Quick points: There is such a thing as a free airport lunch — here’s how to get one

Sep 24, 2021

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Although we cover loyalty programs and credit cards in-depth on TPG every day, sometimes you just want a snippet of useful information that you can put into action on the fly. That’s why we recently launched the series Quick Points. Every week, we’ll highlight a new or easily forgotten tip that can help you travel more for less.


Airport lounges can be a love-’em-or-leave-’em situation that varies — greatly — based on your preferences and the availability of “worth it” lounges in the airports you frequent.

However, regardless of your personal opinions on whether it’s worth visiting run-of-the-mill airport lounges, pretty much everyone agrees that most airport food is more expensive than we’d like. Thankfully, the same card perk that gets you into a network of airport lounges may also pay for your meal at a real airport restaurant instead of a dinner of packaged cheese and crackers in the lounge.

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Priority Pass memberships issued by credit card companies such as Chase and Citi (but specifically not Amex) can be used to not only visit a lounge in the Priority Pass network but also to visit one of the couple of dozen airport restaurants in the program for a virtually free meal.

Today’s quick points

At these participating restaurants, the membership holder and a guest (if allowed by the membership) can get a set amount off of the bill just by using their Priority Pass membership.

For the member, this works essentially the same way it does when you check in to a traditional airline lounge. The only difference is instead of covering the lounge entry, you have an amount of typically around $28 per eligible person to put toward your order at the airport restaurant. You can search for eligible locations on the Priority Pass website the same way you would search for traditional lounges.

Free meal at Yankee Pier in SFO. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

How to use this in real life

Inside of Terminal C at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), my home airport, sits Landry’s Seafood.

If I want to sit down and order some soup, salad, shrimp and fries or whatever here, I can. The Priority Pass membership from my Chase Sapphire Reserve will then pick up a max of $56 of the tab for myself and a guest.

Landry’s at IAH Terminal C in Houston. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Why it’s worth it

If you are again eating in restaurants, this is a tip that can save you real cash the next time your stomach rumbles and you are near one of these outlets.

These eligible restaurants aren’t in every airport, but in addition to my Houston example, you’ll find options such as Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Terminal 8 at New York-JFK, Corona Beach House near Gate D23 in Miami (MIA), Trail Head BBQ Bar near Gate C1 in Seattle (SEA), Yankee Pier in Terminal 3 at SFO, Chef Geoff’s in Washington Dulles (IAD) Concourse C … and the list goes on.

If you already have a Priority Pass-eligible credit card in your wallet, get that membership activated and check the Priority Pass website to see if there’s a place to get a free lunch the next time you’re passing through the airport — just be sure to tip your server on the full amount.

Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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