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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives — the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.
I like to share these success stories to help inspire you the way you inspire me! From time to time I pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy. If you’re interested in sharing your own story, email it to email@example.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!
Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Laura, who used credit card benefits to save hundreds of dollars on meals while traveling with her family in Australia. Here’s what she had to say:
I wanted to share my experience using Priority Pass during a family trip to Australia in June. We recently got the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and we were excited to use our membership while traveling. A few weeks before we departed, news came out that Priority Pass was offering $36 AUD per person at several different restaurants in the Sydney airport. Our itinerary gave us the perfect opportunity to try it out.
As you know, Australia is a big country, and you have to travel a bit to see some of the major sites. We started with four days in Sydney, and then flew to Cairns to spend five days in the tropical part of the country and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. Those extra flights meant we passed through the Sydney airport several times.
Our first experience with Priority Pass at SYD was when we arrived after our international flight. We decided to wait out the rush for the train into downtown and enjoy a nice breakfast at the airport. We went to Mach 2 in the International Terminal, which is landside, so you can reach it without going through security. The three of us had a fabulous breakfast that would have totaled $107.70 AUD, but we paid nothing after I presented my Priority Pass card.
We took advantage of our benefits again when we returned to the airport for our trip to Cairns. Our flight departed from Terminal 3, where Priority Pass offers two dining options. We chose Bar Roma, where we got a few breakfast items and drinks, along with some snacks to take on the plane. Our total was $57.75 AUD, which again was wiped away when I handed over my card.
We landed in Terminal 3 again when we returned to Sydney from Cairns, but we weren’t hungry yet. However, we spent our last night at a hotel right at the international terminal, so we dropped off our luggage and then crossed the road back to Terminal 1. As I mentioned, Mach 2 can be accessed without going through security, so we had a wonderful dinner there, and Priority Pass covered our $99 AUD bill.
Finally, we got one last use out of it when we left to come back home. Our hotel didn’t include breakfast, so we opted to eat at the airport. This time we went to Peroni Bar in Terminal 1, where we got all kinds of great breakfast items and some snacks for our flight. Our bill was $106 AUD, and I again paid nothing.
All in all, I can say this pass is worth its weight in gold at SYD. We got tons of use out of it, and I appreciated that the restaurant staff seemed well informed about how to handle checkout with the Priority Pass. I’m a happy customer!
Priority Pass has taken some heat recently, as concerns about overcrowding have caused lounges to deny access to members and limit guest privileges. The program has seen enrollment pick up as more and more premium credit cards offer lounge access to cardholders. Priority Pass can’t realistically increase the capacity of the lounges already in its network, but it can expand that network. Fortunately for travelers, that expansion is playing out in some unexpected and rewarding ways.
Apart from adding new lounges, Priority Pass has added a handful of other venues to its roster over the past year, ranging from restaurants and short-term private rooms to an in-airport distillery. These additions are too few and too spread out to offer consistent value to most members, but I’m happy to see Priority Pass trying something new.
Laura’s story shows how valuable these options can be, as her family got around $280 worth of meals during their Australian trip. Even if future offerings are less lucrative, I’d be excited to see Priority Pass incorporate more restaurants and other amenities. The network remains fairly limited in the US, so adding those alternatives would help counter overcrowding issues in domestic lounges. Until then, make sure you enroll if you’re headed to Sydney!
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Laura for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you.
Again, if the strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me and the whole TPG team by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions above). Feel free to also submit stories of your most egregious travel mistakes. In either case, you’ll have our utmost appreciation, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Featured Image courtesy of africanpix via Getty Images.
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*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
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