Many people will be familiar with companies that offer airport lounge access via membership schemes. One of the largest such networks is Priority Pass. Purchasing one of their passes allows you access to a vast number of lounges worldwide.
In recent months, however, there have been some very different additions to the traditional Priority Pass lounge network, some of which I’m going to highlight today.
1.) London Gatwick
As more and more airlines adopt the buy on board (BoB) approach, people are giving greater thought to the food and drink they buy in the airport before their flights.
But as costly as the food on board is likely to be, stocking up at the airport ain’t exactly cheap either. At many airports, lounge access is a helpful solution. Except for places such as Gatwick. As anyone who’s tried to get into the No1 Lounge at Gatwick during a busy period can attest, it would probably be quicker to walk home and fetch refreshments from there rather than waiting to be allowed in.
But there is an alternative.
A search of the Priority Pass website for lounges at Gatwick reveals the following entry:
Grain Store is a cafe where you can get £15 off per eligible visitor just by presenting your Priority Pass.
As you can see from those menus, £15 of free credit should get you a very decent meal. But you can do far better than just a £15 discount, as I’ll explain shortly.
2.) Portland Airport – House Spirits Distillery
This is the first ever airport tasting room. Priority Pass users can get $28 off their final bill by presenting their card.
3.) JFK Airport – Bobby Van’s Steakhouse
Once again presenting your Priority Pass will get you $28 off your final bill. A pretty nice upscale addition to the Priority Pass network.
4.) Sydney Airport – Possible £500+ of free food?
Last year, Priority Pass added seven (!) new restaurants within Sydney Airport. Yes, in reality, the odds of you being able to visit all seven 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.
Scaling this up for maximum value
So this is the part where it gets really interesting. The article’s title suggested it was possible to get £60 of free credit at the Gatwick 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 per eligible member!
I currently have an American Express Platinum Card. This comes with a Priority Pass that allows myself and a guest unlimited free visits to any of their 1,100+ lounges worldwide. And it gets better. Amex Platinum cardholders are entitled to one free Platinum supplementary card on their account. This comes with its own Priority Pass.
In my case, I have my wife added as the supplementary cardholder. That allows each of us + a guest a £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’ (is that a thing?!) with three other family members or friends, they could enjoy 4 x AUD 36 at each of the seven restaurants. At current exchange rates that’s about £550 of free food and drink!
What’s the best way of getting a Priority Pass
Here you have a number of options available to you.
American Express Platinum Card – as well as the two Priority Passes, this card comes with comprehensive travel and car hire insurance (including the US). It also offers Gold status with hotel chains such as Hilton and Starwood. The Platinum card has a £450 annual fee.
The card application page is here.
NOTE: If you wish to maximise this deal as described, Amex Platinum is the way to go. That’s because the Priority Pass that comes with the Platinum card (unlimited free visits for you + a guest) can’t actually be bought, even directly on the Priority Pass website!
Buy a Priority Pass – As a Tricks of the Trade reader, you can get up to 20% off a Priority Pass by going via this link.
NOTE: For the deal I’ve mentioned today you’ll need a ‘Standard Plus’ or ‘Prestige’ Priority Pass membership otherwise the savings will be wiped out by the membership cost.
But Priority Pass isn’t the only way of accessing those lounges/restaurants:
Use LoungeKey – Via an HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard, you receive membership to LoungeKey – another airport lounge scheme. Their network also includes the same London, New York 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 their own LoungeKey membership. (Card fees are waived for HSBC Jade members).
NOTE: Lounge access via the HSBC card doesn’t allow you a free guest and so you would be limited to £30 of credit at Grain Store for example.
Use your free lounge passes from the Preferred Rewards Gold card – When you sign up for the American Express Gold card you receive, among other things, membership in the Lounge Club airport lounge network, as well as two 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 solid return. You can read my full review of the Preferred Rewards Gold card here.
These are useful things to be aware of the next time you are passing through any of the above airports.
Particularly if you find yourself flying short-haul from Gatwick a fair bit this is a great way to pick up some free snacks on your way to the gate, rather than paying the expensive prices on board.
With at least three likely trips to Gatwick planned this summer – I’m certainly looking forward to getting good value from this deal!