Priority Pass Loses Access to United Clubs Effective May 15

Priority Pass is a brilliant product, it’s a card that allows you to access lounges across a variety of different airlines and also independent lounges.

Airlines generate incremental revenue for the visit. Many of the lounges either do not offer single visit prices at all, or are selling at a real discount through the Priority Pass program.

There are really three different products, and then a variety of price points.

  • Priority Pass — this is the largest full network of lounges offered

  • Priority Pass ‘Select’ — this is Priority Pass, but without United Clubs. United and Chase have an exclusive deal, and so Priority Pass came up with a separate product that they could sell to other credit card companies that excludes United’s lounges. That way they can make lounge access a card benefit, doing business with the banks, without running afoul of Chase’s exclusivity.

  • Lounge Club – this is a more limited array of lounge options, usually offered through bank products.

American Express began offering Priority Pass Select with its Hilton Surpass product, that one was a basic membership that did not include any free lounge visits but allowed you to use the Priority Club network at a cost of $27 per admittance.

They provided the Priority Pass Select to American Express Platinum cardholders, this comes with unlimited free visits for one person but paid-for guest access.

Chase offered the Lounge Club product to Ink cardholders (that benefit disappears at the end of the month, so Ink cardholders should register now) with two free visits per year, with additional visits charged.

As you can see there aren’t just different products (meaning different or subsets of lounge networks) but also different plans — unlimmited visits (even including guests) down to every visit paid for on a per-use basis.

Now the difference between Priority Pass and Priority Pass Select appears to be disappearing, since United has terminated its participation in Priority Pass.

This was emailed yesterday:

It’s still a great product, and the offerings don’t change at all for anyone who got their Priority Pass from a US-issued credit card as their membership already excluded access to United lounges. But this is disappointing nonetheless.

Priority Pass used to have access to many American and US Airways lounges, as well as the full United suite. And now all of those are gone.

Still, I’ve used my Priority Pass access for Alaska Airlines lounges and for lounges around the world, such as the ability to shower in a domestic lounge on arrival in Sao Paulo. That was worth its weight in Gold (or at least made me happy I had free membership via my American Express Platinum card).

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. Ummm.. did this just indirectly decrease the value of the Citi Prestige card benefit somewhat / quite a lot? The suspicious side of me smells a connection between announcing a 50k signup bonus and an announcement like this a week later…

  2. Follow-up to myself… Nevermind. I see now that Citi Prestige was Priority Pass Select, which didn’t include United clubs anyway. Paranoia put back in its box!

  3. The priority pass the came with citi prestige was the select and did not have access to united anyways. This change does not change citi prestige benefits.

  4. Is there a theme to the new lounges offered or it’s just a random assortment of offers.

    I wonder why UA is turning down the Priority Pass revenue (I’m sure they get some dough for every visit so it’s lost money).

    Maybe their realizing their lounges are too crowded and wan’t to take a page from DL/AMEX and lighten up the crowds?

  5. I love the marketing language. You’re losing lounge access to 50% of these airports, and that’s a “minimal disruption.” Maybe not so minimal if your home airport is on the wrong side of that 50%

  6. So are the 17 of 34 new agreements with other lounges or already in place a duplicate offerings. I wish they had more specific info on this.

  7. Priority Pass is a great product and benefit.

    I remember having a long wait at SYX (Sanya Airport in China’s southmost Province of Hainan in the middle of South China Sea), where my Star Alliance Gold status did me no good because there was only one small but cozy first-class lounge for small regional airlines (Dragon Air, Air Asia) that fly in and out of the tiny island. I had two hours to kill so I just went into the lounge and asked if I could get in with Priority Pass (since then I have downloaded PP’s list of participating lounges into my smart phone so that I would know without having to ask). Yup, PP was good even in this very remote location!

  8. I agree with DCS above. I travel a lot in China and I have been able to use PP Select in a lot of places.

    If you have the card, get the app. If you don’t have the card, get the app since you can join through the app.

  9. I have AMEX Platinum and find the PPS useful at smaller airport in Central and South America. Have also used it in Turkey.

  10. PP options at US airports… meh. But, I do use it at the KLM lounge at IAH. Only decent PP lounge in the US.

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