport lounge membership for business and private travellers. It comes along with many credit cards but it can also be bought separately. In our separate review we have evaluated if Priority Pass is worth the money.
Priority Pass may be popular but there are other lounge access options too. Instead of obtaining the most popular one, there is another very similar competitor. DragonPass which comes from China has a very similar model with that of Priority Pass.
A Comparison of Dragon and Priority Pass
We are holders of Priority Pass cards but after learning about DragonPass airport lounge membership we decided to write a brief comparison and we were a little surprised ourselves about the results.
Both Products Are Lounge Memberships
There is one obvious similarity. Both services offer an access to airport lounges all over the world. Both Priority Pass and DragonPass have three kinds of memberships.
But DragonPass Offers More
The differences come with the extra services. Priority Pass do not have any of them. DragonPass, however, offers discounts also in selected airport restaurants. In addition, there are discounted Meet&Greet and Limousine services available for DragonPass members.
DragonPass is also fully digital. You need a mobile app to your iOS or Android phone to be able to access the lounge. Priority Pass has also their own mobile application though its members can still transact using traditional plastic membership cards. With our experience, Priority Pass' mobile app is working too slowly and not updating data immediately after the lounge visit.
Priority Pass and DragonPass have a small difference how to charge lounge visits after the free ones. In DragonPass program, you should pay the lounge access fees beforehand but in Priority Pass you will pay your lounge access fees during your visit but not prior to it.
The Total Number of Priority and DragonPass Airport Lounges
According to the web page of Priority Pass their membership allows you to visit over 1200 lounges in more than 140 countries. DragonPass welcomes you at almost the same number of doors. Currently there are about 970 lounges available in 115 different countries for DragonPass customers to access.
The absolute number of the lounges isn't a key factor. A traveller only cares if there is a lounge in the airport where he/she is travelling. That is why you should always check which lounges Priority and DragonPass can offer at your home airport and at the most popular airports you are travelling through.
Our home Airport is Helsinki Airport. There are 2 Priority Pass lounges called Aspire Lounge and Almost Home Lounge at Helsinki and unsurprisingly these 2 lounges are also included in the DragonPass airport lounge list.
We made also a few random searches about lounges available in the following airports:
- London Heathrow
- Priority Pass: 8 airport lounges
- DragonPass: 9 airport lounges
- Berlin Tegel
- Priority Pass: 1 airport lounge
- DragonPass: 1 airport lounge
- New York JFK
- Priority Pass: 4 airport lounges
- DragonPass: 3 airport lounges
The short comparison above shows that there are not big differences between the lounge availability between these two companies. Before purchasing any membership product you should check the current lounge list on Priority and DragonPass web page.
Priority Pass lounges and DragonPass lounges are usually maintained by airport ground service companies. Airlines have their own lounges and normally you are not allowed to enter them neither with Priority nor DragonPass. However, there may be exceptions.
The Prices and Benefits of Membership
One of the most important factor for a purchase decision is the price-quality/benefits ratio. Particularly we recommend private travellers to compare prices carefully.
Priority Pass and DragonPass both sell three types of memberships but they are named differently. Priority Pass Standard and DragonPass Classic models cost 99 dollars per year. However, DragonPass gives you one free lounge entry with the Classic model but Priority Pass gives nothing. All extra entries and guests cost 32 USD for Priority Pass members and 27 USD for DragonPass members.
Priority Pass Standard Plus costs 299 USD and DragonPass Preferential costs 219 USD. Priority Pass gives 10 free entries and DragonPass 8. One entry price will then be 29 USD and 24.9 USD for Priority Pass Standard Plus and DragonPass Preferential respectively.
DragonPass has one great advantage in Preferential Level over Priority Pass' Standard Plus. The 8 free lounges entries can also be used by the guest as long as the membership owner is present during the lounge visit. That makes DragonPass Preferential a better choice for couples travelling together a few times in a year. It is also cheaper than Priority Pass.
The unlimited levels give you unlimited lounge access. Priority Pass Prestige costs 429 USD / year and DragonPass Prestige 399 USD. The guest prices will be 32 USD for Priority Pass members and 27 USD for DragonPass members.
However, this comparison is not the full truth. For example, we live in Euro zone and Priority Pass has a little higher prices for Euro zone customers. That means: European Priority Pass consumers are paying more than what American Priority Pass members have to pay. In contrast, DragonPass offers the same dollar prices also for Europeans, so basically DragonPass is a cheaper option for us in the Euro zone.
Price change on 30th August 2018: Priority Pass guest fee increased from 27 dollars to 32 dollars. The Standard Plus and Prestige memberships became also more expensive.
The Extra Services of DragonPass
1) Discounts at Airport Restaurants
DragonPass offers up to 25 percent discounts in airport restaurants. For example, in Finnoy Travel's home airport at Helsinki, there are 8 restaurants listed in DragonPass web page that offer discounts. Unfortunately the exact discount percents are not specified on the DragonPass' website.
2) Airport Services
DragonPass offers discounted Meet&Greet and Limousine services. These benefits are not offered by their competitor Priority Pass. The exact prices will be shown on the DragonPass app when booking these services.
Priority and DragonPasses are really similar. DragonPass has an improved service model and it gave us a really fresh image about itself. It is fully digital and offers more services and benefits.
Also Visa is partnering with DragonPass. Actually Visa has larger digital airport companion programme that is producing benefits for Visa card holders and DragonPass is a partner.
The prices of these two lounge programs are quite equal but in the majority of scenarios, DragonPass becomes clearly cheaper. Discounted dining option in airport restaurants by DragonPass gives you also a nice alternative if you prefer to skip lounge visit for some reasons.
We have been Priority Pass card holders because the membership has come with our credit cards. If we bought a lounge membership now we would probably choose DragonPass. Even though Priority Pass may be more popular, DragonPass is more versatile and an interesting option. We feel that DragonPass beats Priority Pass with its more innovative model and added benefits.
How to Buy DragonPass?
Priority Pass and DragonPass often come with credit cards. We guess that Chinese credit cards prefer DragonPass to Priority Pass.
DragonPass can be bought via their web page. We are not a partner of DragonPass and we do not have any recommendations about the purchase process.
Other Cheap Ways to Access the lounges
If you are travelling only a few times in a year, the payback of lounge membership programs is not good enough. In the case this is your situation, purchasing Priority Pass or DragonPass membership is not worth the money.
For less frequent travellers, we recommend Lounge Pass service* to buy discounted single entries for airport lounges. Lounge Pass has a huge selection of airport lounges for competitive single entry prices. Buying single lounge passes is now even more appealing option when Priority Pass is increasing its prices.
What is your way to access lounges? We would be glad to hear your comments below.
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