Alaska Lounges Rejoin Priority Pass Network (Update)

Filed Under: Alaska

Update: The Alaska Lounge Portland will once again be leaving the Priority Pass network as of May 16, 2021, after having just rejoined a few months ago. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other Alaska Lounges that recently rejoined leave once again as travel demand recovers.

Below you can find the original post published on February 26, 2021. Thanks to reader Jonathan for the heads up on this change.


It looks like most Alaska Lounges once again belong to Priority Pass, which is an exciting development. Here’s to hoping it lasts.

Which Alaska Lounges belong to Priority Pass?

The following five Alaska Lounges once again belong to Priority Pass:

  • The Alaska Lounge Anchorage (ANC) South Terminal
  • The Alaska Lounge Los Angeles (LAX) Terminal 6
  • The Alaska Lounge New York (JFK) Terminal 7
  • The Alaska Lounge Portland (PDX) Concourse C
  • The Alaska Lounge Seattle (SEA) North Satellite

In each case, lounge access is restricted to within three hours of a scheduled flight, and Priority Pass members can bring up to two guests into lounges. As before, Alaska Airlines reserves the right to restrict lounge access to Priority Pass members due to capacity constraints.

For situations where the lounges are at capacity, a virtual waiting list is used, which is a nice alternative to the old system of just turning people away. The links to these can be found on the Priority Pass website — for example, here’s the one for the Seattle lounge.

Alaska Lounge Seattle

Why did Alaska Lounges leave Priority Pass?

What has actually changed here? The Alaska Lounges in Los Angeles and New York never left Priority Pass. However:

  • In late 2019 the Alaska Lounges in Anchorage and Portland left Priority Pass, while they rejoined in late 2020
  • In mid 2018 the Alaska Lounges in Seattle left Priority Pass, and now one of the lounges has rejoined as of last week

As you can see, one of these developments is brand new, while the other development is a couple of months old. The Alaska Lounge Seattle rejoining is particularly exciting, especially since the location that joined is Alaska Airlines’ flagship lounge, as it just opened in 2019.

Why did Alaska Lounges leave Priority Pass to begin with? Well, the economics of Priority Pass can be complicated for airlines that sell lounge memberships:

  • 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
  • With demand for travel way down, I suppose Alaska Airlines is back to looking for a new lounge revenue stream, and this is certainly one option

I’ll be curious to see if Alaska Lounges permanently stay in the Priority Pass network now, or if this is just temporary.

Alaska Lounge Seattle

Bottom line

Alaska Lounges at five airports once again belong to Priority Pass, which is a fantastic development. Specifically, the Anchorage and Portland locations rejoined as of late 2020, while the Seattle location rejoined as of last week.

With lounges being much emptier right now due to reduced travel, I’ll be curious to see if these lounges stay part of Priority Pass, or if this is just a temporary measure.

Has anyone accessed an Alaska Lounge with Priority Pass lately?

(Tip of the hat to Ian)

Comments
  1. With business travel way down and expected to take much longer to recover than leisure travel, have to imagine all the airline lounge networks are seeing massive drops in revenue as people don’t renew memberships. Gotta pay for all that space somehow, so take the PP revenue.

    Random guess, but this will probably be in place for a few years until business travel picks back up again fully and the road warriors decide to buy memberships again.

  2. Is the Alaska lounge at JFK in terminal 7 or terminal 8? As a frequent AA customer without an Admirals club membership, a priority pass lounge in 8 would be great, but I think it’s in 7.

  3. This change is irrelevant for most of us. Alaska (and every other airline for that matter) can relax their lounge access policies but for those of us not traveling at this time, that won’t make any difference. And once travel picks up again, the airlines will revert to more restrictive policies.

  4. I’ve been frustrated too many times by airlines signing up their lounges to priority pass but then turning PP holders away because of capacity restrictions. It’s embarrassing to be turned away at the lounge desk. I’d rather airlines either have dedicated PP hours where PP holders will not be capacity restricted or for them to not sign up their lounges for PP at all.

  5. Alaska north terminal SeaTac may be a nice lounge but it’s useless to nearly everyone flying there that isn’t on Alaska. It’s an Alaska terminal.

    The travel times to and from it make it a questionable choice for anyone not flying Alaska — through the north gates.

    It couldn’t be less interesting if it were The Club at SEA — a more useful PP lounge option

  6. Great news! I am flying out of Seattle on Sunday I am really excited to check out the new lounge in the north terminal!

  7. @M I agree it is quite a hike out to the N terminal just for a lounge, though I know plenty of people who go there anyways because Bambuza is a Priority Pass restaurant out there which allows takeout. If I end up at the airport early, my SO and I have gone out there to stock up on $56 worth of food & beverage for the trip. I have not gone to the Club in a while. The A terminal one is a quite a walk if you are leaving from anything but the A gates. And the S terminal location is even worse (similar to the N terminal Alaska lounge).

