Priority Pass Limits Access To Two “Lounges” To Outbound Flights Only

Filed Under: Travel

Portland Airport probably has the most generous Priority Pass setup of any airport in the US. Specifically, lately we’ve seen a trend where Priority Pass added airport bars & restaurants to their network (including in Denver, LexingtonMiami, New York, and St. Louis), where members can spend a certain amount (typically $28) and have that reimbursed, which in many cases is much better than having access to a lounge.

Portland Airport doesn’t have just one of these establishments, but rather three of them, in addition to a traditional lounge. The offering is so compelling that I even flew to Portland just to check out their Priority Pass setup. As a Priority Pass member you can access the Alaska Loungespend $28 at House Spirits Distilleryspend $28 at Capers Cafe Le Bar, and spend $28 at Capers Market. The best part is that if you’re traveling with someone and your Priority Pass membership allows guesting privileges, that $28 credit applies per person. So if you’re traveling with two guests, we’re talking about an $84 credit per establishment.

House Spirits Distillery is so fun, as it’s the world’s only airport tasting room. Given how popular they are with Priority Pass members, they have special $28 tasting flights.

Both of the Capers locations have an extensive selection of food and drinks, and one of the things that made them unique is that they had an excellent selection of reasonably priced wine. So when I visited, it was actually possible to buy beer & wine to go. That was especially easy to do at Capers Market, which almost feels like a wine store based on the selection they have.

So when we visited we had lunch at Capers Cafe Le Bar, and then just grabbed stuff to go at Capers Market, though I know many regulars just grabbed stuff to go at both locations, both on arrival and departure.

Not surprisingly, this benefit was too generous, and they’ve updated their policy somewhat since these restaurants were added. As I wrote about last November, Capers added a restriction that the $28 credit is only valid towards the purchase of any meal and/or drinks, excluding bottle sales and merchandise.

It looks like they’ve now added a further restriction. You can now only use your Priority Pass membership at either Portland Airport Capers location in conjunction with an outbound boarding pass:

To be eligible, Cardholders and guests are required to show an Outbound Departure Boarding Pass with confirmed same-day travel.

Historically you could use Priority Pass locations either on arrival or departure, so you could just as easily visit these lounges after a flight. As far as I know, these are the first Priority Pass locations to have such a restriction on requiring an outbound boarding pass.

While I of course don’t like to see restrictions added, I don’t consider these changes to be unreasonable. Priority Pass is still outrageously generous at Portland Airport. However, this is certainly something to be aware of.

(Tip of the hat to Doctor Of Credit)

  1. I think the headline would read better if it said “…at two lounges…” vs “…to two lounges…”. I kept reading through the article trying to see how they were going to enforce some policy where you couldn’t lounge hop

  2. At Capers cafe this weekend was not asked for boarding pass. At the market this was enforced and they looked at boarding pass.

  3. @Trup If you have an 8 hour layover, this restriction won’t apply to you, because you’d have an onward boarding pass out of PDX. It looks like this is aimed at locals raiding the to-go counter on the way home from the airport.

    Though frankly, if you have an 8 hour layover at PDX, screw staying in the airport the whole time. Go get some food in the city and then wash it down with a whiskey tasting at the Distillery before hopping on your next flight.

  4. “As far as I know, these are the first Priority Pass locations to have such a restriction on requiring an outbound boarding pass.”

    Lots of them do. The Mera lounges in Cancun require outbound same-day passes, at least on paper (“The lounge is located behind the escalators. Scheduled departure flights only.”) If anyone has experience, I’d love to hear as I’ll be there on Friday!

  5. Where? Cancun? The lounge is OK. It’s a little small, they have some snacks available and drinks, not too bad. But nothing grand. (Can’t remember specific details.)

  6. @Lucky- who is driving these changes, Capers or PP? If Capers is getting reimbursed $28 per person by PP, I would think they would have no issue; rather it would be PP making the changes.

    If Capers is comped say, $14 per person, they’d have a legitimate beef about how many people are coming in to use their “lounge”.

    Btw, have you been to the Alaska Lounge at pdx lately? Barf. It feels like its not seen even a fresh drop of paint since 1996. You could seriously film a ‘period’ movie in there!

  7. @Boco – Thanks. I kind of figured that’s what to expect. I was more referring to whether they allowed arrivals to drop in. We arrive at 1pm and figure it would be good to grab a snack before hitting up our transport.

  8. Tried using the Cap des Falco Lounge upon arrival in Ibiza to grab a quick coffee. Was turned away, the attendant said departure boarding passes were required for entry.

  9. Can anyone confirm if the Auckland Strata lounge checks for international departure boarding pass? I am arriving international, then 7 hours layover waiting for domestic flight in the afternoon, and was looking forward to visiting the lounge but sounds like it’s restricted to international departures.

  10. Click bait alert!!!!!

    Too late, by now you all clicked.
    Might as well name it “Even my celebrity crush can be denied lounge access”

  11. @Eskimo

    LOL I think it would be more apt if:

    “My celebrity crush’s gay dog can no longer get lounge access”

  12. It’s the same set up in the Qantas Domestic Terminal in SYD. I had access to the QF Business Class lounge by means of OW Emerald and of course still went to the Priority Pass partnership restaurant to spend my AUD36 after leaving the lounge. I took a smoked salmon salad to go as I figured it would be better than what i’d receive on the short domestic flight to MEL. I guess I could have also used the second restaurant in the terminal that participates also.

