Priority Pass set to lose yet another US restaurant lounge, but there are still 28 locations still participating

Oct 11, 2019

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With access to more than 1,200 lounges worldwide, Priority Pass has quite the network, even though most TPG readers can’t take advantage of the free food and drink in Sydney’s airport (SYD) very often. In a move that’s beneficial for U.S. travelers, the Priority Pass program branched out and added restaurants to its roster a couple of years back, letting members enjoy a sit-down dining experience as part of their membership.

While the list of U.S. restaurants participating in Priority Pass once exceeded 30, we have seen some negative trends recently. On Aug. 1, American Express removed restaurant locations from its Priority Pass benefit. And now, a number of restaurants have announced they’re leaving the program.

P.F. Chang’s: Starting Oct. 1, the LAX location of P.F. Chang’s reduced the amount of credit per guest from $30 to $28. But, the much worse news hit this week. As I confirmed by speaking with management at the restaurant, P.F. Chang’s is leaving Priority Pass as of Oct. 25, 2019.

When I asked about the reason for the restaurant leaving, I was surprised to hear that management was primarily frustrated with the restrictions that Priority Pass had put on the restaurant. For example, Priority Pass insisted that P.F. Chang’s couldn’t let Priority Pass members use their credit toward take-away meals. Frustrations expressed by other Priority Pass restaurant locations — such as reportedly slow payment from Priority Pass or lack of tipping from guests — weren’t mentioned as a reason.

(Photo of P.F. Chang’s on Oct. 9 by JT Genter/The Points Guy.)

During my visit, the restaurant was packed and I noticed most patrons seemed to be using a Priority Pass. I asked my server about how this change was going to impact business, and he estimated well over half of the restaurant’s customers were using a Priority Pass. He seemed concerned what the sharp reduction in visitors would mean for his tips and a potential need to reduce waitstaff.

Timberline: But, before P.F. Chang’s leaves the program, there’s another Priority Pass restaurant that’s announced its exit. As of Oct. 15, 2019, Timberline — a steak restaurant in Terminal C of the Denver International Restaurant (DEN) — will leave Priority Pass. The change was confirmed to TPG by a Priority Pass spokesperson.

TPG Lounge reader Sophia Curcio tipped us off with a photo of her menu, which stated,

“Thank you for using your exclusive Priority Pass benefits at Timberline. We hope you had an exceptional experience today and in previous visits. We would like to inform you that as of October 15, 2019, we will no longer be a Priority Pass Lounge. We will be launching our own Loyalty Rewards Program. If you have any comments or concerns about this change please contact us at”

(Photo courtesy of Sophia Harrison Curcio via the TPG Lounge Facebook group.)

For now, there are still 30 Priority Pass restaurant lounges at 21 U.S. airports. Each of these offer members $28-30 per guest in food and drink. Here’s a list of all of the airport restaurants currently part of the Priority Pass program:

In addition to restaurants, you can get $28 per guest in booze at House Spirits Distillery in Portland (PDX).

And here’s a list of Priority Pass restaurants at international airports:

To get free food or drinks at these Priority Pass lounges, you’re going to need a Priority Pass membership. The best way to do so is by having a membership through a credit card, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve, U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card or Citi Prestige® Card.

There are a number of American Express cards that also have a Priority Pass benefit. Unfortunately, Amex discontinued “complimentary access to non-lounge airport experiences” as of Aug. 1. That change affects the Amex cards such as the The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and Hilton cards.

And here’s a reminder that shouldn’t need to be said: Tip your restaurant waitstaff. Despite the food being free through the Priority Pass benefit, they worked just as hard as they would have if you were paying for the meal.

I’ve been appalled to witness Priority Pass members stiff the waitstaff on multiple occasions at U.S. Priority Pass restaurants. It’s actions like this that threaten the sustainability of this program. So, if you want to continue to get free food at these Priority Pass restaurants, make sure to bring cash along to tip your waiter/waitress. Or, many restaurants will ring up a $0.01 charge so that you can pay — and tip — via a credit card:

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski and Mark Spivak.

Featured photo by tim mossholder/Unsplash.

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