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By now you may have heard…starting August 1st, your American Express issued Priority Pass memberships will no longer work at restaurant and bar locations. This is a bummer for people like me, that fly out of an airport with some great Priority Pass food options, but only have high-tier credit cards issued by AmEx. No Chase Reserve or Citi Prestige for me! Though with Stephanie’s in Terminal B, and Jerry Remy’s in Terminal C at Boston Logan, I may have to pick up a new card…
Do you use a Priority Pass from your American Express Card? Maybe a card like the Platinum, Hilton Aspire, or Hilton Ascend?
Wait a minute…that’s me!
If you’re like me, the AmEx Platinum is your primary source of lounge access. Between Centurion Lounges and the Priority Pass network, you’re covered almost everywhere. When Priority Pass started adding restaurant options in airports, many of us were rightfully excited! Here’s the deal:
- There will be no changes to lounge access, just non-lounge access.
- Access to Minute Suites locations (ATL, DFW, CLT, PHL), The Grain Store at London Gatwick, and the Sleep’n’fly location at Dubai International are not impacted by this change.
- This change only impacts American Express issued Priority Pass holders.
Why did AmEx gut their Priority Pass offerings?
If I had to guess, (and remember, this is just what I think) there are two reasons for this change.
One: AmEx is probably feeling a dollar crunch. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in high-level cards, increased interest in travelling and travel hacking from the general public, and much more competition on both fronts. With all those extra lounge visits, I bet AmEx is paying out a little more to Priority Pass than they thought they were going to. The partnership was probably up fro renewal, and they decided to cut restaurant access.
Two: I think American Express is totally revamping the way they look at lounge access, their own userbase, and their role in the travel industry. Look at everything they’ve done recently! AmEx has:
- remodeled the Miami Centurion Lounge.
- announced a Centurion Lounge for London Heathrow.
- begun construction on a Centurion Lounge at CLT.
- opened their new Centurion Lounge at Dallas/Fort Worth.
- committed to an LAX Centurion Lounge (finally!) for late 2019.
- released plans to build a Centurion Lounge for Denver International.
- started work on another New York Centurion lounge – this time at JFK.
- just last month, announced a new Centurion Lounge coming to PHX.
So, what’s next in the lounge world?
Perhaps most telling of all, AmEx recently acquired LoungeBuddy. When I wrote that one up, I alluded to what I thought were AmEx’s plans to build up their lounge network to the point that American Express becomes not only a financial company, but also a namebrand travel company. We still have a ways to go on that one, but I think there’s potential. While Chase and Citi compete over the same customers, American Express appears to be trying to capture consumers in the travel market, separate from their financial dealings. I think they’re targeting business travelers over leisure travelers, and will be (re)building their infrastructure around that goal. I’d put money on it.
You have the rest of July to use your AmEx issued Priority Pass at restaurants. Starting August 1st, you’ll be out of luck.
Hope you’re hungry!