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Priority Pass announces a major expansion

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An interesting war of words is breaking out among the airport lounge operators.

As we have covered, Priority Pass – the dominant airport lounge club card – has been hit hard in the UK by the loss of No1 Lounges and Plaza Premium. Plaza Premium is removing 57 lounges from the programme on 1st July including five at Heathrow.

Plaza Premium may be planning its own lounge club network. It launched ‘Plaza Premium Lounge Pass’ recently and I get the impression that it is planning to add lounges from other companies in airports where it does not have its own facilities.

Today, Priority Pass has published a statement with its own plans. It is promising to add:

  • 150 new airport lounges during 2021
  • 100 new ‘premium airport experiences’ and off-airport lounges (eg railway stations)

Can Priority Pass find 150 new lounges to add to the porfolio, especially as recent losses have been blamed on the low fees it pays?

Of the 40+ new lounges added in 2021 to date, only one (Belgrade) is in Europe, with the bulk being in China. It is possible that these 150 new lounges will not be in places where you visit on a regular basis.

The ‘premium airport experiences’ element is easier to arrange via deals with airport restaurant operators. Unfortunately, these options are blocked to anyone who gets their Priority Pass via American Express. The only exception is “The Grain Store” restaurant in London Gatwick South Terminal, where someone with an Amex-issued Priority Pass can still get £15 of free food.

The real area of interest in the UK would be if Priority Pass could do a deal with the various rail lounges. It is odd that no-one has done this before, especially as East Coast used to sell lounge access at Kings Cross for a £5 supplement. Priority Pass would pay more than this.

Let’s see where we end up. In the short term, there is no doubt that Priority Pass is now far less useful if you fly from Edinburgh, Heathrow, Gatwick or Birmingham (ie the No1 Lounges and Plaza Premium strongholds).


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (June 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

30,000 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 30,000 points.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 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 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  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 (58)

  • LEWIS says:

    I wouldn’t be that impressed by lounge access at train stations. They are no where near the same level as airport lounges

    • Dave says:

      True, but the train lounges are now the best part of travelling first class on the railways. The new IET trains are awful with thin nasty seats in 1st.
      Ideally, you’d use older trains eg Scotrail HST and use the LNER/Avanti lounges to get the best of both.

    • Memesweeper says:

      But they are much, much better places to work from than station concourses/platforms. I’d be interested.

      • Rob says:

        Exactly. The gap between airport concourse vs lounge is actually narrower than station concourse vs lounge in my view, especially when it comes to feeling happy pulling out an expensive laptop.

    • MW says:

      I used to travel Euston-Manchester on Virgin in First 2-4 times a month and the ability to get a place to work and have reasonably decent coffee and cold drinks was a “lifesaver”.

      Manchester lounge was always packed but if you could get a booth, it certainly worked well.

    • Lady London says:

      The major station ones in Germany may not be so bad though! Munich 1st Class DB Lounge quite good really, hopeful for others.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      To be fair, I don’t tend to arrive 3 hours early for a train; it’s fair to say they SHOULD be very different experiences due to differing usage patterns and timescales…

  • SammyJ says:

    Max purchase of 80k points (+80k) on my Hilton account too.

    • MiddleEngland says:

      Max 80K on my account too. I got a friend to buy and then gift 80k, so I still got 320k.

    • Louise K says:

      FYI I’ve complained to Hilton on Twitter via a DM and they are looking into it.

      I did get them email with the 160k offer but deleted.

  • AJames says:

    On the Corrinthia Hotel: yes I know the hotel well. It is it a wonderful place. And to be fair to the hotel, yes there is the splendid Kerridge’s Bar and Grill at the Corinthia, and the hotel restaurant is the impressive The Northall, run by chef André Garrett. There is also the Northall Bar, the Crystal Lounge, and the Bassoon Bar.

  • Lady London says:

    So…Rob… on the vexed question of Dragonpass having cancelled Dufry-origin passes earlier than people’s membrship year, and even cancelled some memberships earlier than previous promises.

    Would it be best for us to leave that alone for now and hope that if you get to chat with Dragonpass you might be able to influence them to a fairer solution?

    Right now for me this is the elephant-in-the-room in issue on lounges.

    • Paul says:

      Yes interested in the best course of action here! It looks as if my purchases visits have been cancelled

  • TJ says:

    The difference in quality between PP lounges has always surprised me. A couple of years back I flew from Fiji to Hawaii. The VIP lounge in Fiji was superb. However, I recall setting foot in the IASS lounge in Hawaii, which did not serve any food or alcohol, had no dedicated restroom or announcement board, and a very dodgy wifi connection…it was basically just a waiting room with a number of mouldy chairs. How PP could justify ‘selling’ the place as a lounge experience was beyond me.

    • Rob says:

      But what can they do? The airport gave the contract for the lounge out and oversee the quality. What is the point of PP refusing to list it? If you have an ‘unlimited visits’ card then it costs you nothing and its probably better than the terminal. Members would be angrier if there was a lounge but PP had turned down the opportunity to use it.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Isn’t the point of de listing it that they are no longer willing to send customers to their sub par facility and fund a crap hole…

        Not everyone has unlimited cards either. I actually stood behind a women with a PP and her guest in Abu Dhabi while the dragon explained any guest was chargeable … at the lounge walk up price AED equivalent of £60 or something at the time. I explained her PP would charge £15 and the dragon is taking the piss.

        The lounge wasn’t worth £15 let alone the £60+ the dragon was trying to extract.

  • Ming says:

    Anyone has idea if to avail the benefit of £50 back on £200 spend, does Hilton charge the card on check in or check out as ironically I would be checking out on 1 sept, can I ask hotel to charge my card on check in as I would be checking in on 29 August?

    Also, if I book Honors Stay Longer and Save Rate online, it will require deposit of one night equivalent, does this get refunded at the hotel or does this get deducted from the full amount that will be charged at the hotel? If it goes towards the full amount, my spend will just be under the £200, hope anyone can shed some light perhaps?

    Many thanks.

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