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Review: Why DragonPass Beats Priority Pass?

JET Lounge at Vienna Airpot

Our loyal reader loves to enjoy snacks and drinks in JET Lounge at Vienna Airport before flying to his holiday destination.

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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 (28)

  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!

    Reply

    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!!

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

  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.

    Reply

    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. :)

  5. Nov 07, 2018 at 20:10 EET Glen Attwood :

    I would like to know where Richard Turner got his information on how to book lounge access with Priority Pass as I have tried to use it 6 times now in 3 moths only to be refused entry every time, and when contacting Priority Pass I was informed that advance bookings can not be done.

    Reply

  6. I have used dragonpass for a few years as a benefit of my bank account. I have the app on my phone so don't require a seperate card to carry and I can order additional visits should my free allowance run out.

    I use Gatwick airport and have more often than not been turned away due to the lounge being full. The only way around this is to reserve a place at an additional £5 prior. Somewhat annoying as I don't always have the advance notice to make my reservation. But the reservation does come with access to the priority security lane. If it were not for the frequent turn always, I would say this is a great option for travellers.

    Reply

  7. Another interesting perk that Dragon Pass has which Priority Pass doesn't is access to lounges in High Speed Railway stations in China. In fact if you go to the Dragon Pass website's Chinese version, it is prominently highlighted at the menu bar on top. Each HSR lounge is considered 1/2 a visit of an airport lounge.

    This perk is not present in the English version of the website, and I'm not sure if you can use your DragonPass purchased in Europe for the railway lounges. Perhaps they think non-Chinese people don't travel in China.

    For myself, my Singapore credit card does come with DragonPass, and it can be used for either 6 airport lounge visits or 12 HSR lounge visits, or a mixture between the two.

    Reply

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the interesting information. Our website is bilingual, we speak only English and Finnish and so were able to check only the English website of DragonPass.

  8. We have also just been changed from Priority pass to Dragonpass through Nat West - huge disappointment on arriving at my favourite lounge in Bangkok - Oman Lounge - don’t accept DragonPass!! I will be cancelling my account!!

    Reply

    1. Hello Brian,

      That is really sad to hear. Unfortunately, not any lounge membership at this time is covering all lounges in the world. Like in your case, DragonPass was not accepted as an entry method to the lounge but Priority Pass. This can be similar case in other airports where lounge can be accessed with Priority Pass but not with DragonPass.

      Setting this issue aside, it would be wise to check the lounge latest info about their current entry methods before visiting. We wish you smooth travelling.

  9. Similar experience as Brian. Natwest will now lose a Black Joint Account because of the switch to Dragon Pass.

    Reply

  10. Hi i’m a dragonpass user and here are some facts that i found to share. In the airports I visited, there were some lounges that DP had more access to - the ones I remember are Hong Kong and Hanoi - and these lounges were a lot quieter than the ones both PP and DP holders could access. I find PP has gotten too popular these days that sometimes normal airport restaurants are less crowded than private lounges...

    Reply

    1. Hello. Thanks for the Good information. Happy travels!

  11. Dragonpass has been a pain, the discounts are not even recognised at the F&B when I was in Bangkok & Vietnam. None of them heard about Dragonpass.

    The lounge access is almost the same with Priority pass with Priority pass having higher coverage.

    Secondly, Priority Pass HAVE both restaurant AND retail discounts who actually recognises it when I turn up.

    The meet & greet and limousine service is quite useless since it is super overpriced. Booking a hotel Limo is even cheaper.

    I understand if this post is sponsored, but at least amend the title accordingly. Pretty sure Dragonpass does not beat Priority Pass.

    Reply

    1. Nov 20, 2018 at 11:11 EET Niko / Finnoy Travel :

      Thank you for the comment.

      This is not a sponsored post. We do not get anything from DragonPass and we do not have any relations to them. We also mark posts sponsored if someone pays for them.

      We appreciate all comments. The title is a little controversial and we understand well that it is not the absolute truth. But there are a few points why we think DragonPass may be better than Priority Pass. For example, for many people it becomes cheaper. Of course, if there are many quality problems, it may change the situation.

      We will update the article every now and then with the information we get as comments. So please continue sharing your good and bad experiences.

  12. Nov 22, 2018 at 20:16 EET Augustine THAYALANAYAGAM :

    Dragon Pass Advertise to say that they cover all major International airports but when I coming back to London Via Muscat(Oman) they did not accept the dragon Pass as I had to wait there for considerable time I was told that If I need to use the facilities of a lounge I should pay 52 USD . Whats the point in having Dragpnpass when this could not work on a major international airport. I think this dragon pass is a cut down version of the Priority Pass. I think all the people who have this pass should write to the banks which have issued these cards to go back to Priority Pass. As I have used Priority Pass with out any problem in all major international airports. I am definitely lodging my dissatisfaction about Dragonpass to my bank. If more people write to their banks then the banks could get a better idea of the facilities that are provided by Dragonpass.
    Augustine

    Reply

    1. Hi Augustine,

      Thanks for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience being a DragonPass member and unable to access lounge in Mukat Airport. We don't work with DragonPass but our advise to travelers is to first check in advance the access methods of a certain lounge wherever youur destination is. This way, you are knowledgeable whether you are able to access or not depending on your membership and certainly avoiding disappointments like this later.

