How To Know If You Have Lounge Access On International Itineraries

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For many of you, this is going to seem like an absolute no-brainer post, but I get questions and emails every day from people asking how to get airport lounge access.

This is actually quite complicated if you don’t have experience with the various alliances and rules, which is probably why people are often confused about the access rules. For that matter, a good portion of the time the lounge agents don’t seem to know the entrance policies, which certainly doesn’t make things any easier.

For the most part, lounge access is determined based on the class of service you’re flying, and the various airline alliances have some common rules that apply for travel on any of their member airlines.

If you are traveling internationally in a premium cabin, you will almost always have airport lounge access of some kind, though the quality can vary greatly.

Star Alliance Airport Lounge Access

The first thing to note about Star Alliance airport lounge access policies is everything is based on your departing flight. So if you fly international first class from Bangkok to Los Angeles, and then economy from Los Angeles to Houston, you wouldn’t technically have lounge access in Los Angeles based on your ticket.

As a refresher, Star Alliance carriers include:

Aegean AirlinesAustrianEVA AirSWISS
Air CanadaAviancaLOT Polish AirlinesTAP Portugal
Air ChinaBrussels AirlinesLufthansaTHAI
Air IndiaCopa AirlinesScandinavian Airlines (SAS)Turkish Airlines
Air New ZealandCroatia AirlinesShenzhen AirlinesUnited
ANAEGYPTAIRSingapore AirlinesJuneyao Airlines (Star Alliance Connecting Partner)
Asiana AirlinesEthiopian AirlinesSouth African Airways

The Star Alliance lounge access policy for international first class is as follows:

  • You have access to international first class and/or any Star Alliance member carriers’ own lounges
  • You must present a boarding pass for travel in international first class on a Star Alliance flight
  • You  must be departing from the local airport in international first class
  • You must be a revenue customer — this includes award tickets, and excludes employee tickets
  • You are entitled to one guest, though in practice they must also be flying on a same-day Star Alliance ticket

There are a few exceptions to how “first class” is defined. The Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and the Lufthansa First Class Lounge in Munich are considered “HON Circle Lounges,” and as a courtesy Lufthansa first class passengers are also welcome to use the facilities. The Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich is similarly excluded. The Thai Airways Spa in Bangkok is also limited to passengers traveling on Thai, and not any of their Star Alliance partner airlines.

Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich

For Star Alliance international business class passengers, the rules are as follows:

  • You must present a boarding pass for travel in international business class on a Star Alliance flight
  • You must be departing from the local airport in international business class
  • You must be a revenue customer — again, this includes award tickets
  • You are not entitled to any guests

Where I think this gets confusing is if you also have top-tier elite status with a Star Alliance carrier. Star Golds, regardless of airline affiliation, have the following additional access benefits:

  • You have access to any Star Alliance member carriers’ owned lounges with the Star Alliance Gold logo at the entrance
  • You must present proof of Star Alliance Gold level status via a valid frequent flyer program Star Alliance Gold level card or other valid indication of Star Alliance Gold level status
  • You must also present a boarding pass for travel on a Star Alliance flight departing from the local airport
  • You are entitled to one guest
  • United Star Alliance Gold customers may only access the United Clubs within the US when traveling in conjunction with a Star Alliance international flight

If you want to look up the locations of specific lounges, you can use the Star Alliance Lounge Finder, which will show you all your options based on the class of service and your itinerary.

SkyTeam Airport Lounge Access

Unlike Star Alliance, SkyTeam carriers offer lounge access based on the “highest” cabin of your itinerary that day. As long as your connection is the same-day, you can arrive in business class and depart in economy, and still use the business class airport lounges.

SkyTeam carriers are:

AeroflotAlitaliaGaruda IndonesiaSaudia
Aerolíneas ArgentinasChina AirlinesKenya AirwaysTAROM
AeromexicoChina EasternKLMVietnam Airlines
Air EuropaCzech AirlinesKorean AirXiamen Airlines
Air FranceDelta Air LinesMiddle East Airlines

All international first and business class passengers traveling on or connecting to/from a same-day international flight operated by a SkyTeam member airline have access to lounges. Simply present your same-day (first or business class) ticket for an international SkyTeam airline flight, so if your departing ticket is in economy, show them your inbound premium cabin ticket as well.

If you have SkyTeam Elite Plus status you have access to the lounges regardless of the class of service you’re traveling in:

  • You do have to present your elite card, along with your boarding pass
  • You must be on an international itinerary
  • You may also invite a guest, provided they are also traveling on a SkyTeam carrier that same day

If you want to look up the locations of specific lounges, you can use the SkyTeam Lounge Finder, which is not as comprehensive in terms of sharing access rules, but does detail all the amenities.

Oneworld Airport Lounge Access

The oneworld alliance offers lounge access based on the international long haul ticketed flight. In practice this means you have access based on your highest cabin of service, as I can’t imagine many people are flying economy for the long segment and then intra-European business class or something.

Oneworld carriers consist of:

American AirlinesIberiaQantasSriLankan Airlines
British AirwaysJapan AirlinesQatar AirwaysCathay Dragon (oneworld affiliate)
Cathay PacificLATAMRoyal JordanianFiji Airways (oneworld connect member)
FinnairMalaysia AirlinesS7 AirlinesRoyal Air Maroc (future member)

So as long as you’re making a same-day connection, you’d have access based on the following:

  • Customers flying first or business class have access to the equivalent class of lounge regardless of their frequent flyer status. First class passengers may use a business class or frequent flyer lounge if a first class lounge is not available.
  • First class passengers may invite one guest to join them in the lounge. The guest must also be traveling on a flight operated and marketed by a oneworld airline.
  • First and business class customers connecting on the same day of travel, or before 6am the following day, can access the lounge when traveling between an international long haul (a oneworld international long haul flight is defined as an international flight marketed and operated by any oneworld carrier with a scheduled flight time longer than five hours) and an international short haul or domestic flight (and vice-versa).
  • Lounge access will be determined on the international long haul ticketed flight (either first of business class) regardless of the ticketed class of travel on the international short haul or domestic flight.
  • You must be prepared to show your boarding pass or itinerary showing travel in first or business class on the international long haul flight, in order to access the lounge before your international short haul or domestic flight.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Hong Kong

