Priority Pass Members Can No Longer Bring Guests Into Alaska Lounges

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As I’ve written about in the past, Priority Pass members are increasingly reporting issues with accessing certain lounges. While it’s not the case at most lounges, some of the most popular ones are restricting access to Priority Pass members due to space constraints.

Priority-Pass-Space-Constraints

Yesterday I wrote about how the biggest issue is with Alaska Lounges, as they seem to consistently be limiting access to Priority Pass members. There were rumors that some Alaska Lounges would be leaving Priority Pass altogether, though I confirmed with Alaska’s PR department that this wasn’t the case.

This situation is of course frustrating, and it seems like there are two short term solutions here:

  • Have the lounges leave Priority Pass, so that expectations are better being managed
  • Limit the guesting privileges for Priority Pass members even further, in hopes of that resolving crowding issues

Alaska-Board-Room

Well, one of those actions has just been taken. The Priority Pass website has been updated to indicate that Priority Pass members accessing Alaska Lounges will no longer have guesting privileges:

Effective 01MAY, due to capacity constraints, the lounge cannot accommodate accompanying guests at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

This new restriction applies to Alaska Lounges in Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle, though it looks like the lounge in Anchorage isn’t impacted. This will likely most impact families, since kids often can’t have their own Priority Pass cards.

For many others this shouldn’t be much of an issue, given that many premium credit cards let you add authorized users for a reasonable cost, and those authorized users get the same Priority Pass benefits. As a reminder:

Card# Of Guests Who Get Free AccessAuthorized User AccessCost To Add Authorized User
The Platinum Card® from American Express2Yes$175 For Up To 3 People, $175 For Each Additional Person Beyond That
The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN2Yes$300 Per Person
Citi Prestige® Card2 Guests Or Immediate Family MembersYes$50 Per Person
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit CardUnlimited GuestsYes$0
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ CardUnlimited GuestsYes$75 Per Person

Bottom line

This seems like a fair solution on the part of Alaska and Priority Pass. My hope is that this new rule will decrease crowding to the point that they no longer have to constantly restrict access — otherwise this accomplishes very little.

So I’ll reserve full judgment until that happens, though this seems like the best approach for them to take.

What do you make of Priority Pass guesting privileges being cut at Alaska Lounges?

(Tip of the hat to @dw_bk)

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Comments

  1. Are children treated as “guests” for this purpose? My wife and I both have priority pass, of course, but obviously the toddler doesn’t have a credit card…..

  2. Well, that sucks for me. I’m flying into Seattle tomorrow and was planning on going into the lounge with my husband. A little notice would’ve been nice.

  3. @ Heather — the policy starts on May 1st.

    This needed to happen. Better some access than no access.

  4. So I guess this will keep out the kids as guests, but not the spouses/S.O’s who can get an authorized user card that grants them their own Priority Pass. Now I’m glad I have multiple cards.

    But in a bit of boredom last night I read through the T&C’s of the Priority Pass and in short they say that they’re ultimately not responsible or liable for any failure of any lounge to grant access (or provide products) AT ALL.

    So I take this to mean that if you get in, great, but if not, tough. And this is why I would never pay for an individual Priority Pass membership.

  5. @Heather- you should be good. The policy takes effect Monday May 1. So tomorrow (Friday, April 28), you will still have guesting privileges.

  6. Are you sure about Amex Platinum? I thought that the 2 guests is only for Centurion lounges, but Delta Skyclubs and Priority Pass include no free guests.

  7. I’m all for this change. As someone who pays for an Alaska Lounge membership, it was always frustrating to enter a jam packed lounge. Sometimes you’re better off waiting in the terminal.

  8. @askmrlee – in theory you can add your kids as AU and have them get PP as well. Not sure if actual age restriction to them getting AU cards. Probably not economical for most families unless kids travel w/ you all the time.

  9. The credit card bank is who is going to be hurt by this, they need to be proactively working with Priority Pass to find a good solution. I’ve visited the DFW Priority Pass lounge and the only good thing there was bottled water. There were hardly any seats and the place was a MESS. Food on the floor, crap on the chairs. But it did have a nice view over the planes. And the bathrooms were cleaner than the AMEX lounge. And if the desk at the elevator lobby is busy you can just walk right past and into the lounge, provided you know which one it is. Priority Pass holds very little value to me and is thus a very small part of my holding onto certain credit cards.

  10. I wonder how many folks will be closing their Citi Prestige card after losing Admirals Club access, incurring a 1.6 cent to 1.33 cent per point devaluation on American and now the loss of companion access at Alaska lounges and other Priority Pass capacity restrictions.

  11. Immediate family members are not commonly considered guests. I will protest any interpretation that extends a policy defined for guests to include family members. It is in contrast to common sense.
    They can create a policy that explicitly mentions “only the primary cardholder may enter the lounge”, and then it makes sense that family members are not included. But a “no guests allowed” policy (without explicitly mentioning exclusion of immediate family members) will not exclude immediate family members.

  12. @Miz can you please try to limit the amount of protesting you do at the lounge out of respect for those in line behind you?

    There’s nothing more frustrating than someone arguing the T&Cs with the lounge host while a line builds out the door.

  13. Allow one (self) for free, but provide ability for card members to bring in guests by paying extra for each additional guest. It seems fair.

