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Caution When Using Priority Pass Select

I was just having drinks with a frequent flying couple and this topic came up.  It was a good reminder about checking our hotel reservations, flights, and even our lounge check-ins to make sure everything posted correctly.

from loungebuddy.com
from loungebuddy.com

The Priority Pass Select card is free with the American Express Platinum Card and allows you into even more lounges than just using the Platinum Card alone.

The only difficulty with the card is that it only includes ONE person.  Guests cost an extra amount of money.

This is why I paid the extra money for additional card holders on my American Express Platinum Card.  Then my parents and husband can use the card to get into the lounge themselves.

But we discovered a problem with the way lounges run the card.

For example, I just went to Punta Cana with my parents and husband.  When I went to the front desk, I went ahead of my husband and had her run my card.  A few minutes later, my husband had his card run.  There were no issues.

My parents came into the lounge.  I gave them detailed instructions about what to do.  They’ve internalized giving each of their cards at the front desk by now.

Imagine my surprise when there was a guest charge on my American Express Platinum Card for the lounge.

There was a long process figuring out what happened.  The lounge passed the blame to Priority Pass who passed the blame to my parents.  They said unless my parents individually signed for their lounge access, they were both responsible for whatever happened.  And they didn’t both sign at the lounge.

But they both presented a card, so I decided to delegate this mystery to my own Jessica Fletcher, Babs Callahan.

Babs continuously called anyone she could related to this until she found an answer.  The answer she found made me very nervous (but also made our case for a refund iron clad).

She finally got in contact with the exact person who checked my parents into the VIP club they were at.  The person told her that Priority Pass people get a guest on each card, so whenever she is given two cards, she just charges them both to one card because that is easier.

That’s right.  Even when she’s given two cards by two different people, she was checking people in as a guest on the first card because it is easier than having to register both.

Except with this Priority Pass Select, people don’t get a guest.

I asked Babs to contact her and read the actual rules, but by what she was saying, even if you weren’t traveling with someone else, she may have checked someone else (arriving immediately behind you) as your guest because it was easier for her.

How to Fix This

Be extremely vigilant.  If you arrive with a guest, make sure they check you in separately.  If the person resists, you can say that you don’t want your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend to find out, or that it’s a company card and you aren’t allowed to bring guests with you.

If you are arriving along but in a line, make sure the person behind you isn’t waived in immediately.  That’s a sign the person (lazily) logged them in on your account.

I can’t express how shocked I was to find this out.  But Babs got her to send it in writing and Priority Pass issued an immediate refund once they saw it.

But seriously, be careful.  Make sure you and ONLY you are assigned to your account, unless you intentionally do want to guest someone into the lounge at your cost.

Priority Pass’ website and app do a good job of logging your activity, so it’s very easy to check.

I also want to note that Priority Pass fixed this immediately once I reported back what Babs found.  Hopefully, if this happens to you, this post can help as well.

This has happened to some readers as well.

From Chris:

Happened to me also at LIM. The lounge agent had me sign a receipt but nowhere did it show a $ charge for a guest. Had to dispute the charge with Amex and provide them with the Priority Pass card number of the “guest”.

From Nigel:

We had a similar problem last year at Zurich Airport. My wife & I both have Priority Pass Select through AmEx. She went into the Lounge first, presented her Priority Pass card and said, conversationally, that her husband would be along shortly. In fact, I never made it in there (that is another story…) but a charge appeared on her AmEx card for a visitor….
However, we did find Priority Pass to be very good at refunding the charge when we called after we got back to the US. From date of charge to date of refund was only 17 days.

From Christopher:

The exact same thing happened to me. I also give a Platinum Amex card and the PriorityPass that comes with it to my spouse and parents. When the bogus charge showed up on my statement, I called Amex and they removed the charge immediately without any questions.

From Ken:

This also happened to me at the AS Portland Board Room. I was admitted as a party of two. I did not noticed it at the time because the receipt I signed was on faded thermal paper. Only when the statement arrived did I see I was charged for two.

I’ve also used it many times where this hasn’t happened–but after hearing the explanation for why she charged for two, I’ve been extra vigilant.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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7 comments

  1. Same issue in CUN lounge staff is very poorly trained in the various programs. AMEX was very quick to credit the error.

  2. i seem to recall Ritz Carlton’s Lounge Club allows guest free of charge, they recently switched to PS, I wonder what happens now.

  3. The advantage of having the Citi prestige card that’s get you +2 guests . No priority pass lounge I’ve been In has been worth a dime to pay for . Nothing special .

  4. Solution- get the citi prestige 😉

  5. A year ago I had something similar happen. I entered at LHR alone but was charged for a guest. Both Priority Pass and Amex held strong and refused to refund the charge. I fought it for months. Not sure how they could justify that a single traveler be charged for a guest, but they held strong that I had brought someone with me.

  6. … or you can just use a Citi Prestige or Chase Sapphire Reserved which includes guests. Ridiculous that Amex doesn’t cover at least 1-2 guests, especially considering Amex Plat is more expensive than either of the aforementioned cards.

  7. Dumped my Priority Pass from Amex Platinum and only carry my Priority Pass from Citi Prestige. I used several times this year in many international airports for my family of 4 and was never charged anything.

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