However, like with Star Alliance, there are a few exceptions as to what is considered a first or business class lounge:

  • First and Business Class customers who do not hold Emerald or Sapphire tier status are not eligible to access American Airlines or US Airways lounges when traveling on solely domestic flights within the US or between the US and Canada, Mexico [except Mexico City], the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean; customers traveling in first or business class on US transcontinental flights between JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO and MIA-LAX (and vice-versa) are eligible for lounge access.
  • Guests are not permitted at Qatar Airways Al Safwa and Al Mourjan lounges at Hamad International Airport in Doha or Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4.
  • TAM First Class Lounge in Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport is excluded, other than for customers traveling in first class on TAM and oneworld member operated flights.

TAM First Class Lounge Sao Paulo

If you are an elite member with any of the oneworld carriers, you have additional access when departing on any flight marketed and operated by any oneworld member airline, regardless of cabin class being flown, as follows:

  • Emerald tier frequent flyers can use first class, business class or frequent flyer lounges.
  • Sapphire tier frequent flyers are welcome in business class (except Qantas domestic business lounges) or frequent flyer lounges.
  • Emerald and Sapphire members may invite one guest to join them in the lounge. The guest must also be traveling on a flight operated and marketed by a oneworld carrier.
  • You must be prepared to show your boarding pass and frequent flyer membership card, with oneworld Emerald or Sapphire tier status, to access a lounge.

There are, of course, a few exceptions here as well (these are in addition to the Qatar and TAM restrictions):

  • Arrivals lounges are excluded
  • Spa and pre-flight dining facilities are excluded
  • British Airways Concorde Rooms in London and New York JFK are excluded
  • American Airlines AAdvantage® members and US Airways Dividend Miles members, regardless of their tier status or class of travel, are not eligible for lounge access when traveling solely on North American flights within or between the US, Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold members, regardless of their oneworld tier status, cannot access Qantas Domestic Business Lounges
  • Qatar Airways Al Safwa and Al Mourjan lounges at Hamad International Airport in Doha and Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4 are excluded.
  • TAM First Class Lounge in Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport is excluded.

British Airways Elemis Spa London

The oneworld lounge finder also notes which carriers are contracted with which lounges, which is helpful given the number of exceptions.

Credit Card And Paid Memberships

As a side note, having a paid lounge membership (say, to the United Club, Delta SkyClubs, or American Admirals’ Clubs) doesn’t afford you access to alliance partner lounges, unless specifically noted otherwise. Some alliances are more generous with this than others — for example, Star Alliance is much more generous than oneworld in terms of which lounges you’ll get access to as a member.

Other Ways To Access International Airport Lounges

In addition to gaining access through flying on an international premium cabin ticket, there are other memberships that can give you access to airport lounges.

Priority Pass

This is probably the  most popular way to access lounges outside of having a premium cabin ticket. Priority Pass Select membership is a complimentary benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express, so this is a great way to get into a club lounge if your ticket doesn’t otherwise give you access.

Keep in mind Priority Pass Select offers admission to the primary member and two additional guests.

To find a Priority Pass lounge, you can use their website, but note not all lounges are available to “Select” members.

Activating Your Membership

With either Priority Pass or Lounge Club it’s important to know that you can’t just show your credit card at the lounge to gain admittance to international lounges.

You’ll need to call the number on the back of your card to enroll in the lounge program. Your issuing bank will process the membership, and your card and materials will be mailed to you.

Bottom line

Having access to international airport lounges makes travel less stressful, and in my opinion makes “crazy” routings more manageable. Knowing the location of lounges in various airports, and being certain of which you have access to goes a long way towards making the travel experience less stressful.

Finally, if you are wondering which lounge to choose in a particular airport, or wondering about the amenities of a certain lounge, you can check out my reviews of individual airline lounges.

Regarding Comments: 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.
  1. Am I correct that New Orleans has only one Airport Lounge? I will be departing on United, changing to Air Canada to Zurich in Business Class? I will be arriving at NO airport (MSY) early, is there any reciprocity with the other airlines or airline alliances to use this lounge, which I believe serves Delta?

  2. I have a question… ANA uses BA lounge at JFK (sadly)… as an ANA F passenger, do I get dinner as well? Or just lounge access without dinner?
    Thanks Lucky.

  3. @ Lantean — Nope, no pre-flight supper for ANA first class, unfortunately. Which is a blessing, since you want to save your appetite for aboard. 😉

  4. Note that as a weird but actually useful one-off, Amex Platinum card members (plus family/guests for free) can also access BWI’s only domestic lounge, an Airspace lounge. I haven’t visited it yet, but it gets decent reviews.

  5. In the intro to the Star Alliance section I think you meant to say you wouldn’t have lounge access in Los Angeles (as opposed to in general)?

  6. This frustrated me a bit with a United award this summer. Flew from HKT-BKK-PEK-IAH-FLL. Had no problem accessing the lounges on Thai or Air China. However, United won’t allow a connecting international business class arrival on a Star Alliance partner use a domestic lounge while waiting a connection to a domestic flight. I have no status, so it was a bit frustrating.

  7. I flew FRA-SFO-SEA in First (booked with Miles & More) but couldn’t get access to the United Club Lounge in San Francisco because Lufthansa is apparently not paying United therefor. So if you don’t hold any Status there’s no other Lounge you could go on a Star Alliance award ticket.

    Ist that correct Lucky?

  8. @ Dave — Indeed, it’s all based on the outbound boarding pass with Star Alliance, unfortunately.

  9. The best option for those of us with those international connections in the US who don’t have status is probably to buy United club passes on ebay. They usually go for under $20.

