Bringing 19 Guests into a Lounge With One Priority Pass Card

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With so many premium credit cards now bundling Priority Pass membership, the number of people with airport lounge access has exploded.

Only about 5% of the 1000 or so participating Priority Pass lounges are located in the U.S. but an outsized percentage of members are U.S. based. That’s meant crowding in a handful of high demand locations, and even Priority Pass members turned away at peak times from places like the Alaska Airlines Lounge in Seattle and the Turkish Airlines lounge at Dulles.

Priority Pass has been on a tear coming up with new creative ways to add value to their expanding cardmember base, like adding Minute Suites rooms in several airports to the lounge network and even some restaurants and whiskey tastings.

Outside the U.S. many lounges are less crowded, with less demand from Priority Pass cardholders, and even hungry for the incremental revenue.

This month existing Citi Prestige Card cardholders lose access to American Airlines lounges when flying the airline same day. But since December 2015 the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® has offered up to 10 authorized user cards, with each card good for up to 3 people entering a lounge, meaning that in theory a single cardmembership could be leveraged to get 33 people into an Admirals Club. I do not know if anyone has ever done this.

In fact I wondered if Erica Virvo who works at Nomadic Matt may have set some kind of a record for guesting people into a lounge.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers a Priority Pass membership with unlimited free visits for the cardholder and no limit on guests other than capacity limits an individual lounge may impose.

Erica was there with her Priority Pass card and brought the kids that Nomadic Matt‘s FLYTE charity had helped travel. FLYTE gives “high school students in underserved schools to travel and expand their cultural, academic, and social horizons.” And, apparently, to check out airport lounges along the way. (As a donor to the organization myself I was thrilled by this.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Something similar happen to me recently at the Club at MCO. Literally an entire family (around 10) people came in on one priority pass membership. The lounge is already small and overcrowded. I support the priority pass, but Chase in particular should limit the number of guests to a reasonable level.

  2. I was in Santiago Chile, Priority lounge was packed… Need to put some limitation… They were making people wait in line until some people left to create more room in the lounge… AA lounge there was not crowded at all.

  3. yup, eventually airline lounges are going to drop Priority Pass coz people like this who abused the system (even though it’s not illegal).

    Hell, I could technically charge someone $20 at the airport and bring them in as my guest.

  4. +1 It is people like this who abuse privileges that will ultimately result in new restrictions which may hurt everyone. Hope she is happy with herself.

    (FYI my record is 6 guests – all family members – and the lounge was excited to have the incremental revenue. But that will not be the case for many lounges, particularly the few located in the USA).

  5. That is why Alaska lounges are now a NO GUEST policy for the PP cards. Slightly better than a total denial on capacity, now it is only the cardholder can enter the lounge.

    Charity or not, bringing in 18 kids into a lounge is NOT a reasonable thing to do. Period.

  6. Every issuer needs to limit the amount of guests to something reasonable, like 1-3. And if you’re a family and need to bring in more than 3 guests, you need to stop overpopulating this planet!

  7. We did a similar thing when we were on an outreach trip working in Bangkok and Yangon. It was great to get everyone in, even if some of the lounges weren’t great. We got in 10 guests. It was nice to get a cold drink and have a nice seat in order to fill out customs forms! The CSR card is great!

  8. This is why arbitrary rules are introduced. Next year when you can’t guest your immediate family plus one on a once a year trip, blame this lady. We all have seen groups of high school kids tarveling. It only takes a couple to ratchet the noise level up to something insane. She probably bought four large stinky pizzas for them to take onboard the plane too :-).

  9. Yeah, Chase needs to introduce some sort of limitation on guests for PP access. Limiting to 1 or 2 guests seems fair to me. Otherwise, the overcrowding issues is only going to get worse.

  10. Wow. What a bunch of grumpy and selfish people you commenters are. Instead of congratulating her on helping kids from an underserved community see the world, you’re all worried about your own future use of the guest past. Get some perspective.

  11. 19 is quite a respective number but we were more in one lounge recently: we were a group of ~35 people on a wedding trip flying BJM-KGL-DAR-Saadani_NP and had to wait around 6 hrs in KGL (nice airport by the way). We all went in on a single chase PP subscription. The lounge wasn’t that full but we did fill a around half of it. Lounge is great also, good food etc.
    So yeah, there you go, 35 people haha
    + I also think it’s great that she helped the kids get into the lounge. Always a nice experience. We have to be careful when we say she shouldn’t have done that because we all who fly regularly are very privileged and should be happy that the ones who are not so much, could enjoy this perk so why not use the benefit of you have this guesting rights? I mean I would understand a limit of like 3-5 people imposed by Chase or PP but since there is none, it’s ok to use it, I’d say especially in order to help people who are not that privileged…

  12. A great development, Chase now limits PP to 2 guests. This will prevent this kind of “abuse” of the program. I do classify it as abuse as it’s not reasonable to bring 19 guests just to exploit the policy. This is akin to going to a buffet and sitting there from opening hours to closing hours trying to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner…technically possible perhaps but not per etiquette.

  13. Hey guys – Erica here!

    Just found this post. It’s great to get featured even though is seems like commenter Udo Gehrke holds the record at 35 guests under one membership.

    I will say that I went to the airport with the group not knowing if my PP would even get ME into any lounge. When i asked the man at the counter, he said I had to call my bank. Chase said in this particular airport, I could bring in as many people as I was flying with.

    Since we were on a service trip where these kids had barely been on a plane before, I thought it would be a nice treat for the hour before our flight. I spoke to them and told them that we would need to be respectful, quiet, and behave. The airport lounge was huge – with lots of food and supplies in the buffet. We had all just eaten in the airport, so they barely ate anything. We all say pretty quietly playing card games and lounging in the confortable chairs.

    It was a phenomenal experience to see these students get to do something that I didn’t even get to experience until I was 28!

    That’s what the whole trip was about – showing these students that there is more to life than their neighborhood. It was an excellent trip on so many levels. And it was great that we were able to experience that.

    Thanks for all of the supporters in the comments section. And thanks Gary!

    Erica 🙂

    P.S. – For those of you disapproving – you are doing the same thing playing the game of travel hacking – which is why new rules get introduced all the time. You test the limits – they figure it out – and a new rule gets introduced. But you got to enjoy the benefits along the way!

    (I got that $275 mistake Etihad fare on Christmas a few years ago and enjoyed that super cheap flight to South Africa and back – but I’m sure Etihad will never make a mistake like that again!)

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