Following BA’s introduction of the Buy on Board (BoB) program on most of their short-haul flights, far more people are giving thought to the food they may want to buy in the airport before boarding their flights.
Many people will be familiar with companies that offer yearly memberships for airport lounge access. One of the largest such networks is Priority Pass. By purchasing one of their passes you can gain access to a huge number of lounges worldwide including the likes of the Aspire Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5.
Recently, however, there have been some very interesting and different additions to the traditional Priority Pass lounge network, three of which I am going to highlight today.
1.) London Gatwick
If you were to search the Priority Pass website for London lounges, you’ll see the following entry:
The Grain Store is not actually a lounge, but a restaurant where you can get £15 off your bill per eligible visitor by presenting your Priority Pass.
As you can see, £15 worth of free credit should get you a very decent meal. But you can do better than that, much better than that in fact, as I will show you in a moment.
2.) Dubai International Aiport – Igloo Sleep Pods
If you are passing through Terminal 3 at Dubai Int’l Aiport, you will notice a new Sleep Lounge area. This is the Sleep ‘n Fly concept by YAWN. It consists of 20 Igloo Sleep Pods and YAWN cabins.
By presenting a Priority Pass you can now avail yourself of a free slot of between 2-3 hours (depending on the time of day) – this would usually cost between $20-$40 per person.
3.) Sydney Airport – A possible £500+ of free food?
Priority Pass recently added 7 (!) new locations in Sydney Airport. And all of them are restaurants. So yes, in reality, the odds of you being able to visit all 7 places – spread over 3 terminals – are quite low. However, theoretically, you are eligible for AUD 36 of free credit per eligible member at each of those restaurants.
How to extract maximum value
So this is the part where it gets really interesting. The headline suggested it was possible to get £60 of free credit at the Grain Store and I quoted circa £500 of free credit at Sydney Airport. How am I getting those figures?
Well, the key here is that the credit is available…for each eligible member!
I currently have the American Express Platinum Card. This comes with a Priority Pass that allows me and a guest unlimited free visits to any of the 1,000+ lounge worldwide. And it gets better. An Amex Platinum cardholder gets a free Platinum supplementary card on their account that comes with its own Priority Pass.
In my case, I have my wife as the supplementary cardholder. That would allow each of us + a guest, £15 credit at Grain Store, Gatwick, for a total of £60 free credit!
Alternatively, if someone decided to go on a Sydney airport restaurant crawl with three other family members or friends (ok, I may have just invented that concept!), they could enjoy 4 x AUD 36 (about £20) at each of the 7 restaurants – that’s about £570ish of free food and drink!
Best method for maximum value
So here you have a number of options available to you.
- American Express Platinum Card – as well as the 2 Priority Passes, this card comes with comprehensive travel and car hire insurance (including the US) as well as giving you Gold status with hotel chains such as Hilton and Starwood. The card has a £450 annual fee. The card application page is here. NOTE: If you wish to take this deal to the max, the Platinum Card is the way to go, because the version of Priority Pass that comes with it (Unlimited free visits for you + guest) cannot actually be bought from the Priority Pass website.
Buy a Priority Pass – As a Xexec client, you can save up to 20% on a Priority Pass. You can find out more details on this page here.
NOTE: For the specific deal I’ve mentioned today you will need to buy a ‘Standard Plus’ or ‘Prestige’ version of the Priority Pass otherwise your savings will be wiped out by the membership cost.
Use LoungeKey – Via an HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard, you receive membership to airport lounge scheme LoungeKey. Their network also includes the same London, Dubai and Sydney options I have described.The card is only available to HSBC Premier customers and costs £195 per year. You can add an additional cardholder for £60 and they would also receive LoungeKey membership.
NOTE: The lounge access via the HSBC card doesn’t allow you a free guest and so you would be limited to roughly £30 of credit if using the Grain Store option.
Use your free lounge passes from the Preferred Rewards Gold card – When you sign up for the American Express Gold card you receive, amongst other things, membership in the Lounge Club airport lounge network, as well as 2 complimentary visits. If used at the Grain Store for example that could be £30 of free food and drink – which for a card that is free for the first year – is a good return.You can read my full review of the Preferred Rewards Gold card here.
These are some nifty perks to be aware of next time you are passing through any of the above airports. Particularly if you are flying short-haul from Gatwick this is a great way of picking up some quick free snacks on your way to the gate, rather than paying the expensive prices onboard.