  10. Did I miss UA gives you access when flying BF LAX/SFO to JFK.
    I know that each airline has its own quirks and that this is only about alliances but many of your readers probably stii fly United.

  11. Lucky,

    Good info, quite a maze of rules. One that I have a question on is Virgin. Now that Delta is a part owner you can use the Virgin lounge in LHR (does this apply to other Virgin lounges?). Do you know the rule at LHR, or other Virgin lounges, on bringing guest? I will be traveling business class in a few months but I have a relative that might be flying coach, can I bring her in? On the same note, does the AMX Plat get you into Virgin lounges now?


  12. Bit of a tangent but what’s your favorite star alliance lounge in LHR? I’m on an air canada biz ticket soon.

  13. When you and Andrew were flying LOT 787 in business class from JFK, how come you weren’t allowed in the Lufthansa lounge? I forget whether you showed your star alliance gold card or not.

  14. So to be clear, if flying CX F and doing a 12 hour overnight in HKG, connecting to KA short-haul in C that departs at 8:45am, you’d only get Business Lounge, not First, right? Do you get access to the first class lounges upon arrival at HKG?

  15. If you have the AAdvantage Executive Card but your itinerary is booked on another airline, do you still get lounge access? What if it is a non-partner airline?

  16. I recently received the US Airways Barclay card which came with a lounge pass for me and a guest. I am flying Delta to South America in October, but was planning to use the free pass during my long layover. After reading this article it would seem as though I am not able to use it since I am not flying US Airway. Is that correct?

  17. Ben – could you clarify whether I have CX J lounge access in HKG for each of these 2 scenarios –
    1) SFO-HKG in CX J and HKG-BOM in CX Y (same day).
    2) SFO-HKG in CX Premium Y and HKG-BOM in CX J (same day).


  18. Thanks for writing this. My situation is a little different due to booking a US Airways business class award before US left Star Alliance. On my return trip, I am flying EVA Air to SFO in business class and connecting to a US flight in first from SFO. I’m assuming from what I read that I will not have access to SA or OW lounges at SFO. Is that correct?

  19. Ben- both your articulated Star rules say “from local airport”… This is my experience… which rule does it come under, or am I just lucky each time?

    1. DEN to Europe via ORD, EWR, IAD, etc. When on BF on the Europe leg, I’m always let into the UC in DEN.

    2. DEN to Asia via SFO, LAX, ORD, SEA, etc. When on BF on the Asia leg, I’m also always let into the UC in DEN. Worked when leaving west coast on United as well as ANA.

    3. On a recent trip, SYD-SFO in GF, arrived Tues. SFO-DEN the following day, Wed in domestic F, different booking. On Wed before the SFO-DEN flight, went to UC just to try, showed them my SYD-SFO bp from the previous day, they scanned it and said, “yep, still good, welcome to UC…”

    I am United/Star Gold

  20. @ Sam — You can indeed bring a guest. If you’re a Delta Platinum/Diamond or Virgin Gold, or if you’re in BusinessElite or Upper Class, you can use the Clubhouse. Of course this assumes your flight leaves from the terminal that would allow you to get airside to use the lounge.

    The American Express Platinum Card gets you access to the Virgin America Loft at LAX, but not any Virgin Atlantic lounge.

  21. @ E — Haven’t flown out of the new Terminal 2 at Heathrow, so don’t have any firsthand experience there. Sorry.

  22. @ Joey — It might have just been because the lounge closes earlier, I’m still not sure. But the Korean Air browser filter situation was the “battle” I chose to fight while there instead. 😉

  23. @ Cam — If it’s not same day or before 6AM, then correct, you’d only get access based on the outbound boarding pass. You can’t access the lounge as an arrivals lounge, since you’d have to clear security, which requires a same day onwards boarding pass.

  24. @ Steve — It acts the same as an Admirals Club membership, so you can use the Admirals Club regardless of which airline you’re flying.

  25. In my extensive * experience, lounge access is based on any eligible flight in the itinerary. DEN-PHX-LAX-JFK (p.s. business) class is eligible at UC DEN, PHX, LAX. DEN-EWR-IAH-SFO-HKG-SIN as *G is eligible at UC DEN, EWR, IAH, SFO, HKG, as long as the entire itinerary is on a single ticket.

  26. @ Ray — That’s correct on two counts. First of all, if you’re Star Gold then you get access with any same day international longhaul boarding pass, even if not from the local airport. Second of all, it’s because it’s an airline policy. United allows their own business class passengers lounge access at all airports along the journey, while if you’re on a partner airline for the longhaul flight, you wouldn’t get it.

  27. So, if I were to redeem my SkyMiles for a Virgin Australia award ticket from LAX to SYD, would I still be permitted to use the SkyTeam lounge at LAX? VA is a partner, but not on SkyTeam, and I’m technically flying on a Delta ticket…I think.

  28. I’ve definitely been in the Untied Global First lounge after arriving from overseas at IAD and connecting domestically. This would seem to go against the “You must be departing from the local airport in international first class” requirement. This was about 2 years ago IIRC.

  29. @Ben – Premium Y is on long haul but the regional is CX J – would that help to get CX J lounge access?

  30. @ Reine — If redeeming miles for business class you’d get access to the Star Alliance lounge, which is what they use at LAX. Otherwise you don’t get lounge access AFAIK.

  31. @ Ian — You were arriving on United, right? If so, their policy is different than the alliance policy as such. I was talking about the alliance policy as opposed to the individual airline policy, which sometimes differs.

  32. Lucky,

    Thanks for your answer. I was not aware AMX Plat could use Virgin America lounges. Is this new, I do not see it as one of the lounges listed on the Plat site? Nor do I see it listed on Virgin’s site.


  33. Lucky….. just booked the 50,000 Avios Business Class fligths from BOS to DUB next June. We are literally transiting to another EI flight (in 2.5 houirs) to EDI. This segement is in Economy. Will we be able to use the lounge in DUB coming off an EI Business ticket?


