Are Plaza Premium Lounges Declining In Quality?

Are Plaza Premium Lounges Declining In Quality?

75

With Plaza Premium having recently rejoined the Priority Pass network, is the lounge operator placing less of an emphasis on quality? Some reports I’ve received from readers suggests so…

How Plaza Premium has been evolving

Plaza Premium operates a network of dozens of airport lounges, and has one of the largest lounge networks in the world not run by an airline. This is different than Priority Pass, as Priority Pass sells memberships to its partner lounges, but Priority Pass as such doesn’t operate any lounges.

Over the past few years, Plaza Premium has tried to adjust its business model, though seemingly not with much success. In 2021, Plaza Premium cut ties with Priority Pass, meaning that Priority Pass members could no longer access these lounges.

My assumption was that Plaza Premium would try to monetize its lounges more profitably. After all, Priority Pass members can fill just about any lounge, but Priority Pass’ reimbursement rates are lower than what independent lounge operators could get through some other sources.

When Plaza Premium cut ties with Priority Pass, the lounge operator focused on selling passes to its own lounges, and also offered lounge access to select American Express and Capital One cardmembers, without the need to have a Priority Pass membership.

Well, just under two years after Plaza Premium cut ties with Priority Pass, the two companies made up, and once again formed a partnership. With this, Priority Pass members once again have access to Plaza Premium’s 60+ lounges.

The way I viewed it, Plaza Premium once again joining forces with Priority Pass was a double-edged sword:

  • On the one hand, it’s good that more consumers get access to these lounges
  • On the other hand, it was nice how Plaza Premium lounges were quieter than most other contract lounges, and I was also worried that allowing Priority Pass members in again would reduce Plaza Premium’s incentive to offer an elevated experience for guests
Plaza Premium lounges once again belong to Priority Pass

Are Plaza Premium lounges going downhill?

This is more a question than a statement, as I’m curious to hear impressions from OMAAT readers. I’ve had two separate people contact me recently, pointing out how Plaza Premium lounges aren’t what they once were. It’s hard to know if these just represent individually bad experiences, or are indicative of something bigger.

For one, the Plaza Premium Lounge Orlando opened in late 2022, and looks incredible by US standards. One of the surprising features was that it had a grab-and-go food and drink selection, so that you could take some things with you for your flight. That was apparently eliminated around the same time that the lounge started accepting Priority Pass.

Now, it’s possible that the timing was a coincidence, and that there was just too much abuse from passengers, and they helped themselves to too much.

Another reader points out the cutbacks at the Plaza Premium Lounge Rome. The a la carte food ordering has been eliminated (and that wasn’t a coronavirus protocol, but rather was intended to be a premium feature), and on top of that the bartenders are apparently now refusing to make espresso-based drinks, instead directing people to the nearby machines.

So I’m curious to hear from others — has anyone else visited Plaza Premium lounges since they rejoined Priority Pass, and noticed a difference in quality?

The Plaza Premium Lounge Rome had such good coffee!

Bottom line

Plaza Premium lounges have recently rejoined Priority Pass. That’s good in terms of giving more people access to more lounges, though it’s not great in terms of crowding in these lounges, as well as Plaza Premium’s incentive to invest in its product.

I’ve heard from a couple of readers now about changes to Plaza Premium lounges since they rejoined Priority Pass, so I’m curious to hear if these were just unlucky experiences, or if there’s something to this.

While I hate to see it, I also totally get why Plaza Premium would invest less in the quality of its lounges. When allowing in Priority Pass members, the economics change, and it becomes a high volume and low margin game.

Have you noticed any changes with Plaza Premium lounges?

Conversations (75)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Michele Guest

    As a Priority Pass Platinum AMEX card holder I was refused access to Plaza lounge at Rome Terminal 1, ‘before 10am’??? Why I don’t know, and after more than 24 hours en route from Australia to Palermo, this was a disappointment

  2. Big W Guest

    Premium Plazas at Pearson are joke. Terrible food, expensive price for drinks. Awful

  3. P a Lekhi Guest

    Klia1 and klia2 plaza premium lounge are terrible now with poor quality food and service

  4. Thrawn Guest

    Feels the same to me, Plaza Premium used to deliver what the name promises.
    Much worse now all over the world.

