Plaza Premium removes lounge access through Priority Pass and LoungeKey

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Plaza Premium will withdraw from Priority Pass and LoungeKey on 1 July 2021, leaving major gaps in the network of the two largest programs.

In a move I certainly didn’t see coming, Plaza Premium has announced that it will be severing ties with Priority Pass and LoungeKey, effective 1 July 2021.

This will remove almost 180 lounges from two of the biggest lounge membership programs, leaving them scrambling for alternatives in airports where Plaza Premium was the only option. 

Plaza Premium withdraws from Priority Pass and LoungeKey

Plaza Premium Lounge SingaporePlaza Premium Lounge Changi Terminal 1

Executive Traveller carries the following quote from Plaza Premium’s PR and Communications Manager:

“In view of the rapidly changing travel environment and staying true to our mission in Making Travel Better, we have reassessed our product and service offerings in the hope of creating a comprehensive airport hospitality experience to reach more travellers globally.

As a result, it is with regret that we have decided not to renew our contract with Priority Pass and LoungeKey, effective 1 July 2021 except for a small number of lounges which are still under review.”

There’s no indication as to which particular lounges will continue to welcome Priority Pass and LoungeKey members, but my word, what a shake up this is.

Frequent travelers would know that Plaza Premium lounges are generally higher quality than your average contract lounge. I wouldn’t call any of them spectacular (apart from the conceptual Plaza Premium First facilities, which require an upcharge), but they were always safe bets. 

The problem was that Plaza Premium partnered with virtually every lounge membership program out there, which would often lead to chronic overcrowding (the ones in Hong Kong being a prime example). I suppose this move will go some way to addressing that, although it’s worth noting that DragonPass will still retain access. Plaza Premium also has direct contracts with certain credit cards (see below) and airlines, which I expect to continue.

What’s the impact going to be?

Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 2
Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 2

This development is bound to cause major headaches for Priority Pass (and LoungeKey too, of course). To illustrate the extent of the problem, Plaza Premium lounges are the only option that Priority Pass currently has at:

  • Brisbane (non-lounge options like restaurants are available)
  • Cebu
  • Hong Kong
  • Hyderabad
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Kuching
  • Langkawi
  • London Heathrow Terminal 2
  • London Heathrow Terminal 4
  • Melbourne (non-lounge options like restaurants are available)
  • New Delhi
  • Penang
  • Phnom Penh
  • Siem Reap

That’s going to leave a gaping hole in their network, assuming they aren’t able to negotiate separate access as part of the “small number of lounges” mentioned by the Plaza Premium PR rep. 

For what it’s worth, the impact in Singapore will be more muted, thanks to the large number of alternative contract facilities. Priority Pass members can currently access the following lounges at Changi:

TerminalLounge
Jewel
  • Changi Lounge
1
  • Dnata Lounge
  • Plaza Premium Lounge
  • SATS Premier Lounge
3
  • Ambassador Transit Lounge
  • Marhaba Lounge
  • SATS Premier Lounge
4
  • Blossom Lounge
Red= Plaza Premium facility, will be removed 1 July 2021

A comprehensive listing of Priority Pass lounges can be found here.

Which credit cards are affected?

Here’s a recap of which Singapore-issued credit cards offer lounge access, and through which provider. 

CardLounge NetworkFree Visits
(Per Year)
PrincipalSupp.
Income Requirement S$30K
Maybank Horizon Selected lounges in SIN, KUL, HKGSpend S$1K in single trxn within 3 months to travel
Diners Club CardsDiners Network1*N/A
Citi PremierMilesPriority Pass2*N/A
DBS Altitude VisaPriority Pass2N/A
ICBC Global Travel MastercardDragon Pass6*N/A
Income Requirement S$50-80K
SCB X CardPriority Pass2N/A
AMEX KrisFlyer AscendPlaza Premium4N/A
Income Requirement ≥S$120K
BOC Visa InfinitePlaza Premium2N/A
CIMB Visa InfiniteDragon Pass3N/A
UOB Visa Infinite Metal CardDragon Pass4N/A
SCB Visa InfinitePriority Pass6N/A
UOB Lady’s Solitaire Metal CardLoungeKey6*6*
OCBC VOYAGEPlaza Premium
HSBC Visa InfiniteLoungeKey
Maybank Visa InfinitePriority PassN/A
Citi PrestigePriority Pass + 1 guestN/A
AMEX Platinum ChargePriority Pass, Plaza Premium, AMEX & Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs + 1-2 guests + 1-2 guests
Priority Banking Customers
OCBC PB Visa InfinitePlaza Premium22
SCB Priority Banking VIPriority Pass24^N/A
All caps refer to membership year, with the exception of those marked with *, which follow calendar year
^With min. AUM S$200K. If AUM falls under S$200K, then 4 visits

As the table above shows, the impact will be unequal. Cards with Dragon Pass or direct contracts with Plaza Premium will continue to retain access, which is good news for AMEX Platinum Charge, OCBC VOYAGE, and UOB Visa Infinite Metal cardholders, to name a few. 

I suppose it’s not a pressing issue at the moment, but when travel does resume you’d want to make sure you have at least one card that still gets you into Plaza Premium lounges (the ICBC Global Travel Mastercard would be an easy solution). 

Conclusion

There’s obviously a lot of Priority Pass and LoungeKey members out there, so I fully expect the Plaza Premium lounge experience to improve significantly by that fact alone. All these things are ultimately based on contracts though, so it’s always possible we may see Plaza Premium return at some point in the future.

It remains to be seen how Priority Pass and LoungeKey will fill the gaps in their network, but as a hedge you might want to consider a credit card that still offers Plaza Premium access.

What do you make of Plaza Premium’s withdrawal?

(HT: Executive Traveller)

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Platinum

Amex Platinum has direct Plaza Premium for principal and supp doesn’t it? I just show them my Amex card to enter the lounge as I didn’t bother with getting my Amex Priority Pass since I already have 2 from other banks. My supplementary card holder also did the same with Amex Plat when travelling alone without using our Citi Priority Pass.

Platinum

Priority Pass, AMEX & Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs” from your table, last row in >120K section. Didn’t see Plaza Premium hence thought it wasn’t included which was strange, since I’d used it before.

Why

I saw the title and my mind thought of HK and KL!
Good grief. No free meal before KUL- SIN at Plaza Premium lounge

leon

OMG! i take umbrage at no free meal!

dont think there are any alternatives at KLIA , are there?

Mike

I suspect Plaza Premium’s planning to launch their own Lounge Network ala Priority Pass / Dragon Pass. They upgraded their own “Smart Traveller” app recently, already grew their own large network of lounges worldwide over the years, etc. Why play 2nd fiddle with low pass-on fees when its possible to contract direct at premium rates.

ZYX

You are right.

Not happy

Very unfair to Citi Prestige card holder!

Jim

Great news for Platinum card holders.

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