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Some Lounges Are Charging Priority Pass Members Extra to Guarantee Entry

April 02, 2019
4 min read
Some Lounges Are Charging Priority Pass Members Extra to Guarantee Entry
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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:

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"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 Reserve, The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card or Citi Prestige Card. Enrollment required for select benefits.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Featured image by No1 Lounge in LHR Terminal 3
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more