Priority Pass has added two new options at Heathrow Airport.
In Terminal 5, ‘The Globe’ pub and restaurant has joined the programme. You will find it by South Security, landside.
In Terminal 3, ‘Oceanic’ pub and restaurant has joined the programme. You will find it next to Pret, landside.
Priority Pass members can visit either ‘The Globe’ or ‘Oceanic’ and get a £15 credit towards their range of craft beers, gins and ‘classic pub food’.
Unfortunately anyone who gets their Priority Pass via American Express cannot use this benefit. I’d say that 90% of HfP readers who have a Priority Pass fall into this category.
You CAN access them via LoungeKey, if you are a HSBC Premier or Santander World Elite credit card holder or similar.
You have the same problem with ‘The Big Smoke’ pub and restaurant in Terminal 2, as well as ‘The Big Smoke’ at London Luton Airport, which joined the programme a couple of weeks ago. All of these pubs are under the same ownership.
There is a grand total of ONE restaurant experience GLOBALLY that Amex-issued Priority Pass customers can use and that is ‘The Grain Store’ at London Gatwick’s South Terminal. Given that this is the British Airways terminal, it is at least convenient for most HfP readers.
This is starting to look bad for American Express in the UK
The addition of ‘Oceanic’ and ‘The Globe’ means that holders of American Express-issued Priority Pass cards cannot access a large proportion of the Priority Pass inventory at Heathrow.
Importantly, the Priority Pass website does not make it clear that holders of Amex-issued Priority Pass cards will be charged £20 if they use their £15 discount at any of these outlets.
The only way you can find out that they are blocked to American Express cardholders is via the Priority Pass app. If you have this on your phone, it will filter out lounges that your card does not allow you to visit, and these two new Heathrow options are not shown.
Why does this happen? My best guess is that Priority Pass wants to charge American Express a higher fee for restaurant visits, as it pays out more than it pays a lounge operator, and that the two parties could not reach an agreement.
This really isn’t sustainable for American Express. It cannot double the number of Priority Pass visits provided with Preferred Rewards Gold (you will receive four per year from October 2022, instead of the current two) whilst the percentage of the UK Priority Pass estate you can access continues to fall.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that American Express will soon be on the receiving end of a huge number of complaints from Priority Pass holders, either because they were charged £20 for visiting ‘The Globe’ or ‘Oceanic’ or because they have realised they are excluded.
This is something that American Express needs to look at given the existing frustration over being unable to access UK lounges with Priority Pass due to overcrowding. The fee differential cannot be more than £1-£2 per visit, given that no other bank or credit card provider has brought in a similar restriction. It wouldn’t surprise me if Priority Pass is deliberately building up its pub and restaurant portfolio at Heathrow to force American Express into changing its policy.
If you get a free Priority Pass via any other financial product you hold, or indeed pay for one directly, you can visit ‘The Globe’ in Terminal 5 or ‘Oceanic’ in Terminal 3 and get £15 of products on the house.
Both sites are open from 6.30am, seven days per week. ‘Oceanic’ closes at 9.30pm whilst ‘The Globe’ closes at 9pm. Remember that both are landside so you need to factor in time to clear security after your visit.
PS. The name ‘Oceanic’ for the Terminal 3 pub is a subtle reference to ‘The Oceanic Terminal’, which was the original name of Terminal 3 when it opened in 1961.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 2022)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a 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 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
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 you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
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.