The Sofitel Heathrow Lounge Leaves Priority Pass

Priority Pass giveth, and Priority Pass taketh away.

Earlier I wrote about how the world’s only airport distillery tasting room (located at Portland Airport) has joined Priority Pass, which is an awesome development. Priority Pass has been adding a bunch of non-traditional lounge venues to their network lately, which I’m a fan of.

This trend kicked off last July, when the club lounge at the Sofitel London Heathrow joined Priority Pass. This was the first time we saw Priority Pass expand beyond the airport, and it seemed like a cool partnership.

Priority-Pass-Sofitel

I used this lounge when I was staying at the hotel, on the same day that I was arriving from a flight. While the terms stated that you needed a boarding pass, they didn’t actually verify it.

Reader Len emailed to say that the Sofitel Heathrow club lounge has left the Priority Pass network as of last week. Fortunately there are lots of other great lounge options at Heathrow, so it’s not like they’re taking away the single lounge option at the airport.

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Sofitel Heathrow Club Millesime

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is curious what happened here. For those of you not familiar with the Priority Pass business model, Priority Pass pays individual lounges on a per visit basis, so I imagine lounges get somewhere in the range of $20-30 of revenue per person per visit.

So, why would the hotel want to give up this revenue stream, when presumably that’s way above the incremental cost per visit? Live and Let’s Fly suggests that the lounge got too crowded due to locals who were using the lounge without flying same day. In other words, airport workers and others came before or after work for food and drinks. Who wouldn’t want a free nightly happy hour? 😉

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Sofitel Heathrow Club Millesime evening drinks

While I don’t have a better theory, I can’t really make sense of that. The terms stated that you needed a same day boarding pass to access the lounge, so if it was locals coming in without flying, then it seems like there could have been an easy way to deal with this, by actually verifying boarding passes.

Bottom line

The Sofitel Heathrow club lounge is no longer part of the Priority Pass network. Ultimately I don’t really view this as that much of a loss given the other lounge options at Heathrow, though at the same time I appreciated the creativity behind this partnership.

What do you think caused Sofitel and Priority Pass to cut ties?

Comments

  1. The staff have been telling people it is ‘terrorist’ related, to beef up security.

    Which is nonsense.

    The PP arrivals lounge in T2 brought in BP checks last year. Ironically I was at the opening party and management told me they wanted non-flyers, eg those waiting for pax.

    So ….. I think PP pulled the plug. They pay the lounge £15 per pop. You pay £250 for an unlimited visit PP. You start losing money pretty quick.

  2. Most Priority Pass lounges are reimbursed on a volume-based formula, not a set dollar amount per entry. On average, it works out to around $18-$20 at busy lounges.

  3. Is it difficult to operate a business? I’m legitimately asking because it doesn’t seem so difficult to me. The sofitel and PP have a mutual goal – to make money via PP holders using the lounge.
    If it’s too crowded with locals who aren’t flying you simply restrict it to those with an arrivals boarding pass. It’s really not difficult.
    Does the board of PP or the sofitel really sit around their board meeting struggling to solve a problem that I can solve in 10 seconds?
    Is running a business really that difficult.

    PS the ‘terrorism reason is even more moronic – are they suggesting PP holders are terrorists?

  4. Yeah I’ve always had to show my boarding pass when I wanted to use a lounge on my Priority Pass membership. I’d be surprised if they weren’t doing that already.
    It could be that it just got too crowded, and the management thought the lounge lost its “exclusivity”.

  5. Sofitels are great. Sofitels with Club Millesime are even better. However, NO lounge is worth visiting, or paying a higher price for a room, if it is packed to the rafters. In my opinion it was a smart move by Sofitel.

  6. The Sofitel T5 is very close to BA’s headquarters, where probably a couple thousands people who can easily get a boarding pass without flying work. That’s your explanation.

  7. @Hosea: Considering Priority Pass is a UK company and Sofitel is a French company, I highly doubt Trump has anything to do with this.

    The election’s been 8 months ago… let it go.

  8. The lounge at this hotel was originally for suites guests and I heard that they were complaining about the noise and over crowding and not being able to access it. Understandable when you are paying £300 a night for the privilege

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