The Club Lounge network is one of the larger domestic lounge networks available through Priority Pass. I’ve used several over the years, including The Club at SJC, the two in Seattle, the one in Phoenix, and The Club at DFW. The Club at ATL is sadly one of the only real lounge options at the Delta-dominated hub.

In a number of cases, we’ve used the lounges for an extended period of time, including when my daughter and I had a 7-hour layover at DFW before we flew American Airlines 777-200 business class to Buenos Aires.

3 Hour Limit on Departure

As of September 1, 2019, The Club Lounges will start limiting access to three hours prior to departure. Previously, there were no real restrictions on access, just that you had a valid same-day boarding pass. For anyone with an extended layover, this change is a bummer. Here is the exact language, taken from the Priority Pass site for The Club at SJC:

the club lounge restrictions

My best guess is that the new limit is to reduce crowding in the lounge. On two occasions, the Lounge at ATL has been capacity-controlled when I arrived. With the rise in lounge memberships from premium credit cards, I understand that lounges are experiencing crowding. This is unfortunate for the occasional traveler, though, where Priority Pass is already of marginal value.

What About Visiting on Arrival?

The other probable effect of this policy change is that The Club lounges will probably not let you use them on arrival. I’ve never had an issue accessing The Club at SJC on arrival, which is the only one I’ve used in this manner. It’s nice to arrive late morning after flying across the country, grab lunch, and then head home out of the city.

My reading of the new access restrictions is that usage on arrival will not be allowed moving forward. Access will only be granted within three hours of a flight departure, based on the language. However, I am curious how this will play out in practice.

Conclusion

This change is an unfortunate one for The Club lounge network and for the value I see in Priority Pass. I’m already bummed that the Priority Pass restaurants have been pulled from American Express card memberships, and the restrictions on The Club lounges (as I visited these the most) lessen the value even further.

H/T: Doctor of Credit