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A new Priority Pass option lands at London Heathrow, but ….

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Priority Pass has moved quickly to fill the black hole that opened up at Heathrow Terminal 2 last week when the Plaza Premium lounge left the programme.

The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen has joined!

Not everyone can take advantage, however …..

The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen has joined Priority Pass at Heathrow

What is the Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen?

It is described on the Priority Pass website as:

a pub and restaurant that showcases Big Smoke’s range of craft beers, small-batch spirits and English pub classics alongside American-inspired dishes.

It is on the ground level of Terminal 2, down the escalators after security, by Gate A20.

It is open from 7am until the last flight departs.

What does my Priority Pass get me?

You will receive £15 credit against your bill when you show your Priority Pass.

If your Priority Pass allows extra guests for free, you can request multiple £15 credits.

Do NOT do this if your Priority Pass does not allow free guest visits. The Priority Pass guest charge is usually £20, so you will be £5 out of pocket.

The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen has joined Priority Pass at Heathrow

Can I visit if my Priority Pass is free via American Express?


This is a big snag. Only ‘paid for’ Priority Pass cards are valid at Big Smoke, or Priority Pass cards issued by financial institutions other than American Express.

(The other Priority Pass restaurant in the UK, The Grain Store at Gatwick South, DOES accept Priority Pass cards issued by American Express. The Grain Store is an exception to the global rule, and I expect it to stop accepting Amex-issued Priority Pass cards now that No1 Lounges is under the same ownership.)

If you received your Priority Pass via The Platinum Card or American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, you will charged £20 if you claim £15 credit at Big Smoke. This applies even if you have free visits in other circumstances.

This obviously means that this new option is of little use to most HfP readers. If you have The Platinum Card from American Express all is not lost in Terminal 2 as you can still enter the Plaza Premium lounge by showing The Platinum Card (not your Priority Pass) on the door.

What’s it like in the Big Smoke Taphouse?

As it happens, a HfP reader was one of the first people to try this new benefit and is writing a review. I will hopefully be able to publish it in a few days.

EDIT: Our review of the Big Smoke Taphouse at Heathrow Terminal 2 is now published – you can read it here

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (July 2024)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

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 1,500 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Eurostar, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

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

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

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

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

Comments (31)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Mark Maynard says:

    We live just around the corner from their original pub, The Antelope.
    Their beer is excellent and the takeouts helped get us through lockdown. Food is also great, this is quite exciting for Heathrow.

  • K says:

    Big Smoke is a great little microbrewery and pub chain mainly in London. Excellent beers and great food in their pubs! Let’s hope it’s the same at Heathrow!

  • MQ says:

    Priority pass is becoming a joke. 50% of the time lounges are full and now there is a distinction between “free” priority pass members…?

    • Tonei Glavinic says:

      The issue isn’t “free” vs paid memberships, it’s Amex-issued vs non-Amex-issued. Priority Pass cardholders who get their cards from other banks (like chase and citi in the US) are able to access restaurants – it’s Amex that has chosen not to participate in that aspect of the program.

      • Sam G says:

        Yes that was my understanding, this isn’t a PP decision, it was an Amex decision, presumably to lower the cost of the PP cards they issue (mainly driven by the US where there are many of these bar / restaurant options)

        • Rob says:

          I doubt it, because why is Grain Store in Terminal 2 included? Seems very simple to me – Priority Pass pays the restaurant close to £15 for giving £15 credit, Amex pays Priority Pass less than £15, sums don’t work.

          That said …. I know that a small non-UK bank where a friend works pays £19 to Collinson each time a Priority Pass they issue with their credit card is used. Amex will have literally hundreds of times the volume of those guys though.

          • Sam G says:

            Exactly. Sums don’t work for PP , they asked Amex for more $$ per visit, Amex said no and they agreed on the non-restaurant option to get the cost per visit to an acceptable level. Amex UK secured Grain Store as an option as the lounges can’t handle the volume & they didn’t want to upset their plat holders here, but for whatever reason haven’t done so for LHR. That’s my theory anyway 🙂

            It’s quite a weak offer in the UK anyway IMO as the lounge operators do a very good job here of selling access so you can rarely get in on the door. Great in Asia though, many airports have a pretty decent option (less so now PP have left) and I’ve never been turned away

        • Lady London says:

          Noting though, that the Amex-issued Priority Pass admits 2 people to a lounge. Each supp card (even on same account) admits 2, also.

          Even Priority Passes sold by PP themselves do not have the admit 2 free per card.

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    Related news. DragonPass refund in my card account a week after they cancelled them

  • John T says:

    You would be crazy to pay for a Priority Pass membership this year. I cannot remember the last time I saw a PP lounge open and accepting PP members. It’s a pretty useless membership.

    Collinson Group are very quietly making a killing issuing all these memberships and delivering almost nothing in return.

  • Alex W says:

    The Plaza Premium T2 arrivals lounge was one of the best perks of Amex Plat. I would regularly swing past LHR, trough a 3 course meal with drinks and then carry on my way to London. Amex Plat is a lot less worthwhile now!

    • Rob says:

      Er …. you can still access all Plaza lounges with Plat, just not with Priority Pass.

      • Alex W says:

        Wahoo! Sorry I should have read the article properly!

    • Ollie says:

      Me too! Or I would accompany a departing friend to the airport and we’d both have a free dinner before he went through security.
      Just looking at the Amex app now though, since the Platinum card and not PP is accepted, that a “same day boarding pass” is required. I can’t remember if it said this before, but I was never asked to show a boarding pass at the arrivals lounges. Is this a new (and enforced) rule for landside lounges?

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        I remember it being enforced since 2018. Surprised people like Alex could get away with no boarding pass.

  • Lady London says:

    Would people choose The Grain Store over others at LGW South if paying cash and looking for breakfast at LGW South? I know that terminal will be closed for a while yet just seeking opinions.

    Btw the dining benefit of PP is quite useful at SEA and PDX – there is a choice of outlets there.

    • tony says:

      Grain Store at Gatwick certainly did a competent enough breakfast for us a couple of years back on an early flight to Austria. We were in the cheap seats. Downside of the venue for me is no windows, but i’ve used it again since – service was always quick and friendly.

    • Louie says:

      Only tried it once (pre-Covid), but I thought it was very good.

  • T says:

    Ah Big Smoke is awesome! Happily pay for a few beers and a meal there!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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