My Plan for Alaska Lounge Membership
Last year I wrote about why I was considering paying for an Alaska Lounge membership. Ultimately, it came down to no longer finding value in paying $550 annual fee for an Amex Platinum card and being denied entry due to over crowding at Alaska Lounges at my home airport (SeaTac).
The landscape is about to shift again with the news that the three Alaska Lounges at SeaTac will no longer accept Priority Pass cards at all starting September 1, 2018. Priority Pass members will still have access (capacity permitting) at ANC, PDX, LAX and JFK.
That leaves only two lounges at SeaTac accessible with Priority Pass:
- The Club at SEA – Concourse A
- The Club at SEA – South Satellite
Neither of these lounges are extraordinary, though they aren’t bad to pass time waiting for your flight. The problem is their locations. South Satellite is used by Delta and international flights, while the Club at Concourse A is at the farthest end of the airport. If you are flying Alaska Airlines, Southwest, or many Delta flights, you are looking at adding in an extra 30 minutes in walking time to the lounge and from the lounge to your gate.
I think Alaska is wise in their decision to break up with Priority Pass for a couple of reasons.
First, the Alaska Lounges were getting extremely crowded. This is a good problem to have; lounges make money for Priority Pass guests. However, Alaska’s culture is based on customer service. Making the choice between having an overcrowded lounge or turning away passengers flying your airline is lose/lose. SeaTac passenger growth has been exponential. I don’t think the overcrowding problem was going to change any time soon. Real estate at SeaTac is scarce so it isn’t as if Alaska could just expand their lounge footprint easily. Limited entrance to only Alaska Lounge members and those flying First Class increases the exclusive feeling and allows the staff to offer a better guest experience. As the saying goes, when everyone is special, no one is special.
Second, I believe that there will be an increase in the sale of lounge memberships. I personally know of at least three people that have canceled their Alaska Lounge membership because they realized they could get it for much cheaper through Priority Pass from a premium credit card. And these people are NOT “travel hackers”. They are just frequent fliers that live in Seattle. For those not willing to shell out $295-$450 for an annual membership may decide to pay for a day pass for $45.
I have never purchased an Alaska Lounge membership. I have used my Priority Pass and the times the Lounge has been closed to Priority Pass members I have used one of my MVP Gold 75K vouchers.
However, for the first time in three years, I will not make Gold 75K for 2019. This means my only way to visit an Alaska Lounge will be through the $45 day pass.
My plan is to use up my remaining 2018 lounge passes for flights between now and December. At that time, I will purchase the annual pass for $295 as an MVP Gold 75K which will last me until 2020. And I’ll look forward to having quiet Alaska Lounges at SeaTac.
UPDATE: I decided to follow through with purchasing an Alaska Lounge membership. Currently I am on a trip to Australia. Coming back I have a layover in Honolulu and want to use the Admirals Club. This is a few weeks earlier than I had hoped to purchase the membership — it will now expire at the end of November 2019.
The good news is that I was able to use my new Amex Hilton Aspire card to purchase the Lounge membership. The card has the benefit of a $250 credit that can be used for Alaska Lounge membership. Makes the $295 annual fee for the Lounge as a Gold 75K more manageable.
Do you currently have an Alaska Lounge membership? Have you had one in the past? Are you considering purchasing one?