Withdrawal of Priority Pass restaurant access via American Express

To the point Effective August 1, 2019, Priority Pass cardholders obtained through American Express will no longer have access to Priority Pass airport restaurants. Did the LoungeBuddy deal have anything to do with it?

This post is also available in: FR

American Express removes access to Priority Pass restaurants

The news literally went around the world yesterday: American Express Hong Kong was the first to fire when it announced these changes. Followed by American Express USA… and finally American Express Canada has confirmed that this will also affect Canadian cardholders.

american express logo salon

Technically, this mainly concerns holders of:

… that have unlimited access to Priority Pass airport lounges for the cardholder and one guest.

 

restaurant priority pass 1

This was a practical advantage to have, especially when dealing with Priority Pass lounges that can be particularly busy.

I use it regularly, especially on connections in Boston at Jerry Remy’s restaurant:

restaurant priority pass 1

And since last year, many restaurants have joined Priority Pass:

Country City Airport Restaurant Expenses covered
Australia Brisbane BNE Corretto Cafe & Bar 36 AUD$ / Pers
Australia Brisbane BNE Graze Grill & Bar 36 AUD$ / pers
Australia Brisbane BNE Bar Roma 36 AUD$ / pers
United States Boston BOS Stephanie’s 28 US$ / pers
United States Boston BOS Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill 28 US$ / pers
United States Cleveland CLE Bar Symon 28 US$ / pers
United States Washington DC DCA Bracket Room 28 US$ / pers
United States Washington DC DCA American Tap Room 28 US$ / pers
United States Denver DEN Timberline Steaks & Grill 28 US$ / pers
United States Fort Lauderdale FLL Kafe Kalik 28 US$ / pers
Brazil São Paulo GRU Bleriot Bar & Lounge 27 US$ / pers
Brazil São Paulo GRU La Bonbonniere 27 US$ / pers
United States Greenville-Spartanburg GSP RJ Rockers Flight Room 28 US$ / pers
United States Washington DC IAD Chef Geoff’s 28 US$ / pers
United States Houston AHI Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar 28 US$ / pers
United States Houston IHA Landry’s Seafood 28 US$ / pers
United States Indianapolis IND The Fan Zone 28 US$ / pers
United States New York JFK Bobby Van’s Steakhouse 28 US$ / pers
United States Los Angeles LAX Rock & Brews 28 US$ / pers
United States Los Angeles LAX P.F. Chang’s 28 US$ / pers
United States Lexington LEX Kentucky Ale Taproom 28 US$ / pers
United Kingdom London LGW Grain Store Cafe & Bar 15 £ / pers
Peru Lima LIM Bleriot Bar & Lounge 27 US$ / pers
Peru Lima LIM La Bonbonniere 27 US$ / pers
United States Miami MIA Viena 28 US$ / pers
United States Miami MIA Corona Beach 28 US$ / pers
United States Miami MIA Air Margaritaville 28 US$ / pers
United States Portland PDX House Spirits Distillery (Bar) 28 US$ / pers
United States Portland PDX Capers Market 28 US$ / pers
United States Portland PDX Capers Cafe Le Bar 28 US$ / pers
United States Seattle SEA Floret by Cafe Flora 28 US$ / pers
United States San Francisco SFO Yankee Pier 28 US$ / pers
United States San Francisco SFO San Francisco Giant’s Clubhouse 28 US$ / pers
Singapore Singapore SIN The Green Market (TGM) 27 US$ / pers
United States St. Louis STL The Pasta House and Schlafy Beer 28 US$ / pers
United States St. Louis STL The Pasta House 28 US$ / pers
Australia Sydney SYD Wok on Air 36 AUD$ / pers
Australia Sydney SYD Bar Roma 36 AUD$ / pers
Australia Sydney SYD MoVida 36 AUD$ / pers
Australia Sydney SYD Bistro 2020 & Bar 36 AUD$ / pers
Australia Sydney SYD Peroni Bar 36 AUD$ / pers
Australia Sydney SYD Mach 2 36 AUD$ / pers
Australia Sydney SYD Better Burger 36 AUD$ / pers
United States Syracuse SYR Johnny Rockets 28 US$ / pers
Israel Tel Aviv TLV Schmoozy Bar 27 US$ / pers
United States Tampa TPA The Café by Mise en Place 28 US$ / pers

Are other credit cards that offer Priority Pass affected?

