Huge Warning for Using Priority Pass Select


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

VIP Lounge from Foursquare
VIP Lounge from Foursquare

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 new 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 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.


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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  1. This is crazy. PPS never gets a free guest, what is that person thinking? Just because it is easier for you doesn’t make it easier for everyone else. I’ve never had that happen to me, luckily. Also, the AMEX Hilton HHonors Surpass card comes with PPS but it is no free, costs $27 per person.

  2. 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”.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      That’s crazy! I had a feeling it was more prevalent. I’m hoping this post will help people argue their case. I doubt it’s normally worth the amount of effort Babs put into it.

  3. 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.

  4. I always get a receipt and confirm that it has been run for 1 guest. I’ve never had a problem.

  5. They got this right at JFK (the star alliance lounge – the wing I think) and the Domestic lounge at IST. Very important to make them swipe or take down separate numbers. The lounges treat priority pass as a credit card and charge them for each use. If there’s an extra swipe or double use of a number (or more) priority pass passes the charge along to the related account (in this case, Amex Platinum).

  6. This isn’t news. You don’t need to walk out and re-enter. Just be polite but firm and tell the dragon how to do his/her job.

    My wife and I both have AX Platinum cards. Even at DL lounges when traveling together, post May 1, we repeatedly need to remind most lounge agents that one of us is not a guest. We’ve never been charged, but it takes two or three reminders as when they see an Amex and two people, the default is one is a guest. Somehow showing two amex cards doesn’t immediately click for them. I make sure they figure it out.

  7. Actually, Centurion and Prestige card holders get a free +1 on their PPS.

  8. 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.

  9. Wow that stinks! I have two priority pass select cards that were issued with the Amerprise black card. The awesome thing is that I often bring in more than 4 guests and am never charged for them! I remember I went with a group of 8 to Cabo and was able to get every single one in for no additonal charge anywhere. Given that Amerprise lost the priority pass relationship in 2012, they gave me a card valid till the end of 2015!

  10. I don’t understand how this person who checked you in was not fired, or at least reprimanded for not doing her job correctly.

  11. I had the same problem at the Lima domestic lounge. The staff incorrectly assume Priority Pass allowed free guest. Thankfully Amex reversed the charge on request.

  12. 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. However, unlike Jeanne, calls to Priority Pass and AMEX resulted in no refund; you signed what you signed was both responses. In the end, I actually spent more time on this than it was worth.

    The next time I went to the same Board Room, the same thing happened. I pointed this out immediately and the response was: “well we assume the guy next to you was with you and we don’t know what your arrangement is with Priority Pass-we don’t see a dollar amount on the receipt”.

    A well done and needed article Jeanne!

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      How long ago was the original encounter? If it was within the last few months, I’m tempted to delegate a Babs task to you to see if she can fix it.

  13. I think they allow up to 3 hours per swipe one day. If you don’t use up to 3 hours, you can give to your friends or relatives to come in within that 3-hour time frame, no extra charge. I did this at Cancun International Airport.

  14. Thanks Jeanne for the offer to get rid of this travel glitch. However, it was last November and I remember I spoke to someone at PP in South Africa who said it was a holiday there and nothing was going to happen soon on my complaint. It probably went nowhere. Since then I have made AS 75k and part of the benefits was a reduced membership cost at their Board Room plus a whole bunch of miles. I have not used the PP card since.

    Great Blog!

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