Hard Lesson Learned: Priority Pass Lounges (Sapphire Reserve)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of our favorite cards for Disney vacations. We often transfer our Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt or Southwest Airlines, or we use them to purchase Disney vacation packages.

One of the best perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a free membership to Priority Pass Select. This gets you (and your traveling companions) into 1,000+ airport lounges around the world. For Disney vacations, this includes two airport lounges in Orlando, two in Honolulu, and two at LAX (none currently in Orange County, CA).

From the time your Chase Sapphire Reserve account is first activated, you can sign up for Priority Pass. They’ll send you a card in the mail that looks like a credit card. This is your pass and you’ll need it to enter each lounge.

Most of the lounges have free snacks, drinks, wifi, and a comfortable place to sit. Some even have showers, which was going to be important for my story…

Hard Lesson Learned

I (Mark) do non-profit fundraising for my day job. I travel around the world periodically hosting our partners and often use Priority Pass lounges during layovers. This past week I was in Burundi and Kenya. Somewhere along the way I lost my wallet, including my credit cards, driver’s license, and Priority Pass card. Fortunately, I still had my passport and some cash, which I had kept separate from my wallet.

On our last day, we spent six hours bumping along dirt roads in Kenya, took a regional flight back to Nairobi, and did some tourist activities around Nairobi before getting on a late evening flight.

At the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi. I told my traveling companion I was only going to do this once, so he better get the shot the first time.

When I arrived at the airport, I was pretty sweaty and gross, not to mention the giraffe saliva on my face. And, I still had another 24 hours of travel back to Seattle where Erin and I live. One of the lounges at the Nairobi airport had showers, which I desperately needed. But, I had lost my wallet with my Priority Pass card.

Lost My Priority Pass Card

I read online that you can often get into lounges if you at least have your Priority Pass account number. It’s a YMMV situation, but it often works. I called Priority Pass from Nairobi and told them the situation and asked for my account number. They said I had to call Chase. I called Chase and they said I should call Priority Pass. Oye. After a while of getting the run around, I realized I was going to be out of luck.

Desperate for a shower nonetheless, I decided to pay cash for the lounge (which I’ll now see if I can get reimbursed by Chase). I told the receptionist at the lounge about my woes. She said if I had the Priority Pass account number she would in fact be happy to just key it in and let me pass. Without it I was out of luck to enter for free.

Lesson Learned

If you have a Priority Pass card, I strongly recommend taking a picture of it or writing the number down somewhere. If you have an unfortunate situation like I did, losing your card, you’ll still have a good chance of getting into a lounge on your Disney vacation without your physical card in hand. Especially after a long trip at the parks when you just need to relax at the airport, lounge access suddenly feels like a high priority.