Via @bmvaughn on Twitter, Priority Pass has updated its access rules for members wishing to visit the Alaska Lounge. This is perhaps one of the most popular uses of Priority Pass within the US, especially on the West Coast (although Alaska Airlines also plans to open a lounge at JFK next year).
Effective Monday, May 1, Priority Pass members will no longer be able to bring in a guest at lounges located in Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles; the lounge in Anchorage appears to still permit guests — or at least its information hasn’t yet been updated on the Priority Pass website. In the past, unlimited guests were allowed for a nominal fee, and certain Priority Pass memberships even included a fee waiver for the first guest. Now, it doesn’t matter what the rules are for your particular Priority Pass membership. No guests, period. (Update: As of mid-2018, Priority Pass members do not get access to any Alaska Lounge locations in Seattle, period. Priority Pass can still be used for Alaska Lounge locations in other cities.)
This isn’t the same as prohibiting people from the visiting the lounge entirely.
- Your guest could still pay the full price for a day pass directly to Alaska Airlines, rather than the discounted guest price available to Priority Pass members.
- Also, some credit cards (like the Amex Platinum Card) allow the authorized user to get his or her own Priority Pass membership. These authorized users are members in their own right, and so both can show their own Priority Pass cards and enter separately.
Alaska Airlines has had some significant capacity issues at its lounges lately, with more and more signs going up during periods of peak demand alerting Priority Pass members that the lounge is temporarily reserved for Alaska Lounge members. Limiting the number of guests admitted to the lounge might make it easier for Alaska Airlines to admit more Priority Pass members, since it means letting in one person at a time and not groups of people. I have not personally faced this issue, but I often travel at off-peak times. I know my wife has had more issues when traveling for business.
Frankly, it’s not surprising to me that capacity is a new issue. More people are applying for premium cards that include Priority Pass memberships. At some airports, like Sea-Tac, it’s an especially good deal. The Amex Platinum Card, for example, gets you into four Priority Pass lounges (soon to be five), plus the Centurion Lounge and two Delta Sky Clubs (when flying on Delta). In addition, the merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America probably means some Virgin America customers are flying Alaska more often. Hopefully this new policy will resolve the issue and set more manageable expectations. I think it’s certainly better than leaving the Priority Pass network altogether.