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Earlier this week we wrote about how buying a discounted, full standalone Priority Pass membership would get you cheap access to all United Clubs for $319 a year.
But today, Business Traveler reports that the Priority Pass relationship with United Clubs will end entirely on May 15th.
There are no announcements of new lounges added to the network, though Priority Pass notes many airports with a United Club already have another Priority Pass lounge in the network.
But that’s still a big blow to anyone in the U.S. who holds a full Priority Pass membership and flies United.
Now, your only option for ongoing access to United Clubs is to get a membership from United directly, either on its own, or with the United Club Card from Chase, which has a $450 annual fee.
United may be betting this will boost sales of its own memberships, and help thin the ranks of lounge guests who may be less frequent United fliers. It recently boosted its food offerings, with soup, salads, and breakfast options rolling out at all clubs this year.
This also means there’s little reason to hold the full Priority Pass membership if you’re based in the U.S. Credit card based options offered access to all Priority Pass lounges except the United Clubs, so now they’re on par with what the standalone membership offers.
The Citi Prestige Card offers Priority Pass membership for a $450 annual fee that’s offset by a $250 air travel credit each year, or $200 net cost annually, versus $399 for the standard Priority Pass Prestige membership. And the Citi Prestige version lets you bring in 2 guests free, something the regular Priority Pass doesn’t. It also gives you access to American Admirals Clubs when you’re on an American Airlines flight.
And The Platinum Card from American Express also offers Priority Pass Select membership, though with no guest privileges, and only a $200 airline fee credit (which is more limited than the Citi Prestige credit, as it can’t be used to directly offset airfare). But it does include Delta SkyClub and Amex Centurion Lounge access, after losing United Club access in 2011.
We will see if Priority Pass gets more aggressive with lowering prices to stay competitive in the U.S., though our sense is international customers are its biggest base. But if you have a standalone membership it’s worth calling to see if you can get some of the fee prorated and refunded.
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