Getting hit by a delay at the airport can either be mildly inconvenient or abjectly awful, depending on where it happens. The situation is undoubtedly even worse if you’re not flying in a premium cabin or don’t hold elite status with the airline in question, because that means hunting for a place to hunker down, foraging for Wi-Fi and power outlets and paying out of pocket for food and drinks.
Mastercard has recently introduced an interesting new program called the “Mastercard Flight Delay Pass” that gives you to complimentary lounge access should your flight be delayed by 2 hours or more, provided you purchase your air ticket with that same Mastercard.
Who is eligible?
The program runs from now till 15 November 2018 for Asia Pacific (ex Japan) cardholders who have a Platinum or higher tier Mastercard. As a reminder, the pecking order for Mastercard is (in terms of lowest to highest)
- World Elite
In the Singapore context, cards like the POSB Everyday, DBS Esso and the SCB Platinum Mastercard (Platinum), DBS Woman’s World (World), the OCBC Titanium Rewards(World) and Citibank Prestige (World Elite) would qualify.
Your lounge pass entitlement depends on the tier of card you have. If you hold a World or World Elite Mastercard, you could get up to 4 passes in total.
You can register a maximum of two flights by 15 November 2018. Do take note, however, that a registration is considered utilized upon confirmation of flight registration, regardless of whether the flight is actually delayed. I thought that was a bit of a silly restriction, given that it costs Mastercard nothing if there’s no delay. If you want to cap the benefit, why not cap it on two delays in total?
[Edit: Mastercard has changed this to unlimited registrations by 15 November 2018]
How does it work?
At least 6 hours before your flight, you need to register yourself and your accompanying guests on the Mastercard website.
If your flight is delayed by 2 hours or more (discrete or cumulative), you’ll get an email and SMS with your Mastercard Flight Delay Pass that will grant you complimentary lounge access.
Note that a flight reschedule that is more than 24 hours after scheduled departure time or cancellation does not count as a delay and no pass will be issued. That said, flights are usually delayed before they get rescheduled or cancelled, so I don’t see this being that big an issue IRL. The full T&C can be found here, and FAQ here.
Who operates the lounges?
The lounges are operated by LoungeKey, which has a network of more than 850 lounges worldwide (slightly smaller than Priority Pass at 1,100). There’s quite a bit of overlap between their coverage and Priority Pass’s. For example in Singapore, the only difference between the two networks is that LoungeKey doesn’t have access to TGM but Priority Pass does.
My Experience Registering
I tried registering my World Mastercard but all I got initially was a blank screen as shown below.
I believed it was because I didn’t actually charge any flight ticket to the Mastercard in question, but I thought the system would at least tell me that I wasn’t eligible instead of just blanking out like this. I idly switched away from the tab, but after a couple minutes when I tabbed back I realised this had appeared:
So long story short- don’t give up if the screen goes blank at first. Wait a little while and the next screen appears. You’ll be prompted to enter your flight details, personal details, companion details and then submit. I chose SQ221 because it was my Christmas wish to fly on the new Suites but it looks like I’ll have to wait till March.
Complimentary airport lounge access might not make up for the stress incurred due to a flight delay, but trust me it’s better to have a quiet place to sort your plans out than in a crowded airport concourse.
This is a good initiative by Mastercard, but I still don’t understand why the program should be limited to two registrations per card (as opposed to two actual delays).