Alaska Airlines seems to have a love-hate relationship with Priority Pass when it comes to lounge access. Interestingly the brand new Alaska Lounge SFO has just joined Priority Pass, so let’s cover where that leaves us.
Alaska Lounges participating in Priority Pass
Of the eight Alaska Lounges, two now belong to Priority Pass:
- The Alaska Lounge New York (JFK) belongs to Priority Pass, and the lounge is open daily from 5AM until 9AM, and from 2:30PM until 9PM; lounge entry is allowed two hours before departure, and you can bring at most two guests
- The Alaska Lounge San Francisco (SFO) belongs to Priority Pass, and the lounge is open daily from 5AM until 10PM; lounge entry is allowed two hours before departure, and you can bring at most two guests
Meanwhile the other Alaska Lounges have most recently left the Priority Pass network as of the following dates (Seattle has three lounges, though we typically only saw one lounge belonging to Priority Pass):
- The Alaska Lounge Portland (PDX) left Priority Pass as of May 16, 2021
- The Alaska Lounge Seattle (SEA) left Priority Pass as of July 16, 2021
- The Alaska Lounge Anchorage (ANC) is leaving Priority Pass as of July 23, 2021
- The Alaska Lounge Los Angeles (LAX) is leaving Priority Pass as of July 23, 2021
As Priority Pass’ website describes this, the lounges that aren’t currently in Priority Pass are “not accessible until further notice.” So it’s possible that they’ll rejoin at some point in the future, but I wouldn’t expect it anytime soon.
Alaska Airlines’ love-hate relationship with Priority Pass
For years now, Alaska Airlines has gone back and forth about whether its lounge network should belong to Priority Pass. Having a lounge be part of Priority Pass is both a blessing and a curse:
- Ideally Alaska Airlines wants you to buy a membership to the Alaska Lounge, since that’s probably the most profitable for the airline, and also leads to the most loyalty (you’re more likely to fly with Alaska if you paid for a lounge membership, since you want to be able to use it)
- Priority Pass pays Alaska Airlines when someone accesses a lounge with a Priority Pass membership; the catch is that Alaska Airlines doesn’t want to cannibalize sales of lounge memberships
- Over the years more and more people have gotten Priority Pass lounge memberships through premium credit cards, which has caused serious crowding issues at some lounges
- So while some Alaska Lounges have belonged to Priority Pass when capacity allowed, the reality is that expectations haven’t been managed very well; some Alaska Lounges have belonged to Priority Pass, but turned away Priority Pass members a vast majority of the time
In early 2021 we saw most Alaska Lounges rejoin Priority Pass temporarily. This was presumably because travel demand was way down, so this was a great way for Alaska to generate some revenue and reduce losses from operating lounges. Of course at this point domestic travel is almost fully recovered to pre-coronavirus levels, so Alaska Airlines is facing the same issue it had in the past, which is that lounges aren’t big enough to accommodate Priority Pass members.
Personally I’m surprised to see the Alaska Lounge SFO join Priority Pass. I guess the lounge just isn’t very busy as of now.
At this point the Alaska Lounges at JFK and SFO both belong to Priority Pass, with the latter being a new addition. That’s exciting, and frankly I wasn’t expecting to see the SFO lounge added, especially with other Alaska Lounges having recently been removed from the network.
What do you make of the Alaska Lounge SFO joining Priority Pass?