    The restaurant partnership does seem pretty random though. I like it a LOT and would rather that kind of set up any day than use a crap third party lounge. I don’t understand the method of rolling them out though. For example in Sydney Airport you have (restaurant venues) – three in the International terminal, two in the Qantas Domestic terminal and two in the non-QF Domestic terminal. Yet in Melbourne (second Australian gateway after Sydney) you have absolutely no restaurant partnerships and no PP lounge access either. But then in Brisbane (a smaller airport than Melbourne) PP offers two restaurants in the Domestic Terminal and one in the international terminal (plus a Plaza Premium lounge). I would love to see PP focus on rolling this system out further with a priority on large-ish airports on the network with zero PP offerings (eg MEL).

  13. AnameOfaguy, if you’re arriving from the US (or anywhere outside Mexico) you won’t get to the lounge because you’ll go straight through immigration. My guess is that you could use the lounge with a domestic arrival boarding pass, but yeah not sure it’s worth it as you could find decent and authentic cuisine in the Cancun area 🙂

  14. @AnameOfaguy That lounge is located after security, so I imagine you wouldn’t be able to access it if you’re coming in from an international flight, since you have to go through customs.

  15. About a year ago, I was turned away from the Priority Pass lounge ay Logan in Boston (The Lounge in Terminal C) when I was inbound and had a few hours to kill before I headed into the city. However, a fee months before that, I was also on an inbound flight and was allowed in.

  16. I heard rumblings this restriction was going to be applied to Denver’s location as well.

    This would be a good time to save up enough Southwest points to book a one-way on the last Southwest flight out of Denver, if you catch my drift.

  17. The lengths people will go to just to use a lounge is pretty sad. If you’re so hard up that you need to “stop by” a lounge on the way home to stock up you should stay home in the first place. I applaud these restrictions.

  18. @Duck Ling – A few years back MEL and CNS had the only PP lounges in Australia, although in both cases only in the international terminals. In Melbourne you had access to the United Lounge, and in Cairns it was the old Qantas lounge that is now called the Reef Lounge. But as a club that does deals with lounges owned by other parties, access is going to be based on whether the owner thinks it will generate income for them.

    Whilst the Reef Lounge in CNS is still available to PP card holders, MEL does have 3 restaurant/bars available in the international terminal. I was glad to have access to them recently. After losing my Platinum status with Qantas, the step down from the First lounge to the Business lounge was too big in terms of food quality – having a $36 credit at the “cafe” versions of 3 hat and 1 hat restaurants more than made up for losing access to the First Class dining room.

    I also recently frequented Better Burger at Sydney’s International Terminal using my PP card before flying Deathstar. They encouraged me to grab an additional soft drink for the flight as their was still capacity in the $36 allowance after ordering a burger/chips/beer. The burger was much better than what was on offer at both the Qantas business and Amex lounges.

    I’ve also utilised the PP restaurant at London Gatwick South Terminal a few times, as the lounge is nearly always at capacity of a morning and turning people away. Sure the food isn’t coming from a hatted/starred background, but it is better than grabbing a sandwich at Pret.

    I’m a convert to the restaurant/bar partnerships that PP have arranged. I look forward to trying a few in the US next trip, as the “normal” lounges aren’t much to write home about.

    In short, I’m converted

  19. Of all lounges I went. Lounges in Asian countries are so much better than those of American’s. Don’t know why? Hong Kong. (HKG) and Kaohsiung (KHH) are the best. They have so much foods, almost like a paid buffet set up.

  20. HKG lounge? Seriously? That is one of the lousy ones I have been to. I had been to many that are much better. Almost all of the Singapore airports lounges ( only been to about 8 of them) are much better. The one that really impressed me was the one at the DMK Bangkok domestic departure. It was very quiet and nicely decorated with very attentive service. The one at TPE is good too. Of all the Malaysia airport lounges, I especially liked the one at Kuching where you can order 4 types of local hot dishes. One recent surprise was at the Osaka KIX airport where you get to spend 3400 Yen at the land-side Boteyju restaurant. I ordered so much food with the allowance and totally enjoyed the Kyoto style Japanese food.

  21. Do you know if this applies to non-revenue passengers / standby tickets? Will they not be permitted to use the PP benefit?

  22. I just visited Portland. Seems another restriction has been added. I visited Capers Market with two guests, which is what my membership allows and was told I’d only receive credit for 1 guest. The employee told me they used to allow credit for two but that has changed. I read the priority pass guidelines on their website and the specifically mention one guest as an example but never clearly stated that it is restricted to only one guest. This would be a major change I would think. Anyone had this happen?

  23. Is the outbound only restriction still in effect for Capers? On Priority Pass website both Capers locations just specify “Same day travel.” The Alaska Lounge conditions, however, specifically say “Lounge access is permitted 3 hours prior to a scheduled flight departure”

  24. I’m back from Thanksgiving trip to Portland and can report that Capers Cafe did not ask for a boarding pass of any kind when we used our Priority Passes there before flying home.

    The Alaska Lounge, btw, had the “Capacity” sign out (no entrance for Priority Pass holders). This was midday on a Monday, and the airport was not especially busy. Has anybody successfully used Priority Pass at this location recently?

    Incidentally, I don’t know why you all assume that the only people on inbound flights are locals returning home. When we arrived at PDX on Thanksgiving Eve we ended up with 2 hours to kill until family could pick us up, and it would have been a great time to use a couple of those free Priority Passes. Unfortunately, we had checked our luggage and didn’t realize until after we picked up our bags that now we were on the wrong side of the security checkpoint to use any of the “lounges.” Duh. Next time, we’ll carry on in case we have to wait again.

  25. @SharonK, thanks for the the datapoint, hope it is the same when we go in March. We have an open jaw so any PDX visits have to be in the inbound leg

  26. I noticed just now that the Priority Pass site entry for Capers no longer includes the language “outbound”. It simply reads “same day travel”. I’m hoping that indeed does mean they’re no longer limiting to outbound only.

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