Choose this, not that: MIA Priority Pass lounge edition
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A Priority Pass membership can make your preflight experience a whole lot more enjoyable. Membership unlocks access to more than 1,200 airport lounges in 143 countries and 500 cities worldwide. Check out this guide to learn about cards that offer a free membership, lounge guest policies and more.
Most major airports in the U.S. and around the world now have multiple lounges accessible through Priority Pass. The program doesn’t actually own or operate any of the lounges and the quality can vary widely. Some lounges are little more than a small room with bottled water and pretzels, others are as good, if not better, than those you’d get if you were flying in a premium cabin. You might wonder which lounge to use, so we are looking at Miami, one of America’s busiest airports for international passengers. In addition to being the “Gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean,” Miami Airport (MIA) offers nonstop service to destinations across Europe, the Middle East, and hopefully soon, to Asia.
Although the airport is slated for a makeover, it offers a number of options for Priority Pass members. There are three traditional Priority Pass lounges and three Priority Pass restaurants at MIA. Three of them are located in the Central Terminal Concourse E, and the others are pretty spread out, which is a good thing considering that many of the concourses are not connected airside.
(Note that the hours listed for the lounges are the hours when they are available to Priority Pass members. A lounge may be open outside of those hours, but will not admit members then. Additionally, for all these lounges, you must have a valid boarding pass and access may be restricted if the lounge is full.)
1. Avianca VIP Lounge
Location: Near Gate J-4, upstairs on the third floor, on the left side of the entrance to the VIP lounges area.
Hours: 24 hours daily. Access may be restricted because of space constraints, particularly 12 p.m.-11 p.m.
Food and Beverage: Decent variety of hot and cold foods and a self-serve bar with complimentary beer, wine, spirits, soda and juice.
Amenities: This lounge offers many seating options, a dedicated family room and a business center with computers and a printer. The Wi-Fi is solid, but power outlets are lacking.
2. Club America F
Location: Central Terminal Concourse F, on the third floor
Hours: 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Food and Beverage: Modest selection of snacks such as finger sandwiches and cookies and complimentary alcoholic drinks upon request.
Amenities: Aside from Wi-Fi, this lounge doesn’t offer much in terms of amenities.
3. VIP Lounge Terminal E
Location: After getting off the train in Concourse E Satellite, proceed toward Gate E-33 and take the escalator to the second floor.
Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
Food and Beverage: Modest selection of light refreshments
Amenities: Free Wi-Fi; power outlets are lacking.
Note, this is a temporary lounge. The permanent location is expected to open later in 2019.
Bonus: Non-lounge airport experiences
In addition to the three lounges above, Priority Pass partners with three restaurants at MIA — Air Margaritaville (landside) in Central Terminal Concourse E; Viena (landside) in Central Terminal Concourse E, and Corona Beach House (airside) in North Terminal Concourse D. Each of these restaurants offer Priority Pass members credits toward their meals ($28-30 per person, not including gratuity), but we left them out of the rankings since you no longer get complimentary access if your Priority Pass membership was generated through an American Express card.
Priority Pass membership as a credit card benefit
A Priority Pass Select membership is included with the following premium credit cards, although enrollment is required. Note that this list doesn’t include cards that are no longer available to new applicants or are invitation-only.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Membership for both cardholders and authorized users, along with two guests; $450 annual fee, plus $75 for an authorized user
- The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Business Platinum® Card from American Express: $550 (see rates & fees) and $595 annual fees (see rates & fees), respectively; access for primary cardholders and authorized users, along with two guests; Platinum cardmember access to Delta Sky Club lounges when traveling on a Delta flight the same day, with guest access at a reduced fee of $29 per person for up to two guests; Airspace lounges (with two guests); Escape lounges (with two guests) and American Express Centurion Lounges (with two guests); $175 annual fee for up to 3 authorized users for the personal card (see rates & fees), and $300 for the business version (see rates & fees)
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express: Primary cardholders receive a Priority Pass Select membership good for themselves and two guests; $450 annual fee (see rates & fees)
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Priority Pass Select membership with unlimited complimentary access for the primary cardholder and two guests; $450 annual fee (see rates & fees)
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Priority Pass membership with 10 free individual visits a year, with no free guests; or one visit with nine guests; after that, a $32 fee per person per visit; $95 annual fee (see rates & fees)
- U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card: Limited Priority Pass Select membership for one cardmember per account, including authorized users; complimentary member access to participating lounges for the first four visits and four individual guest visits; after free visits are used, discounted $32 per visit entry fee will apply to cardholders and guests; $400 annual fee
- Citi Prestige Card: Priority Pass Select membership for cardholders and authorized users with access for immediate family members (spouse or domestic partner, children) or up to two guests; $495 annual fee, and $75 for authorized users
Aside from the Avianca VIP Lounge, the traditional Priority Pass lounges at MIA are pretty subpar. Fortunately, there are a number of restaurants you could dine at with your membership. If you have an eligible American Express card, you get access to the Centurion Lounge in Concourse D. Although it gets crowded at times, it’s still a much better option than any of the traditional Priority Pass lounges.
Check back soon for comprehensive reviews of each of the lounges discussed in this post by The Points Guy’s JT Genter.
Further Reading: The 9 best Priority Pass lounges in the U.S.
For rates and fees of the Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass, please click here.
Featured image courtesy of Miami International Airport.
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