SeaTac Airport Priority Pass Restaurant Saga Continues

Filed Under: Great Deals

If you’ve been hoping to visit Floret by Cafe Flora through Priority Pass, you’re out of luck — the restaurant has just been removed from the network.

The saga of Seattle’s Priority Pass restaurant

This February Priority Pass added a restaurant at Seattle Tacoma Airport — specifically, Floret by Cafe Flora. This was an exciting development, as it represented the first Priority Pass restaurant for the airport.

The airport was desperately in need of more Priority Pass locations, given that Alaska Lounges at the airport were removed from the lounge network last year.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the restaurant and Priority Pass:

  • Floret by Cafe Flora was removed from Priority Pass just days after it was initially added
  • When that happened, it was taken off the Priority Pass website, but some reported that the restaurant was still accepting Priority Pass; then about a week later they stopped accepting it altogether
  • As of April 2019, Floret by Cafe Flora started accepting Priority Pass once again, but only from 2PM until close

Unfortunately there’s bad news on this front now. Floret by Cafe Flora has now been removed from Priority Pass altogether. While the restaurant still shows up on Priority Pass’ website as of now, the following sign can be found in front of the restaurant (thanks to reader Greg for sharing this).

The basics of Floret by Cafe Flora

In the event that Floret by Cafe Flora makes a return (which isn’t out of the question, given their history), I’ll still keep some of the basic details about the restaurant in this post. Floret by Cafe Flora is located airside (after security) next to gate A1, at the intersection of Concourses A & B).

All terminals and gates at SeaTac are connected airside, so all passengers should be able to use this.

Here’s how the restaurant describes itself:

Offering fresh and local seasonal vegetarian fare, Stumptown coffee, craft cocktails and local beer, wine and spirits.

You can find the lunch and dinner menu here, and the drinks list here.

When it was part of the network, Priority Pass members received $28 worth of food & drinks per person.

In order to be eligible you needed to have a same day day confirmed boarding pass, though there was no explicit requirement that it needed to be an outbound boarding pass (so in theory you could visit on arrival).

The Priority Pass member was responsible for any overage beyond the $28 credit, and that credit couldn’t be applied towards gratuity.

Bottom line

It’s anyone’s guess why Floret by Cafe Flora left Priority Pass. There are a few potential reasons I could see:

  • People weren’t tipping as they usually would, and between the discount they gave Priority Pass and servers not being paid compensated as they hoped, they could have decided it wasn’t worthwhile anymore
  • It could be that the restaurant was so busy even without Priority Pass members, and they decided they didn’t need that business
  • It could be that they just didn’t have the proper staffing in place to handle Priority Pass demand
  • It could be that Priority Pass’ payment terms created a cash flow issue for them, since I believe they only pay one or two months later

What’s your theory on why Floret by Cafe Flora left Priority Pass? Did you have the chance to eat here while it was part of the network?

Comments
  1. In general terms, is Priority Pass something of real value, i.e. what’s the usual level/quality of lounges they use and the ease to get in without queueing? Thanks!

  2. I ate there Monday morning for breakfast. Has the “forager’s scramble” and a chai latte. Not bad. I have a not so great but legible snapshot of the breakfast menu if you would like to post it Ben. I can email it to you.

  3. I’m going to miss the Alaska lounges. I hadn’t traveled through SEA in a while after a spurt of going through multiple times a year and didn’t realize they had removed them completely after limiting guests. I had a pretty long wait, so I trekked over to the Club at SEA lounge, but that’s insanely far, and they don’t have a pancake machine.

  4. @Anna: Do you miss the Alaska lounge at SEA? Really? I fly to Seattle once a month always on Delta and find the Delta lounge there simply fantastic. Couple weeks ago I had to take the last flight out of SEA to MSP and the only option was Alaska. I was flying paid first class so had access to the Alaska lounge. OMG, what a dump!!!! The place seems so worn out and depressing. The food was terrible and you could not move or seat since the place was very crowded. I gave up and ended going to the Amex lounge which was crowded but much nicer than the Alaska one.

