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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, signalling 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 lounges, and not Priority Pass restaurants, of 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. 

33 Comments
  1. Harry

    Hey Ricky, any idea if someone has used up the 6 passes via temporary Plaza Premium benefits or Priority Pass will get an additional 6 passes once the DragonPass program goes live from July 2022? Thanks!

  2. Marco

    I’m really struggling to decide between keeping my AMEX Personal Platinum or TD Aeroplan VIP card. I’ve already spent enough on the TD card to earn the companion pass for next year when the card renews. I typically travel 3-4 times a year so not sure which one is the better value as a long-term hold. I’m tired of the churning game.

    Most of my flights are to the U.S or Caribbean, don’t really do much travel to Europe or elsewhere. For this reason, would you say the TD Aeroplan VIP is the one to keep longer term?

  3. Chris foreman

    Since Plaza Premium moved from PP to Dragonpass it’s made Dragonpass a much more desirable option across the globe especially if you visit Asia and the Far East.

  4. Chalia

    Big hit to the platinum card. Amex better get their act together. Yes it’s only 6 passes but most people would have a couple of visa IP cards that are around $120 per year or free (TD waive off the $120)

    1. Rich

      You sure about that? The IP cards are not $120 per year.

      1. Chalia

        Ops yes your right ! I’m talking about just the VI cards. Sorry

  5. Leon YYC

    I hope the YYC WS elevation lounge will also accept Dragon Pass!

  6. Albert

    Hello Ricky,I have a quick question I’m flying from LGA to jfk then to Africa..but will have to do a a transfer from LGA to JFK so I have to pay for a taxi or will I have a Concierge waiting for me at LGA to take me to JFK?travelling in a business class thank you

  7. Amy

    Ricky,
    I have Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite.
    Starting July 2022, is Dragon Pass also used for Asia (e.g. Hong Kong)?
    Thanks!

  8. SP

    Will passes already in my priority pass account work after July 1, 2022? Or will priority pass cancel all passes for Visa after July 1?

    1. Ricky YVR

      By the terms, the latter is what should happen. However, I seem to recall a few data points that Visa-powered Priority Pass memberships didn’t deactivate immediately when the associated Visa card was cancelled, so perhaps the passes will still be usable – but don’t count on it.

  9. Min

    I have a Aventura Gold that renews this May. Does this mean I have only until this July to use my four new Priority Passes or will they stay in my Priority Pass account to use until May 2023?

    1. Ricky YVR

      The CIBC Aventura terms have been updated to say that the Priority Pass benefits will end as of June 30, 2022 and will be replaced by DragonPass, so you’d only have until July to use up those passes.

    2. SP

      i am in the same situation, will my passes attached to priority pass account until Jan 3,2023 work after July 1,2022?

  10. scottb

    Is the access provided by Visa Infinite card include Plaza Premium lounges outside of Canada too?

    1. Ricky YVR

      Yes, it includes worldwide Plaza Premium lounges.

  11. smol-fish

    Hi Ricky, I have two cards that should qualify under this (TD AP VI P and the Scotia Passport). Does that potentially give me 12 (6×2) complimentary visits to Plaza Premium Lounges until June 30, 2022? Thanks

  12. Paul-77

    Plaza Premium at LHR T5 will not accept without a Dragon Pass membership number.

    There is an Aspire Lounge so Priority Pass still works there.

    1. Der-Liang

      I ran into the same problem at LON Gatwick NO1 lounge. is there a way to get a membership with dragonpass under this scheme?

  13. Frank

    1. Scotiabank as of 21-08-16 knows nothing about this. Has anyone seen this work? As I understand the article one presents the Scotiabank Passport infinite Visa and lets the desk clerk run a charge. Then VIsa Canada will erase the charge up to the card’s limit of visits. Is that correct? Priority Pass has nothing to do with it. 2. The other travel “rewards” are a joke as their flight prices at about 50% higher than the usual web sites. Even with the C$300.00 start up bonus you could be much better off with other cards, espeically cards that give you actual airline miles.

    1. Ricky YVR

      1. The idea is not to swipe the card, but rather the lounge will check through their systems that your card number hasn’t reached its maximum allowance (in the Scotia Passport’s case, six) and then allow you entry into the lounge.

      2. Are you talking about booking through the Scotia Rewards portal? There’s no need to do that, you can charge any travel purchase to your Scotia Passport card and offset it retroactively using points.

  14. Alex

    Having an Aventura Gold Card – would I be able to use the 4 DragonPass passes during one visit in one lounge (me + 3 guests)? Or is there a limit per visit?

  15. Greg

    Most of the Plaza Premium lounges in North America are closed. Do you think the lounges will open before June 2022

  16. Joanie Paradis

    Hi, If I travel with my kid, does he counts as a visit or he can join mye? So If I travel with him, will I use 1 or 2 visits? Is it the same thing for CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite / Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite?

    1. Sam A

      Hey, Ricky and PofT team, could you write up a little list of Priority Pass restos in Canada, maybe throw in some of your ever-so-insightful reviews? Until reading this article I did not know there was a difference between lounge and restaurant access with the AmEx Platinum. Cheers!

  17. John

    When you say the benefit applies to supplementary cards as well, does that mean they share the 4-6 passes with the primary user or receive 4-6 passes of their own?

    1. Ricky YVR

      My understanding is they receive 4–6 passes of their own.

  18. Wong

    Ricky,
    I have Scotia Passport Visa Infinite, can my husband use one of my 6 complimentary lounge visits (free) when we travel together?
    Thanks!

    1. Ricky YVR

      Yes!

  19. Andre

    What about CIBC Aventura Visa Gold card who currently provides 4 complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges as well?

    1. Ricky YVR

      That card also counts, although for all intents and purposes (signup bonuses, fees, etc.; everything except the income requirement) it’s an overlapping product to the Aventura Visa Infinite.

  20. Paul-77

    Boom! Just in time for my first flight next week!

    Great result.

    1. Paul-77

      As a follow up on my YVR-YYZ return trip: The Premium Plaza lounges were just awful. They’ve cut it right down to the bone!

      On the flip side: The Priority Pass restaurants were amazing! I had to add my tip in cash but that was a small price to pay for REAL food and drink

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