    Siem reap was pretty good though last year.

  5. Sam Guest

    Premium Plaza in Siem Reap Cambodia and Phnom Penh Cambodia is much cleaner and more options than most lounges I’ve been to. Maybe because there’s not many passengers. Compared to the lounge that only accept Priority Pass in Don Muang Airport in Bangkok (The Coral) is the worst and the bathroom has been broken for over 3 months.

  6. Scott Guest

    Hopefully PP will also kiss and make up with Diners Club.

    YYZ has become a "free lounge" wasteland for us since they got into a hissy fit.

    And the available KLM/Air France Crown lounge runs hours based on a single departure for each carrier.

    Fingers crossed .

  7. Jim Napier Guest

    The Plaza Premium Arrival Lounge in HEL was absolutely clean, and empty. The one male staff seemed overjoyed someone had walked in. He offered alcohol, and menu service (he was also the chef), but I didn't order anything, just nibbling on what was available,

  8. Michele Guest

    They have definitely gone downhill.
    I recently used the one at Heathrow Terminal 5 and it was dire. Overcrowded, no food choices, what there was overcooked and dry.
    Staff unhelpful and tables dirty and crockery and glasses left everywhere

  9. Michael Guest

    The bigger issue with Plaza Premium is this dodgy new programme they launched called "Smart Traveller" where you can purchase 1 or 2 visit cards (for use by region or globally). They boast about their 250+ lounges globally all over their website but the fine print on this programme is that it is only good at a select 55 lounges globally. So much for me using the card I purchased at the Plaza Premium JFK...

    The bigger issue with Plaza Premium is this dodgy new programme they launched called "Smart Traveller" where you can purchase 1 or 2 visit cards (for use by region or globally). They boast about their 250+ lounges globally all over their website but the fine print on this programme is that it is only good at a select 55 lounges globally. So much for me using the card I purchased at the Plaza Premium JFK Virgin Lounge like I wanted to, it is not in the Smart Traveller programme, plus they have ZERO other lounges in JFK under this new scam card of theirs. I complained to them and they really could care less. It is a complete "bait & switch" for the consumer.

  10. BOB chee Guest

    Ambank Signature card not allow entry, extremely disappointed.

  11. Ralph4878 Guest

    Their BKK and ICN lounges are massive and rather nice...if you can get in and get a seat. Last week, both were packed beyond anything I'd ever seen before. I used to visit both when flying between BKK and the States (the AF/KLM BKK lounge and the KE ICN lounges are nothing to write home about, to put it mildly...) but on this last trip, I stuck with the SkyTeam lounges.

  12. Roamingredcoat Gold

    I think it's a combo of two things - the quality has gone downhill slightly to a lot depending on location (pandemic cost-cutting made permanent & trying to pump rev to improve group value), but also relative performance. A lot of Premium Plazas were opened before CC companies started upping the lounge standards and airlines started to improve their own lounges. Premium Plaza has regressed while others have gotten better, making their fall look even...

    I think it's a combo of two things - the quality has gone downhill slightly to a lot depending on location (pandemic cost-cutting made permanent & trying to pump rev to improve group value), but also relative performance. A lot of Premium Plazas were opened before CC companies started upping the lounge standards and airlines started to improve their own lounges. Premium Plaza has regressed while others have gotten better, making their fall look even worse. The lounges were the Marriott principle; unremarkable, but consistent across brand. They were more crowded, but often had better food options than other lounges to compensate. Lose the superior food & beverage, without refreshing their furnishings, they're becoming just another PP-quality lounge.

  13. Simon Guest

    Yes yes and yes. I left Rome and service was surprisingly soooo bad and food quality as well. Surprised to see how they do not even care anymore not even about cleaning tables.

  14. Harry Guest

    The quality of food is not appealing anymore and very limited choice of drinks at Edmonton Plaza...The furniture is old and it is somewhat dirty to.
    I also visited Taipei Plaza and they have one beer and one white & red wine selection, no other option.

