Priority Pass Adds Restrictions On Portland “Lounges”

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, Miami, 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 Lounge, spend $28 at House Spirits Distillery, spend $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 people, 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, it looks like Priority Pass has recently updated their terms with visiting the two Capers locations. Specifically, both locations have added the following terms:

The US$28 is valid for the purchase of any meal and/or drinks excluding bottle sales & merchandise.

This is a perfectly reasonable change for them to make, and it was only a matter of time until this happened. It sounds like you can still take anything else to go, just not bottles and merchandise.

I’m happy that this is the extent of the changes as of now. I’m sort of surprised that they haven’t limited members to only visiting one Capers location in a day. I’m not sure if they have the technology to easily enforce that, but you’d think they’d do so at some point.

So this isn’t a huge deal, but it is something to be aware of.

  1. This is one reason why “fake generous” people are against social welfare.

    They themselves act like rabid dogs when given a generous gift and abuse it that they can’t imagine other people not doing the same.

  2. What if you have more than one Priority Pass card? For example, due to having several premium credit cards, I have 6 Priority Pass cards. Could I go back and use multiple cards for multiple $28 credits? How does that work?

  3. Total abuse by Lucky. Without remorse, taking abuse of benefits to a whole new level. Shocking even to a 15 year miles and points vet.

  4. I just took advantage of this deal the other day. Bought a $48 jar of Italian white truffle salt, and my wife and I were stunned that they allowed us to do this. We even commented at how we should appreciate this whole it lasts, because it’s sure to go away. Lo and behold…

  5. Mike, why would you consider it “abuse”?? The plain truth of the matter is most of us probably have multiple Priority Pass cards and barely use any of them. I’d think as long as you’re not breaking any rules anything goes.

  6. Not sure if it’s ‘abuse’, @Mike. Half of the Capers Marketplace floor space is dedicated to merchandise, smoked/preserved foods, beer and wine to go. PP should have known what they were getting into.

    Fortunately I was able to snag a bottle of Oregon Pinot Gris and a few other items (I always spent more than my credit) at a PDX visit a couple weeks ago.

    Btw, the distillery makes it clear that the PP credit is only for a tasting; you may not use it for merch or booze to go.

    I don’t disagree that visiting 3 or 4 of the PP properties on a single visit violates the ‘spirit’ of the agreement, and yeah, I’m guilty of that. However, most of us are here for the pleasure of gaming and the fun it brings.

  7. True. But gotta expect comments on this type of article. Lucky often writes about odd observances and asks for reader comments or thoughts. So readers like me, who like his style of writing, read the comments and sometimes provide comments. Wasn’t lucky the one writing about abuse by an individual at a lounge filling his backpack full of beer cans to go. He questioned that this was over the top . I think this was lucky. I like those articles. While this article was about something he did and didn’t seek comments on, it is similar to the ones that he writes about others doing something possible over the top and asking for reader reactions. This article hit my botton and a comment. . I will hold back from commenting next time. Lol

  8. Good point. We will probably see a one visit per airport per day restriction at PP soon as a result of the publicity. As soon as they can find a way to implement it through the card swiping system…

  9. I wonder what counts as “bottle” sales at the Capers Market. They have chilled bottles of beer next to soda in the back corner – clearly these are intended to be consumed at the airport. However, they also sell unchilled bottles of beer along with wine. Does bottle sales mean all alcohol?

  10. That wording it pretty vague. How is “bottle” or “merchandise” defined/regulated? 95% of the Capers Market could fall in that category. Is it up to the employee or will it all ring up and you’ll get billed back?

    Also, they restricted use of multiple PP cards a few weeks back. Before they had no problem with it and even encouraged it.

  11. Good question, @AnameOfaguy. Are packaged meats, cheeses and vacuum sealed fish considered merch or are they acceptable PP items?

  12. The bottle as merchandise vs consumable issue is easily resolved. For Priority Pass products, Simply have the clerks open it when purchased

    People won’t take a bunch of opened wine bottles out of the airport

  13. People will kill this deal. They will either do away with it, limit it to like $10 or $5 and/or limit you to one lounge visit per day or something bad like that. Just watch

  14. Merchandise? what is the definition? I recently bought 3 bottles of Aardvark hot sauce bottles on 10/31, is that considering merchandise?

  15. That’s Lucky’s job to PUSH it answer all the ?? ..I hope to hit the ones downunder next year or Maybe they’ll open More !!!! Love the C P card so far ahead $750+90K points in 4 months ..


    THANKs !!!!!

  16. I wonder who was pushing this? Was it PP? Or was it Caper’s?

    Because it seems like Caper’s could care less. For them its a great deal of people spending money on wine and beer and chocolate. For PP it clearly is less of a good deal if people are spending money on merchandise.

    As a PDX based flyer I am disappointed. Grabbing some chocolate, cheese and olympic provisions for a flight made the hotel stay much better!

  17. Flew into PDX last night 11/4/17. Capers market staff told me benefit does not include wine. I was able to purchase packaged food items though….

  18. MSP PGA restaurant/lounge/pro shop only provides a $15 credit for PP. I bet that’s where this is headed.

  19. I was just told by an employee that all alcohol you can take away is excluded. You can still get a beer at the bar.

    If you’re considering actually buying beer, it’s far cheaper at the Made in Oregon store vs Capers Market. E.g. Ninkasi Sleigher $8 at Capers, $5 at Made in Oregon. Even the special limited release that’s $30 at Capers is only $21 at Made in Oregon.

  20. A friend flew out of PDX today (Dec 15) and was able to get $112 worth of goodies at Capers (her + 3 family members). She got honey, salt, mustard, etc so it doesn’t seem those items are being classified as merchandise… at least not yet!

  21. Priority Pass will only work with OUTGOING flight boarding passes at Capers now. I had an incoming flight and they wouldn’t accept my card for a purchase.

  22. Randal, thanks for the update on the incoming flight prohibition. That’s good to know.

    One thing to keep in mind is that Caper’s overcharges for everything they sell. That $48 bottle of Jacobsen’s Truffle Salt is sold for $35 on their website. All other merchandise is similarly overpriced. Caper’s has a vested interest to keep this PP gravy train going.

    Perhaps Priority Pass is putting pressure on Caper’s Marketplace to limit sales? That’s the only reason I could see why Capers would begin imposing this restriction.

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