American Express Removes Free Airport Lounge Meal Benefit From Platinum Cards

A key benefit that many road warriors love about the American Express Platinum card is evaporating later this summer.

On August 1, American Express Platinum cardholders that sign up for Priority Pass will no longer be able to use the latter membership to access airport restaurants for free meals.

A spokesperson for Priority Pass owner Collinson confirmed the changes, which were first reported by the frequent flyer blog View from the Wing, saying “American Express has taken the decision to remove access to non-lounge airport experiences from Priority Pass for its card members.”

Priority Pass is a network of airport lounges, restaurants, and other experiences that users can access through a paid annual membership. Annual fees range from $99 to $429, but many premium credit cards such as the American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer it for free.

Until recently, Priority Pass membership simply came with access to the broad network of airport lounges around the world, but over the last few years, the group’s aspirations have grown to include granting access to all sorts of airport experiences. A big part of that strategy revolved around airport meals, where one could check into a restaurant at JFK, for example, and get $28 of meal credit instead of going to a proper lounge.

Interviewed by Skift last year, Christopher Evans, joint CEO of Collinson, suggested that “the airport of 2018 is very different to that of the early ’90s — now with more sophisticated dining options, spas, and increasingly experiential offerings.” At the time Evans confirmed that Priority Pass was aggressively adding restaurants to its roster; as of last month, 28 restaurants around the world offer Priority Pass members some sort of meal credit.

Now Priority Pass members who get access from their American Express card are getting the meal benefit taken away.

According to Collinson, the move is a concerted decision from American Express to take focus away from partner lounges and concentrate more on its internal Global Lounge Collection. Representatives from Collinson also stressed that “Collinson’s wider relationship with American Express is unaffected, and its card members will still have access to more than 1,200 airport lounges, as well as select sleeper suites across the world, via the Priority Pass membership benefit provided on their card.”

Indeed American Express has been aggressively expanding the reach of its lounge network around the world, including planned Centurion club openings in Charlotte, N.C., Denver, New York JFK, Los Angeles, and London. By cutting Priority Pass’ restaurants out of the picture, Amex can focus its efforts (and costs) on internal products. Airport restaurants, unfortunately, may have been too costly and complicated to support for the credit card.

By: Grant Martin

Source: Skift