Expensive Lounge lessons


In Aug 2019, we got ourselves an Amex card that came with a free Priority Pass card. I have had an American Express card since 2002 and I will never stop being a customer of Amex as long as I live – they are my benchmark for customer service and I don’t have a single “bad” experience with them. They make the customer feel wonderful, not because their customer service reps are great conversationalists but because they get the job done. An Amex rep is a one stop solution, no escalations, and they are totally empowered.

We wanted the priority pass for lounge access during our September trip as we always plan on a 4 to 5 hour lay-over. We don’t enjoy long non-stop flights !!

So we got our Priority Passes and the Amex card in time before our travel. Our first trip after getting them was from Delhi to Hyderabad as we had to drop Amma at home there. We reached the T3 airport and I first asked at the Amex counter where their lounge was. I was told their lounge was being renovated so we went to the Plaza lounge on the first floor.

At the Plaza lounge front desk they said, we could use either the Amex card or the Priority Pass card and one of them could be used for Amma, but there will be some charges. We used the Priority Pass for both of us and the Amex card for Amma. The food was great and we got to meet Ravi Venkatesan so we were happy and thrilled with the lounge benefits.

Then the day we were leaving for our Europe trip, we had a choice of lounges at T3 for breakfast and since we believe that food is great in any ITC hotel, we went into their lounge. We were told our Amex card wouldn’t work and when we asked about Priority Pass, they readily agreed to let us use their lounge. The food was great and we were again happy and went our way.

A couple of days after we reached Vienna, I got an SMS saying my Amex card was charged for lounge use. I called up the Amex customer service line using Skype and they told me it was for having used the Priority Pass in India. That’s the first time we realised that Priority Pass is to be used ONLY when you use an airport lounge overseas and not within India. As expected a few days later we again got a charge for having used the Priority Pass at the T3, ITC Lounge :(:(.

Expensive lessons in using the priority pass !!

As soon as we got back from our trip, we put our Priority Passes with our passports so that we don’t end up using them inadvertently within India. We also got a little wary about using the airport lounges :).

In the morning today I was chatting with Rajesh as we entered the T3 airport. While chatting he asked me if I had lounge access and I said yes we do, but we didn’t plan on using it as we had packed some dosas :):). As they say “दूध का जला छाछ भी फूँक के पीए”, the literal translation is anyone who burnt his tongue with hot milk will drink buttermilk after blowing on it. Hahahaha.

Since we were sitting right in front of the Amex kiosk I went up to them to check if the Amex lounge was open now. I was told it is open. So we went to the Amex lounge which is to the right as you go towards the departure gates. The lady at the front desk immediately let Amma use the lounge on a complimentary basis !! Amex does it again :). We had piping hot idli-Sambar and I also shared a Cappuccino with Amma. I would definitely recommend the Cappuccino at the Amex lounge. The food was good, not great but the coffee was fantastic. It’s a smallish lounge with the capacity to seat about 20 people but it’s much quieter than the plaza lounge.

If you are an Amex card holder, and happen to fly out of T3, do enjoy the Amex lounge. And if you happen to have a Priority Pass, don’t use it in any of the Indian lounges unless you are a foreigner :).

Amex lounge at T3, New Delhi

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