Some Lounges Are Charging Priority Pass Members Extra to Guarantee Entry

Apr 2, 2019

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Priority Pass membership provides travelers access to more than 1,200 lounges in over 500 cities across 143 countries. Usually, you just need to show your boarding pass and have your Priority Pass swiped to enter one of these locations. However, some lounges have become very crowded, leading lounges to set specific times during which Priority Pass is accepted, limit guest access and even occasionally turn away Priority Pass members due to capacity reasons.

Now, some lounges are looking to capitalize on these capacity concerns by taking reservations. A reader alerted us that some Priority Pass lounges in the United Kingdom are now offering the ability to reserve your space in the lounge by paying an optional £5 ($7) reservation fee per person — including children two and older.

Here’s a list of the lounges in the UK that currently offer optional reservations for a fee:

  • Birmingham (BHX)
    • No1 Lounge
  • London-Gatwick (LGW)
    • My Lounge (North Terminal)
    • No1 Lounge (North Terminal)
    • No1 Lounge (South Terminal)
  • London-Heathrow (LHR)
    • No1 Lounge (Terminal 3)

Note that in all of these terminals, there are other Priority Pass lounges that don’t offer reservations — including a Priority Pass restaurant at LGW. So, you may want to visit and support these locations instead. If you do want to make a reservation at one of the lounges currently accepting reservations, you can click through from the lounge information page on Priority Pass’ website or go directly to No1’s website.

We reached out to Priority Pass for a statement on these changes and were given the following response:

“We want to give Priority Pass Members a consistent, premium experience. Due to our lounges being extremely popular, a few of them reach full capacity during peak hours, which means some Members are unable to gain access. As a result, we’ve introduced a pre-book option at No1 Lounges at Gatwick, Heathrow (T3) and Birmingham airports, where travelers can choose to pay £5 in advance to secure their spot. Priority Pass made the decision to introduce the mechanic, following consultation with No1 Lounges. Already, it’s been a very popular option with our Members who don’t want to miss out on all the benefits that an airport lounge offers.”

Of course, it’s unclear what impact it will have on the crowds in these lounges. As noted above, this reservation system may be seen as a positive from some travelers, as they can guarantee access to a particular lounge by paying a relatively small fee. It also may discourage a flyer from even attempting to enter one of these lounges. If you arrive at LHR (for example), fire up your Priority Pass app, and see that the No1 Lounge in T3 will “often reach capacity” at peak travel times, you may head elsewhere. This could lead to small crowds.

On the other hand, some may view it as a negative, since Priority Pass membership (and the lounge access it confers) is advertised as an included benefit on top premium credit cards. Paying an additional fee to guarantee that you can use a published perk may be a hard pill to swallow.

It will also be interesting to see if this will expand to other Priority Pass lounges, especially ones with histories of overcrowding. We specifically asked Priority Pass about this and were told the following:

“We have no current plans to introduce the option at other lounges but wouldn’t rule it out in the future.”

Although this may be bad news for Priority Pass members, there is still plenty of value to be found in having a Priority Pass membership. While this can be purchased, it’s usually a better deal to sign-up for a premium credit card that offers a Priority Pass Select membership as a benefit of card membership. A few such cards include the Chase Sapphire ReserveThe Platinum Card® from American Express, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card or Citi Prestige Card.

Featured photo of No1 Lounge in LHR Terminal 3 courtesy of No1 Lounges.

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