    This resonates with many political debates. Liberals would say “let’s give lounge access to every one so that we have a beautiful world where every one is lounged”. Then the end result is it becomes harder to get in and we get a worse product overall over time.

  14. The liberal way? Vs the conservative way: only allow the chosen elite in, but have the masses pay for it with a ticket surcharge!

  15. @Miz please don’t do this your the type of person that everyone else in the lounge despises. Don’t argue a technicality pay the annual fee for a authorized user or hit the road no need to be a brat to the lounge agent who is just going to be doing there job. The entitlement is unreal and needs to stop from everyone, the intentions of this policy are clear access for card members only.

  16. Allowing only a Priority Pass card holder to enter an Alaska lounge sounds like a fair compromise. But as mentioned by others, it will be interesting to see if Alaska actually starts (re)admitting PP members without (other) restrictions. If they don’t, PP members need to call or e-mail Priority Pass and also their card issuers to raise a (polite) fuss. Unless a wheel squeaks, it will never get any grease.

  17. Miz – In that case it seems like you’re about to finally find out that the world doesn’t revolve around you and no one cares what YOU consider a guest to be…

    Your family members are your guests, period. No standard definition of the word “guest” I’ve ever seen explicitly excludes family members…

  18. @CS: I will definitely limit the amount of protesting at lounge to no more than a few sentences. I am not going to argue, but I will give my interpretation and if they refuse, I will either leave or buy one day pass(es). I will pursue the matter later through other means.

    @Jack: People are entitled to what they are entitled to and are not to what they are not. If there is a disagreement about who is entitled to what, there would be a debate about that. It seems you don’t like such debates, no problem, you are entitled to not liking things.

    @Callum: Citi Prestige sees “guests” as different from “immediate family members” as its lounge access policy is “2 Guests OR Immediate Family Members”.
    Definitely the entire world does not revolve around what I believe. But what I believe can have, at least, some impact on the smaller world around me. I have gone several times to court for cases like this, and I have won most of them. Talk about the world and how to revolve its door …

  19. For a stop-gap solution, this probably is the best we could have hoped for. Not ideal, not good for the way I travel, but better than Alaska dropping PP entirely. The ultimate solution is more lounge space at airports, but that’s not going to happen for easily 5-10 years, if ever for US airports.

    @Miz: Arguing with the front-line staff isn’t going to get you anywhere. They’re not attorneys there to debate the merits of 3rd party contracts — they wouldn’t be working there if they were. They’re told what to do and will get written up for going against it. If you’ve got an axe to grind, drop a letter / send a box of dog poo to the HQs of the parties involved.

  20. I was in Seattle last Friday, and while there was a sign posted outside stating they were not accepting priority pass members due to capacity, I still gave it a shot. The receptionist did a quick look around and said it was fine for my colleague and I to enter. It was not crowded at that time, but by the time we left it was packed. It never hurts to ask, even if a sign is posted, worst that can happen is they say no.

  21. @AlexS: I mostly agree with what you said.The point of “arguing with the front-line staff” isn’t ” getting to anywhere” right there and then. The point of “arguing with front line staff” is “establishing as a fact how the business is being practiced”. One’s claim that “s/he believed s/he was eligible to be admitted to a lounge because of X but s/he was refused” has no base unless s/he actually engaged in interacting with a lounge agent, discussed X, and then was refused.
    But as I explained previously arguing should be kept at minimum, as it is unlikely and is not expected to solve the problem (though if it did, that’s good.)

  22. As for Citi Prestige – yes, after Admirals Lounge access ends and AA flight discount ends, I am dropping the card. I don’t have much use for 4th night free and have a CSR.
    As for PP I also get through CSR – I would be OK if they drop back to just one guest temporarily, but this AS lounge policy will need to cascade back to Citi and Chase documentation about how many guests you get as it is now going to be variable. I have a big problem with the trend that services you pay for have a significant chance of not being delivered: PP, AA award flights, UA GPUs, etc. Isn’t there any consumer protection for that?
    It is not clear that if Alaska Lounge in SEA will go back to prior policy once the C terminal lounge opens in June? I guess they are taking a wait and see approach.

  23. Thanks a lot, Chase Sapphire Reserve. Unlimited guests literally diluted the program. (As told to me by multiple agents who had denied me entry to lounges in SEA and LAX over the last few months.)

  24. The question is now that they’ve made the change will Alaska keep leaving the signs out or pull them except when the club really is full or nearly full.

  25. @Andrew — Thanks for sharing, looks like Chase issuing a million Sapphire Reserve cards with unlimited PP guest privileges created an untenable situation real fast.

    @Steve — If Alaska still leaves the “Priority Pass access denied” signs out (after the change to allow only the PP member without any guests), then PP and Alaska simply need to end their relationship, because it would be nothing more than a sham arrangement at that point.

  26. Just close Alaska lounges entirely if they can’t handle access. Other lounges manage just fine.

  27. Just checked out the Alaska lounge here in Seatac. They are not accepting Priority Pass members because of space restrictions. It certainly didn’t look that busy to me when I peeked in.

  28. I was also denied entry this past week into a completely empty Alaska lounge in Seattle. The agent behind the desk told me that Priority Pass wants me to get used to using the other SEA options as my main option.

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