In response to complaints over overcrowded airport lounges, North American Airlines have moved in an almost coordinated fashion to tighten the rules regarding who has access to the elite clubs in terminals around the globe. Now, overseas airlines appear to be jumping on the bandwagon as well with new restrictions announced in just the last few days.
In recent weeks, legacy carriers in the U.S. have acted in near unison to reduce the number of passengers permitted to take advantage of the most popular airport lounges. Major airlines around the world have taken notice and are slowly beginning to follow suit.
By the end of the year, Delta Air Lines will no longer sell day passes to its Delta Sky Club Lounges. The airline has also curtailed reciprocity agreements with Air France, KLM and Virgin Australia lounges. American Airlines and United Airlines have each made similar moves in the hope of making airport club spaces a bit more exclusive and considerably less congested. In nearly every case, passengers must now be booked specifically on one of the airlines’ flights or codeshare flights on the day they plan to take advantage of the airport clubs.
The onslaught of new restrictions hasn’t gone unnoticed by carriers such as Cathay Pacific which has moved to strip lounge access from many of its own elite flyers. The Hong Kong-based airline has taken a slightly different tack in attempting to reduce the number of passengers allowed past the velvet ropes of its Cathay Dragon lounges. Starting this month, passengers who have received complimentary upgrades to first or business class seats will no longer be entitled to the complimentary lounge access that normally accompanies those ticket classes.
In the case of Jet Airways, passengers with status will no longer be given complimentary admission to airport lounges when traveling on an economy class ticket. Flyers with Platinum or Gold status must now book Premiere or First Class air travel to enjoy this particular perk.
Overcrowded lounges might not be struggling Jet Airways’ only consideration in limiting lounge access. The airline told elite passengers that the move was simply a cost-saving measure.
“Surging crude prices, ongoing rupee devaluation together with low yields in an over capacitated market have adversely impacted the aviation industry in India, including Jet Airways,” the airline said in its remarkably frank announcement. “In view of this extremely challenging operating environment, we have had to take some unprecedented steps, one of which includes temporarily suspending lounge access for guests traveling in Economy.”
In October, all Jet Airways passengers lost access to the private lounge at Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM). According to local press reports, the suspension was the result of the beleaguered carrier failing to pay owed membership dues for its use of the club.
Image Source: Cathay Pacific