  34. @ ChetTheJet — If connecting off Aer Lingus and connecting to Aer Lingus, you should get lounge access.

  35. I was flying on US Airways IAD-CLT and wanted to use British Airways Lounge in IAD (I’m a Gold with US Airways – i.e. OneWorld Sapphire). However, I was told by BA lounge agent that I am not eligible to use the lounge, only pax on international flight are eligible. Is it true?

  36. @ Sergey — Yes, that’s correct. As an American or US Airways elite you have to be traveling internationally to use partner lounges.

  37. I find that using an app like LoungeBuddy makes things so much easier. You don’t have to memorize all these complicated rules. The app lists all the lounges in an airport and tells you if you have access based on elite status, lounge memberships, and credit cards.

  38. Hi Lucky! Thanks for answering these lounge questions. I have another Cathay lounge question for you.

    Separate CX Business class flight from MLE to HKG. Arriving early morning to connect with a different First Class Award travel (part of a larger trip) in afternoon from HKG to TPE.

    Would I have access to First Class lounge? If not, what would you do for 8 hours in HKG? Is that enough time to go into the city for food/sight-seeing or would be customs be onerous?


  39. @ Jim — If you’re in first class you can indeed use the first class lounge in Hong Kong. That should be plenty of time to go into the city if you’d like to.

  40. Have you considered in this day and age just telling people to use a smartphone app? I’ve found LoungeBuddy to be fairly accurate.

  41. How does one know which meals/services they can expect in a lounge? For example in your review of the Air France lounge, you were given a meal and spa treatments. How were you aware that these were included in your entry?

  42. For Star Alliance, what if I am flying a round-trip first class award to Asia on Asiana, the ANA flight within Asia is business class because they do not offer first class service within Asia. Can I use ANA’s “Suites Lounge” (their first class lounge in Narita) even though I’m continuing on a business class flight to Taiwan? I did pay for a first class Star Alliance roundtrip afterall!

  43. @ Nina — That really varies on a per lounge basis, there are no universal rules. Typically I’ll google a lounge before I visit to see what services are offered based on trip reports and reviews of the lounge.

  44. Hi Lucky

    I’m flying (unfortunately Eco) LHR-DXB-SYD on a Qantas codeshare (Emirates metal) this December. As a OneWorld Sapphire am I right in thinking that I won’t have lounge access in Heathrow or (more importantly) in Dubai because it’s Emirates metal? Even though I bought the ticket as a Qantas ticket?


  45. @ Alex — Unfortunately you wouldn’t since you’re flying Emirates metal and not oneworld. Sorry!

  46. Interesting post. Just had a strange experience in revenue international business class on Air Tahiti Nui (LAX-PPT). A group of us were flying for work but travel agent had purchased some tickets on TN ticket stock and others on AA ticket stock. Although all tickets were full fare/fully refundable business class revenue fares people with TN tickets were offered lounge access at LAX and PPT whereas people with AA ticket stock were denied lounge access at both airports. First time I had ever heard of this kind of policy.

  47. I hope you can enlighten me . My wife & I flew Thai F from Frankfurt to BKK. We were
    met at plane (380) by golf cart but told we could not access first class lounge.
    We had a 4 hour layover & were connecting to TG business class to PKT.
    We had to go to domestic business lounge which was not very nice. The rep driving
    cart was adamant about no first lounge access. Can I contact Thai for any redress?
    Thanks for any help.

  48. Lots of rules, very complicated indeed…

    So I take it that when I flew back from Hong Kong to the US on Korean Air in business connecting onto an economy Delta ticket (separate booking), I wouldn’t have access to an Alaska Airlines Boardroom lounge, but I would have access to a Delta Sky Club so long as I show them the Korean business class stub?

  49. This is a great summary! I just ran into this problem and perhaps you can clarify for me. I used a UA award to fly first class on Lufthansa. On the return leg, it was FRA-ORD-SFO on Lufthansa First Class from FRA to ORD and then United First from ORD-SFO . While at ORD, we attempted to get into a United Red Carpet Lounge but were denied access. The lounge gatekeeper (with a very terse, rude, and I-hate-my-job attitude) told us we could not use Red Carpet Lounge unless we were flying United. We told the attendant we flew in on Lufthansa First, and the attendant then said our only lounge access is United First Class Lounge, which is in a different terminal. I reviewed United website and I am still confused. It just seems wrong that we can use the First Class Lounge but not the lower Red Carpet Lounge. Should Star Alliance First Class entitle a passenger to any United Red Carpet Lounge?
    By the way, to end on a good note, a random stranger told the attendant that he would take us into the lounge as his guest, which made the gatekeeper even more unhappy.

  50. @ Richard — Correct, the first class lounge is in the international terminal, which you can’t access if you’re connecting domestically. So since you flew out of the domestic terminal you had to use the lounge there. So it’s not that you couldn’t use the first class lounge if there were one, but rather there just isn’t one in the terminal you were leaving out of.

  51. @ LC — Unfortunately you weren’t entitled to access to the United Club or Global First Lounge, as ridiculous as the policy is. If you had flown United on the longhaul flight you would have been entitled to access, while if you fly a partner you’re only entitled to access before your longhaul flight. Ridiculous, eh?

  52. As a BA silver/OW sapphire, I had to print out the rules from the BA site to use the BA lounge in PHL for my domestic US flight. At first, the agent said no, then said the rules did change, then looked for her notes. Having a printout definitely helped in this situation. I was surprised that the rules were confusing when dealing with their own elites due to partners/mergers/etc. -that much should be easy?

  53. Rules are so complicated and it varies. I have the Citi AAdvantage Executive card. I know I can get in Admirals Club. If I fly with US Aiways with award ticket to Eurpoe, will I have access to US Airways Club? Last time I fly to Taiwan via China Airline at LAX, and was not allow to access the One World lounge..

  54. @ Patrick — You can access Admirals Clubs and US Airways Clubs at all times, regardless of which airline you’re flying.

