Alaska Airlines has long had pretty flexible rules for access to its Board Room airport lounges. Access is complimentary if you’re traveling on a first class itinerary, even within the United States. Their membership fees are heavily discounted for elite members. And you can get free entry with a Priority Pass Select membership, which comes with the American Express Platinum Card.
But what struck me as odd was that they weren’t more cooperative with other airline lounge networks. The actual number of Board Room locations is about a half dozen, and at other airports there are some complicated rules that require travel on specific carriers in order to gain access to other lounges when using a Board Room membership.
It’s all become a lot simpler now. One Mile at a Time shared yesterday that travelers with an Admirals Club membership (for American Airlines) can now use it to access the Board Room even when they aren’t flying on American Airlines. And travelers with a Board Room membership (for Alaska Airlines) can use it to access the Admirals Club even when they aren’t flying on Alaska Airlines.
This latter benefit is still exclusive to a few airports — specifically those where Alaska operates flights — and so I wouldn’t recommend buying a Board Room membership as a cheaper alternative just yet. But this is still a huge improvement and it does devalue the benefit of holding an American Express Platinum Card.
As a Seattle local, about a third of all my lounge visits are to an Alaska Airlines Board Room. The Platinum Card’s Priority Pass Select membership has been very valuable, but it always irked me that it would cost my wife $25 to enter as a guest. I also had to constantly switch between my Priority Pass card (at my origin) and my Citi Executive/AAdvantage card (at my destination) to use both lounge networks. Now I only need to carry my Citi card to access both networks, and I don’t have to worry about guest fees, either.
The only regular value I now get from the Amex Platinum Card is access to the Centurion Lounge, but I’m not quite sure I’m willing to pay $450 every year for that. Even if we discount it by the $200 airline fee credit each year, the only Centurion Lounge location I visit regularly is in Dallas — a huge American Airlines hub.
(Fortunately my wife had lots of other good reasons to use get her Platinum Card, at least for the first year, and she’s already saved my dad about $3,000 on his upcoming trip to New Zealand.)
Delta also has a partnership with Alaska Airlines, but it’s seen several benefits cut on each side earlier this year. Meanwhile, I’m glad to see an extension of new benefits showing greater cooperation between Alaska and American Airlines.