For now, only Priority Pass memberships obtained through American Express are affected.

So if you have obtained a Priority Pass card through other issuers such as Scotiabank, you are not affected by this measure.

For example, if you have in your hands the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card – and you have registered for Priority Pass via the link provided with the welcome packagecontinue to enjoy your 6 complimentary annual Priority Pass airport lounge AND restaurant access.

This is a good reminder of the importance of diversifying your credit card portfolio with different issuers! If one takes away your benefits… you can always switch to another to continue to benefit!

In our couple, we always have between 4 and 6 Priority Pass accounts per year, depending on our credit card subscriptions!

priority pass cards amex platinum

My opinion on the matter

Some will see this as a further withdrawal of benefits, particularly Platinum American Express CardMD holders.

However, I’m one of those people who think there’s something going on between American Express and Priority Pass. It was becoming illogical and uneconomical for American Express to offer unlimited annual access:

  • at Priority Pass restaurants
  • at Priority Pass bars
  • at Priority Pass lounges
  • at Centurion salons

Each time a Cardmember accesses one of these Priority Pass lounges/restaurants, American Express contributes approximately US$20-25 to Priority Pass.

And some of them took advantage of the system by doing “the round of the lounges” in the same airport:

  • 2 drinks in a Priority Pass bar
  • meal at a Priority Pass restaurant
  • relaxation / work in a Priority Pass lounge
  • and why not take a nap in a Centurion lounge!

I don’t accuse anyone… since I already did it 😉

Rather than remove the “unlimited annual” feature, American Express chose to cut ties with the restaurants. But I think in the future, American Express wants to go further with the salons.

The purchase of LoungeBuddy by American Express

American Express already has a network of salons that it operates itself: the Centurion salons.

centurion las vegas

There are some in the biggest American airports like San Francisco, Miami, New York or Las Vegas.

And even internationally like Hong Kong.

american express centurion lounge hong kong 03
American Express Centurion Lounge Hong Kong

But American Express recently decided to go a step further with the lounges. Indeed, in March-April 2019, it acquired the platform
LoungeBuddy
.

loungebuddy salon 1 1

LoungeBuddy is a digital platform that allows you to discover the different airport lounges and know how to get there… but can also allow you to book an entrance.

This is a very useful application as it allows you to immediately identify, based on your credit card portfolio / Priority Pass / LoungeKey subscriptions…

loungekey cards

…which lounge(s) is/are available in the visited airports….

loungekey bnc 1

… and which card(s) to use from your portfolio:

loungekey cards 1 1

If you would like to have a US$10 credit to use for future bookings with LoungeBuddy, here is my referral code: zD5WrxmJJj

As of April 01, 2019, only American Express cardholders can book lounge access at airports doing business with LoungeBuddy, as stated in the FAQs related to the acquisition.

Bottom Line

In the short term, restaurant withdrawals for Priority Pass holders via American Express are a further loss of benefits. However, I think we need to take a longer view.

It would not be surprising if in the future LoungeBuddy became a competitor to Priority Pass / LoungeKey by dealing directly with each lounge… which would allow American Express to separate itself from Priority Pass by directly offering ITS lounge network.

This is all guesswork… but the LoungeBuddy acquisition in April 2019… and then the Priority Pass restaurant withdrawal announced in May 2019 for August 2019 seem to be good indications of where things are going!

This post is also available in: FR

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!
4.9 Milesopedia Rating
Jean-Maximilien
Jean-Maximilien is an expert in Canada and France about Loyalty programs, Credit cards and Travel. He is the Founding President of Milesopedia.

Suggested Reading