  55. FWIW, I am also one of those people who got into UC even though I arrived on a partner flight and don’t have any *A status. Flew ZRH-ORD in LX F and had a 3.5 hour layover before ORD-IAH in UA F. Got to domestic terminal in ORD and handed my ORD-IAH boarding pass (on LX stock). The lounge lady looked at the pass and said it wasn’t going to work (since UA F don’t get access) and I needed to show my international BP. Handed my inbound BP, she scanned and let me in.

    Anyhow, I think lounge rules outside the US, at least in Europe, are much more sane as it’s generally based not only on your status but also your ticket, e.g. outbound J boarding passes worked for OS J lounge in DME and a shared J lounge in PRG (*A); same for S7 lounge access (OW). I have to think it has to do with the fact that only US airlines sell club/lounge access as a separate item so they have no desire to let even more people in.

  56. Hi Ben,

    I’m flying LGA-ORD-HKG. LGA to ORD is on American economy and ORD to HKG on Cathay first class. What are my lounge options at LGA?


  57. @ John — You can use the Admirals Club at LGA, which is the nicest lounge oneworld flyers have access to.

  58. Hi Lucky,

    Any tips for dealing with lounge agents who don’t know the policies? After flying HKG-LAX in J yesterday, my gf was trying to get into the oneworld lounge at LAX, but was repeatedly told that she wasn’t allowed in because she was connecting in economy, even though she just flew a longhaul international flight in business. She even showed them the text on their own website and got some spiel about how this would be a “special case” and CX would have had to issue her a lounge pass when she checked in at HKG.

  59. @ Ben — To clarify, she was trying to use the Admirals Club or the Oneworld Lounge (which is in TBIT)? Because I’m not sure how she’d access the terminal for the latter, given that her flight was departing on American, which might explain the confusion.

    Was she connecting on the same record?

  60. Ha, wow very astute – she found her way to the oneworld lounge, and the lounge agents were apparently confused when she showed up as well, since her connection was in another terminal. She said that apparently, the international terminal just recently started letting all passengers through, not just ticketed international travelers, so they can get more shoppers into TBIT.

  61. @ Ben — That’s a toughie, I’m guessing it’s just something they haven’t dealt with before. Probably not a whole lot that can be done there, unfortunately.

  62. @Lucky, I figure once you get to the point where you’re showing someone the policy that they’re following, things tend to get a bit tricky/awkward. Thanks for the brainpower though!

  63. Here is a tricky one: arriving SYD-LAX in Virgin Australia business class, then flying out on Delta (LAX-PDX). Can I then use Delta’s club at LAX domestic ?

  64. Hi Lucky,

    When traveling on oneworld, if two international segments are roughly the same in terms of flying time and distance, and one is in First, the other in Business, what level of lounge access do I have? (To be specific HKG-DOH in CX J and DOH-LHR in QR F)

  65. Hi Lucky,

    Is there any alliance policy or anything official I can print and bring with me upon check-in? I’ve previously emailed CX and was told that I’m only entitled to Business Class check-in facilities and lounges departing from HKG.

  66. Want to be sure I’m interpreting the OW rules correctly for my situation when we arrive at LHR:
    – I’m arriving from IAH on a BA F ticket
    – Friend #1 arriving from LAX on BA economy ticket
    – Friend #2 arriving from ORD on AA J ticket
    We’re all connecting to the same BA flight (2 of us in J, one in economy) that has no F cabin.

    I think I interpret the rules to mean that since I’m in F I can guest in Friend #1 and since Friend #2 has a J ticket she can get in the BA lounge on her own.

    Do I have that right?

    Worst case we can go over to T3 and use the AA lounge since two of us have the Exec card but it would be nice to be able to stay in T5 since that’s where our connection will depart from.

  67. @ Lea — You can take one friend into the Concorde Room. Your other friend would receive access to the British Airways business class lounge. So I suppose you could “downgrade” yourself and take friend #1 into the business class lounge so you can all be together.

  68. I have an award booked, the first few legs:

    LIM-DFW (economy) AA
    DFW-DOH (business) Qatar
    DOH-SGN (business) Qatar

    *open jaw*

    Last few legs:
    BKK-HKG (business) CX
    HKG-LAX (business) CX
    LAX-LIM (economy) LAN *23 hour layover

    In Lima and LAX will I have lounge access? This is a business class award ticket with US Air.

  69. @ Brent — Is LIM-DFW same day as DFW-DOH? If so, yes. If not, no. At LAX you won’t if it’s not the same day.

  70. LIM-DFW departs at 1:40am and lands around 9am, and then takes off at around 8pm for the DFW-DOH in business.

  71. Hi Lucky,

    Since the two segments (HKG-DOH&DOH-LHR) is somewhat equal in terms of flight time, how does the “international long-haul”rule apply? or is it some other rules you were talking about for my situation?

  72. If i’m flying into and out of HKG on AA either coach or business class (EXP), do I have access to any of the CX lounges?

  73. @ John — Yes, as an EXP/oneworld Emerald you get access to all Cathay lounges in Hong Kong with a departing oneworld boarding pass.

  74. I will be arriving into LAX from LHR on BA travelling Business class.

    We are then catching a flight from LAX to LAS either economy or first (not yet booked), if we travel AA – will we get access to the AA lounge based on the international business class on BA sector?
    many thanks

  75. Thanks,lucky
    There seem to be 2 AA Lounges in terminal 4.
    Will I get access to both – looking for the one with showers?
    We are departing lax to las in AA first

  76. I’m flying the following R/T AAward

    SJT-DFW (economy) AA
    DFW-DOH (business) Qatar
    DOH-NBO (business) Qatar

    Will I have Admirals Club access both times at DFW and what lounge will I have access to for both stops at DOH? I have zero status or passes.

  77. I noticed the restriction of connecting on the same day to an international J itinerary for Oneworld. So if I am flying AA domestic first class red-eye SFO-JFK (arriving early morning) and then departing late afternoon JFK-TXL on Air Berlin in J (the next day), if I am able to get past security at the SFO international terminal, would I have access to any of the Oneworld business class lounges (BA or Cathay)? Or would that not be allowed because my international portion does not depart until the next day?

