Choose this, not that: EWR Priority Pass lounge edition

Sep 30, 2019

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A Priority Pass membership can help make your preflight experience a whole lot more enjoyable. For those not familiar, the program unlocks access to more than 1,200 airport lounges in 143 countries and 500 cities worldwide. You can check out this guide to learn everything from which cards offer free Priority Pass membership to lounge guesting policies and more.

Although there’s definitely room for growth, most major airports in the US and around the world now have multiple lounges accessible through Priority Pass, so you’ll often be faced with the question of which lounge to use. Since the program doesn’t actually own or operate any of the lounges themselves, the quality can vary massively. While some lounges are little more than a small room with bottled water and pretzels, some are as good, if not better, than access you’d get if you were flying in a premium cabin.

Newark Airport (EWR) is home to just two Priority Pass lounges and no non-lounge experiences such as restaurants. Both lounges are in Terminal B so you’ll need to take the AirTrain or shuttle if you want to visit them and are flying out of a different terminal, but as you’re going to see, they might not be worth the hassle.

Related: Choose this, not that: BOS Priority Pass lounge edition

(Note that the hours listed for the lounges are the hours 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. Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

Virgin Atlantic’s lounges are some of the snazziest around. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Location: Airside in Terminal B, near Gates B51 – B57 on the ‘Airline Lounges’ floor.

Hours: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Food and Beverage: Free food and drinks from an a la carte menu, albeit with more limited options than what is usually offered to premium passengers. Menu includes options like pasta, soup, salad, beer and wine.

Amenities: This lounge offers luggage storage, a plethora of power outlets and USB ports and solid Wi-Fi. Although there are showers, Priority Pass members do not have access.

Unfortunately Priority Pass members don’t get access to the full bar. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

2. Art & Lounge

Location: Landside (before security) in Terminal B, between B2 and B3 or Gates 50 and 60, next to the Duty Free. We recommend giving yourself at least 30 minutes to get through security after leaving the lounge.

Hours: 7 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. Access may be restricted due to space constraints, particularly between 3:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.

Food and Beverage: Although not made-to-order, this lounge offers more food and drink options than the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. There are hot and cold snacks like sandwiches, pastas, soups and salads and a staffed bar with complimentary alcoholic drinks. There’s also a selection of Kosher food around El Al flight times.

Amenities: The lounge itself feels rather small and cramped and has no windows to let in natural light. There’s a conference room and business desk available for use, though electrical outlets are hit and miss and the Wi-Fi is very slow. Check out TPG’s full review of the lounge.

There’s plenty of art on the walls of the Art & Lounge. (Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

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 is included for both cardholders and authorized users, along with two guests. The card costs $450 annually, 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 both primary card holders and authorized users, along with two guests. Platinum cardmembers can also access Delta Sky Club lounges when they’re traveling on a Delta flight the same day, with guest access at a reduced fee ($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). Authorized users cost $175 annually, for up to 3 Additional Cards, 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. There’s a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees) for this card.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: This card offers a Priority Pass Select membership with unlimited complimentary access for the primary cardholder and two guests. The card has a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees).
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: This card includes a Priority Pass membership; however it offers only 10 free visits a year, with no free guests. You can visit by yourself 10 times, or visit once with nine guests. After that, you’ll have to pay a $32 fee per person per visit. There’s a $95 annual fee (see rates and fees) for this card.
  • U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card: This card comes with a limited Priority Pass Select membership for one cardmember per account, including authorized users. The member will receive complimentary access to participating lounges for the first four visits as well as four individual guest visits. After the free visits are used, the discounted $32 per visit entry fee will apply to cardholders and guests. There’s a $400 annual fee for this card.
  • Citi Prestige Card: Cardholders and authorized users both get Priority Pass Select with access for immediate family members (a spouse, children or domestic partner) or up to two guests. The annual fee is $495, and the primary cardholder may add authorized users for $75.

Bottom line

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is superior to the Art & Lounge, though the hours and food options are somewhat limited in comparison. Depending how much time you have, it could make sense to visit both lounges since they’re in the same terminal. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to get through the screening process since the Art and Lounge is located landside. Hopefully Priority Pass adds some more lounges or restaurants at EWR soon.

Further Reading: The 9 Best Priority Pass Lounges in the US

Featured image by aimintang/Getty Images.

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