A handful of premium travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve come with Priority Pass, which gets you (and two guests) into more than 1,200 lounges across the globe. But soon, that number will shrink. Fortunately, it's not as bad as many initially feared.
The original headlines last week were shocking: Starting July 1, 2021, Priority Pass would no longer get you into Plaza Premium Lounges. Plaza Premium is an independent lounge network with any outstanding lounges, many of which are in Asia but with a growing presence in Europe and North America.
Priority Pass confirmed the news but added that a “small number” of lounges may continue to be accessible via Priority Pass. Now we have more detail. A handful of these excellent Plaza Premium lounges will stick around.
“In the Priority Pass network, there are 77 Plaza Premium lounges, of which nine are closing permanently,” a spokesperson for Priority Pass said. “Of the remaining, as mentioned, up to 57 lounges will be removed from our network from July 1, 2021, with the final number still to be determined through ongoing conversations with Plaza Premium.”
Do the math, and that means Priority Pass will still get you into at least 11 Plaza Premium lounges going forward. Exactly which lounges will disappear and which will stick around remains unclear – we should get more detail on that in the coming weeks and months.
Of course, losing access to close to 60 lounges still isn't a good thing. On the bright side, there's still an easy way to get into one of these excellent lounges when you're traveling the world again: The Platinum Card from American Express.
While the Platinum Card comes with a Priority Pass membership, that's just part of the broader “American Express Global Lounge Collection” which includes its own Plaza Premium membership. That means you can continue getting into Plaza Premium Lounges (with one free guest, not two) using your Platinum Card.
There's just one Plaza Premium Lounge in the U.S., a relatively recent addition at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), along with a handful scattered across Canada and Europe in addition to its major footprint in Asia.
But this stings because Plaza Premium Lounges are typically leagues better than your average Priority Pass lounge – in fact, they're often some of the best lounges you can visit with a Priority Pass membership, period. While many lounges in the Priority Pass network are quite basic, many Plaza Premium Lounges have great decor and seating, made-to-order food, and other amenities like showers.
There's even an incredible Plaza Premium First Lounge at Hong Kong, where the lounge company itself is based. This is a step above even the normal Plaza Premium lounges, and it requires a small surcharge to get in. Soon, this lounge will be off-limits to Priority Pass, too.
Your Priority Pass membership from top travel credit cards is about to get a little less powerful. The loss of Plaza Premium access stings, as they're clearly some of the best lounges you can access via Priority Pass.
Luckily, not all is lost. You'll still be able to get into these lounges with an Amex Platinum Card. And at least 11 Plaza Premium lounges will still be accessible through Priority Pass.