Visa Canada Will Replace Priority Pass with DragonPass

In July 2021, Plaza Premium and Priority Pass officially ended their partnership, meaning that the Priority Pass memberships on many Canadian-issued credit cards could no longer be used to access the 15 Plaza Premium Lounge locations in Canada.

As a temporary replacement benefit, Visa Canada had partnered with DragonPass, Plaza Premium’s new partner lounge network, to offer continued Plaza Premium lounge access to Visa cardholders through June 2022.

Now, Visa and DragonPass have announced that they will be launching an exclusive relationship as of July 1, 2022, signaling another shift in the airport lounge access benefits on many Canadian-issued credit cards.

Through June 2022: Lounge Access with Both Priority Pass & DragonPass

Several Canadian-issued Visa cards come with Priority Pass lounge access benefits. Until June 30, 2022, cardholders also enjoy an additional set of Plaza Premium lounge access benefits.

Under this arrangement, cardholders’ exact lounge access entitlements on the Priority Pass side are essentially replicated on the Plaza Premium side.

This means that all Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders will enjoy six complimentary visits to Plaza Premium lounges over the upcoming one-year period, in addition to their existing six complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges:

Meanwhile, select Visa Infinite and Visa Infinite Business cardholders will enjoy the same number of complimentary visits to Plaza Premium Lounges over the upcoming one-year period as their current Priority Pass entitlements:

No enrollment is required in this program; you simply need to present your eligible Visa credit card at the front desk of a Plaza Premium Lounge to gain access.

A cardholder’s complimentary visit allowance will be verified at the check-in desk by way of a DragonPass profile and user ID, which will be created upon your first visit to a Plaza Premium Lounge using your Visa card:

How are my lounge visits tracked?

Upon your first visit to a participating Plaza Premium Lounge under the Program, a unique user ID and DragonPass profile will be created for you. This user ID is associated with a truncated version of your credit card number, however your full credit card details will not be stored by DragonPass. Each time you visit a participating Plaza Premium Lounge using your Visa card under this Program, your visits will be logged in your DragonPass profile. Upon admission to a participating Plaza Premium lounge, you will be issued an admission slip that will include the number of complimentary visits used (if applicable) and/or details about your paid visit.

These complimentary visits can be used at any of Plaza Premium’s 15 locations in Canada or 70 locations worldwide. As per the usual Priority Pass benefits, each visit can be used by either the cardholder themselves or an accompanying guest.

Access Plaza Premium Lounges simply by showing your eligible Visa credit card.

July 2022 Onwards: Lounge Access Solely via DragonPass

The doubled-up lounge access benefits of 2021–2022 were only intended as a temporary benefit.

Now, Visa and DragonPass have announced that their partnership will continue beyond the summer of 2022, in the form of the new Visa Airport Companion Program:

In order to provide you with the best experience and greatest lounge coverage based on your needs, we’re consolidating the Global Airport Lounge Access Program to be solely provided through the Visa Airport Companion Program (powered by DragonPass). This new Visa Airport Companion Program will provide you with access to over 1,200 lounges worldwide including more than 20 lounges within Canada.

Note that the announcement indicates that Visa Canada’s airport lounge access benefits will be “solely” provided by DragonPass, which suggests that Visa’s relationship with Priority Pass will be ending as a result.

While it’s great to see the that Visa cardholders will continue to receive Plaza Premium lounge access going forward, the loss of the Priority Pass relationship could still be a very impactful one.

Even though Plaza Premium Lounges are a major presence across Canadian airports, with locations in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and a Plaza Premium-operated Air France Lounge in Montreal, there are still plenty of non-Plaza Premium locations in Canada where Visa cardholders could’ve redeemed their complimentary Priority Pass visits – which will no longer be the case starting in July 2022.

Air France/KLM Lounge Toronto, a Priority Pass lounge that Visa cardholders may no longer be able to access from July 2022

Now, it’s true that Priority Pass locations can still be accessed with the premium American Express cards, like the Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card. But remember: Amex-issued cards only grant access to Priority Pass lounge, and not Priority Pass restaurantsof which there are quite a few across Canadian airports.

Until now, Visa credit cards with Priority Pass benefits had played a useful role for dining at Priority Pass restaurants. With Visa relying solely on DragonPass for its airport lounge benefits from July 2022 onwards, the prospect of enjoying a free meal at an airport restaurant thanks to your credit card benefits may be no more.

With several months to go until July, I’d certainly expect Visa and DragonPass to work together and flesh out some more compelling long-term lounge access benefits for Canadian Visa cardholders – perhaps with DragonPass stepping into airport restaurant partnerships as well to replace the outgoing Priority Pass perks.

If not, then Visa cardholders can certainly feel hard done by the downsizing of their pre-flight airport experiences compared to pre-Summer 2021, and Priority Pass would certainly have an opportunity to strike back by leveraging its airport restaurant advantage.

As things stand, Visa cardholders are set to lose access to Priority Pass airport restaurants as of July 2022.

Conclusion

In the summer of 2021, the end of the Plaza Premium and Priority Pass partnership had originally sparked fears of a severe devaluation to the lounge access benefits on many Canadian credit cards.

Through June 2022, Visa has implemented a temporary arrangement with DragonPass that essentially equips cardholders with double the usual lounge access entitlements – to both Priority Pass lounges and Plaza Premium lounges via DragonPass – for the upcoming year.

However, starting in July 2022, Visa’s airport lounge benefits will be provided solely by DragonPass, similar to Mastercard’s recent decision to replace LoungeKey with DragonPass. For Visa cardholders, this ensures continued Plaza Premium lounge access at major Canadian airports, but represents a significant loss on the Priority Pass side.

One thing’s for sure: we haven’t heard the last of the ongoing airport lounge drama, and we’ll continue to await further developments in the myriad of different ways we can kick back and relax before catching our flight.

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