  78. Ben, great blog! I will be arriving LAX from MUC on LH metal (UA code share, rev ticket), then connecting to a domestic UA flight — 5 hours later! I am UA Premier Platinum/*G. Will they let me use the LAX Star Alliance Lounge? Or am I going to be stuck at the UC, or not even?

  79. @ Lucky – Flying Air Canada EWR-YVR-EWR Business (ticketed using UA miles).
    I seem to remember not being allowed in the Air Canada YVR lounge on a return to EWR years ago as I was told it had to be overseas business flight for access. Will I be able to access UA lounge at EWR & AC lounge at YVR?

  80. Going to be flying 1st from LHR to JFK on AA flight. Which lounges do I get access to in LHR (T3?)… is it just the AA Flagship, or can I use/try out any other airlines? (No OneWorld status at present)

  81. I am flying BKK-TPE on China Airlines Business and TPE-LAX on Premium Economy am I eligible for lounge access in TPE? According to this page you say yes but the skyteam website says connecting to an international “eligible” flight.

  82. @ Jared — I can’t guarantee it, but I believe you’d be eligible for lounge access based on your inbound boarding pass and onwards travel.

  83. Lucky , Thanks again for the great info. I’m traveling this week LAX to CDG using AA miles flying on ATN in business . I’m trying to figure out if I can enter the AA flagship lounge at LAX with my Citi Executive Advantage card . One world members with card get in but do AA travel partners have access ?

  84. @ Donn — If you’re in business class you can go to the American terminal and use the Admirals Club with your Citi Executive Card. For flying Air Tahiti Nui business class you’d get access to their contract lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal.

  85. I could not see this combination above. One ticket. BA J Class ORD to LHR connecting to EI LHR to DUB. Booked in economy on Aer Lingus as no Business Class. Will I have access to Aer Lingus lounge at T2 in LHR prior to LHR – DUB flight?

  86. Lucky – thanks for reply. Since posting I found the below on Flyertalk…..always an exception!…time will tell if it works.

    London Heathrow (LHR): Gold Circle Club Lounge

    Location: Terminal 2, airside lounge A2 (turn right after security)

    Hours of operation: From 0530 until EI725 is called

    Access rules: Standard access rules apply, with the following additions:
    British Airways Executive Club Gold and Silver members, plus one guest, are admitted when travelling Aer Lingus
    Passengers connecting from a long-haul BA flight in business or first class are admitted on production of their boarding stub and on onward boarding pass on Aer Lingus
    Entry may be purchased for £23/€25 online or at reception
    It is unclear whether access is available when connecting onto an Aer Lingus business class flight.

  87. Lucky,

    I am flying into bangkok with Thai in business class, and departing economy same day. Do you know if I will be able to access the thai royal lounge in transit?

  88. Hi Lucky,

    Love your insight – been following you for a long time now…my first post.

    Finally redeemed award tickets for me and wife with the following itinerary (both on same itinerary):

    -All First class/business
    -Delta Platinum / Delta Gold (wife)
    -Amex Platinum cardholder
    -Delta Reserve cardholder

    Delta PDX to LAX
    Virgin Australia LAX to BNE
    Virgin Australia BNE to DPS

    Virgin Australia DPS to SYD
    Virgin Australia SYD to LAX
    Alaska LAX to PDX

    I am confused as I was told on another of your blogs that Virgin Australia had access to Star Alliance lounge in LAX…but website doesn’t list VA as star alliance partner. We have a long layover so could be neat to use this lounge for a while.

    For BNE…was told that there is only a VA domestic lounge but since I am flying international, there wasnt one – are there any partner lounges in BNE that I could use?

    Assuming in SYD, could use VA clubhouse easily?

    Any lounges in DPS that I could access?


  89. @ Kris — While Virgin Australia isn’t in Star Alliance, they do have a contract for using the lounge there. You’d have access to the Virgin Australia lounges in Sydney and Brisbane, and then in Bali they use a contract lounge, which is shared by most carriers. Enjoy the trip!

  90. Ben: This kind of useful information is why you’re one of the best travel bloggers. I’m due to fly into HND on JAL F, then connect to JAL economy domestic. From your information I’m good to go to access JAL’s Domestic First Class Diamond Premier Lounge at Haneda Terminal 1. Traversing immigration, transiting terminals is probably one of the aspects that travel bloggers miss in putting in their reports. While the photos of the appetizers and seats are good, the other information is more meaningful.

  91. Hi Lucky,

    If I am traveling in Qatar Business from ORD to DOH, connecting on to Asia in Economy at 1 AM the next day (all on the same reservation, 8 hour layover), will I be able to access the lounge in Doha when I land? Thanks!

  92. Hi Lucky,
    I am traveling on an OW award ticket, flying JFK-DUB –AA business, DUB-LHR–BA business, then a revenue ticket LHR-BCN–BA economy. I have a long layover in LHR and no status. Will I be able to use my long haul flight to DUB to get into any lounge at LHR? I am leaving the same day as my arrival.

  93. Hi there,
    I’ll be flying TXL-LHR-EWR-PHL-ABE next month in F.
    TXL-LHR-EWR on British Airways F, on an award ticket using American miles.
    The layover in EWR will be 8 hours before the next flight.
    Is there any lounge in EWR after my international arrival that I can access while waiting for my flight on US Airways to PHL?


  94. Hi Lucky,
    My wife, 2 daughters and I are flying to Madrid Spain in September from Boston on Iberia. We arrive at 6:30am on a Monday morning and are then staying in Madrid for2 nights before we travel to Munich to attend Oktoberfest. We want to utilize time on the first day in Madrid to visit museums. My question has to do with Airport lounge access when we land in Madrid to clean up a bit, have a bite before heading out. I have spent numerous hours on line and calling Iberia to figure out the access and I’m just confused at this point. Our flight is IB6166 which lands at Terminal 4S, there appears to be several lounges in Terminal 4, but the access says “Airside”. There also appears to be one in T4S “Landside” and it’s a Business lounge. My wife has the Priority Pass, but are willing to pay if need be. Also what happens to our luggage if we linger in a lounge for a couple of hours?
    Any information would be great.