  15. Giacomo Valducci Guest

    My experience last July in Plaza Rome was excellent at 5,30 in the morning everything was great including espresso by the bartender.

  16. Lina Seow Guest

    Depends on location. In general, I feel all lounges have deteriorated somewhat. However there are still lounges in different parts of world where quality/service has been maintained and being able to be in lounge while waiting for flight goes a long way to calm down and get into right mindset for flight.

  17. vlcnc Guest

    Can't comment on the North American ones as never used, but I was never that impressed with them. Furnishings were pleasant and nice, but food was always stingy and mean imo.

  18. Points Adventure Guest

    Went to the one in CGK recently. Very good - a la carte menu, good snacks, lovely space.

  19. OnVacanza Guest

    Was just in plaza premium lounge in FCO and they did make a barista made cappucino but in a paper cup, but still good. Didnt try the food.

    Went back to ITA lounge, barista made also, but better tasting for me, and served in proper cup.

  20. Grey Diamond

    I feel like you might be one of the only people who thought they were ever particularly premium. I have visited them in Toronto, Heathrow, Gatwick and Frankfurt and always found them to be poor quality. Any airport lounge that charges for food and drink is below average in my opinion.

    1. Chris W Guest

      Agreed - when were they good??

      The whole business model is about getting as many people through the door and then spending as little per person on the offering inside.

      It is completely different to an airline-operated lounge where they are trying to build brand loyalty.

  21. william Guest

    PP at LHR T2 needs a refurbishment. It's becoming grubby with so many of chargers not working not great if you are looking for a spot to plug in a laptop for a few hours

    PP at LHR T5 is awful

  22. Philip Guest

    There are two Premium Plaza Lounges at Heathrow Terminal 4 which I have to use as SKY TEAM have closed the lounge there. Both have become so bad I sit outside and buy my food and drinks from the normal shops.

  23. Robert Guest

    Honestly they are terrible and have been lousy in Asia for years not even worth the effort of signing in, I was IN Singapore last week and just walked past the Plaza Premium to the gate and sat at the gate rather than bother myself with the sign in and I have access with my priority pass. Dirty lounge, Asian greasy food that is unedible, old furniture with holes in the seats and this is...

    Honestly they are terrible and have been lousy in Asia for years not even worth the effort of signing in, I was IN Singapore last week and just walked past the Plaza Premium to the gate and sat at the gate rather than bother myself with the sign in and I have access with my priority pass. Dirty lounge, Asian greasy food that is unedible, old furniture with holes in the seats and this is one of the better Asian lounges, in fact if it says Plaza Premium it basically means a pile of rubbish. Anything that has to emphasise the word premium means it is stating an untruth, rather like a Grand in front of a hotel you know it will be basically the same or even worse than a hotel that has no Grand in the name.

    Personally I think priority Pass should remove all the Plaza lounges from the program and revaluate the whole offering before it is too late for the realistic continuation of the provision with credit cards as I already factor this benefit out of my annual fee.

  24. Kate Guest

    Plaza Premium lounges have always been the worst imho, not sure they have much of a hill to go down. (Excluding lounges linked to US carriers, which are downright embarrassing.) Perhaps I've been spoiled by the level of service you get EVERYWHERE in MEA...

  25. Aztec Guest

    At terminal 3 in Toronto for US departures, the Plaza Premium lounge is right next to the Admirals Club. I have access to both and I always choose the Admirals Club. It's MUCH less crowded and even though the Plaza Premium lounge has a better selection of hot food, frankly, the quality is terrible. I'd rather have the ever present chicken noodle soup at the Admirals Club (which is surprisingly good) than anything I've ever...

    At terminal 3 in Toronto for US departures, the Plaza Premium lounge is right next to the Admirals Club. I have access to both and I always choose the Admirals Club. It's MUCH less crowded and even though the Plaza Premium lounge has a better selection of hot food, frankly, the quality is terrible. I'd rather have the ever present chicken noodle soup at the Admirals Club (which is surprisingly good) than anything I've ever eaten at the Plaza Premium lounge. However, the Plaza Premium lounge in the regular departures area of terminal 3 which BA uses actually has pretty good food. I always eat here before a BA flight - much better than anything BA serves, even in business class.

