Beginning May 1, Alaska Air will no longer accommodate guests of Priority Pass members at most of its airport lounges. The new access policy will be in effect at its lounges in Los Angeles (LAX), Seattle (SEA), and Portland, Oregon (PDX). As of this writing, Alaska’s Anchorage (ANC) lounge has not indicated any change in access.
This policy change only affects Priority Pass members, not those with an Alaska Lounge membership. Alaska Lounge Members are welcome to bring immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and children under the age of 21) or as many as two guests at no extra charge.
What is Priority Pass?
Priority Pass is a membership club that provides frequent travelers with independent airport lounge access worldwide. There are currently over 1000 lounges in 400 cities across 120 countries in the the network. Priority Pass does not own or operate any of these lounges. Instead they contract with independent lounge operators like Alaska Lounge to allow their members access during certain hours.
Priority Pass membership is a benefit included with the following credit cards: American Express Platinum and Centurion, Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ritz Carlton Rewards, and Hilton Honors Surpass. You can read more about Priority Pass in my primer here.
Alaska Lounge’s New Policy
The current policy allows two guests per Priority Pass cardholder, but access has often been restricted due to space constraints. This restriction has always been at the discretion of the front desk staff and is the cause for occasional frustration among Priority Pass members. This is the case at many lounges–not just Alaska. It remains to be seen if, by no longer accommodating guests, access to these lounges for Priority Pass members is more consistent.
Alaska does sell day passes which can be purchased at the front desk of each lounge. The cost of each day pass is $45 and is valid for a single day at any one of Alaska’s lounges.
I’m not surprised to see lounges limiting access for Priority Pass members. More credit cards are offering this benefit than ever before, and Chase Sapphire Reserve will pay for an unlimited of guests. Popular lounges will need to implement similar restrictions in order to avoid diluting the product for their own members. I see the potential for this trend to continue, and it might not necessarily be a bad thing.