  95. Hi Lucky!

    Love your blog!

    Question- I am flying business class SFO –> HKG on Cathay Pacific. I have a 12 hour layover where I will then fly business/premiere class on Jet Airways to Ahemdabad (via Mumbai). While in HKG which lounge can I access? My hope is the Cathay lounge, as it is top notch. Have no clue what Jet Airways may be like.

    I leave next week.



  96. @ Melissa — Unfortunately you can’t use the Cathay Pacific departure lounge as an arrivals lounge, so you’d have to be connecting on Cathay Pacific to use it. You can use whatever contract lounge Jet Airways uses in Hong Kong.

  97. Wow, these policies get convoluted. I read the article and this thread, but I’m not clear on the answer, so I’m asking about my situation.

    I am United Gold and will be flying on all United flights from FCO-ORD-SFO in economy. Will I get access to the United lounge in ORD for this “international trip” even though my departing boarding pass will be domestic?

    I found this confusing tidbit on United’s website

    “A valid Star Alliance Gold membership card and a boarding pass for travel within 24 hours on an international flight operated by a Star Alliance member airline (does not have to be the same itinerary)”

    Note the words “departing” are not used in conjunction with the boarding pass, nor does it say it needs to be within 24 hours in the future. I have no idea what the parenthetical “does not have to be the same itinerary” means either.


  98. @lucky Thanks for the input, but as a new data point, I sent an email to United MileagePlus support and there response is that NO, I would not get access to the lounge, as it is ONLY for departing international flights. I will give it a try anyway 🙂

  99. @ Larry K — They’re definitely wrong. If you’re Star Gold and connecting from an international flight same day, you’ll absolutely have lounge access. Enjoy the trip!

  100. @lucky I hope the lounge agent agrees with your assessment! United doesn’t seem to know their own policies. I tried calling MileagePlus to ask them and they told me Gold members don’t get ANY lounge access with economy – even for departing flights! I argued with them for a while, but finally decided it wasn’t worth it to convince them 🙂

  101. Lucky, my flight is from SYD-LAX on Virgin Australia on J class, connecting LAX-SAN. The LAX-SAN flight depart at different terminal. Since I have 5-6hrs layover at LAX, can I have access to Star Alliance lounge at TBIT?

  102. @ kevin — Unfortunately not. You can only use it when departing on Virgin Australia. Sorry.

  103. Greetings Lucky,

    My current booking: UA(SFO-IAH-IAD) SAS(CPH-NCE). I know have access to UC at SFO-IAH. Will I have access in IAD for LH lounge?

  104. @lucky
    Headed from Lax>Syd and was wondering if my fiancée could access the oneworld business lounge at the tbit.I booked her with aa miles under my account and bought my ticket seperatly through qantas. She has no status but i am onw platinum. Were on the same flight but different reservations, is that going to be an issue? Thanks in advance for any info

  105. @Lucky,

    Quick questions. I was thinking to upgrade my Amex PRG to Platinum to get the lounge access benefit. I was wondering, in general, if arriving passengers still can access airport lounges (ex. waiting for a friend who travels on a different flight). Because the lounge access policy at most airport lounges stated that they require the passenger to show the membership card, ID, and same day travel boarding pass.

    I’ve heard people saying that some or many lounges within priority pass network do not accept priority pass issued by a financial institution, is this true?



  106. Hello Lucky it is always a joy reading your blog and advise. I have a question regarding the changes that I see happening. I am an Asiana diamond (star gold) my elite status will reset this month, Asiana eliminate issuing the star gold plastic card for their elites but instead they told me just to show the digital card copy uploaded in my smartphone. My question is are all the Star Alliance member lounge operator will accept this as a form of proof to access their lounge? or some airline will deny you access and need the real plastic card? I e-mailed star alliance about this and still no answer…

  107. Hey,

    does anyone know if I can use JFK Delta Lounge as SkyTeam Elite Plus travelling of VS5402, which is actually DL402?

    So my flight is operated by delta but marketed by virgin atlantic.

    Thanks in advance

  108. Hi there Lucky,

    First off, that you for writing a very explanatory article. Just to confirm, I have a flight coming up;

    ORD-HKG (F class) arriving Mon night at 9pm
    HKG-SIN (J class) departing Tue afternoon at 3pm

    I was planning on “roughing it” and loitering the terminal from 9pm until the The Wing, First opens. Am I correct to assume I will be allowed in once they open at 5:30am?

    I would appreciate your answer. Thanks!

  109. Ben–could you clarify something that has been bothering me for a while? A couple of years ago we flew BOM-AUH-JFK-BOS on an AA award in J/domestic F. When we went to the lounge in JFK during the long-ish layover, we were denied entry even though it was an international itinerary. What is AA’s policy on non-alliance partners? I couldn’t discern a clear answer on the lounge access page. Thanks.

  110. @ Gaurav — Correct, the reason you were denied entry is because Etihad isn’t a oneworld partner. While they’re a non-oneworld partner, they don’t have any sort of lounge reciprocity (lounge reciprocity comes standard within an alliance, but not typically outside of one).

  111. In regards to the Star Alliance restriction for “You must be departing from the local airport in international business class”

    I’m flying Air Canada in Business SFO-YYZ-SCL-EZE. Does the SFO-YYZ count as “international” enough being Canada? I’m hoping to access the SFO Singapore lounge, or at least United Club.

    Love your site, BTW, Ben.

  112. I’m flying Premium Economy LAX – FRA on Lufthansa in May. Since Premium Economy is fairly new, I’m having trouble finding out if I can buy a Star Alliance day pass at LAX. Do you know? Thank you.

