How often do you try to visit a Priority Pass lounge in the US and realize there are no lounges at your airport terminal? Even if there is, the lounge is at capacity or the food just sucks. Unfortunately this is all too common as nearly every major credit card is offering Priority Pass nowadays.
A few years back, Priority Pass announced a new category of non-traditional "lounge" experiences, where instead of going to some contracted lounge space, you will instead be given a food credit to dine at participating airport restaurants. Over the years, I've found this benefit to be very useful, especially given some airport locations and circumstances.
In this article, I'll be sharing how I've gotten hundreds of dollars of free food using this benefit!
Credit card holders with a Priority Pass Select membership. Note that the membership needs to explictly include non-lounge experiences! In the past, virutally all Priority Pass membership that came with US-issued credit cards included this, but over the years Amex removed the benefit and starting 2023, Capital One Venture X cardholders will also no longer be able to enjoy this. As of now, Chase Sapphire Reserve remains one of the only cards still available to apply that includes the benefit.
Alternatively, you can purchase a standalone Priority Pass membership, but in basically all circumstances, you are much better off just applying for a credit card with the membership included.
How It Works
- Find participating locations in the Priority Pass app
- Walk up to the participating restaurant and let them know you will be using Priority Pass. Also let them know if you have guests (usually only allow 1 guest).
- Order food and you will see credit on your bill (usually $28pp, so if 2 people dining together, you will have total $56 to spend). This does NOT include tips!
I've found that getting food to-go is an excellent option, as you can save on tips and also allow you to enjoy your food if you are in a rush.
Out of the four Priority Pass Restaurants at SFO, I've been to two. I'll share a bit about them below:
San Francisco Giants Clubhouse
Located in Terminal 3 (United), this is one of my favorite Priority Pass restaurants. Not only is the food pretty decent, but they are fast and service is great!
The only downside is it's located further out from the main terminal area, so it is a bit of a walk if your flight isn't near this part of the airport.
And here's the menu:
Also located in Terminal 3 (United), this Priority Pass restaurant is located in the central concourse area just pass the TSA checkpoint and close to the SFO Amex Centurion Lounge.
However, due to its more central location and smaller footprint, this restaurant is usually more crowded and I've found wait times for food to be pretty long, so budget your time accordingly if you decide to dine here (or order take-out, but that is also slow).
And here's the menu:
And finally some pics of the food we got from these two restaurants (pretty typical American stuff, but beats buying in the airport terminal yourself or most PP lounges):
When It Might Be Useful
I've found several circumstances where this restaurant benefit can be incredibly useful. Here are a few:
- Airports where you frequent (e.g. your home airport, mine is SFO) do not have traditional airport lounges or it is in a different terminal than the one you are flying out of.
- You want to eat at a later time, such as on the plane (this may also be a downside as sometimes the wait can be longer than dashing in/out of a lounge for some quick bites). I've found most people waiting for the take-out are flight attendants and pilots after landing, and I can see frequent flyers squeezing lots of benefits out of this!
- You want better food options than a basic buffet spread.
- You just landed (domestic) and want to grab some food to take home with you.
This has been the most useful Priority Pass benefit for me over the last couple years when flying domestically (as lounges are often much nicer outside the US, especially in Asia). Between my girlfriend and I, we've often gotten $112 ($28 * 2 people * 2 restaurants) worth of food each time we pass by the airport. Technically we could double it by going to the other terminals and getting all of it, but we haven't pushed (abused) the benefit that far yet. I'm sad to see the benefit removed from more and more credit cards (which I can totally see why), but that's the world of travel hacking, enjoy while they last!
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