  5. There is a PP lounge at SeaTac, although it’s way out at the end of the terminal, and quite a hike if you are on Alaskan

  6. Compulsory tipping + not being able to tip with priority pass credit = another one of the many reasons why tipping is ridiculous and needs to end. I’d rather have more lounges, at least it’s actually free.

  7. Still no love from PP for domestic terminals of ORD. I find it quite unbelievable they haven’t been able to acquire a single partnership with the large amount of restaurants at ORD.

  8. We just enjoyed The PP restaurant at TPA arrived early for mid-afternoon flight on AA Hung at Admirals Club, then had lunch at the cafe de…..

  9. Seattle lounge capacity has — in fact — increased quite a bit. And for Alaska and Delta passengers enough. Alaska booted the interlopers from PP and space is fine. Delta opened the beautiful SC which is busy but never unacceptable.

    Even Amex added space, though there isn’t enough for sure there. Only PP was a space loser in this SeaTac boom. And this will help nicely.

  10. I have a question about how PP access is handled. I hold both AMEX Plat and CSR cards, and thus have PP lounge access via both. Can I get 6 PP credits for my family of 6? I’d think, if they’ll let me use 2 different PP card access that I’d only be able to use 5 since I’d count toward one on each card. Thoughts?

  11. You wrote an article for the TUS PP Restaurant Noble Hops but leave it off of your lists. Give us some love for our mediocre restaurant at our crappy spoke airport in our dirty city (other than the Miraval) k thanks.

  12. Yeah, Ray, you tell ’em! All these airport restaurant servers, now working even harder (for less than minimum wage) with the sudden massive influx of PP customers, ain’t getting none of that tipping nonsense after I’ve enjoyed my free $28 meal!

  13. Re: Priority Pass Select membership

    You did not mention that the Hilton AMEX Ascend card (and also Aspire I believe) allows 10 visit per member per year. Or, you can do 2 guests 5 times a year.

    There is no PPS membership fee with your Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card. With your Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card you will receive 10 complimentary lounge visits each Priority Pass Membership year.

  14. Floret is pretty good! I usually get something there (or Beechers) on the way in or out. And now it’ll be free!

  15. @ El Cheapo

    Seattle’s minimum wage is $15/hour; much higher than the rest of the country.

    Besides, no is forced to work at a PP lounge.

  16. @Rob The airport isn’t in Seattle, it’s in the city of SeaTac. (And yes, the name of the city really is SeaTac with the goofy capital letter in the middle.) Their minimum wage is $16.09, and that includes tipped staff – see http://www.seatacwa.gov/home/showdocument?id=25356. There are exceptions – https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/some-airport-workers-still-earn-less-than-minimum-wage-as-sea-tac-law-leaves-a-confusing-patchwork/.

  17. I was devastated to hear they are closing Anthony’s at SeaTac, but getting free food at my second favorite restaurant almost makes up for it!

  18. Hey Lucky,

    I can bring 2 guests for free. Does that mean I can bring my wife and my 11 month old baby in and get a total of $28 x 3 = $84 ???

    In other words, does a 11 month old baby count as a guest?

    Thanks

  19. Even if if was always $15 or $16 an hour (which it isn’t…they can pay $12 with a $3 tip credit), that’s still $640 a week maximum before taxes.
    Leaving a $4 or $5 tip when you’ve paid nothing for the meal isn’t gong to kill you.

    And *here here! About questioning when ORD is going to get a PP restaurant. I’m in that damn hub all the time and getting pretty bored with United’s lounge fare and bottom shelf beverages. 🙁

  20. @ Rob – And nobody forced me to land a six-figure job at daddy’s hedge fund right after graduating U$C, or drive a sweet eco-friendly Tesla, or share a killer bachelor pad with my Kappa bros on the Manhattan Beach strand, but I do it anyways! So what’s your point?

  21. @Donald – I agree with you – keep tipping. But SeaTac doesn’t allow the credit you’re talking about. It’s $16.06, period. (The city of Seattle allows a tip credit against minimum wage; the city of SeaTac doesn’t, and the Sea-Tac Airport is entirely within the city of SeaTac, doesn’t touch Seattle at all.)

