A Priority Pass Restaurant Now Includes Tips With Your Entry

Filed Under: Travel

Over the past year we’ve seen several airport restaurants and bars in the US join Priority Pass. The concept is that at some airports Priority Pass has a tough time striking a deal with a major lounge due to crowding issues, so when that’s not possible, they instead work with a restaurant.

My assumption is that Priority Pass pays a fixed amount for each guest who enters a lounge, so instead Priority Pass is just paying these restaurants a fixed amount, and then you can spend some dollar amount at that restaurant (typically $28-30). So far in the US, non-traditional Priority Pass locations include:

Spirits tasting at House Spirits Distillery, courtesy of Priority Pass

One interesting topic these new restaurants have raised is how you should handle tipping. I shared my experience at the Portland Airport Priority Pass restaurants, and specifically about how a lot of servers were unhappy about Priority Pass because they weren’t getting tipped.

I shared my philosophy on this at the time. I think the restaurants and Priority Pass should work together better so that the credit can be applied towards tip. However, for as long as it isn’t, I think it’s appropriate (and necessary) to tip, given that servers rely on tips to make a living. The Priority Pass entry is a form of credit, in the same way that a gift card to a restaurant would be. It’s not fair to stiff them as part of a generous benefit. I recognize many disagree, though that’s my opinion.

Well, there’s some good news on this front, for at least one Priority Pass restaurant. Corona Beach House Miami Airport now includes an 18% gratuity when visiting with Priority Pass. The limit there is $30, so whatever you spend, an 18% gratuity will now be added, and the credit can be applied towards it. In other words, you could buy $25.40 worth of food and drinks (including tax), and then the tip would still be covered.

Unfortunately as of now the other Priority Pass restaurants in the US haven’t matched, though I hope they do. This should settle the tipping debate once and for all…

(Tip of the hat to brp)

  1. Priority pass isn’t including the tip, rather your credit can be applied toward the tip. Moreover, now the tip is a fixed 18%, instead of allowing you to choose.

  2. Fabulous. As long as we have a tipping culture, you have to tip your servers. End of story. I wish it were set up in a way that servers could make a living without having to rely on tips, but it isn’t. If you don’t want to tip a server when going out to eat, then eat at home. I can count on one hand the number of times I haven’t tipped a server, and in those cases the experience was exceptionally horrible. Bartenders $1-$2 per drink.

  3. What kind of selfish person would disagree with your statement:

    “It’s not fair to stiff them as part of a generous benefit. I recognize many disagree, though that’s my opinion.”

    Anyone who doesn’t have the decency to tip wait staff when they’re getting something for free is dispicable.

  4. @ All of the complaining below of the “tipping culture” – If we’re going to discuss changes that need to be made to some cultures, tipping in the American culture should be near the bottom of that list.

  5. “Anyone who doesn’t have the decency to tip wait staff when they’re getting something for free is dispicable.”

    Perhaps in US, but in the rest of the world it isn’t needed or expected. Besides, Priority Pass isn’t free.

    The sooner the US abandons it’s obsession with paying servers peanuts and expecting customers to make up the shortfall, the better.

  6. @Josh Correct but we are talking about service workers in the US, where their rent and expenses depend on tips, aren’t we?

  7. Don’t forget the PGA lounge at MSP I got a $15 per person credit that was good at more than 5 restaurants/ grab and go places in the airport.

  8. the 18% has been there on the Corona Beach House from Day One. I dont know if it is for Priority Pass bill or for everyone but I believe it is there for everyone – it even has the language there about the customer can adjust the amount – BUT the POS would not let the server adjust it, it is either 18% or zero. On top of that, on both occasions we used it, the servers did NOT subtract the $30 pp from the bill. Had to ask them to redo the bill both times. This further confirms the 18% is there for every check, not just for check using the priority pass benefit.

    I suspect the restaurant has lots of flak and challenge from the automatic 18% and the design of its POS not to allow any adjustment regardless what the wording on the bill is, so now it has this 18% formally added in the PP site. No more adjustment request from the PP customers. Though I must say, the services there are Very Bad. It does not even deserve a tip. Period. Other than free foods, there is no advantage to stop by for both the foods and the service are mediocre.

  9. I have left generous tips at the Timberline Grille in Denver, but I don’t like this 18% automatic stuff. I guess it must be necessary since people are cheap, but for some servers, knowing they’ll reap an automatic 18%, might make them take that person or group for granted. If the top is automatic then where’s the “To Insure Prompt” service incentive?