  113. Ben, I know I can access Admirals Club with my Citi/AAdvantage Executive Card, but will be traveling from the Tom Bradley International terminal at LAX next month (flying economy). Do I have access to the oneworld lounge there? Thank you so much for your helpful site.

  114. I will be on an 18 hour layover in SFO, I’m on an AA award ticket in First class, flying into SFO on AA and onto Japan on JAL, can I check out both AA lounge and JAL lounge, or do they only allow access to one lounge per ticket?

  115. For years, I’ve been a Diamond Card member for EVA Airway, which is a Star Alliance member airline, and the status also qualifies me as a Star Alliance Gold member. Recently, I’ve been thinking that I would start flying United Airline instead and accumulate mileage under the MileagePlus program.
    If I were to buy tickets from United with my MileagePlus account, would I be allowed to use EVA Air’s premium lounges given that I’m an active Diamond Card member with them, even though my boarding pass will not show such qualification? Can I just present my Diamond/Star Alliance Gold card and gain access?


  116. Ben, I arrive BKK on MH in Business class which is the end of my ticket with MH. However, I have a separate ticket onwards with a non-OneWorld carrier in Economy. I am hoping that my bags will be checked through even though there are two tickets (as they were on the way here) and I will just be transmitting in BKK. I assume I cannot use a OneWorld lounge but am hoping that I can! Can you clarify would I be able to use, for example, the CX lounge as an arriving Business class passenger?

  117. Hi traveling on AA from DCA on Economy to YYZ and then on BA to LHR club world connecting on BA to GLA economy, do I get lounge acess at DCA and LHR

  118. I’m traveling on an award ticket: AA LHR-DFW business, AA DFW-SEA first, then on to SUN by coach on Alaska (first not available). Arriving 12:15am SEA and departing 8:05am to SUN. So do I get lounge access in Seattle? If so can we hang out there overnight or do they close?

    What if instead I go British Airways LHR-YVR business, then the following morning YVR-SEA coach, do I get access to any lounges at YVR and can I stay overnight?

    If the answer is no both cases, can I pay for access and stay overnight?

    Thanks, this is so confusing!

  119. Hi Lucky,
    Quick question about Amex Lounge @ IAH. We will be arriving on a ticket, non-stop form London same day. However, we want to relax in the Amex lounge for a bit before we depart the airport. Is there a way to enter through security to go to the lounge after passing customs without a departure boarding pass?

  120. Two overnight lounge questions
    1. Im arriving business class at 11pm to HK on Dragon Air connect to CX at 8am, can I reenter the airport after customs and use CX first lounge the night I arrive?

    2. Arrive BKK in F in evening, depart 8am in F. Do I have access the night before for the first class lounge or only in the morning?

  121. I am flying international and on my way back home, i have a 1 stop business class flight. My first part will be with cathay pacific and then a couple hours ater will be with JAL, both business. Will i get lounge access before a take off on cathay and in between cathay and jal in Narita?

  122. We will be flying Air Canada Business Class in Sept ’17 from Toronto to Rome and return. When we return, we will have a few hours at FCO before departing back to Toronto due to ride sharing with friends with an earlier flight. Will we have access to Star Alliance lounges as Air Canada does not have a Maple Leaf lounge in FCO? If so, which Star Alliance members have lounges there and are there any hoops to jump through to access the lounges?

  123. Ok, I realize this is an old article, but a question: so is lounge access based on the carrier that ticketed the flight or predated the flight.

    Sitting in AMS on an AA ticketed flight, operated by BA.

    The better reviewed Aspire lounge is available to AA fliers, but not BA.

    While my itinerary indicate AA flight, the ticket wil be printed and likely show BA. Additional detail is I’m AA ExPlat, so Ineworld Emerald.


  124. If I flew in to on Lufthansa Frankfurt and have 9-hour layover before next flight on other Airline can I still use Lufthansa lounge( I have AMEX Platinum)?

  125. I am OneWorld AA Sapphire, and I carry my card with me.

    If I depart LHR in Premium Economy on an AA/BA flight, but I have my *Alaska* FF# attached to my reservation, will I still be able to access the Qantas LHR lounge in T3? And if so, as a Sapphire, would I be able to bring a guest?

    Or is it a requirement to have your OneWorld Sapphire FF# attached to the reservation?


  126. I’m flying PDX-YVR-TPE-HKG-TPE-YVR-PDX in business all the way except PDX-YVR and YVR-PDX where Air Canada only operates a 1-cabin plane. Am I entitled to use their lounge in PDX on the outbound and in YVR on the inbound? Thank you so much. I enjoy reading all of your reports.

  127. If it is all on the same booking, yes you should. If for some reason you booked PDX to YVR separate from the rest, likely not.

  128. I have American business award ticket from US with 4 legs. The last leg from LHR to France had no availability in BA first so that leg is in economy! Can I access lounges in terminal 3 at LHR? Which ones?

  129. I’d expect you can get into both the BA and American Lounges there in T3. I think the food options are better at BA, but the AA lounge is more updated.

  130. Flying out of LAX on Air France business class to Tahiti.
    What lounge can i access?

  131. Based on these rules:
    First and Business Class customers connecting on the same day of travel, or before 6am the following day, can access the lounge when travelling between an international long haul (a oneworld international long haul flight is defined as an international flight marketed and operated by any oneworld carrier with a scheduled flight time longer than 5 hours) and an international short haul or domestic flight (and vice-versa).

    It is not specific that the domestic flight has to be a one world one. I have CX — HKG-JFK and then a domestic AK flight. I am a OW Sapphire. Could I use the BA lounge in Terminal 7 of JFK while waiting for the connection from the CX flight?

  132. Great article, but I still have a question! My wife and I are flying from Charlotte to Dublin via Toronto, using United miles business class. We will arrive on Air Canada and depart on Aer Lingus. I don’t know whether or not our tickets will say United Airlines. Would we have access to the Air Canada lounge, or any other lounge at Toronto? Thanks!

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