  26. dundj Guest

    Based on the Plaza Premium lounge at EDI which opened prior to the acceptance of Priority Pass cards, the quality has declined significantly.

    Most alcoholic drinks are now chargeable and the quality of the drinks are far lower, the soft drinks are changing to perceived cheaper brands, the food is certainly worse compared to before PP was accepted too.

  27. AkiK Guest

    There is now a Plaza Premium also in the Schengen part of FCO, and the lounge is a zoo. It is terribly crowded, food offerings are much worse than what I was used to in Plaza Premium (in terms of quality, variety is still ok), and service is subpar as well. The lounge is also terribly hot.

    And all this for a brand-new lounge, it just doesn't echo well with the Plaza Premium strategy previously.

  28. Fabian Guest

    I visited the PPL in Kuala Lumpur before a flight to Singapore in June 2023. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a dedicated first class section, in addition to the main part of the lounge. Both sections had their own shower facilities, which is a nice plus in all cases. Food and beverage quality were found to be lacking, though. Wines belonged to the supermarket-chain bottom-shelf produced tier, and only basic salads,...

    I visited the PPL in Kuala Lumpur before a flight to Singapore in June 2023. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a dedicated first class section, in addition to the main part of the lounge. Both sections had their own shower facilities, which is a nice plus in all cases. Food and beverage quality were found to be lacking, though. Wines belonged to the supermarket-chain bottom-shelf produced tier, and only basic salads, pastries and pre-prepared noodles were provided.

  29. WC Guest

    Based on my recent connecting flights via YYZ to BOS, it was astounding to see lines over 30 people long on multiple occasions at different Plaza Premium Lounges. Lines push into boarding gate areas and were creating tension with outbound passengers. Sorry not worth my time.....

  30. Stephen787 Guest

    The Plaza Premium at KUL is far from premium. Appalling standard of food and limited drinks. Toilets need replacing too.

  31. RandO Guest

    The range of food is much limited and top-ups are always slow plus the quality has dropped. I just wonder how long can this rot go on....

  32. Patrick Guest

    Plaza premium lounges in western Canada specifically in Edmonton YEG and Vancouver YVR have gone down the toilet. Nothing premium about having reusable hard plastic bar cups for soft drinks (no glass available). Food was awful including large dried out marshmallows as a snack item...like really?

  33. AKSAY Bhalla Guest

    The Plaza Premium Lounge at the Transcontinental section at Toronto Airport Terminal 1 terrible. In the first place you have to line up irrespective of the time. The Lounge is small and busy with hardly a space to relax. Now that American Express has increased their annual fee we are seriously considering giving it up as for the times that we travel we can go and sit in one of the restaurants.

  34. Engel Member

    I have heard several "religious" people recently saying the world is going down hill quickly, but I was skeptical. But when I read that "bartenders are apparently now refusing to make espresso-based drinks" at the Rome lounge, well I knew the end must be near.

    1. Rick Guest

      I know! Oh the horror!

  35. Pam Thickett Guest

    The ones in Taipei have awful food.

  36. Hijal De Sarkar Guest

    Plaza Premium lounges (at least in Canada) have been disappointing. I've found the Edmonton one to actually be pretty dusty and dirty. The one in Toronto didn't offer much by way of comfort or amenity. They really need to step their game up.

  37. Malcolm Carter Guest

    Except for the two-year hiatus and covid concerns, I have been in and out of the Phnom Penh lounge a couple of times a year for the last five years. It never has been close to crowded in my experience. The last time was in July, and my overall impression was how sad it seemed, though I cannot really elaborate. Food was same, but not so tempting. They were charging for alcohol rather than taking...

    Except for the two-year hiatus and covid concerns, I have been in and out of the Phnom Penh lounge a couple of times a year for the last five years. It never has been close to crowded in my experience. The last time was in July, and my overall impression was how sad it seemed, though I cannot really elaborate. Food was same, but not so tempting. They were charging for alcohol rather than taking any vouchers such as those provided in the past. But they still had showers and comfortable seating. Anyway, better than other options (including a dim sum restaurant) available to me for free as a Priority Pass recipient.

