Recently, the domestic lounge program that I love to hate, Priority Pass, has been adding airport and member-specific offers. Basically, Priority Pass is expanding their terrible domestic lounge program by now providing coupons. Nothing will make the weary traveler feel VIP more than whipping out their discount card at an over-priced airport retailer.
What are they?
To figure out exactly what we’ve got going on, I headed over to the company’s website and ran a quick query for my hometown airport, SeaTac here in Seattle. The results were even worse than I expected. The very first thing I noticed didn’t actually have anything to do with the new Priority Pass Offers, but with a notable lack of traditional lounges. Last time I checked, the airport’s Alaska lounges were theoretically accessible to Priority Pass members. I use the term theoretically because the vast majority of times I transited the airport, Alaska lounges were temporarily off-limits to Priority Pass and Lounge Buddy members due to space constraints. The departure of Alaska facilities from Seatac might have been noted elsewhere on the internet, so this may or may-not be news, but it’s the first time I’ve noticed.
Moving on from that little mental detour an I’m just super excited to figure out what shopping opportunities Priority Pass has negotiated for me. Everyone ready? Look at this, 10% off! I’m just floored. This is really exciting. They even come with conditions! Inmotion, which is a retailer so exclusive I’ve never even heard of it, will give one a small discount when spending $100 or more. Of course, this excludes Apple, Bose, Beats, GoPro or otherwise discounted items. So for those who forgot their noise-cancelling headphones and were hoping to use Priority Pass to help take the sting out of having to purchase a last minute pair, you’re still screwed.
So, now that we see Priority Pass Offers, at least as they apply to Seatac are so close to worthless we’ll just call it that, let’s see what treasures we can uncover at some other large US airports. Over at LAX, we can see some similarly terrible 10% off coupons. Heading to JFK, and we see more of the same. And, in my least-favorite US airport, O’hare, the phenomenon repeats itself.
At this point, I think it’s pretty clear how valuable Priority Pass Offers are to the us-based domestic traveler, but how about overseas? In Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok, we see some more coupons, as well as some dollar-based discounts, 250 HKD off of a $3000 spend at Calvin Klein. So, less than 10%. Exchange-rated over, and that means 31.90 off of 382 US dollars. Who spends almost $400 at an airport clothing store. Obviously, somebody does, as the stores exist. But I’ve never met that lunatic. Moving on, we’ve got nothing at Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle or in Bangkok. Ooh, but how about this. At Shanghai’s Pudong International we have a bunch of 5% ones. Even worse than their US offerings. Didn’t think that was possible. But if there’s one thing Priority Pass is good at, it’s disappointment. Finally, let’s take a glance at something in our Northernmost state. Up in Vancouver, we’ve got, oh shit, 15% percent off at Lick. I do wonder what goes on there. Oh, it appears to be a lollipop store. That’s not what I had in mind. Looks like a $15 spend is required. So, this Priority Pass Offer might reduce their margins from 500 to 485%.
Ok, I’ve seen enough. From what I’ve gathered, Priority Pass offers are garbage, so they should compliment their US domestic lounge offerings pretty well.
This leaves me wondering about the two 800 lb gorillas in the premium credit card market, the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. American Express cardholders are often spoiled for choice when it comes to lounge access. In addition to the Priority Pass network, they’ve got Delta Skyclubs and the always excellent Centurion Lounges. But where do Sapphire Reserve customers stand? Increasingly frustrated, that’s where. At some point, I have to imagine that Chase is going to really start taking notice, that one of their headline benefits is quickly devaluing to nothing, at least stateside. I think it would be just outstanding to see some Sapphire Reserve Lounges pop-up, or even access to United Clubs, Chase’s longtime transfer partner.
Sadly, Priority Pass Offers adds very little value to a Priority Pass membership. Though, that’s not to say this new benefit isn’t a net good thing. It’s kind of like getting a little chocolate when the bill comes out at a restaurant. It’s a nice touch, but it alone doesn’t really do anything to sway my opinion of the overall program. And, on that depressing note, I’ll end it. If you found any of this useful, a like, share or sub is appreciated. It really helps the channel out. Alright, we’ll see you next time.