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 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?
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)
- Hong Kong
- Kuala Lumpur
- London Heathrow Terminal 2
- London Heathrow Terminal 4
- Melbourne (non-lounge options like restaurants are available)
- New Delhi
- 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:
|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.
|Card||Lounge Network||Free Visits|
|Income Requirement S$30K|
|Maybank Horizon||Selected lounges in SIN, KUL, HKG||Spend S$1K in single trxn within 3 months to travel|
|Diners Club Cards||Diners Network||1*||N/A|
|Citi PremierMiles||Priority Pass||2*||N/A|
|DBS Altitude Visa||Priority Pass||2||N/A|
|ICBC Global Travel Mastercard||Dragon Pass||6*||N/A|
|Income Requirement S$50-80K|
|SCB X Card||Priority Pass||2||N/A|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend||Plaza Premium||4||N/A|
|Income Requirement ≥S$120K|
|BOC Visa Infinite||Plaza Premium||2||N/A|
|CIMB Visa Infinite||Dragon Pass||3||N/A|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||Dragon Pass||4||N/A|
|SCB Visa Infinite||Priority Pass||6||N/A|
|UOB Lady’s Solitaire Metal Card||LoungeKey||6*||6*|
|OCBC VOYAGE||Plaza Premium||∞||∞|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||LoungeKey||∞||∞|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||Priority Pass||∞||N/A|
|Citi Prestige||Priority Pass||∞ + 1 guest||N/A|
|AMEX Platinum Charge||Priority Pass, Plaza Premium, AMEX & Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs||∞ + 1-2 guests||∞ + 1-2 guests|
|Priority Banking Customers|
|OCBC PB Visa Infinite||Plaza Premium||2||2|
|SCB Priority Banking VI||Priority Pass||24^||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).
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)