As international travel slowly resumes, we should expect changes to our travel experience. For example, in the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, travellers must get used to testing and quarantine protocols that will have to be put in place in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. This would naturally translate into longer waiting times at the airport, with additional documentation checks required by airlines and authorities.
Some other changes with regard to airport lounge access for passengers are also in the pipeline.
First, it has been announced that Plaza Premium will be pulled from Priority Pass and LoungeKey with effect from 1 Jul 2021. This means that you will no longer be able to access Plaza Premium lounges through those programmes very shortly.
The impact of this move will be greatest for travellers expecting to use their Priority Pass or LoungeKey membership, moving through airports that only have Plaza Premium lounges available to them. However, if you’re travelling in a premium cabin on a full service carrier, you should still expect to receive your pre-departure lounge access benefit afforded by your fare and cabin class.
Also, do note that some credit cards offer direct access to Plaza Premium lounges, such as the Amex KrisFlyer Ascend card, OCBC Voyage card, and the Amex Platinum Charge Card. This means that by virtue of you holding onto any of these cards, you’ll still be able to enjoy access to Plaza Premium lounges post 1 Jul 2021.
The second change to lounge access concerns the American Express Centurion Lounge. From 1 Feb 2023, Platinum Charge cardmembers will no longer be able to guest up to two other travel companions when using the Centurion Lounge, which is currently a complimentary perk. Centurion cardmembers will not be affected by this change to the lounge access policy.
This might actually be a good move, especially in Centurion Lounges that tend to get overcrowded at certain airports worldwide. In a post-pandemic world, this is also welcome news to ensure that Amex continues to provide its Platinum and Centurion cardmembers with a safe and comfortable space at participating airport locations.
The third and final change to lounge access involves Star Alliance lounges. Currently, Star Alliance Gold passengers are able to guest one other passenger travelling on any same-day flight on a Star Alliance carrier. However, from 3 May 2021, the guest must be travelling on the same flight as the Star Alliance Gold member.
Given that Singapore Airlines is a member of Star Alliance, these changes will impact KrisFlyer Elite and PPS Club members. That being said, for passengers travelling on Singapore Airlines flights departing out of Changi, KrisFlyer Elite Gold and PPS Club members will still be able to bring in another guest with them to use the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge or the SilverKris Lounge, as long as the guest is travelling on any Singapore Airlines flight on the same day.
The aforementioned changes have imposed more restrictions for passengers who frequent airport lounges while travelling. However, in view of the ongoing pandemic, and in preparation for the post-pandemic resumption of travel, authorities will be happy with any move that discourages the congregation of passengers within confined spaces, such as airport lounges. Lounge service providers will then be better able to provide a safe and comfortable environment for their guests.