    I am a bit surprised by the timing. I would assume the N terminal lounge would currently be limited to 25% capacity (per Washington state indoor dining restrictions). The last time I was at the airport (last Saturday), the Centurion lounge had a pretty long wait because of this. Also, the Alaska lounge in the C terminal at SEA is still closed (as is the JFK lounge described in the article).

  8. I assume this wasn’t allowed before, but does Alaska allow one to use a Priority Pass to bring guests in addition to the two included as a benefit of Board Room membership, when the Board Room member is also the PP member?

  9. The Alaska lounge at PDX is so tiny, I’ve only been admitted to it once with PP. They also consistently had a sign up outside to discourage people from trying. At SEA – they seemed to always be “at capacity” unless it was an unusual hour. In fairness, Club at D gates is not that big. I have been turned away at C gates at 10pm at night one time, because they were “not admitting PP at this time”. PDX had decent restaurant PP options and SEA also has AMEX club (bit of a hike if flying AS, though). So not totally out of options. When SFO lounge is finally completed, will be interesting to see what happens here.

  10. Agree with Justin. Whatever the official policy is w/r/t individual Alaska lounges, it is a very rare thing that they actually admit anyone via PP. I’ve gotten into the JFK lounge only once that way. Every single other time, it has been, “we’re pretty full, so not admitting PP members at this time.”

  11. I did the Alaska lounge in LA after being on their queue. The downside is it’s a paid bar and paid food with a small selection of light snacks and a mini pancake machine for free. I’m not knocking it, but with really awesome lounges like the “The club” or whatever that’s called in Houston or the Amex Centurion lounges I feel a bit spoiled.

  12. Can’t see this lasting. It went v bad at key hubs the last few years with a PP refusal most often the case at busy times. With Alaska joining oneworld this will surely reverse once traffic picks up.

  13. Lol….mos that business travel has sh*t the bed, AS actually NEEDS PP and the 32 bucks. How about those permanently positioned “We are not accepting Priority Pass at this time”….when do you suppose those will re-emerge because the staff doesn’t want to clean up after us peasants?

  14. Lots of misinformation here.
    @Ben, if you have an Alaska lounge membership you can visit the lounge when flying any airline. So it isn’t really an incentive to fly Alaska.
    @M, if you use the trains correctly, and are ok with walking, you can be at any gate in SEA from the N lounge in 10-15 min.
    @Travis, beer and wine are complimentary in Alaska lounges. Liquor costs extra. You’re right, not much free food options.

  15. Flew LAX – SEA in first Thursday. Lounge was crowded as heck, not worth it. The no Priority Pass sign was out front, just like pre-Covid times. Waited by the gate where there was more space.

    Alaska needs to just bail on priority pass entirely. This self-deception helps nobody.

  16. I hope this will help Alaska expand their lounge hours. Last night at SEA there were NO Alaska lounges open after 10 pm despite flights leaving long after that, and an airport teeming with people. Alaska does a great job overall but that is weak.

  17. Has Alaska reopened the JFK lounge? It was closed when I traveled through JFK last month. It’s a bit of a shame that it is closed and I would imagine that AS work a deal with UA to sell access to UA’s Club members.

  18. Before Alaska Airlines joined Oneworld, Priority Pass made a lot of sense because of the limited number of lounges outside the AS network. A 75K member had almost zero lounges outside of Qantas and splattering of others. But now that a 75K member is One World Emerald, Priority Pass is far less relevant for global travel. As long as one flies paid first class on AS, access to AS lounges combined with One World really makes PP less attractive.

    I just wish American airlines allowed access to their admiral clubs on paid first class domestic tickets in line with every other One World airline.

  19. Another couple of data points about over-capacity and closed Alaska lounges for Alaska lounge members (NOT a PP member) … last night at Anchorage the lounge was full and I never got in off the waiting list; this morning at LAX they were already running a waiting list by 7 am but I did get in. So as a member I batted 1 for 3 on lounge access this trip including the SEA fail.

  20. I’m told that May 16 will be the last day that Alaska @ PDX accepts Priority Pass. I was told this upon checking into the lounge at PDX on Thursday. We’ll see…

  21. I am at LAX AL almost every Monday. During most of Covid it was easy to get in as PP. @ 3 weeks ago the wait list restarted. Then I paid for AL membership. Now I just go straight up, ignoring the wait list.

  22. Is this only valid for customers on Alaska airlines, or if this valid for all passengers with Priority Pass?

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.