  38. Maria Guest

    They simply sucks. Compared to other airlines lounges, they lack of attention to detail and good food. I travel out of Toronto and prefer to pay for use the Air Canada lounge instead of getting a free pass for Plaza premium lounge.

  39. Mitch Guest

    Went to the Plaza Premium First Lounge in Hong Kong prior to an Emirates A380 flight as that was the 'preferred' lounge. IT WAS HORRIBLE. Overcrowded, no views, barely any food, bartender/barista run off their feet and mess everywhere as well as super low ceilings so it felt very cramped... And this is arguably their flagship lounge? Felt like an idiot leaving the Qantas lounge to take my partner there.

  40. Lasdiner Guest

    Was in PP FCO last week and had an espresso and the. A cappuccino and a conversation with the friendly bartender
    Could be that the machine was broken on one occasion some time before
    However, food offerings seem lesser and now you have to pay for most drinks (e.g. an sperol spritz)

    1. InternationalTraveler Gold

      This doesn’t match my experience, unfortunately. The second time I asked the female bartender was just finishing steaming milk, so the machine seemed to be working. Instead she pointed to the coffee machines near the buffet.

      The lounge was fairly busy and people were lining up for alcoholic drinks (it appears house wine is offered at no charge). Maybe barista made coffee is still available if the lounge is not busy or you simply had a more welcoming bartender.

  41. Craig Guest

    It would be great to get more reviews of Pay per Use lounges around the world as airlines are moving away from operating their own lounges especially in smaller airports and using 3rd party lounges.

  42. Mike Guest

    I think it is fair to say that the business model just isn't working. They found it near impossible to operate without PP, and don't have anywhere near the capacity needed to host the PP crowds.
    Without being cynical, while some areas in air travel have improved dramatically over the last 15 years (think business class seats), the much greater access to lounge and to point earning is quickly eroding FF programs and PP lounges.

  43. Alicia Guest

    The jfk vs clubhouse was amazing when it was with plaza premium now back with priority pass it is horrible.

  44. Kris Guest

    Just tried FCO Plaza Premium lounge for the 1st time. It wasn’t too bad.
    My only complaint is a HORRIBLE set up: water, coffee, sodas & hot food are placed one right next to another, with a 1/2 wall beside it. So basically u must join 1 line—which, not surprisingly, can get quite long—no matter which of these things u want. AT LEAST moving drinks away from hot food, spread out a bit, would alleviate the congestion (and frustration) of this area.

  45. Donna Diamond

    As of May 2023 when I was last in the Rome FCO Plaza Premium Lounge, the espresso bar with barista made drinks was up and working before my 10 am flight to DFW and I ordered bacon and eggs as well.

  46. Sebastian Guest

    Used the one in MEL November last year when flying on MH, it was horrible. I don’t think we even set down, moved to the QF lounge across the hall after a few mins. One person running the whole show including front desk, replenishing food, cleaning up etc. Coffee machine inoperable, people waiting for food and no one around to help them. The gate area would have been better. Not sure if it improved since but that was shocking.

  47. Justin Guest

    I’ve never thought PP lounges were any better than mediocre to decent. Always my last choice of lounge.

  48. Tom Kelly Guest

    They have only declined in quality because they are overcrowded like all private airport lounges. The worst private lounge still beats sitting at a gate by a mile.

  49. MikeyInOregon Guest

    The Plaza Premium Lounge in Hong Kong is horrible, from the drabby decor to the undesirable food offering and $5.99/bottle of wines, it's the opposite of relaxation and luxury. The Chase Lounge across the hall which is a Priority Pass lounge is leaps and bounds above Plaza Premium in every aspect.

    1. amman Guest

      how long ago did you visit and what was better about the chase lounge?

  50. frrp Diamond

    Much, much, much worse!

    LHR T5 used to be good pre-covid. Post-covid its so much worse, food quality dropped, drinks quality dropped, its much worse.

  51. Khatl Diamond

    I'll join others in saying that I never thought they were very good to begin with. IMO, they are baseline lounges with few frills that are better than sitting in the main airport, but are never better than an airline lounge and, usually, they are about on par with most US-based airline lounges.