  22. The airport was named SeaTac long before the city of SeaTac was incorporated. The airport is called what it is because it lies between the two cities. The city is named what it is because of the airport.

  23. I do wish they could have picked a restaurant that actually serves meat… but at least they have a bar and the menu doesn’t look completely awful. Looking forward to more Priority Pass lounges and restaurants at SEA.

  24. very excited for lunch Saturday, great news. I never would have known because this is nowhere near AS gates. Menu looks great. pFriem on tap!!!!

    When N is done with remodel I think we will have a much better picture of lounge space and access for the coming years. Lots of new real estate for shops, restaurants and lounges for sure. AS space looks quite large.

  25. Floret is pretty excellent as far as airport restaurants go. The actual restaurant Cafe Flora (in the city) is a wonderful institution. If you need meat for every meal, then maybe go somewhere else 😉

    @James – Seattle doesn’t allow a tip credit against minimum wage. However, it’s variable based on the industry and business size (measured by number of employees). So, workers at smaller restaurants get paid a lower base wage.

    Many restaurants in Seattle have adopted a no tipping policy and mandatory 20% service charge that gets divided between front and back of house (often with the restaurant retaining a few percent and distributing it in the form of some sort of health benefit). Would like to see PP restaurants adopt this too so their servers don’t get screwed.

    (Side note – I ate at Floret using PP last week and my server seemed eternally grateful that I put the effort into how to tip… which is a pretty low bar honestly. But, having worked on that side of it plenty, people are horrible tippers and will generally take any excuse not to tip.)

  26. Maybe, when they add PORK to the menu. I didn’t say beef because as most people know we will have to get rid of all cows soon. Also planes, so no real need to go to SEA.

  27. Is grab and go prohibited at all restaurants that take PP? I stopped at one in Portland, after my dismal Alaska club visit to grab food for the plane.

  28. Ate at Floret this am on PP — do not recommend if your flight time is imminent or if you’re counting on taking food with you.

    Restaurant was half empty but hostess said they were “slammed” and it would be 10min to be seated.

    Grabbed a seat at the bar, bartender was nice but completely overwhelmed by having to serve bar seats in addition to taking incoming tickets. I asked about PP when I sat down, she said $28 limit, no to go, no bakery items from the front display (menu only) no taking leftovers, was very clear here.

    Food took 25mins to come out, was fine but odd to have eggs with 5 tortilla chips on top billed as chilaquiles. They have Rachel’s Ginger Beer on tap! Would be hard to pay $6.75 for a soda so glad that was included 🙂

    Asked for the check, which came quickly, I popped out my PP card and got, “Wait — you can’t do PP now, you have to tell us when you get here.” I said that I had, bartender thought for a minute and then remembered, “Oh yeah … shoot now I have to find the machine …” and wandered off.

    Apparently Floret has one PP reader and it’s mobile, so at any given time it’s in someone’s apron pocket and no one else knows whose. Bartender wandered around the restaurant tapping servers on the shoulder and finally located the reader, but it was in use with a family that was having some sort of trouble. Bartender had to return to the bar to fill incoming tickets and returned to me about 15 minutes later with the reader.

    Checkout from there took about 30s since my order was under $28 but she was very concerned that I would not have a way to tip — “Do you want me to also run your credit card on the other machine so you can tip? Or are you going to tip in cash?” The whole bar is watching this happen. I had a $5 in my wallet so tipped that.

    When I left, I counted 8 open tables and about 20 people waiting in line to check in with the hostess. There was no checkin list so it was just a straight-up line.

    I think Floret has potential, I’ve had the grab and go several times and it’s always delish — plus I love Cafe Flora — but the restaurant service is simply not set up at this time for a crowd or to accept PP.

