The Playbook For The Modern Man

Why You Shouldn’t Be Able To Buy Your Way Into A Business Class Lounge

Earn it, don’t buy it.

Once upon a time, the phrase “barbarians at the gate” conjured images of a standoffish Roman empire. Now, as the 21st century reaches the end of its second decade, the term sums up an even more delicate situation: the overcrowding of premium class lounges.

Unlike the Romans, we believe everyone has the right to access airline lounges. Like the Romans, however, we want the lounges to continue to be worth coveting, and thus believe pay-per-use (and credit card loyalty) schemes are capitalist trojan horses that will doom us all to barstool wrestling, Bintang singlets and a severe lack of power sockets.

In other words, we advertise a policy of equal opportunity elitism: you should earn the right to be there rather than simply pay to enter on a one-off basis (or be permitted entry simply by virtue of having an AMEX card), systems which result in overcrowding and an unpleasant time for everyone.


On that note, it appears we are not alone, with The Points Guy, a travel blogger and frequent flyer expert, this morning pointing out this very problem, taking to Instagram to write: “Verified Lounges are getting way too crowded. By 8:30 am at the Plaza Premium lounge in HKG, this was the line.”


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A post shared by The Points Guy (@thepointsguy) on

“The @americanexpress Centurion Lounge was packed, and nearly just as crowded,” The Points Guy continued. “We’re happy to see more people take advantage of the perks their credit cards offer, but it’s time lounges and their operation managers adapt.”

“Sometimes we’ll even forgo the lounge to sit at the gate for better peace and quiet; would you?⁠”

In a follow-up article discussing the above experience, The Points Guy added: “Airport lounges were once an oasis from the crowded airport terminals, but I’m now finding (most of) them just as crowded as the terminals themselves.”

“With the surge in popularity of Priority Pass memberships and premium travel credit cards, there are lots more travelers eligible for lounge access these days.”

This is becoming more and more common. In fact, as we reported in October (see: Qantas lavish Lounge Change), even Qantas, once a bastion of exclusivity and unmolested chicken edamame salads, has now opened “six dens of opulence, formerly off-limits to your average flyer… to everyone regardless of airline, cabin class, or frequent flyer member status.”


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A post shared by Melanie Duca | Lifestyle Blog (@eatwelltraveleverywhere) on

That’s for an entry fee of AU$50-100 (depending on the lounge), of course, in a change that marks “the first time Qantas lounge access has ever been available to every airport traveller.”

While access is only available in off-peak hours, as the video posted above by The Points Guy shows, pay-per-use lounge access truly is a slippery slope, with many temporary customers treating the classy adult playpens that business class lounges should be like a single-use plastic.



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A post shared by Roz Colagrossi (@rozcola) on

Ravish then chuck.

For those of us who spend regular time in these places, it’s quite a shame to see this attitude (and to have to deal with the longer lines and spilt Bloody Marys). That said, we understand that there are many single-use passengers who treat the lounge with respect, and the optics of whinging about what is in many cases just a minor inconvenience. So clearly there is a fine line the lounge operators and airlines need to walk – the question is just getting the balance right.

With that, we’re off to check our points balance.

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  • Richard Shaw

    Elitist knob. Get your head out of your
    arse and your attitude out if the 19th
    As a construction worker I am, obviously, one of the ‘barbarians at the gate’. Like a lot of construction workers I earn around £90,000 pa and, like a lot of construction workers, I don’t have an elitist attitude to go with the income. If I want to pay for pay for premium lounge that is my choice and I have ‘earned’ that choice by having a useful function.
    Maybe, instead of complaining from a distance, you should make your feelings known to the person you don’t believe should be there.

  • Prateek Kanade

    Utter nonsense. How else would you think you will gain access to Amex Centurion lounge without having an Amex card? And you write in your article just having a credit card shouldn’t mean people get entry into lounges – there would be tons of people who might not be frequent flyers (because their job doesn’t require them to) but would travel sometimes and use lounges courtesy of their credit cards. Just because your job requires you to keep flying around, it doesn’t make you any more entitled than a person who probably owns an Amex Plat and enjoys the lounge when he/she takes a slight.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    What?? It’s not like only frequent flyers get into lounges; you can buy a business class ticket and have access. That could be just as “single use.”

    There’s nothing more intrinsically classy or well behaved or worthy about someone because they are flying on a higher priced ticket, or have a fancy credit card, or fly frequently with one airline, or spend an extra $100 for a resting spot during a long layover.

    Lounges being overcrowded is annoying, but no need to get weirdly elitist about it.

  • Nick Sydney 348

    Lounge access means different things to different people. For me, One World Emerald status does not mean lining up for Bloody Mary. Means a shower and freshen up when travelling between Sydney and the US or Europe. Having a decent meal on the ground and then onwards. For others it might be an experience they build into as part of thier travel. Qantas is my home airline and they have great lounges in Sydney, HK, Singapore, LAX and London. The latter allows paid access and why not. It’s revenue for the airline to get PAX in during the quiet middle of the day. Each to thier own

  • Pepe Memes Well

    Agreed especially earning status with US Airlines like United becoming more spending based however maybe credit cards could offer airport restaurant credit in of say $100 per year in place of longue access.

  • slumdog hundredaire

    Bang on.

    Utter elitist nonsense from the writer.

  • hoopz574

    “earn it by having a job that pays for you to fly a lot” lol get out of here

  • Ereandrill

    What a load of absolute bullcrap.

  • Phil from Middle Earth

    You sir, are as your name implies, a Tool. I travel frequently, but split between 3 carries due to location and time of travel. I pay a premium out of my own pocket, to carry an AmEx platinum card so that I am not beholden to one airline and it feels great! This article is rubbish. I kind of see your point, but it’s quite an elitist attitude you have there.

  • Lovelu

    I mean who are you man?!! Do you ever read your own stuff?

  • Max Salman

    I commented something like this a while ago, but once you implement a dress code, you would be able to filter out some folks.

    Most lounges already have dress codes, but do not enforce it.

  • JS

    Whiner’s translation: “I think we should restrict access by people not like me. Then I can be more special. Because I’m special.”

  • Mike Macdonald

    Absolute elite nonsense. How this dribble turned up in my news feed. I hope that the person that wrote this meets my kids in a lounge soon!

  • roger2266

    I am retired and don’t fly but a few times a year; nowhere near as often as when I was working. I appreciate being able to use the Delta sky lounge on a pay as you go basis. If you don’t like us “invading” your space, then go somewhere else. As long as I can afford & am offered the pay as you go format, I will take advantage of that option. I’m not going to pay hundreds of dollars/year just to use the lounge 2 or 3 times per year. Get over your snobbish self.

  • kymm puckeridge

    My word old chap, spot on, keep the plebs out so I can sip my 40 year old Cognac without having to view the dirty faces of those that would serve me sherry and not know a 78 from a 77. I’m so glad the author had the gumption and fortitude to finally come forward on these matters, they don’t however go far enough, I want my bar staff hidden from view while serving my drinks and grey poupon and dodo salad, and yes for those poor reading this dodo salad is available for those clever enough to be rich.


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