Paid Lounge Access for those travelers w/o FF status?
My two adult children travel RT from the US to Saudi 2 times a year, on BA. Because they have been traveling in coach on discounted rates, they have not collected the requisite # of tier points to get silver or gold status. It seems they always get stuck somewhere (usually LHR/LGW) for an extended period of time - 6 hours yesterday for my daughter - without ability to go to a lounge and relax. I'm looking for info on programs that I can pay to belong to that would give me (them) lounge access in both US and international locations while they travel. Any ideas, suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks!!
Diners Club lounges (free for the card holder, and in most lounges free or just a minimal fee for one accompanying person, sometimes individual admission rules may say that the flight-ticket must have been paid with Diners) http://www.dinersclub.com/diners_lounges.html
Priority Pass is ideal for international travel, with its numerous independent lounges (sometimes airline-affiliated) worldwide. The amenities range from adequate to luxurious.
You mentioned LHR/LGW. At LGW there are 5 lounges to which you can gain entrance with PPass: Delta Airlines First & Business Class Lounge, Sir Ivor Broom Suite, Sir Robert Hardingham, Servisair Executive Lounge, The Alexandra Suite.
At LHR there are 6 PPass affiliated lounges: KLM Executive Lounge, Kuwait Airways Oasis Lounge, Servisair Executive (3 locations), The Business Centre.
There also happen to be two lounges at BAH (Gulf Air and Delmon), and one (Gulf Air) at DOH.
I have personally been at none of the above, so others would be more apt to provide first-hand experiences with them. But these are the lounges listed in the directory in the airports of interest. However, having been to other PPass-affiliated lounges in varous parts of the world, I have developed the opinion as mentioned above about the faciliaties in general ranging from adequate to excellent.
You obviously have web access, so you can check out the PPass website at www.prioritypass.com (I don't think this one would be censored in KSA) for membership details on the program.
As for Diners Club, I would suggest using it more as the charge card it is, and rely on a PPass (or airline affiliated) membership than for lounge entrance. As you will see, the number of lounges affiliated with Diners Club is relatively few. However, the annual fee (at least in the USA) is about a third- to a quarter- that of PPass membership. Furthermore, the membership (and any fees for guests) can be charged to DC, earning the mileage credits mentioned above.
Each membership is non-transferable, so unless you are travelling together to get each other in as primary/guests, an individual membership would be needed for each of you.
Keep in mind, too, that membership to airline-affiliated lounges does not necessarily require FF status. Memberships are usually purchased independently, and in fact are usually run as separate business units by the airlines themselves. However, by going the airline-affiliated route, do keep in mind you may be limited to only however few or many lounges within that club's network, and their use may be restricted to only when you are travelling on their ticket, whether codeshare (such as Star Alliance) or not. As I said, PPass is ideal for international travellers.
Take a look, and let us know what you think or if you have any further concerns or questions.
[This message has been edited by FQTV (edited 07-15-2000).]
FQTV is correct - for ff-members based in NorthAmerica
Frequent-Flier-programs for members residing outside NorthAmerica often other rules for lounge-access apply (example: UA Premex/1K in Europe receive a complimentary RCC-membership).
As your children will mainly need lounge access 2 to 4 times per year only, probably in LHR, the Diners club card may really be the card of your choice as they offer lounge-access free of charge in LHR.
My Swiss VISA (Gold) credit card (bank: UBS Switzerland) provides me and one partner (Gisela) with a free Priority Pass membership (as long as I keep that VISA card) plus 4 free lounge-entries per calendar year (additional entries cost me US$25/entry) - May be a credit-card in your country of domicil has some similar offers? (And as one of my daughters second name is also (Maria-)Gisela she had no problems of using that 'Gisela'-Priority Pass card on their recent rtw-trip ...).
[This message has been edited by Rudi (edited 07-15-2000).]
Location: Massachusetts, USA; AA Plat (2.86MM), DL GM and Flying Colonel (0.93MM); SPG Gold
If this is going to continue for a while, they might see if another oneWorld program has more liberal rules for crediting discount flights on BA toward elite status. (AA would be the obvious choice, but it doesn't give any credit for BA trans-Atlantic, so they'll have to pick a different one.)
Thanks for the tremendous responses with great info! Indeed, we are based in the US as far as BA Exec Club goes, and my "kids" are getting nowhere fast with tier points, precisely for the non-liberal rule structure BA has. Yet they will continue to come over here, so we are forced to find another solution. Priority Pass (for the 2 RT per year - and sometimes not together) is kind of an expensive solution, but nice because of the number of lounges available. That lets them have different routing (out of different US cities to London, etc.) and still get lounge access. Diners, on the other hand, has only 1 lounge (LHR) in London, so they must go there. That limits their options in terms of Mid-East destinations (i.e., LHR only flies to DMM, I think, and not to BAH - which is an attractive nearby (25-30 miles) alternative to DMM). Lots to think about. I am especially interested in alternatives to BA for this (and a multitude of other) reasons. Sure appreciate the help, everyone!
If trips really are limited to just a few each year, and a full-fledged annual membership to something like PPass does not appear to be very cost-effective, then perhaps it might be worthwhile to hunt around for coupons/passes for complimentary visits to a lounge(s), airline-affiliated lounges in particular.
Just beware of any entrance requirements such as having to fly on a paticular airline/within the network on or around the date of visit.
I have never made avail of "Coupon Connection" here at FT, but it may be worth checking out for something like this.