I used a credit card perk to get a free airport meals in the UK for myself and a friend and it's still my favorite travel hack

I used a credit card perk to get a free airport meals in the UK for myself and a friend and it's still my favorite travel hack
·4 min read
An empty airport terminal - London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders receive a complimentary Priority Pass membership, offering access to airport lounges and restaurants.

  • When dining at certain airport restaurants, members receive a spending allowance for meals.

  • I frequently use the perk when traveling in the US and was able to make good use of it when flying home from London.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Dining at an airport restaurant is a luxury in which I don't often indulge. I often can't justify the high prices for what is often average or even subpar quality food.

Concourse C at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport - Priority Pass Restaurant
Using Priority Pass at an airport restaurant. Thomas Pallini/Insider

But that changed once I got my first travel credit card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a complimentary membership to Priority Pass, offering access to a network of airport lounges and restaurants.

A top-down view of a Priority Pass card - Priority Pass
A a Priority Pass card. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The Sapphire Reserve costs $550 per year but that's easily offset with a $300 travel credit, $60 DoorDash credit, and for frequent travelers, the priceless Priority Pass membership.

Chase Sapphire Reserve
David Slotnick/Business Insider

Read More: Chase Sapphire Reserve card review: One of the best premium travel cards, with improved benefits and bonus categories

Priority Pass came in handy when I flew home from London in mid-August following JetBlue Airways' debut flight to Europe. JetBlue doesn't currently offer any lounges on either side of the Atlantic, even for business class flyers, leaving travelers to their own devices for a pre-departure meal.

Flying JetBlue Airways from London to New York in Mint business class - JetBlue Airways London to New York in Mint business class flight 2021
Flying JetBlue Airways from London to New York in Mint business class. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Read More: I flew on JetBlue's historic first trip to London and saw how low fares and great service will give competitors a run for their money

But I was able to use my favorite credit card perk in the UK for the first time. Here's what it was like.

An empty airport terminal - London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I always check Priority Pass before any flight that I take to see which lounges and/or restaurants are available at the airport.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Read More: I used a credit perk to dine for nearly free at an airport restaurant and it's my new favorite travel hack

Terminal 2 at London's Heathrow Airport didn't have any lounges available but did have one restaurant: Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen.

London's Heathrow Airport - JetBlue Airways London to New York in Mint business class flight 2021
Flying JetBlue Airways from London to New York in Mint business class. Thomas Pallini/Insider

And to my surprise, it was actually open. Lots of airport restaurants closed during the pandemic and not all have reopened.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I told the hostess that we'd be using Priority Pass and had to sign in using my membership card and boarding pass before being seated.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Getting a table was no problem as the restaurant was quite empty. Heathrow itself is still recovering from the pandemic, and it showed in the empty terminal.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Joining me for lunch was Insider's new visual features fellow, Taylor Rains, and a new friend that we met on the way out to London. Each of us had £15, or around $20, to spend.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Priority Pass allows members to bring guests into lounges and restaurants, with each having its own rules. This restaurant only allowed one guest to receive the £15 offer so Taylor used her membership to get her allowance.

Inside the American Tap Room restaurant at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport - Priority Pass Restaurant
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The menu was quite extensive with a good variety of meals that were well under the £15 budget.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Some of the larger items were a bit out of the budget at over £15 and I would have to pay the difference.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

A bone-in ribeye steak, for example, was £28.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I went with a cheeseburger and fries while the others opted for beers and appetizers.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Soon enough, we were chowing down on our delicious free meals.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

And needless to say, we got our money's worth.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The final bill for three people ordering a total of three beers, two appetizers, and one entree came to £42.50, just below the £45 limit. And the good thing about the UK is that the tip is included in the bill.

Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport
Using Priority Pass in London's Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

There was no need for us to settle up and the entire check was covered by Priority Pass. So, off we went to the gate.

London's Heathrow Airport - JetBlue Airways London to New York in Mint business class flight 2021
Flying JetBlue Airways from London to New York in Mint business class. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I got on the plane perfectly content and ready for the seven-hour journey.

A JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways London to New York in Mint business class flight 2021
Flying JetBlue Airways from London to New York in Mint business class. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I was almost too full to indulge in the business class meal service but had enough time to get hungry again.

Flying JetBlue Airways from London to New York in Mint business class - JetBlue Airways London to New York in Mint business class flight 2021
Flying JetBlue Airways from London to New York in Mint business class. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Read More: I flew JetBlue's new London to New York route in Mint business class. It's a premium leisure traveler's dream but some kinks need to be ironed out.

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