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Review: Why DragonPass Beats Priority Pass?

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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 1000 lounges in more than 130 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.

Please use these links to check the Priority Pass lounge list and the DragonPass lounge list.

Priority and DragonPass lounges are usually third party lounges 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 costs 27 USD in both services.

Priority Pass Standard Plus costs 249 USD and DragonPass Preferential costs 219 USD. Priority Pass gives 10 free entries and DragonPass 8. One entry price will then be 24,9 USD and 27,40 USD for Priority Pass Standard Plus and DragonPass Preferential respectively.

Obviously, in this second level, DragonPass is a little more expensive. Despite of that, 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.

The unlimited levels give you unlimited lounge access. Priority Pass and DragonPass Prestige levels cost 399 USD / year. The guest price will be 27 USD. In this level, there are no price differences between these two companies.

However, this comparison is not the full truth. For example, we live in Euro zone and Priority Pass has the same numerical values for Euro prices as they have for dollar prices. 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.

Update 30th August 2018: We got a notification from Priority Pass that chargeable lounge visit prices increase. However, as far as we understand, the prices of Standard Plus and Prestige Priority Passes stay the same. We suggest you to consider DragonPass but if you still prefer Priority Pass, we recommend you to choose Standard Plus or Prestige as long as their prices stay the same.

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.

Our Conclusion

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 most scenarios, DragonPass becomes 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 are Priority Pass card holders because the membership has come with our credit cards. If we had now a choice to buy a lounge option 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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We are updating articles when we get new information. This article has been edited last time on 09/01/18.


Comments (6)

  1. Thanks for this absolutely helpful article. I'm about to take a 3 week trip with my wife and 1 year old and I saw an offer for DragonPass if you have a Visa Credit card. For a couple who mostly travels together should we get one membership or two? If we get 1 can we use the credits for guests or just the card holder?

    Again thanks a lot of writing this! Kiitos. Maraming salamat!


    1. May 23, 2018 at 10:05 EEST Niko / Finnoy Travel :

      Thanks for the comment.

      While writing this article, we contacted DragonPass and asked the same. If the couple is travelling together, they can use the same lounge credits in a single DragonPass. Of course this does not apply to the unlimited card where the guest still must pay the guest fee.

      So the answer is: Yes, one card should be enough. DragonPass has a great and fast customer service so we recommend you to confirm things with them.

      Corrections made on Sep 29th 2018.

  2. Sep 29, 2018 at 21:24 EEST Richard Turner :

    My wife and I have been longtime members of priority pass but now, because Natwest has moved to DragonPass our Priority Pass is due to be superseded
    I resent having to book and pay to visit an airport lounge when ones membership includes free access to airport
    Lounges. We are flying out of Gatwick south - no availability for free access so tried to book using new dragonpass. In spite of three weeks prior to flight have been told lounge full up. As we still had two weeks membership remaining on our Priority Pass I tried to book with them - no problem! Also had I been able to book with DragonPass I would have been required to specify exact time. This is not always possible. With Priority Pass no such restrictions.
    I think I would have preferred to remain with Priority!!


  3. Hi Richard,

    Thanks for your comment.

    We regret to hear such sad experience with DragonPass. Nothing else but wish you and your family smooth travelling in the future.


  4. To be fair, Richard, the same thing happened to me when we were switched from Airport Angel to Priority Pass. I think the services must reserve blocks of bookings so we end up with pot luck!

    I assume the reviewers didn’t actually try and use a Dragonpass card. I have just received mine from NatWest. Besides being rather poor quality, I am unable to load it into my Apple Wallet in place of my Priority Pass . It will not even load via a third party app like Stocard.

    It is all very well having a virtual membership card in their perfectly adequate app but it would be far more useful if my card were in the same place as my ticket/ boarding pass. The last thing I want to be doing in a busy airport is fumbling with my phone.

    Apart from discounts at restaurants I will never use (because like most people who have them, I prefer to use the lounge services), valet parking and limousine discount services that my bank offered anyway as part of my packaged account, I can see zero benefits of Dragonpass over Priority Pass except to save my bank some cash.

    I assume it will get better.


    1. Oct 04, 2018 at 22:15 EEST Niko / Finnoy Travel :

      Thank you for the feedback.

      It was good additional information. For the review we collected facts from the internet, asked details from DragonPass and we have visited lounges by using many different entry methods. But actually Priority Pass is also our main lounge access method because it has come with a credit card. The airports we have visited have actually not been so crowded. If we had to buy lounge membership from the scratch, DragonPass would become cheaper.

      Great that readers are sharing real experiences. :)

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