Even in 2023, vegan options in airports are minimal, and as with all airport food, expensive.
But lounge membership programs like Priority Pass give travelers access to unlimited food, and often drinks. And of course, the experience of waiting for a flight in a lounge vs by the gate can transform a travel day.
The question is: is there anything in those lounges that vegans can eat, and is Priority Pass worth the annual fee for vegans?
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Priority Pass Vegan Review
My Background + Why I Got Priority Pass (Vegan Perspective)
My husband and I are digital nomads, frequent travelers, and vegans. We recently got a travel credit card that includes an annual Priority Pass membership. The Priority Pass perk is one of the reasons why we chose this card, but there are plenty of other benefits that come along with it.
Since becoming Priority Pass members, we’ve visited several lounges in several countries, including lounges at Seattle Tacoma International Airport, Miami International Airport, Cozumel International Airport, and Mexico City International Airport.
If you’re curious about my experience using Priority Pass as a vegan, and want to know my answer to the questions above, you’ve come to the right place.
An Overview of Priority Pass
Priority Pass was founded over thirty years ago. Since then, the company has grown, with their network of global lounges and at 1,300 in 2023.
There are several membership tiers with different prices, but in general, you get access to select airport lounges that are a part of Priority Pass’s network. Lounge access is typically restricted to dates when you have an outgoing flight, and sometimes is only available within a certain time period before the flight.
Lounge access typically includes unlimited food and drinks, though some lounges have premium paid food and drink limits. Lounges also tend to have cleaner bathrooms (compared to normal airport bathrooms), comfy, well-spaced seating, and occasionally, spa benefits.
Priority Pass lounges are not restricted to one geographic area. The company has over 440 lounges in Asia Pacific, over 370 in Europe, over 150 in North America, over 150 in Latin America, over 90 in Africa, and over 70 in the Middle East.
Personally, I was surprised to find a lounge at Cozumel’s tiny international airport, and shocked that there were no Priority Pass network lounges at LAX during a recent layover.
While Priority Pass sells memberships directly to travelers, many receive membership as part of credit card perk. I’ll share more about how I got priority pass through my credit card below.
Yummy vegan-friendly salad bar at the Turkish Airlines lounge in Miami
My Priority Pass Vegan Experience: Finding Plant-Based Food in Airport Lounges
I’ll start by saying that the Priority Pass food options range widely based on lounges, regardless of if you’re vegan or not. Some lounges only offer snacks, others have buffets, and some have made-to-order meals.
Over the past six months, I’ve used my Priority Pass to gain access to lounges five times. I’ve been able to find vegan food at each lounge, but only a full meal at one. To be fair, the lounges where I was only offered snacks were lounges that didn’t have full meals, not even for non-vegans.
Whenever I visit a new lounge, I maintain low expectations about what food will be available, and I’m always pleasantly surprised. Even if a lounge only offers chips and nuts, it’s still better than buying overpriced chips and nuts in the airport. Thankfully, most lounges have a better selection than just chips and nuts.
It’s difficult to tell what a lounge will offer before being there in person. However, I typically try to search for information about lounges online to get an idea of what options I might have beforehand.
Priority Pass vegan tip: Research lounges ahead of time
Not all airport lounges are apart of the Priority Pass network, and not all airports have Priority Pass lounges.
To research Priority Pass vegan options at an airport, start by searching for the specific airport on Priority Pass’s app or website. You don’t need to be a member to search on their website, so if you want to get an idea of what lounges are available before becoming a member, you can.
Priority Pass’s platform will give you some general information about each lounge, including opening hours, entry conditions, location, and perks.
For example, Priority Pass says The Club SEA lounge at Seattle Tacoma International Airport (my home airport) has: refreshments, alcohol, internet, AC, a fax machine, WiFi, and a few other features. Sounds like a typical lounge, and it doesn’t give me any idea of whether they have vegan food or not.
To get a better idea of the vegan options, I search for the lounge on Google Maps. You’ll quickly notice that most lounges do not have the best reviews. Keep in mind that most reviewers are looking for luxury experiences worth the high cost of a lounge day pass. If you’re like me, you have a lounge pass through your credit card and just want something semi-decent to eat, a clean bathroom, and a place to wait for your flight in peace.
Once I find a Priority Pass Lounge on Google Maps, I read through reviews and look through pictures. It’s very unlikely that someone will leave a review specifically naming the vegan options, but you can still get the gist of their menu options by looking.
