Looking forward to the comforts of an airport lounge once travel opens up? Be warned: Plaza Premium’s divorce from Priority Pass means your credit card might not get you in anymore
Leisure travel might not be on the horizon just yet, but here’s an important PSA for your next trip: from 1 July 2021, the Priority Pass or LoungeKey that comes with your credit card might not get you into certain airport lounges.
That’s because the Plaza Premium Group will be severing ties with the two networks, taking with it almost 60 lounges in key locations like Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Penang and more.
While it’s an unfortunate development, it doesn’t mean Economy Class fliers have to go completely loungeless. Read on for the alternatives.
What’s happening to my Priority Pass?
Plaza Premium Lounge at Changi Terminal 1, which will leave Priority Pass from 1 July 2021 | Photo: Plaza Premium
Plaza Premium announced its withdrawal from the Priority Pass and LoungeKey networks in April this year, issuing the following statement confirming the split:
“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.”
The tl;dr of the matter is that Plaza Premium simply didn’t find the commercials attractive anymore (lounge operators get reimbursed at a fixed rate when members visit), and decided to strike it out on its own. Regular travellers will know that Plaza Premium lounges are generally of better quality than your typical airport contract lounge, and excellent places to catch up on work, watch a movie or grab a bite before a flight.
The full list of Plaza Premium lounges leaving Priority Pass and LoungeKey can be found here. While Collinson Group (the company behind Priority Pass and LoungeKey) has been actively sourcing alternatives, they’ve not been able to find replacements everywhere. In fact, there are several key airports where Priority Pass and LoungeKey members do not have any alternatives at the moment:
Hong Kong (HKG)
Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
|London Heathrow Terminal 2 (LHR)|
Phnom Penh (PNH)
Siem Reap (REP)
Taipei Terminal 1 (TPE)
While it’s highly unlikely that Singapore-based travellers will be jetting off for holidays to Canada or the UK anytime soon, this is going to be a headache for those planning short-term trips to Cambodia, Malaysia or Taiwan. And should the Hong Kong ATB finally commence, travellers will also find themselves lacking a lounge option at Hong Kong International Airport.
Of course, the Collinson Group isn’t going to take this lying down, and is no doubt working hard to find alternative facilities at these airports. The problem is, however, that at certain airports like Langkawi and Penang, the Plaza Premium lounge is the only option available.
The good news is that there will still be plenty of Priority Pass/LoungeKey options to choose from when flying out of Changi Airport. Although the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1 will cease to be available, Priority Pass/LoungeKey members can still access alternative facilities. Here’s a rundown of all the lounge options in Singapore:
|1||Dnata loungeSATS Premier lounge|
|3||Ambassador Transit loungeMarhaba loungeSATS Premier lounge|
*Terminal 2 has been closed for 18 months due to renovations and the travel downturn caused by COVID-19.
Which credit cards are affected?
Plaza Premium’s withdrawal will affect the following cardholders, who currently enjoy lounge access via Priority Pass or LoungeKey.
|Card||Income Req.||Lounge Access|
|Citi PremierMiles||S$30,000||2x free visits|
|DBS Altitude Visa||S$30,000||2x free visits|
|Standard Chartered X Card||S$80,000||2x free visits|
|UOB Lady’s Solitaire Metal Card||S$120,000||2x free visits|
|HSBC Visa infinite||S$120,000||Unlimited free visits|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||S$120,000||Unlimited free visits|
|Citi Prestige Card||S$120,00||Unlimited free visits|
|Standard Chartered Visa Infinite||S$150,000||6x free visits|
Which credit cards are unaffected?
If your credit card’s lounge access comes courtesy of Plaza Premium, you obviously won’t be impacted by this. However, there’s also good news for DragonPass members, who will retain access to Plaza Premium lounges.
|Card||Income Req.||Lounge Access|
|ICBC Global Travel Mastercard||S$30,000||6x free visits|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend||S$50,000||4x free visits|
|BOC Visa Infinite||S$120,000||2x free visits|
|CIMB Visa Infinite||S$120,000||3x free visits|
|OCBC VOYAGE||S$120,000||Unlimited free visits|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||S$150,000||4x free visits|
What can I do if I’m affected?
The simplest solution would be to hedge yourself by getting a credit card with DragonPass or Plaza Premium access. My recommendation would be the ICBC Global Travel Mastercard, which comes with six free lounge visits each year, and a three-year annual fee waiver. The annual income requirement is just S$30,000, which means that anyone who qualifies for a credit card will be eligible for this too.
If it’s unlimited visits you’re looking for, then the OCBC VOYAGE would be the only alternative. The annual income requirement for this card is much higher at S$120,000 (and there’s a non-waivable S$488 annual fee), but if you’re a member of OCBC Premier Banking, that requirement is cut to just S$30,000.
I certainly wouldn’t recommend this, but if you really wanted to, you could pre-purchase access to Plaza Premium lounges at the following prices:
- 2 visits: US$75
- 4 visits: US$150
- 6 visits: US$198
I just don’t think it makes sense to pay, given how you could get in for free with the right credit card.
Plaza Premium’s split from Priority Pass and LoungeKey makes lounge access a bit more complicated going forward, but fortunately there are alternative options through other credit cards.
It may not be a pressing matter at the moment, but when travel does resume it’s a good idea to ensure you have at least one credit card that can get you into Plaza Premium lounges.
Want to rack up air miles in the meantime? Find the best air miles credit card for you to reap benefits, rewards and, yes, lounge access.
Read these next:
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Best Air Miles Credit Cards In Singapore (2021)
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By Aaron Wong
Aaron started The MileLion to help people travel better for less and impress ‘chiobu’. He was 50% successful.