On the back of my Lufthansa Review saying that using priority pass to enter a plaza premium lounge, they go ahead and do this.
The big news out this week is that in the summer of 2021, Plaza Premium has chosen not to renew the contract with the Priority Pass Network. Priority Pass offers lounge access to more than 1,300 locations across 600 airports in 148 countries with Plaza Premium operating 180 lounges across 50 airports – The Hong Kong-based Plaza Premium is the world’s largest operator of independent airport lounges – so a reasonable chunk. You will find a lot of these lounges in Australia, Asia, and the Middle East, though you can also find some in Europe and the Americas. This gap will be very hard to fill in some locations.
It’s clear that in this case, Plaza Premium is cutting the cord, as the company states that it has chosen not to renew its contract with Priority Pass and LoungeKey.
To lose access to Plaza Premium will be a huge blow to PriorityPass and LoungeKey members especially those with paid memberships and to a degree for those whose accounts are linked with credit cards whose sign ups were linked to this perk.
It would seem that Plaza Premium feels they can go at it alone or have been forced to do so from an economics standpoint – similar to that of how No.1 Lounges left priority pass last year. It would seem from the 1st July, Plaza Premium Lounges will no longer be accessible to Priority Pass or LoungeKey holders (both of which are part of the Collinson Group).
On a side note, if you have Dragon Pass then you are in luck as they have managed to retain their agreements with Plaza Premium.
From a user’s standpoint, Plaza premium (by its very name) was one of the more premium lounge operators in the space and its departure will surely be felt. But plaza premium was never the cheapest lounge in the world, prices typically start from USD 50 for two-hour access and I think the Hong Kong lounge was $75USD for 2 hours. Clearly, they have thought this through and see charging such high fees as sustainable.
This could be strategic though as Plaza Premium lounges mostly serve as contract lounges for carriers that don’t operate their own facility at outstations. At times there have been capacity issues and the acceptance of Priority Pass has always been subject to capacity control in case of busy operations, and changes to policy could just be a natural change in direction.
Amex Platinum Cardholders Rejoice
You don’t need to worry if you have a Platinum Card from American Express (or a Centurion Card) as the agreement between Amex and Plaza Premium is still in place with the Global Lounge Collection. Simply show your Amex card and you’re in.
Although there is a small change to the fine print, the wording states:
To enter, present your valid Platinum Card, a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel and a government-issued ID. You may enter with up to one (1) complimentary guest.
This use to be two guests but unfortunately has been dropped to just one.
Takeaway From This
Private airport lounges have historically been advertised as places to relax and recharge before long flight or a perk of travelling without the need for a business class ticket.
The reality, in recent years, has been very different. Many lounges have become extremely full, plagued by the inability to enter a lounge without prebooking or have the experience stretched thin with environments often overcrowded.This maybe seen as a move to reduce the numbers, but the experience will likely come at a cost moving forward.
Alternatively, this is a bold move on the part of Plaza Premium, but I’d imagine there’s some plan that we’re going to be learning the details of soon.
Nonetheless I’ll be curious to see what Plaza Premium’s strategy is going forward for filling lounges.