Will Kabul Airport Get A Priority Pass Lounge Now That The U.S. Has Left?

U.S. forces left Afghanistan, with their last position held at the Kabul airport. There was much reporting on the airport being effectively abandoned based on a ‘notice to airmen’ that the airport was uncontrolled. That’s not an entirely uncommon situation. And there are already plans in place for a Turkish-Qatari consortium to manage the airport.

The pay-in Pearl lounge located airside in the international departures area, operated by NAS, only just opened a year and a half ago. They are still selling lounge passes. They’re also offering fast track meet-and-greet services at the airport. It seems like at $40 a pop this would’ve been a great investment of late! Though Denver offers a similar service free I have to think the new airport operators will be able to raise pricing if they wish.

With Turkey expected to take charge at the airport we probably get TAV taking the Pearl lounge space. It will actually say a lot about the Taliban administration, how we see them handling the existing contracts put in place with Kuwait-based NAS by the previous government. However if TAV takes over the lounge space there’s a reasonable likelihood that it joins Priority Pass.

TAV operates ‘primeclass’ lounges which are usually Priority Pass-accessible

primeclass lounge New York JFK, credit: Priority Pass

Western-style hotels continued advertising services they couldn’t possibly provide as the Taliban rolled into Kabul. Watch how the rule of law is followed at the airport, and that may give us a sense of what to expect from hotels. The non-IHG Intercontinental could go the way of the Ninawa International Hotel in Mosul once ISIS took over.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Having a priority pass lounge at the Kabul airport is the least of your worries but at least gives western travelers a nice place to have a drink before being beheaded.

  2. If the Taliban has money there will be business travelers and contracting companies ready to jump in and provide services. The idea of a business lounge operating in a war torn country sounds absurd but some businesses market themselves to chaotic environments.

  3. Thought the headline was left over from an “Onion” article. I know, I know disaster capitalism makes money in all sorts of odd ways. During the height of The Troubles I knew the man in charge of Northern Ireland’s tourism development program in the U.S. He was not a happy camper; guess I shouldn’t have asked him if North Korea was on his client list.

  4. Pretty poor taste to be making fun of what’s an extremely serious and distressing situation for those involved.

  5. While Kabul will not be a Western friendly place as long as the Taliban are in control, the reality is that there is still a ton of money to be made in Afghanistan, and it will not be long before Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Russian businesspeople begin to pour in and make deals. I would expect the airport to be reasonably busy in the near future.

  6. Chinese investment is already in the country. India isn’t exactly far behind in trying to make money off the situation also. The reality is that war is profitable. And so is rebuilding after the war. No one cares about the poor souls who always get screwed because they dont help profits.

    I am not justifying the behavior. Its a sad reality.

  7. I imagine woke Marriott is trying to figure out a way to have a hotel in Afghanistan. Remember, Hyatt almost opened one up a few years ago. In fact, there was a ground-breaking ceremony. This would be perfectly in keeping with wome Marriott‘s values because Marriot has done hotel deals with very shady countries. In fact, Marriott still operates hotels in Venezuela and until recently had hotels in Cuba. They also kept their hotels in Egypt during the Muslim Brotherhood. The hotels are also still open in Saudi Arabia, whose regime is arguably as extreme as the Taliban.

    If international authorities lift financial sanctions against the Taliban and allow access to the global Konomi, you can guarantee that Western airlines and hotels will serve Kabul.

  8. If you look on a map you will see a direct line from China (Urumqi/Xianjiang province) leading west through a little strip of land into Afghanistan, onwards into Iraq, then Iran, and into Turkey. A lot shorter route than a route heading north and then west through Russia.

    Guaranteed that China and Russia are going to be working with Afghanistan (ie, the Taliban). There’s a Chinese saying, “trade makes more friends than does a war”.

    In the meantime the US should be considering expansionist projects in its own backyard, starting with the Pan-American crossing through the Darien Gap.

  9. Pretty pathetic article given the situation in Kabul and what is happening there. Although it isn’t surprising that this blog in particular would put something like this out.

  10. I visited a Priority Pass lounge when I flew out of EBL in 2014. It was the first beer I’d had during the two weeks I’d been in Iraq since it was Ramadan.

  11. “It seems like at $40 a pop this would’ve been a great investment of late!”

    There’s a fine line between cheeky and distasteful. Yikes…

  12. I wouldn’t travel to Kabul because they have an airport lounge or FOR ANY OTHER REASON. I guess I just like to be alive.

  13. Is this joke? You should be ashamed for writing this. Thousands and going to be murdered and all you care about is your stupid lounge. Lounges are overrated and pointless to begin with. I rarely use them.

  14. Having spent some time and then some where insurgencies took place, I will say that for some people a natural human response to a difficult situation is to seek comfort in the familiar and to even sort of make light — or even some humor — out of an otherwise dark situation. At least when able to do so during a moment of relative comfort.

    For VFTW that includes lounges, credit card pimping, and reminiscing in deed about The Jerry Springer Show.

  15. My initial reaction to this post was to think how inappropriate it was to even bring up an airport lounge in Kabul. What the bleep were you thinking, Gary? Click bait much?
    My second thought was, that I didn’t even consider that the Taliban will want to have anyone come in or out of Kabul/Afghanistan. I thought they were a bunch of 8th century butchers who want to discourage technology and business/trade with foreign entities.
    I still think they are butchers but they will want to start working with entities who don’t care that they are butchers.

  16. @Pat–there have been policy think-tank discussions about how the Taliban is attempting to re-make itself. Economic and political pundits are hearing whispers that the Taliban wants to improve the infrastructure, technology, and health and education services in the country. Their aim is to become more like the UAE or Turkey, but this will take a lot of money. Hence, the need for reform in order to go to the World Bank for funding. Whether this can and will be done is the big question. Certainly if China and Russia are working with (as opposed to against) a more progressive Taliban to achieve this goal, then anything is possible. Time will tell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *