Cathay Pacific Now Selling Access To Some Of Its Lounges

To increase ancillary revenue, some airlines have begun selling lounge access to passengers without status, travelling in economy or premium economy, who would not have otherwise had access, including:

  • Emirates selling access to their business class lounge in Dubai for USD$100 per person, and access to their first class lounge for $200
  • Lufthansa was selling access to their amazing first class lounges in Munich and Frankfurt for various amounts, depending on which type of ticket the passenger had – EUR249 if in business class, EUR299 if in premium economy, EUR149 for an additional guest in business class and EUR199 for an additional guest in premium economy

Cathay Pacific has now joined in, offering passengers lounge access for purchase at the following three lounges only:

  • Manila
  • Vancouver
  • Melbourne

Access is available to passengers at these three lounges with the following conditions:

  • The cost is HKD600/USD75 per person
  • The offer is available from now until March 31, 2019
  • Payment can only be made at the lounge entrance by credit card, no cash is accepted; I expect this is to ensure no payments go ‘missing’
  • The passenger paying must be a Marco Polo member
  • Passengers must present a valid Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon boarding pass (for same day, onward travel)
  • There is no discount for seniors or children, except that children under two are admitted free of charge

Unfortunately none of the spectacular Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong are included in the offer.

Now, these three lounges are not all equal.

Fortunately the Manila and Vancouver lounges have recently been upgraded to reflect their current lounge design, including their famous noodle bars.

However I’ve visited their Melbourne lounge and its very small, very dated and does not have the amenities you will find at the Manila and Vancouver lounges.

Cathay Pacific new lounge concept

So is purchasing an entry pass worth it?

I haven’t been to Cathay’s Manila or Vancouver lounges yet, but I have been to their Tokyo Haneda and Bangkok lounges, which have a similar design. They were great for a business lounge — I especially enjoyed the noodle bar.

I have oneworld status so would have access anyway, but if I didn’t I still think the entry price is a bit too expensive for a short visit. US$50 would be a fair price I think I’d pay, provided I was checking in three hours before the flight departed to enjoy around two hours in the lounge (accounting for the time it would take for security and boarding).

While Manila airport isn’t great, Cathay Pacific operates from NAIA Terminal 3 which is the best terminal in Manila. If this lounge was in Terminal 2, which I think is the worst terminal in Manila, I would absolutely pay this entry fee, no questions asked. I literally saw cockroaches crawling up the walls of a cafe’s kitchen last time I was in Terminal 2.

For the Melbourne lounge I would not dream of spending that much money for the Cathay Pacific lounge, which is one of the worst international lounges at the airport. That money would go much further towards a meal at the airport, and there are some excellent restaurants at Melbourne airport, which are an even better deal if you have a Priority Pass membership (anything by Movida is great).

Bottom line

I know some people say selling lounge access cheapens the experience for those who have either paid more for a premium ticket that includes the lounge access, or earned the access through their status.

But when airlines do offer this it is on a space available basis, and in this case I suspect Cathay has chosen three lounges that are not overly busy so it won’t have much impact on other passengers. And most passengers who already have access are unlikely to even realise who is paid and who is ‘legitimate’ anyway.

They are really struggling as an airline financially so need to do what they can to increase revenue. So I don’t think this is a bad thing.

Just please do not pay for the Melbourne lounge. It is awful.

Have you ever paid for lounge access (outside Priority Pass)?

Comments

  1. I think there’s a typo with the prices. You listed the entry price as HKD 600/75 USD in the beginning and then switched to 50 USD afterwards.

  2. Given what the US airlines charge ($59) for the basic lounges, I think $75 is well justified for the CX lounges.

  3. NAIA T1 is better, as I recall, at least lounges were less pathetic than those at T3. T3 is basically a low-cost terminal, most of its traffic are Cebu Pacific and AirAsia. I wonder why at all Cathay Pacific depart from there. T2 is for Philippine Airlines, and its lounge (dedicated for PAL and accessible with Etihad elite status) is way better than any contract lounge in T1 or T3. Never been to Cathay lounge there, so can’t compare.

  4. ANA sells lounge access for ~$40/ea to economy passengers, which I find it worth paying since they have a hot buffet, sushi chef and ramen bar. I wonder which airline will do it for less than them.

  5. CX lounges are rubbish in HK as well. What’s so great about CX lounges? As a Diamond member I’ve stopped going to The Wing and only visit the Pier as there is nothing near the gates on that side of the terminal.

    10 years ago when The Wing was run by The Peninsula and CX was doing better The Wing was an awesome lounge. CX lounges now are poorly maintained with rubbish wine and mediocre champagne and food.

    I wouldn’t pay $75 to visit the lounges in HK let alone the outstation lounges that they are currently selling access to. If you have $75 to spend at HKIA go to the Plaza Premium First Class lounge or Beef n Liberty and don’t waste your money at a CX lounge.

  6. Have to laugh at Samuelo mentioning Plaza Premium lounge.
    Stop complaining and travel in First as I do (without points) if you want proper Champagne. CX still has some of the best lounges in the world like it or not.