When I look at The Club SEA lounge in Seattle on Google Maps, I see photos of fresh fruit, vegetables, undressed salads (dressing on the side), and dips that could be hummus. I also see that the lounge has a shower (nice for layovers after red eye flights), and comfy-looking seats. Is it worth the price of a day pass as a vegan? Probably not? But as a Priority Pass member, it looks like a great place to grab snacks and refresh during a layover.
Examples of vegan food at Priority Pass lounges
The best Priority Pass lounge I’ve visited so far is the Turkish Airlines lounge in Miami, which had made-to-order falafel plates and a wonderful salad bar at lunchtime.
Made-to-order falafel plate at the Miami Turkish Airlines Lounge with falafel, spiced rice, pita, and yogurt (not vegan).
My choice assortment of salads and grains from the Turkish Airline’s lunch salad bar.
The vegan salad bar options were abundant, including a fresh greens mix, beet dill salad, chickpea salad, couscous salad, quinoa salad, a selection of fresh veggie toppings (shredded carrots, corn, onion, etc), croutons, and a selection of salad dressings.
The Turkish Airlines lounge also has a full open bar and wine, but I did not have any drinks since I was there in the morning.
I also like the Heineken lounge in Mexico City, which I’ve visited twice now.
They only serve basic snacks, like carrot and jicama sticks with a spicy salsa, but I love having the fresh veggies after a long flight. They also have a refrigerator with a variety of drinks, including coconut water.
Fresh veggies with salsa, sparkling water, and coconut water. My go-to anytime I have a Mexico City layover.
The drink selection at Mexico City’s Heineken lounge (plus a full bar).
As with most lounges, the Heineken lounge also has a full bar where you can order drinks.
Priority Pass restaurants and other non-lounge benefits
Beyond normal lounges, there are several other ways you can use Priority Pass in airports.
For instance, you can use your Priority Pass to pay for food at select restaurants. I haven’t gotten the chance to try this yet, but this is how it works:
You typically get $28 to pay for a meal at a participating restaurant. Depending on your membership tier, you can also cover a guest’s meal.
\Just be careful and read the fine print, because you may be required to pay for the full meal if the final check goes above the spending limit. For instance, a $27 meal is covered by Priority Pass, but if your bill is $29, you have to pay it all.
Examples of other non-lounge benefit include spas, game centers, and more.
Non-lounge benefits may vary based on your Priority Pass membership tier, and whether you received your card via a credit card perk.
For instance, my husband and I recently tried to use our Priority Pass membership to visit Gameway, a video game lounge in LAX (because there are not lounges in LAX—ugh!). We were denied entry because these types of perks are no longer available to folks who got their Priority Pass through certain credit cards.
How I Got Priority Pass for Free
My husband and I got our Priority Pass membership through our Capital One Venture X credit card.
He is the primary card holder, and he added me on as a dependent, so we each get our own Priority Pass membership, and we’re each able to bring up to two guests to lounges. So, if we were traveling with four friends, we could bring them all into a lounge for free.
The Venture X annual fee is $395, but the perks make up to for it: $300 annual travel credit, $100 toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Priority Pass, anniversary miles, and more.
We have good credit scores, use credit cards for points and perks (not out of necessity), travel often, and genuinely use all these perks. So for us, the Venture X is completely worth it. It makes our travel experience more comfortable and the perks balance out the annual fee.
The Venture X is not the only credit card with Priority Pass as a perk. Others include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the American Express Platinum Card, and more.
Final Thoughts: Is Priority Pass Worth it for Vegans?
If you can get Priority Pass for free through a credit card, it is 100% worth it. Since it’s free, you have nothing to lose, and you’ll likely be able to find something to eat at any lounge.
However, I’m sure if I would pay the annual fee for Priority Pass as a vegan. To get the unlimited visits I have through my credit card, I’d have to pay over $400 a year. Even as a frequent flyer, I don’t think it would be worth it. Instead I pay ~$400 a year for my credit card fee, which includes $300 annual travel credit, $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Priority Pass, and much more.
Essential Travel Resources
Have a trip coming up soon? There are a lot of travel companies out there, but some are better than others. After traveling to dozens of countries and living abroad on several continents, here are some of my favorite websites and resources for planning unforgettable trips.