Star Alliance will devalue its lounge access policy from May 2021

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From 3 May 2021, guests must be travelling on the same flight as the Star Gold/First Class passenger to get lounge access.

This article has been updated to confirm that passengers traveling in First Class on Star Alliance flights are also affected.

Star Alliance will be making a significant update to its lounge guest policy, and it’s not a positive one.

Currently, Star Gold members and First Class passengers are allowed to bring one guest traveling on any Star Alliance flight departing from the same airport on the same day. From 3 May 2021, the requirement will be changed such that the guest must be travelling on the same flight. 

Star Alliance’s revised lounge guest policy

Star Gold Lounge, Sao Paulo Airport
Star Gold Lounge, Sao Paulo Airport

This change was first spotted by Loyalty Lobby back in January this year, who got the following quote from a Star Alliance spokesperson: 

An alliance-wide Guest Entitlement policy change is indeed taking effect on 03MAY, and the website will be updated accordingly on that date.

Up to this date, Star Alliance Gold members could invite a guest holding a boarding pass valid on any Star Alliance member airline departing the same day. From the date of policy change, the guest must be on the same flight as the Gold status member.

However, what was less clear was whether or not the same policy would also apply to First Class passengers. It would be a strange inconsistency if it didn’t, but there was no official confirmation at the time.

Star Alliance has now updated its website to confirm that the policy equally applies to First Class passengers. Effective 3 May 2021, their +1 must be traveling on the same flight. 

Screenshot: Star Alliance website

The current policy is pretty broad, in the sense that you can guest in anyone on any Star Alliance flight. Kind souls with Star Gold status have been known to approach random people at the gate area and ask if they’d like a lounge pass. 

The revised policy means such kindness can only be extended to those on the same flight. I wonder if Star Alliance is trying to crack down on Star Gold members selling their guest slot (I’m sure it must happen, although I haven’t heard a lot about it), or if it’s simply a way to help airlines limit reimbursement costs (if a KrisFlyer Elite Gold member brings 1x guest to the Lufthansa lounge, Singapore Airlines must reimburse Lufthansa for 2x passengers). 

For what it’s worth, oneworld continues to apply a more generous definition:

  • Emerald and Sapphire members may invite one guest to join them in the lounge, provided he/she is traveling on a flight operated and marketed by a oneworld carrier
  • First Class passengers may invite one guest to join them in the lounge, provided he/she is traveling on a flight operated and marketed by a oneworld carrier

What about KrisFlyer Elite and PPS Club members?

Since this is an alliance-wide policy change, it will also affect KrisFlyer Elite Gold and PPS/Solitaire PPS Club members whenever they fly on Star Alliance flights.

Singapore Airlines has already updated its website, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it footnote relating to Star Alliance lounge access for PPS Club members:

 PPS Club members travelling in Economy Class on Star Alliance partner airlines from Singapore Changi Airport will enjoy access to the KrisFlyer Gold Lounges(the designated Star Alliance lounges in Singapore) at Terminals 2 and 3. An accompanying guest who is travelling on the same day and on the same flight is also allowed.

The same update can be found in its KrisFlyer Elite Gold section: 

An accompanying guest to any Star Alliance Gold lounge must be travelling on the same day and on the same flight.

For what it’s worth, KrisFlyer Elite Gold and PPS/Solitaire PPS Club members can still invite a guest to the KrisFlyer Gold or SilverKris Lounge, provided he/she is traveling on any Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flight on the same day. There’s no requirement that the guest is on the exact same flight. 

Conclusion

Star Gold Lounge, Buenos Aires Airport

I’m quite surprised at this development, given how lounge overcrowding is unlikely to be an issue for the next 1-2 years. The pandemic has shown that a lot of business travel can be replaced by Zoom meetings, and it’s leisure travel that’s expected to bounce back first. Most leisure travelers won’t have Star Gold status, so it seems this policy is a bit premature.

If you really need to bring a guest on a different flight, it’s best to look at a credit card with lounge access. For example, both the Citi Prestige and AMEX Platinum Charge will allow you to bring one guest into the lounge, regardless of their flight. 

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

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Mike

Shooting themselves in the foot.

What a completely unecessary, cheap, short-sighted and spectacuraly anticlimatic policy update

YC S

I actually thought business class passengers without status don’t get guesting privileges

JW19

Yea same here, I thought all along Business class passengers can only bring themselves into the lounge unless he or she has Star Gold. As it stand OW and St also have that policy where business class passengers can only guest themselves into lounges.

Edward

Aaron, when you sais the crowd will not come in for the next 1-2 years, you forget the other equation, capacity.

Can the lounge operate in 100% capacity? probably not, maybe 50%.

Also I guess, cost is another factor. Tje airliens probably found out, people “sell” the access, as many offer it onlinr.

Lounge

Demand may fall but not all the airline lounges will be open either. Airlines in alliances would probably work things out among themselves depending on demand and COVID-capacity constraints. SIA has already closed some lounges permanently. Others will follow depending on their performance; stuff like load factor or available seat miles and RASM. IMHO, for simplicity, anyone planning to travel regularly should just get the AmexPlat. Just my opinion and I’m not going to put my referral code anywhere 🙂

Formula1Fan

I agree it’s not a “good” move for passengers especially given the likely lower passenger numbers for the next couple of years. But given the continuous complaints of how crowded the Star Alliance lounges were prior to Covid, I actually think this might be a pre-emptive move to stop that overcrowding before it happens.

sl00001

Finally – I think it is a good move and already practised in some European lounges. How many times I experienced at past midnight departures at SIN that the lounge was overcrowded, and I was declined entry several times as it was too full. I like some buzz in a lounge but not when its overcrowded and you literally have to stand in q to get a drink.

ZYX

That’s not really the fault of *G policy. You should blame the tiny size KF Gold lounge, alias Marhaba lounge.

W L

I agree that this is a good thing. To be honest, why should *A allow anyone who isn’t travelling with the cardholder to get into the lounge? It never made any commercial sense to begin with. If the new policy alleviates lounge crowding, I’m all for it.

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