Priority Pass Select – Free Lunches (and Breakfasts) do exist!

If you follow me on Twitter (@ThinkerTravel), you’ll already know I love my Priority Pass Select membership through Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Free food, free drinks, airport lounge access, what’s not to love!

What is Priority Pass?

Priority Pass is a membership program that provides access to select airport lounges around the world.  If you haven’t tried airport lounges, you’re missing out on a (generally) much more relaxing way to spend time in airports than the noise, people and discomfort that generally are associated with main terminals.  While some lounges can be busy (particularly certain Priority Pass locations), you often have access to more comfortable chairs, more power outlets, “free” snacks and drinks,  and at some lounges, full on light buffets with soups, sandwiches and more.  While many Priority Pass locations are international (to the US), there are some relevant clubs that I’ve utilized.  With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you also are permitted one guest access to these clubs.

At an increasing number of locations, Priority Pass has added select restaurants where you receive a $28 credit towards food and toward drink. With the Select membership provided through Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can even have a guest who also receives a $28 credit, for a total of $56 off of your combined bill.  For me out of SFO, I definitely frequent Yankee Pier near gate 72, and The SF Giants Clubhouse near gate 82.  While all food at SFO is expensive, at $28 off, it tastes a lot better.  If you have Chase Sapphire Reserve, but haven’t used Priority Pass yet, you do need to activate this reward and set up your account, which you can do here.  Click the Airport Lounge Access benefit, log into Chase, and set up your account.  Then, go to your phone’s app store and download the Priority Pass app for your virtual membership card.

BE KIND NOTE: Pleased remember to tip your servers, as while Chase is picking up your tab, they don’t take care of the staff, so please help incentivize these folks to keep this benefit.

AmEx Priority Pass Update – No restaurants

At the end of May, American Express announced that they were pulling the restaurant benefit from their membership.  This is definitely unfortunate for those of you who used this benefit, but I’ll also say I’m a bit jealous of your Centurion club access, American Express’s network of airport clubs.

What’s it worth?

While clubs have definitely become a part of my airport routing, I like thinking of it as a free perk.  Putting a value on it is somewhat tough, as in most cases I wouldn’t have eaten or drank at the places without the credit, but club access is becoming more of an expected experience now in my travel.  Again, once you get used to premium experiences, it’s difficult to go back!  Purchasing Priority Pass separately, there are several membership tiers ranging from $99 to $429 per year (with a 20% discount on your first year).  The Priority Pass Select membership offered through the Sapphire Reserve actually seems to be superior to the paid memberships, as the closest paid membership is the Prestige membership, which offers the lounge/restaurant access, but guest passes are $32 extra per visit.  If you attribute the full $429 towards your Chase annual fee, obviously you’re coming out WAY ahead.  Even valuing it at the $28 per restaurant visit, or Priority Pass’s $32 cost per visit at the lower tier membership levels, it only takes four visits (two with guests) to make up your entire Chase annual fee.

Flying through SFO on a semi regular basis, I’ve definitely had hundreds of dollars in free food and drinks.   Club access at other destinations has been nice, as we do hit the club in Los Cabo (SJD) every year or so.  Over seas, we are generally on business class rewards flights, which includes club access, so that access is less valuable to me personally.

I’ll admit that my favorite Priority Pass experience was in Houston.  While trying to get home from a business trip my connection was delayed.   Rather than being upset, I busted out the Priority Pass app and found Landry’s Seafood near Gate C42 was a restaurant partner,  and my delay was really just an opportunity for a free bloody Mary and breakfast tacos.   Thanks United?

So, if you already have access to Priority Pass, download the app for your virtual membership card, and check out what locations you can hit up on your next trip!  Happy clubbing and turning your economy flying experiences into premium travel!

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