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More on the American Express / Priority Pass changes – no more free restaurant meals

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Last week we covered the changes coming to the airport lounge cards issued with Amex Platinum.

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two Priority Pass airport lounge access cards, one for you and one for your supplementary Platinum cardholder.  This allows each of you to get two people, for free and as often as you want, into any of the 1,200 airport lounges in the Priority Pass network.

You can find full details on Priority Pass here – you can buy one separately without having to take out an Amex Platinum card.

Priority Pass restaurant changes The Grain Store

Over recent years, Priority Pass has been adding restaurant partners too.  Instead of visiting a lounge, you can visit a restaurant in your departure terminal and receive a £15 discount on your bill per person.  However, American Express is now removing the restaurant benefit from UK issued Platinum cards.

There was one relevant exception.  The only UK restaurant participating in the scheme, the Grain Store Café & Bar at Gatwick South, will be retained, at least for UK cardholders.  We looked at The Grain Store here.

Amex implied, in a message on July card statements, that other restaurants would also be retained.  It turns out this is not the case.  There ARE seven other ‘non-lounge’ venues being retained but the other six are NOT restaurants.  They are in-airport transit hotels, primarily ‘Minute Suites’ in the USA, where your Priority Pass gets you a bed for one hour.  The Priority Pass website has full details here.

Gatwick’s The Grain Store is, literally, the only Priority Pass restaurant in the world which is still accessible to Amex-issued Priority Pass cardholders.

I also don’t think this will last.  The new Club Aspire lounge is due to open in Gatwick South in mid September – see the website here.   Importantly, this lounge is 50% owned by the parent of Priority Pass.  Once it is active, it makes no sense for Priority Pass to pay for The Grain Store when it can send people to the new Club Aspire lounge instead.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points which is a special offer running to 2nd November 2021.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a special 30,000 points sign-up bonus until 9th November 2021.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (104)

  • Iain says:

    Iberia Miles – How does this compare to the recent Amex BA offer re 30k bonus

    Ps – rob can you add the email notification on replies to any posts back?

    • BJ says:

      Slightly better if you use a zero FX card but it depends whether you want to buy at least 20k via the amex offer or if the Iberia purchase bands work for you. Regarding your second query, have a look at Google alerts.

  • Shoestring says:

    I reckon the recent Amex changes have shifted the logic of buying a nice big chunk of Avios @ circa 1.1p – now logic is heavily in favour of buy & stash instead of earn & burn.

    You can’t do much in the way of redemptions without a stonking great pile of Avios at your disposal.

    Reasons against: cashflow; devaluation.

    Reasons for: certainty (you can see a ‘redemption year’ ahead & plan accordingly); easy to use and get significantly more than 1.1p/ point in value – if you can’t, use cash instead.

    • BJ says:

      Agree and I’m seriously tempted for the first time ever. However it is very redemption-specific in relation to the current cost of alternate revenue flights and perceived future revenue flight costs. However, what may swing it for me is the fact that I use my avios redemptions over the Xmas and New Year high season, and I do value the ability to purchase flexibility for £35.

    • Doug M says:

      I’m very cautious about buying any kind of loyalty points. Obviously situations vary, but for me it always comes down to exchanging the universally accepted cash, for the limited acceptance point. I average well over 1.1p on Avios redemptions, but the calculation is always so artificial. Yes flights to x on that date we’re £££ but I wouldn’t have paid that, I’d just have gone another time.
      Appreciate everyone has different circumstances, but paying all that money comes with risks.

      • BJ says:

        Timing helps, I don’t need them now but should my avios collecting suffer between now and April when I need to upgrade amex green to platinum to avoid an Honors fall from Diamond to Silver I might well jump then, even at 1.1ppa, if I’m going to get another 20k for green upgrade.

        • Doug M says:

          I guess over 80% of my Avios are earned flying, I wonder what is generally from readers/those that comment on this site.