  13. Nov 23, 2018 at 17:25 EET Augustine Thayalanayagam :

    Firstly you should refer to the correct airport it’s not Mukat airport it’s Muscat airport in Oman (this is a major international airport ) not any small airport although you say that you are not a part of dragonpass you come out to defend the dragon pass makes me wonder if you are a indipendent organization you should get your facts (the name correctly) before you make a comment
    Augustine

    Reply

    1. Nov 23, 2018 at 19:25 EET Niko / Finnoy Travel :

      Hello.

      We are sorry for mistyping the airport name. We are not familiar with that area but we believe that it's a major international airport.

      All comments are welcome. We see that some readers don't like DragonPass and some find it good. Our comparison was based especially on price level. Of course DragonPass is not good for those people whose favourite airports are not included.

      We are independent but co-operate with some companies. Our affiliate links are marked. With DragonPass we do not co-operate.

      We appreciate all comments and good that people tell real experiences. There is no one size fit all solution.

  14. For anyone using London Gatwick DragonPass is a disadvantage. You not only have to book in advance but at Gatwick some quite good restaurants accept Priority Pass as well as the lounges but not DragonPass

    Frankly I can’t see myself using Dragon Pass and I’m now going to review whether to keep the Natwest Black account it comes with.

    Reply

  15. I believe most readers here does not have personal likes/dislikes against Priority Pass or Dragon Pass, it is simply raising the issues of the supplier who fail to perform the basic operations of such a business.

    I have no feelings nor loyalty towards either company, they are just here to serve what they said they would.

    The issue I have is with the title of the article and since as you mentioned it is not sponsored, I can only presume it is a click bait in which you succeeded, because if we are planning to compare point by point in a logical and systematic manner without any biasness nor 'personal preference/opinion', Dragonpass most definitely do not beat Priority Pass in service offerings, UX/UI app interface, customer journey, customer service, company/brand presence and many more. If the only thing is high speed railway lounges as the basis of the argument, then I believe it holds very little weight and makes this article credibility questionable.

    Reply

    1. Nov 27, 2018 at 12:31 EET Niko / Finnoy Travel :

      Thank you for the comment.

      When we wrote the article we first made the content and then decided the title. We had a strong feeling that DragonPass is better, especially for us. It was cheaper and it had good enough properties. We can't deny that our personal opinion influenced a little.

      It seems that many DragonPass customers especially from UK have had bad experiences with DragonPass probably because London airports are crowded and maybe DragonPass has bad contracts with lounges - we do not know. If we wrote the article now, probably we would use more neutral title.

      Without problems DragonPass would be cheaper to many users. They have big enough lounge selection for example for us. Of course, if they have constant problems, they are not good.

      We are happy about good discussions. We are ready to publish a guest post if someone of our readers liked to write another comparison or experiences about DragonPass.

  16. I take in excess of 100 flights per year and like many others have been forced to DragonPass from Priority Pass by NatWest. I don't like it. Its coverage in the USA is very weak. For example, it has no deal at the major US hubs like Dallas, Seattle or Atlanta, so this would make it a bad option for Europeans visiting the USA. I expect it would be better in the Far East and Australia, but that's really not much use for transatlantic travelers. Even for me, the $400 price tag of these passes is a bit steep. There's got to be a gap in the market for the semi regular traveller which offers, say, a carnet of 10 passes for $200 and if anybody knows of one, I'd be pleased to hear about it.

    Reply

    1. for that, you may have to use VPS to purchase Dragon Pass or Priority Pass from a South Asian country. We get top tier dragon pass and priority pass for $226 each ~

  17. Like many Natwest customers who have commented here, I saw my Priority Pass membership move to Dragon Pass this year, as I have a Black Account with RBS. When I visited my brother in California last month, there was only one Dragon Pass lounge at LAX which I could use, whereas Priority Pass had several, so I tend to agree with the comments already made about lounge coverage in North America. On the other hand, when flying within the UK, the move to Dragon Pass is definitely an improvement, as it allows me to guarantee a space in a lounge for £5, whereas with Priority Pass, I was unable to do so and often was turned away, because the lounge was busy. I can still use my Dragon Pass card on a 'walk up' basis, same as I could with Priority Pass card, but the difference is that I now have a choice, whereas Priority Pass did not allow me to make a firm reservation, which often caused stress when arriving at the lounge reception. I tend to chance my arm in Edinburgh, where there is usually space in the Aspire lounge, but when I'm at Gatwick, I always pay the £5 surcharge to guarantee that I'll be allowed in. Horses for courses, I guess.

    Reply

  18. DP holds more value in South East Asian countries. Dragon Pass allows you to access T/G lounge in Bali, Indonesia Airport while Priority Pass doesn’t. This lounge is usually reserved for business/first class for some airlines, so you get a better atmosphere here as the other lounge is usually quite crowded. Ideally, you should be making 13 trips or visit departure area 26 times a year to make use of DP top-end plan with unlimited Spa access.

    DP top tier is being offered complimentary with a few top-end credit cards (as is PP) in a few South/South East Asian countires.

    Reply

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