  29. We stopped by Floret at 3:55 pm on Monday, 02/18/2019. Despite having a Priority Pass payment button clearly visible on the register, the takeaway section did not accept Priority Pass. We went over to the sit down restaurant section where a whiteboard stated “CLOSED.” Since about half of the tables were full with customers and the other half were piled with the dirty remnants of long-departed customers, it appeared to be a staffing problem. As we stood there googling the location of the Centurion Lounge, a staffer came over and told us they were too “slammed” and it would be at least 45 more minutes before they let anyone else in. I can only imagine how busy they might be near a mealtime.

    This PP restaurant won’t have to worry about me visiting them again.

  30. Just ate there today and spoke to one of the waitress’ who said that they had no idea how many people would be coming now that they accepted PP. in order to cope with the increased demand they are increasing staff levels and ordering more food etc. in the meantime they have asked PP to take their name down off the website. Don’t worry they still accept PP, just don’t want it advertised as much until they are better able to cope with the increased # or people. Great food great staff highly recommended.

  31. SEA is a zoo. I think the airport configuration does not allow any sustainable way to manage PP or Amex Lounges. It feels like all passengers are concentrated on the same area so everywhere you go is very crowded. I tried Amex Lounge there the other day and I was placed on a wait list and would receive a text message when my time arrived. After almost 30 minutes I was allowed inside and the place was a nightmare and people waiting to find a seat. Same for Alaska lounge on another visit. I can imagine with so many people having access to PP that a restaurant will be overcrowded. The only reasonable place to be there is the Delta lounge which is enormous so more manageable.

  32. Ate there last Friday and again the next day. Busy both times. Service good, no issues at all. PP folk everywhere. Food tasty well above average airport food and way better than any lounge. Space itself a bit wonky.

    Hoping to have breakfast there Saturday. This a desperately needed amenity at SEA.

  33. I was here today afternoon and they continue to accept PP with no problems. The place wasn’t too crowded and the service was good. Had an unremarkable chai and an above-average rice bowl. Definitely worth checking out.

  34. I just stopped by and they said their priority pass machine was “down” but expected things to be fixed in 1 week.

  35. I went by Floret on Feb. 26 and asked about Priority Pass. The initial woman at the counter said that it was available only in the sit down portion of the restaurant. The other woman working then piped up and said that actually they were no longer accepting it at all. It looks like Priority Pass at Floret is toast.

  36. Stopped by today on March 6. PP not accepted at all in restaurant or to go. They said restaurant would start accepting again in about a week but to go never will.

  37. Stopped by today on March 5. PP not accepted at all in restaurant or to go. They said restaurant would start accepting again in about a week but to go never will.

  38. Sunday, March 17th, sign posted outside stating that they’re still not accepting priority pass.

  39. OK so this is confusing. The post was made by Ben (Lucky) today (April 16) but all of the comments are from February and March? Weird!

  40. @Robert D – Since the blog’s last redesign, static URLs are repeated to house the latest post on a specific topic (a visible example being the monthly top 10 credit card offers). I assume this helps the page’s search rank as the established search engine cred increases. Sometimes that also means prior comments are preserved. Another consequence is that the “new” story doesn’t push to some RSS readers like Feedly. (Tiffany knows that’s my personal bugaboo, but it apparently affects very little of the site visit traffic.)

  41. @ GoAmtrak — We are making progress on that! Had a call with a developer yesterday who is going to write us a thing that does a thing that makes some other thing work so that Feedly et all sees it again. We’re pretty jazzed about it. 🙂

    For the curious, this isn’t as much about search rank, but just cleaning up the blog and streamlining the content. There are almost 30,000 posts on OMAAT, and nearly a million images, and it’s getting slow and clunky. This is just one of many things we’re doing to clean things up in order to improve both site speed and (hopefully) the overall reader experience.

  42. Ray- Lounges aren’t “free” either. You are truly a terrible human being if you are not tipping your bartender/spa service provider at the Centurion Lounge

  43. @Tiffany – Woo hoo! Keep on keepin’ on. And thanks for the interesting insights about content management and UX.

  44. Airport employees also went there to get their free daily meals. They abused the system. Now they have ruined the fun for all of us.