  • Philip says:

    I still have a large -ve balance in my Iberia Plus account after the bonkers offer last year. So in principle buying Avios would only serve to reduce that number.

    Given that Iberia have my DOB and passport number which they can index against, they would probably reject the creation of a new account with the same details.

    I haven’t actually tried to do so, but wonder how others overcame the problem.

    • Shoestring says:

      DOB is not unique

      Passport renewal? TBH false passport details would work fine or just find an old passport if you’re squeamish, IB is not an arm of the government etc so I can’t see any legal or ethical impediment to making up the numbers – just correct them on your BP if you ever fly on IB in future

      New address, new passport number, new email address: Bob’s your uncle. Check what needs to match if you want a seamless points transfer to BAEC, maybe you’ll need to use the same email address on both so change it over to secondary address on BAEC as well.

    • Andrew M says:

      Close your account and at the same time, ask Iberia to delete all data that they hold on you. They have to comply with this request under EU data rules. That’s what I did.

      • Doug M says:

        Surely if they chose to they could refuse on the basis of the negative Avios balance?

        • Andrew M says:

          I suppose they could refuse but they didn’t for me. Things may have changed now though if they have had a lot of closure requests. I closed mine soon after it went negative. They did say they were obliged to retain certain info for legal/administrative reasons but it wasn’t clear exactly what they were keeping.

  • Roger says:

    Plaza Premium at LHR T5

    Did someone report any issue using Amex Platinum Metal card and denied entry?
    I am going to use this lounge soon enough so will report back but trying to see any other recent experience

    • Tariq says:

      I used that lounge a few weeks ago and metal was accepted fine. They did ask if it was a UK card though. Seemed like they hadn’t seen that many.

    • Rob says:

      That was Eurostar. PP will be fine as they have been used to seeing American metal cards.

  • JP-MCO says:

    Are you sure €3600 works out at £1565? I make it £3232.

  • A270 says:

    OT: Need to change a booking made using BA 2 for 1 and for my family member using an Avios upgrade voucher. Am I able to change the route as well? For example, change it from London to Dubai as opposed to London to Doha?

    • BJ says:

      241 is no problem, even if cancelled you get voucher and avios back to use as you wish. Lloyd’s voucher is more complicated. The rule is if you cancel you don’t get the voucher back, therefore you must CALL avios (not BA) to CHANGE not cancel. Their rules allow you to change within validity of existing ticket provided the avios required are the same. In practice this means you can change dates and/or destinations provided they are in the same cabin and redemption zone. However, YMMV, some have reported getting lucky and getting an agent who was much more flexible in the changes they would allow, extending vouchers, and in the refund of vouchers in extenuating circumstances, but don’t count on it because it is extremely rare.

      • A270 says:

        Thank you so much. I will call and check. I somehow remembered destination can’t be changed at all.

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    The priority pass “non lounge” discount also disappears from the Centurion issued PP card on 1st August. Nice that they email this latest loss of privilege just days after collecting another stonking annual membership fee! Well done AmEx – another amenity bites the dust.

    • sloth says:

      But if you are only complaining and not cancelling why do they care…

      • Peter K says:

        Exactly. They care if they lose business. I’d they don’t lose business but are saving money then they are delighted surely.

        • Lady London says:

          Perhaps they regard a Centurion as a captive customer that wont have the guts to tell them they can have their Centurion card back.

          I know if they gave me a Centurion card then I’d fit this définition.

    • Andrew M says:

      Pro rata fee refund avaliable surely?

  • Chrish says:

    OT. I know i can’t use a 241 out of Dublin but got my last Lloyds upgrade voucher can i use that from Dublin– Phoenix two of us upgrading just one way (outgoing or incoming) ?
    would there be any problems eg Dublin -Heathrow,- Phoenix or reverse ?

    • fivebobbill says:

      Wont be a problem, i just used 2 vouchers, DUB-LHR-DXB, and SIN-LHR-DUB.
      That’s 2 x 2 one-ways.

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