Airport Lounges

Dining & Wining for Free at the Airport: Priority Pass Restaurant Option

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I vaguely remembered reading about Priority Pass offering restaurants as well as lounge options earlier this year, but it took the Alaska Airlines Lounge in Portland restricting access over Labor Day for me to actually test it out.

Priority Pass is a membership program that gets you free or discounted access to airport lounges around the world. Many credit cards, including my beloved Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum cards, include Priority Pass Select, the free admission version.

We were on our way to Alaska and only had about an hour layover in the Portland Airport. Just long enough to head to the nearby Alaska Airlines Lounge. Except there was a sign outside the lounge around 8PM, indicating it was closed to Priority Pass and The Club members but that other options were available.

Puzzled as to what those options might be, I pulled up the website and saw several nearby restaurants listed where I could get a dining and beverage credit for both myself and a guest.

Since I was in the mood for real food and decent wine rather than a workspace with cheese cubes and animal crackers, I was nothing loathe, and headed to Capers Wine Bar in Terminal C.
There was only one bartender/waitress working the restaurant that night so it took a good 15 minutes to get her attention and a menu. We presented our priority pass cards before ordering and the waitress requested we just use one card to speed things up since it came with a $28 credit for the cardholder and another $28 for a guest.
Note: Gratuity is not included and it seems like most priority pass members at the restaurant that night were stiffing the waitress. So be nice and tip since they aren’t receiving the usual compensation for your visit.
Once we ordered, the food came out quickly and our waitress was nice enough to go ahead and print our receipt during a lull so we didn’t have to wait once we were finished.

 The food was good, the wine was better than anything I’d get in the lounge. In fact, if I had it to do over again I probably would have used my $28 credit at Capers Bar towards one really nice glass of wine I wouldn’t have bought otherwise. 🙂
The Pros:
  • Real food — getting to order off a menu for either takeout or sit down dining was great. There are only so many lounge snacks one can take during a trip.
  • Much better wine & beer options. Granted the $28 credit which also includes probably limits you to only 1-2 drinks. But chances are I’d rather have one good glass of wine than 3 of a domestic airline’s house cabernet sav.
The Cons:
  • Productivity — If you wanted a lounge for charging electronics or getting work done, a restaurant likely won’t cut it.
  • Time Investment — If you’re dining in, you could be waiting a while for the waitress to come over, the food to arrive, and the check to come. Not a great option (unless you do takeout) for short layovers.
  • Capacity Constraints — Available seating for Priority Pass is at the restaurant’s discretion, so you might find yourself out of luck during peak times.
  • Internet — *Sometimes* the lounge has better free internet options than those in the general airport.

I’ll definitely be keeping a lookout for other US airports that offer Priority Pass restaurant options in my future travels!

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