  7. @Samuelo,

    Are you just trying to be contrarian? I accept they have downgraded the wine and champagne offerings in the first class lounges recently which is disappointing, but come on. Off the top of my head can’t think of many other first class lounges whose design and services are better than the Pier first class in HK, and even in the Wing the cabanas with bathtubs remain among the best facilities for passengers in any airline lounge.

    What would you suggest as a better standard for CX to emulate at their home base?

  8. People are confusing the three main terminals in NAIA. T1 is the decrepit hunk of concrete built during the Marcos era. Up until the later part of 90’s it was the only main international terminal. T2, also called Centennial Terminal solely serves PR, the country’s flag carrier. T3 is the most recent which serves a handful of international carriers including CX. It’s connected to Newport City (mall) so it’s not a bad terminal if you have a long layover. Of the three, the worst is T1 – people should avoid it at all cost. There are no link between terminals except buses on the airside or taxi. Transferring between terminals can be a PITA even for locals.

  9. Let me fix your post for you:

    *Fortunately the excellent lounges in Hong Kong are not included.

    Let’s keep those lounges exclusively for those who are qualified to use them, please.

  10. @Kerry, some lounges CX could emulate: BA Concorde Room (better food than any CX lounges, same champagne as they serve in First, ability to book spa appointments in advance, at least for First Class passengers), Etihad First Class lounge in AD (before they started to cut costs), Qantas First Class lounge Sydney. Even the AA Flagship Lounges these days have better wine and food.

    As for the Wing, it’s literally falling apart. The seats have ripped upholstery. The restaurant has a long queue every morning so breakfast before your flight is impossible. The cabanas I agree are awesome but as someone who lives in HK I don’t want to go to the airport to take a bath before my flight.

    The design of the Pier is nice but food mediocre and forget about ever getting a spa appointment unless you have 10 hours to spare in the lounge. How difficult would it be to allow F passengers to schedule in advance?

    CX F lounges in HK are OWE lounges, they don’t in my opinion really have a First Class lounge for F passengers.

  11. The CX lounge in Manila is the best lounge by a large margin out of Manila. Granted there is not a lot of competition for excellence there as even Philippine Airlines’ home station lounge is pretty pathetic.

    Given the lounge typically only services one flight at a time, rarely does it fill up beyond half capacity.

  12. Not sure if the CX Arrivals lounge at HKG is on the list of pay-to-enter (judging by the passengers I saw I would say it if s), but by most standards I would say give it a big miss! I was given a free invite, coming off a F CX flight, but entered and turned around almost immediately. It is dreadful, unless you’ve come off a particularly rough flight in Y, I suppose.

  13. @yyc I haven’t been to MNL T1 lately, but a lot of the people I know who have tell me it is the best terminal right now – T2 is too small and poorly maintained for PR’s growing fleet and T3 is starting to show signs of strain.

  14. YYC and Matux are spot on. avoid T1 if possible.the pay lounges that the airlines use are rubbish. T2 is better than before but not much. T3 much better.tried cx and sing- sing not bad but cx better. T 3 was a low cost carrier place but was refurbished and premium airlines moved in. Lots of hassles originally with German builder- the roof partially collapsed! Now it’s th.e best- well up to International Standard.

  15. @fraser of lovat “well up to International Standard”

    That’s a joke. There are two contract lounges there and both are pathetic. Not kind of Hong Kong Plaza Premium pathetic, but really bad. Seating in Pacific Club is okay, but food is almost absent. Sky View is even worse, with continuously dropping wifi and impolite staff.

    T1 has two contract lounges and those are substantially better than those at T3.

    T1 and T2 also have proper transportation options, why T3 has nothing at all. The only advantage of T3 is access to the casino area, in a case you gamble or stay at a hotel in New Port area.

  16. @Samuelo: I’d posit that you’ve never actually been to the CCR if you’re using that as a litmus test for CX’s The Pier. Food at CCR is decent-to-good, yes. If anything The Wing/Pier is on par or better than CCR for food. Champagne/Wine selection is up to the individual, too, but most folks use price point as a determining factor of “good” champagne/wine which is not a great way to classify. Any sommelier can tell you that, and especially true if you’re doing a tasting at altitude. There are heaps of FT threads talking about how it’s nearly impossible to book a spa appointment at CCR; I’ve gotten 1 appointment out of 7 flights/attempts in the last several months. And if you are able to make one, they’re provided in that awful, hospital-emergency-room-looking Elemis Spa area between the Galleries Lounge(s) and the CCR. Hardly a spa environment. And that goes double for their showers and the cabanas which could easily double as the bathroom in a mobile home, except most mobile home showers are much nicer. CX’s shower suites, to include the overly-warm Arrivals Lounge, are light-years ahead of what’s on offer at CCR. The list could go on, but I think the point is fairly clear that you should probably visit the CCR in-person before you compare it to anything CX offers at HKG.

  17. @glenn CX Arrivals lounge is not on the pay to enter list, and its attraction is that it has showers, which are extremely useful for early morning arrivals. Otherwise I agree it is not much of a lounge.

    Melbourne is my home airport and I have to agree the CX lounge is a bit crummy. It does serve some nice dim sum, it has showers and it calls CX flights, so I use it for those things. Otherwise, you’re better off in the QF, Plaza Premium or Amex lounges – or upstairs at Bar Pulpo with a Priority Pass. And for A$100, there won’t be too many takers.

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