  52. Dander Guest

    Been to both lhr t5 recently. Crowded but the food is about the same as pre Covid. Coffee still sucks

  53. Alex Guest

    Not all Plaza Premium lounges are back in the Priority Pass fold. For example at Rio de Janeiro - Tom Jobim International Airport (GIG)

  54. MCOflyer Guest

    Plaza Premium at MCO has a poor food selection/quality and charges for almost all alcohol above the very bottom quality in each category.

  55. Marlin240 Guest

    The YVR transborder lounge got totally renovated in 2022 and feels much more open now - old version was pretty claustrophobic. Food is same as ever - not spectacular but way better than AC transborder lounge - and now has a staffed bar.

  56. NFSF Diamond

    Last one I went to was in Taipei and was very nice, but that was in 2019

    1. Steve Guest

      I was in the Taipei lounge recently and it was plain and food was awful.

    2. Pam Thickett Guest

      You aren't imaging things, Steve. The lounges in Taipei are terrible.

  57. VITOR SILVA Guest

    They are now in charge of the GOL Lounges in Galeão(GIG), Rio international airport - should we worry?

    1. Jerry Diamond

      They won't eliminate alcohol, so in the case of the Gol lounges, they probably can't get much worse. There might even be a small improvement.

  58. Herecomesthesun Guest

    Terrible lounge in Abu Dhabi. Reception area was jam packed and when we left there was a queue to even get to the reception area. No functioning AC so it was suffocatingly hot, lacklustre food, barely any space to sit (4 of us had to all sit separately)… we walked out after less than an hour with still 2 hours to our flight!

    1. Gin Guest

      Was the aircon working elsewhere in airport? Why did you stay there one hour?

  59. Sco Guest

    I haven't been to a Plaza Premium lounge since 2018, but I never found them to be very nice. I've only been to ones in Asia, but I always thought of them as a slightly below average contract lounge. I was surprised to see you recently write something about how they are some of the best contract lounges.

  60. Narcisse Guest

    I visited plazza premium first hkg Last week (travelling swiss first).
    We had a private room behind the buffet tables so it was quiete
    No more cocktails so poor wine list and non alcoolic
    No more a la carte restaurant
    No more massages
    Dirty bathrooms
    And so crowded
    Your last review is sadly obsolete

  61. hbilbao Guest

    One could replace "plaza premium lounges" with pretty much any aviation- or hospitality-related industry and the answer will always be a resounding "YES (duh)".

  62. Bgriff Guest

    I stopped by the DFW lounge recently and it was on the level of the most basic PP/contract lounge you can imagine, in a tiny space the size of a medium Starbucks. Not sure if it's ever been any nicer (and it presumably wasn't any bigger), but I definitely left after just a minute thinking "I thought these were supposed to be the nice contract lounges?"

    1. MeanMeosh Member

      The DFW lounge has always been pretty bad. In fact, I was going to post a sarcastic comment asking Lucky if he'd ever been to the DFW Plaza Premium Lounge, because the quality couldn't possibly get worse than it already was.

  63. Scudder Diamond

    It’s hard to decline when they set the bar so low.

    1. Maria Guest

      How come they have a bar..hmmmm i heard that they don't serve booze anymore.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Grey Diamond

I feel like you might be one of the only people who thought they were ever particularly premium. I have visited them in Toronto, Heathrow, Gatwick and Frankfurt and always found them to be poor quality. Any airport lounge that charges for food and drink is below average in my opinion.

1
Donna Diamond

As of May 2023 when I was last in the Rome FCO Plaza Premium Lounge, the espresso bar with barista made drinks was up and working before my 10 am flight to DFW and I ordered bacon and eggs as well.

1
MeanMeosh Member

The DFW lounge has always been pretty bad. In fact, I was going to post a sarcastic comment asking Lucky if he'd ever been to the DFW Plaza Premium Lounge, because the quality couldn't possibly get worse than it already was.

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
5,163,247 Miles Traveled

32,614,600 Words Written

35,045 Posts Published