Whether it’s Timberline Steaks in Denver or Corona Beach House in Miami, or Capers in Portland there are numerous airports where you can eat for free with a Priority Pass card. To be sure in some places the $28 per person credit you get covers gratuity and in others it doesn’t, but it’s still an incredible value.
Timberline Steaks Denver
Corona Beach House Miami
I love a great airport lounge, a quiet and uncrowded place to work with power outlets, comfortable seating, and that’s well-provisioned with food and beverages. That doesn’t describe most lounges in the U.S., at least most US airline lounges other than United’s Polaris and American’s Flagship lounges.
On the whole the lounges that you can access via Priority Pass are fairly mediocre though there are exceptions. However if you’re going to be in a crowded lounge without much food, wouldn’t you rather be in a restaurant if you didn’t have to pay for the food and drink?
Smoked Salmon Bagel from Capers Market in Portland
I really do like the increased options that Priority Pass provided when they started adding airport restaurants to their portfolio. It was a brilliant business move. They’re being paid for each use, so they make more money if they can boost usage. More airport coverage boosts usage, and people love free food. Here’s how much Priority Pass pays restaurants for your meal.
I think my favorite Priority Pass restaurant option is Bobby Van’s at JFK. When you get through security in New York JFK’s Terminal 8, which houses American Airlines and several other oneworld carriers (Qantas, Cathay Pacific, LATAM, Royal Jordanian, part of Qatar) immediately to your right is Bobby Van’s Steakhouse.
It’s actually quite a large facility, with a bar and tables near the entrance but an additional full room back behind the bar. As a result (and also because American’s terminal never seems that busy, even on a Thursday afternoon between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.) in my experience there’s never been a wait for a table.
The thing about this place is they know Priority Pass. Surely about half the customers there are using a Priority Pass to provide a $28 credit (and in many cases, $28 per guest up to 2 guests). They know all the variations, too, including Lounge Key showing your credit card and not a separate membership card. They are familiar at the host stand, and the servers all know the drill too.
They even have a pre-printed set of directions.
That said they actually have a detail wrong here. Their sheet says Priority Pass comes with one $28 credit plus one $28 credit for a guest. Some Priority Pass cards may charge for a guest, and some come with more than one guest credit included.
Contrary to rules noted on the Priority Pass website they don’t check for a same day boarding pass. That could be useful for airport and airline employees. In fact I am shocked that I almost never see airline employees taking advantage of Priority Pass restaurant benefits. You’d think that a flight attendant based at JFK could eat here on the way out and on the way back in.
To be sure though they’re trained to offer details on their own airline’s cards they may not be expert on the cards that come with Priority Pass, and they may not be in the market for the sort of premium cards that bundle Priority Pass (although they aren’t all $450 cards).
Credit cards aside though a flight attendant could easily come out incredibly far ahead with a paid Priority Pass membership purchased directly.
I haven’t ever had a steak here. Usually I just want something to pick at, while I grab a seat by a power outlet and work on my laptop using the American Airlines Flagship Lounge wireless internet (the airport has free wifi as well, and it’s provided by Boingo, several American Express cards come with premium Boingo access).
Burger and Fries
I do wish there were more seats with outlets, though very few seem to ask for one and as I say the place never seems to be completely full. Walking up to the restaurant recently I was behind a woman who was clearly confused. She knew she got to go to Bobby Van’s with her Priority Pass card, but she didn’t entirely understand it was a restaurant and not a lounge. They were seating her and she kept asking “where the lounge area is?”