Yes, I’ve got to call myself genius on this one. This Priority Pass trick is one of the best travel savings ideas I’ve come up with to date, and I’m pretty pleased with myself ;-). My husband is tired of hearing what a “great” idea this is.

But it’s so fab I HAD to share, so you can go forth and start saving, as well, if you have a Priority Pass Select membership!


What Is the Priority Pass?

Rome Leonardo Da Vinci Airport Priority Pass lounge
The AWESOME Priority Pass lounge at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci Airport

The Priority Pass is a pass that grants you access to select airport lounges and grants you a credit at some airport restaurants.

There are different levels of the Priority Pass, which you can purchase, but one of the best is Priority Pass Select, which comes as a perk with Chase Sapphire Reserve (read my full review of this card). 

Note: The tip I am about to share with you DOES NOT work with Capital One Venture X or American Express Priority Pass memberships.

The holder of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is granted a Priority Pass Select membership and is allowed to bring TWO guests with them.

I am an authorized user on my husband’s Chase Sapphire Reserve card (that costs me $75/year), which also grants me my OWN Priority Pass Select membership and the ability to ALSO bring two guests. That is more than enough for our family of four.

Newark Priority Pass lounge
Our boys hanging out at the Priority Pass lounge at Newark Liberty International Airport

It took us a year to start using the Priority Pass after we received the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, as you have to separately apply for the pass, which comes in the mail in about three weeks (so do it in plenty of time before travel if you don’t have yours yet). But we LOVED it once we started finally taking advantage!

While there are not lounges in every airport or every concourse (we use their app to quickly see if there are any lounges or restaurants in any airport we’re visiting), we do enjoy taking advantage when there are. It’s lovely to be able to get out of the chaos of the airport into relative quiet, have a cold drink and get access to an outlet or charger.


Priority Pass Select Restaurants

Denver Timberline Priority Pass Hack
We always use our Priority Pass “credit” at this restaurant at Denver International

In addition to access to select airport lounges, a Priority Pass Select membership (ONLY this level of membership, NOT American Express Priority Pass membership, unfortunately) grants you a $28 PER PERSON credit at select airport restaurants.

That means you can go in, take two people with you, and ALL OF YOU each get a $28 credit. You WILL have to pay for tip. 

In our case, because I’m an authorized user on my husband’s Chase Sapphire Reserve, we get FOUR $28 credits, which very often we are not able to use in their entirety.

We always go to the Timberline restaurant in Denver, for example, which offers the Priority Pass Select credit, as we love Colorado and often stop there on our way to California, as well. (Note: The Timberline restaurant is no longer a participating Priority Pass Select restaurant.)

Once, the server suggested he bring us some bottled waters since we still had some “credit” left. Genuis! Bottled water at the airport is NOT CHEAP (though some airports like Oakland and Atlanta now let you fill water bottles with filtered water – cool!).


My “Genius” Priority Pass Trick

airport store drinks

Ok, ready for the trick?

Recently, our home airport of Indianapolis International added a restaurant, The Fan Zone in Terminal B (Southwest’s terminal). While it’s not a great option for food (it’s mostly drinks and a bit of bar food, but they stop serving food SUPER EARLY), they DO have all manner of bottled drinks.

So… every time we’re flying now, I head direct to The Fan Zone, load us up with TONS of bottled drinks (water, Sprite, juice, etc.) for FREE!!! Yep, FREE! 

Each is about $3, so with just one credit, I can get 8 if I wanted!

I hand them my Priority Pass, and we’re good to go. LOVE IT!

This easily saves us $20-$25 every time we fly out of Indy.

After being stuck on a plane coming back from Europe several years ago at the tail end of a seven-hour flight from Dublin for THREE hours, I refuse to ever get on a plane without a large bottle of water (we had run out of everything to drink at that point and the crew was “off duty”). And because you can’t bring water through security, you have to buy it at the gate, which is not cheap. By the time I get each of us a bottle of something to drink, we’re easily around $20.

By my calculations, this easily makes up for my $75 annual fee to be an authorized user on my husband’s Chase Sapphire Reserve, and this is NOT counting the $28 restaurant credits that often allow us to have a free meal.

What do you think? Good idea?

You’re welcome 😉


  • Lyn Mettler

    Lyn Mettler is a longtime travel writer for US News & World Report, USA Today 10Best and The TODAY Show who created Families Fly Free, a program which teaches families her simple system to use travel rewards to fly for free.