  10. The 18% tip at Corona is in line with most restaurants in Miami, where restaurants add a 15-25% service charge. Then when you pay by credit card there is a line for additional tip. I usually add a little more depending on how good the service is. Many tourists are not aware that the tip in included, so they add another 20%, therefore the waiters are doing really well. I’ve been to this restaurant four times since it was added to the Priority Pass. The food is not very good, but the staff is very friendly.

  11. In Asia, servers are expected to perform a consistent level of service, as requested by a particular job and appreciated through the job’s pay. If you get a great service, good, that’s what you are supposed to get, if not satisfied and you are picky, make a complaint or the server get penalized by wage deduction if the management thinks the service indeed does not meet the expectation of the wage.

    I don’t get why many people here still argue that tipping system works better, to me it is as simple as standardize service level, rather than randomize it with external incentives, just like when you buy a pair of shoes, pick the one you like, pay what’s on the price tag and leave, do you pay extra if you feel great the moment you try them on? Service is just like other goods, it’s about how to deliver consistency.

  12. Garrett – if you don’t want to live in a country where people are free to decide which charities they want to donate to, go and move to a dictatorship. End of story.

    If you want servers to be paid a living wage so badly then get off your backside and try to do something about it. Perhaps also give a thought to all the other service workers to which it isn’t fashionable to tip and so earn less than these poor, suffering waitresses if you’d like.

  13. Chad – I’d disagree in the majority of cases… It’s not the job of customers to pay the wages of service workers directly. Period.

    If you want to help out a poor person by giving them charity that’s absolutely great. In many cases I’d rather give to a more worthy cause – like to kids literally starving to death.

    Not to mention the entire way people like you operate the tipping system doesn’t reflect the goals you claim to be reaching. For starters, tips should NEVER be a percentage if you’re compensating the worker for their time – it should be directly proportional to the time you spend there. Or is Mr High Almighty claiming waitresses in a fancy restaurant are significantly more worthy of a decent wage than those slaving away in a run down diner?

  14. Callum – So do you really leave $0 tip everytime you eat out? Its one thing to disagree with the custom, its another to just completely ignore it

  15. I was at the Corona lounge a couple weeks ago and when I asked if tips were included with the credit the server confirmed yes. Even though my wife and I ordered nothing but coffee they still gave good service…and when I asked them if I could add items from the grab and go next door they had no problem with it and I brought the items back to the restaurant. After the server added them to the bill she even told me how much credit I had left and asked me, “you have $xx left over, do you want anything else?” They generally seemed to “get” how PP is used at the lounge.

  16. Restaurant owners choose not to pay a living wage to their staff. That’s an irrefutable premise here.
    There is no point shaming or forcing customers into tipping.
    If someone doesn’t like working at a restaurant they should get another job. When they take that job they agreed to $2.50 an hour.
    Tipping should never be expected. If it’s expected it should be listed in the menu under price.
    There is a burger joint in DC (good stuff on the hill) that decided to add the “environmental fee” to all checks but didn’t post it on the menu. That’s fraud.
    Tipping is mean to encourage good performance by staff and show gratitude. It’s not meant to ensure someone a living. It all goes back to businesses choosing not to pay a living wage. And it is possible because all over the world the restaurant staff get paid enough and they don’t expect tips.

  17. If greedy business owners aren’t going to pay the waitstaff, it’s not the job of customers to supplement their income by tipping. However, it is the job of everyone who cares about the issue to VOTE for representatives that will change the law and use government regulation to fix the issue through increasing the minimum wage or having a guaranteed universal basic income. Tipping is just an indirect transfer of wealth from everyone else to the rich. Fix the system by making a living wage the law.

  18. I visited the Corona beach house in Early November and the waiter gave me the option of having the unused balance (which was around $5) towards the tip. I happily obliged.

  19. I suspect the restaurant has lots of flak and challenge from the automatic 18% and the design of its POS not to allow any adjustment regardless what the wording on the bill is, so now it has this 18% formally added in the PP site.

  20. @Donald – “Ensure.” “Insure” is to issue an insurance policy. Secondly tips stopped being an incentive for service when restaurants and bars decided to underpay their employees because they figured tips would make up for the below minimum wage rate paid.

