American Express Platinum Provides Unexpected Portland Lounge Access

In mid-May I used my Priority Pass Select to visit the Gol Smiles domestic lounge in Sao Paolo for a shower after an overnight flight from Miami.

On the way back from Portland recently I used the Priority Pass to access the Alaska Airlines Boardroom, which is on the same concourse as American Airlines flights so perfectly convenient for my Dallas departure (and since my flight to Dallas was delayed quite a bit, and since there wasn’t much of a line at security — though I was denied PreCheck again, and had the longest most expensive nude-o-scope opt-out pat down yet, I was in need of a place to sit and be productive for over an hour).

While my American Express Platinum card gets me access to American Airlines clubs when flying American, to Delta clubs when flying Delta, and to US Airways clubs any time, one of the lesser known more ‘hidden’ benefits is that the card comes with a free Priority Pass Select membership which includes lounge visits (so it’s not the cheapie-version of Priority Pass membership offered by several other credit cards). But you have to know about the benefit, and you have to ask them to send you the card. (I previously wrote about the American Express Platinum as my favorite way to obtain lounge access back in May.)

Priority Pass has a huge network of lounges around the world. The ‘Select’ version of the card, though, excludes you from using it at United Clubs — because it’s the card that Priority Pass offers to financial institutions to bundle with their credit card product, and JP Morgan Chase holds so much sway at United that United isn’t in a position to sign any contracts that would let non-Chase credit card products include United lounge access. So United Clubs are cut out of the benefit that comes from American Express Platinum cardmembership. But you can use the Priority Pass card anywhere else in their affiliated lounge network. For me, that’s Alaska Airlines Boardrooms and lounges abroad.

The Alaska Boardroom in Portland is a much smaller space than their flagship Seattle lounge, but at 9 am on a Sunday there was plenty of seating, including apart from other passengers by the window and with access to power outlets.

The wireless signal was strong, I managed to upload photos to a server without difficulty. And most importantly for me at least is that they had a pancake machine.

Of course there’s morning coffee as well, the ability to make a latte for instance along with flavored syrups (and chocolate and even white chocolate).

As well as various other sundry modest Continental breakfast items, certainly more than I get in a United or American club.

Before I had my British Airways Gold status as result of BA’s acquisition of british midland, I would have been shelling out for Admiral’s Club membership. That’s about as expensive as the annual fee on the American Express Platinum, but the Platinum card also gets me US Airways and Delta access. It’ll be interesting to see whether US Airways opens a second lounge at Washington National once United vacates the pier they currently share with American (they’ll be keeping the old Continental Presidents Club which was once National airport’s formal dining room, and will no longer need the United Club that’s across from the American lounge). If they do I’ll even have lounge access when flying out of my home airport on United, and without resort to my Aegean Star Gold status.

But my point in this is that for roughly the price of one lounge membership I get access to several lounges, and the Priority Pass only adds to that benefit. It’s great for any U.S. flyer other than a United regular. And of course for an additional $175 you can add up to three additional cardmembers who all also receive the same lounge benefits, that’s a lot less expensive than airline clubs charge for additional family memberships. The primary cardholder gets a $200 annual airline fee credit, and each cardmember gets the $100 fee for Global Entry expedited immigration reimbursed, so additional value from the card can reduce the costs of lounge access even further.

It was great to put my American Express Platinum card unexpectedly to use, since I hadn’t even realized I’d have access to a lounge on departure in Portland until I walked past the boardroom on arrival two days earlier.

(Note that if you use my link for the American Express Platinum card there’s also a signup bonus of up to 25,000 Membership Rewards points, it’s the best current signup bonus for the personal American Express Platinum that I’m aware of though I have seen some targeted offers either in the mail or when logging into that are even more lucrative. If you use my link I receive a referral credit as well, which I certainly appreciate, so thank you in advance!)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] American Express Platinum card. This gets me: American lounge access when flying American (ends March 2013) Delta lounge access when flying Delta US Airways lounge access regardless of airline I’m flying (ends March 2013) Priority Pass Select, which provides great access to a variety of lounges internationally (such as the Gol Smiles domestic lounge in Sao Paolo) and also to Alaska Airlines lounges in the U.S. (such as this one in Portland) […]


  1. I just got a targeted mail offer for this card, spend $5 in 3 months = 50,000 MR points

  2. This is the first lounge I used and I use it often. It has spoiled me into thinking that, if my time is short, I can walk into a lounge, load up on goodies to have on the plane and then go on my way. As a result, I’ve been very disappointed in the food and to-go offerings of other lounges.

    But…they really need to replace the furniture at this one. It’s seen much better days.

  3. “…it’s the best current signup bonus for the personal American Express Platinum that I’m aware of…”

    Doesn’t the publicly available American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum have all the same benefits? $25 higher annual fee but comes with a 50K bonus instead of 25K. And a $4000 lower min spend.

  4. “and had the longest most EXPENSIVE nude-o-scope opt-out pat down yet” (emphasis mine)

    There’s a Freudian slip if ever I saw one (I opt out too, and used to fly through PDX often…)

  5. Pancake machine is wonderful but a toss-up between it and their soups as my favorite. Fortunately, they are offered at different times, so I don’t have to choose.

  6. Chase rightfully has a grip United since they invested $600+ million of Mileage Plus miles back in 2008, so they have every right to deny Amex PP Select members in their club.

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