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

Earn it, don't buy it.

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

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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“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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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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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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