    Basic etiquette dictates that since you agreed to grant your patronage to an establishment paying sub-minimum wage, you are on the hook for the gratuity that makes up for the wages of the employee serving you. If you want your tips to be incentive for service, pick establishments that either pay their servers decently or don’t go out.

  21. Wish I would receive tips when I am working behind my desk at work. The tipping culture in some countries should be demolished. The only time I tip, is when I am in a relatively poor country (yes the US is poor, but I actually found countries who are more poor than the US). I am not going to tip some high school student who is gonna buy a Louis Vuitton bag anyway with her tips.

  22. In my country tips are not standard, especially for regular hotels. Tips mostly are done in the evening and night in nightclubs mostly.

  23. “it’s appropriate (and necessary) to tip, given that servers rely on tips to make a living. ”

    Disagree. If and when I leave a tip it is because I think the waiter went beyond what was require.

    How much he gets paid is between his and his employer, and is not my problem.

  24. Uh… since Millenials don’t critically think, i think these restaurants ( of course out of HavMiami) will just run up charges on these passes and will easily pocket the tip money. Someone with ten friends with priority pass will make a good amount

  25. @djb @jerry

    When we were there in August and again in Sept, they did not allow us to “buy” the grab and go items towards the PP credit.
    In August the server was downright lazy and rude. Took 15 min to just get a glass because spouse preferred to drink beer from a glass. The glass was not chilled, room temperature, and was a water glass, not a proper beer glass despite the restaurant has a bar tended by a bar tender.

    In Sept different server slightly better service than in Aug but was still subpar.
    On both occasions the servers did NOT deducted the PP credit from the initial bills presented, despite they swiped the cards right at the beginning. So we wasted another 10 min for them to reproduce a correct bill.

    The manager or owner who often stood around the entrance podium, seemed to be very happy to get the PP customers and they had 2 not 1, PP symbol and notice taped on the top of the podium proclaiming PP holders are welcome here.

    The servers seemed to be indifferent and not trained of this new set up. I would give them slack in August as we were there just about one week after the benefit was put in place. However what we experienced in Sept was inexcusable.

    Looks like as time has passed, they finally get their acts together. I would much prefer to have the ability to take the Grab and Go items towards the credit, as the wait for just a simple dish was very long. Because we took Tri-Rail to MIA we had enough time buffer but on our outbound in August we used up all our buffer at the restaurant. On our inbound we did not care as much.

    Foods are mediocre though.

  26. Just a note: one of the reasons for the persistence of tipping in the US is that employers don’t have to pay payroll taxes on tipped workers. But for this to apply, the tip must be a tip not a service charge (ie, optional). Automatic gratuities irritate the f*ck out of me; while they must legally be optional, they are often both higher than normal and difficult to have removed — think about it, you would want a lower tip if service has already been poor before you try and straighten out the check. 18% is absurd as a “baseline.”

  27. As a waiter, let me chime in here. Tips do not work. I see little correlation between what service I give to a customer, and the size of the tip. Some nights, I completely kill it- every order is to the table on time and hot, people are taking my advice and enjoying their recommendations, drinks are topped off before people ask for them, and I’ll barely clear 15%. Other nights, I’ll be late with the food, spill dishes, food is poorly prepared, and I’ll make close to 20%. Its a random walk based on who is seated in your section, which is why it doesn’t really matter what you tip.

    However, I also disagree with those people above who say it’s not necessary to leave a tip. I make $3 an hour salary- the agreement between me, the restaurant, and the people who dine there is you need to leave a tip of at least 15%. Don’t like to tip? Don’t eat in restaurants in the USA, or only go to the few that are “no tipping restaurants?”- the sooner that becomes the norm, the happier I will be.

  28. I must have been told five times “gratuity is not included” when i ate at the Denver restaurant. I’m guessing they’ve gotten stiffed a lot, so they wanted to make it really clear.

    I had small bills, so i had no problem, but it would be annoying if i wasn’t prepared w/ cash.

    I love the benefit btw. Sit down meal and a nice drink instead of an OK lounge and snacks? absolutely.

  29. FWIW, tip has been included at Corona Beach House since the very beginning of their partnership with Priority Pass, even though the T’s and C’s have just been updated to reflect that. I’ve visited about a dozen times, including within the first week or two of the partnership, and this was always the case.

  30. Ed,

    I would have reduced the tip by $1 for every time they “reminded” me that tips are not included, because it is degrading my dining experience


    Maybe not where you are but some cities require that wait staff get minimum wage even if they get tips

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