  45. @Vajiralongkorn

    I don’t know why Floret would care about employees using the space if they are getting the $28 per person credit. And if they did care why not require a boarding pass?

    I tried to go last week with a woman I met on my flight and her kids while waiting for American’s glacial baggage delivery. We sat for 15 minutes and they never took our order so we left. I was prepared with a $20 to tip in cash like every time I ate at Floret. Their loss…

  46. This is no great loss. With Priority Pass card in hand, I visited this restaurant in the past two months. It was not busy, I could sit near the view windows, and I was promptly given a menu. Alas, I could not find anything I wished to order, even for free. I left and went to one of the two Club locations at SeaTac. I would not go here again even if PP worked.

  47. Did you contact PP and give them 1 business day to respond before writing a speculative article?

  48. Leave it to Ben to blame the world’s problems on tipping.
    So management here is so thoughtful they would stop PP because of tipping issues? How does that affect their bottom line? Are waiters shareholders?

  49. @ James — All I said was that tipping could be a *possible* reason for the problem. My point was that if enough people weren’t tipping so that it was causing a significant salary decrease for employees and/or was making them really unhappy and caused some to quit, I could see how it could have an impact. I didn’t say that’s what happened, only that it could be a possible explanation.

  50. I’m all for tipping at Priority Pass except for Seatac.

    Seatac has the highest minimum wage in the country and normal US tipping shouldn’t apply since the cost of that minimum wage is rolled into the pricing whereas in other areas of the country, base pay is low and staff earn their higher wages through tipping.

  51. They dropped out because of the egregious behavior of PP customers — not all, just some, but enough.

    It’s that simple.

  52. Do we know what the discount rate is for Priority Pass payments to restaurants? Apparently at Timberline in DEN, PP takes about 18%.

    I’m assuming that when I went to Flora a few months ago, and bought $20 of food, Priority Pass only paid the restaurant about $16-17, or even less. That’s how it works with lots of other food service intermediaries like Grub Hub and Uber Eats, who take up to 30% commission from the restaurant of the menu price you as a customer pay, *before* fees. Many restaurants can make up for this in volume, and reduced service costs, plus the fact you aren’t taking up space in the restaurant.

    I bet some PP restaurants, especially popular airport ones without much seating capacity (like Flora), might be doing the calculation and realizing that Priority Pass customers are just too low-margin as compared to regular people walking in the door occupying seats and consuming server time and food. Unlike delivery apps, Priority Pass customers cost exactly the same amount to serve.

    For some out-of-the-way restaurants, with lots of seating capacity (like Timberline in DEN), the formula works to keep the restaurant full. But Flora probably figures they can fill their seats with regular paying customers, so there’s no reason to participate in Priority Pass anymore. I doubt tipping issues are the main reason, but complaints from servers to management probably contributed too.

  53. High foot traffic area and the staff would openly talked about getting stiffed on tips and customers like the guy who ordered 75 $2 fried eggs with his card + 4 guests to try to take away and before that the croissant guy, so fed up workers can make a boss think it over if as you say PP is slow to pay on top of taking the cut off of retail.

  54. Ryclecled post alert!!!!

    Anyways why don’t a local SEA go ask the manager what’s up and share it for us.

  55. I went 07 days ago here before an afternoon flight. Just to get seated took 5 mins. The place was half full. When I sat done I had the PP app open. The look of disgust I got from my server was obvious. I ordered, ask to pay at the same time. They charged the full whack of $28 for a $18 item. Food was good. Tipping maybe the reason, but the staff (or maybe mgmt) have a serious attitude problem.

  56. I’ll be at SEA tomorrow, I will try and stop by and get to the bottom of this and stop the rampant speculation here and at TPG simultaneously… coincidentally(?). Sign at the restaurant implies PP cut them off but that is pure speculation :).

  57. I just stopped by and asked a random server despite 3 of those signs out directing any questions to PP. Server said “it has something to do with our contract with Priority Pass. We don’t even know why.” Anyone get a response from PP?

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