Priority Pass’ New Credit Card Exclusion –

By | March 17, 2023

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There’s no reason to panic, although it sets a strange precedent that could eventually have major implications…

Priority Pass locations are limited to “paid” members.

Priority Pass is the world’s largest network of independent airport lounges. Priority Pass does not operate lounges, but rather monetizes them, as the company sells memberships that offer access to all types of lounges.

Priority Pass sells memberships directly, although you can also get memberships through all types of premium credit cards. I assume that in the United States, most Priority Pass members get their membership through a credit card, not through purchasing a membership, because the value is much better.

Anyway, a few days ago I wrote about how ROAM Fitness at Baltimore Airport is merging with Priority Pass. The conditions listed on the Priority Pass website indicate the following:

Only Cardholders who have purchased Priority Pass membership – Standard, Standard Plus, or Prestige – are eligible to access ROAM Fitness.

I was initially wondering if this was a glitch or something, but I’ve confirmed that it isn’t. Indeed, this Priority Pass location is not available to those who have membership via credit card, but only to those who directly purchase a membership.

Maybe other lounges have this limitation too, though I’ve never seen one before. This sets a very strange precedent among those with unlimited Priority Pass visits.

Everyone gets access to Priority Pass lounges, but Priority Pass experiences (restaurants, spas, etc.) now have basically three tiers of membership:

ROAM Fitness is not available to Priority Pass members via credit card

What is Priority Pass’ motive for this change?

One new Priority Pass location excluded from the credit card program is no big deal. After all, there are 1,300+ Priority Pass locations. However, I can’t imagine the intent is to only have one location with such a limit, because that doesn’t make any sense.

I don’t want to be pessimistic, but this is definitely something I will keep an eye on going forward. What makes me curious is what Priority Pass’s motives are with this change. Here’s my general understanding of the Priority Pass economy with regards to membership issued via credit card (and please correct me if I’m wrong):

  • Lounge operators are paid a certain amount with Priority Pass per visit (I think in the $20-25 range), and it doesn’t matter if the diner is using a membership via credit card or purchased in person
  • Credit card companies pay for Priority Passes in a way that reflects the number of visits a member makes; I’m not sure if it’s a fixed amount per visit, a sliding scale, or what

Priority Pass memberships issued through some credit cards offer access to the lounge “experience”, while other memberships do not. I’m assuming for those that don’t, it’s because the credit card company wants to cut the fees associated with Priority Pass.

With that in mind, what I can’t understand is why we are now seeing Priority Pass locations excluded from the credit card program altogether. Why would Priority Pass be willing to give someone with a Chase Sapphire Reserve $28 credit at a Priority Pass restaurant, but not offer them access to this gym?

Will Priority Pass increase the waiting room limit?

The main thing is

At least one Priority Pass location is now only open to those with paid memberships, and not to those who obtained membership via credit card. I can’t help but be a little concerned that this will spread to more locations, and I’m not sure what the exact logic is.

What do you think about the Priority Pass development?

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