One of the great things about the global alliances is the consistent lounge access benefits they offer, regardless of the airport or the member airline you’re flying.
Well, the Star Alliance has just updated their terms to give airlines the option of reducing lounge access for many elite members.
Star Alliance cuts contract lounge access for Gold members
The Star Alliance has just updated their terms so that member airlines no longer have to offer lounge access to Star Alliance Gold members at airports where third party lounges are used.
Many airports have official Star Alliance Gold lounges, but then there are also some airports where there aren’t any Star Alliance lounges, so airlines use contract lounges for their premium passengers, including business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members.
With this change, Star Alliance no longer requires member airlines to offer Star Alliance Gold members access to third party lounges.
Here’s what the terms used to say about contract lounge access (bolding mine):
At airports where neither a Star Alliance branded lounge nor a Star Alliance member carrier offers a lounge, third party lounges are contracted by some of our member airlines. As a Star Alliance Gold customer traveling on a Star Alliance member airlines operated flight from such airports, you have access to these third party contract lounges, if the member airline you are traveling on has a contract with this lounge.
They’ve now updated those terms as follows (bolding mine):
At airports where neither a Star Alliance branded lounge nor a Star Alliance member carrier offers a lounge, third party lounges are contracted by some of our member airlines. As a Star Alliance Gold customer traveling on a Star Alliance member airlines operated flight from such airports, you may have access to these third party contract lounges. Please refer to the Lounge Finder to identify which lounges you may have access to, according to the policy of each airline*.
What brought about this lounge policy change?
Why is the Star Alliance suddenly making this change?
Because earlier this month United Airlines violated Star Alliance policy by making the above update as well. With United’s update, they stopped offer access to third party lounges for Star Alliance Gold members.
Rather than Star Alliance telling United they were violating the rules, Star Alliance updated the rules so that United was no longer violating them. Nice.
With United’s policy change, they’re now only offering lounge access to business class passengers but not Star Alliance Gold members at just over two dozen airports, including Cape Town, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Keflavik, Lima, and Papeete, just to name a few.
While this is no doubt a negative development for Star Alliance, ultimately keep in mind that most airlines will probably continue to go above and beyond, at least for now.
It seems that Star Alliance has updated their policy to appease United, given that they updated their policy in violation of the alliance rules.
It’s always interesting to see the inconsistent ways that airlines treat alliance elite members. For example, Lufthansa gives Star Alliance Gold members access to Senator Lounges, which are better than Business Lounges. Yet at airports with contract lounges, technically only business class passengers are entitled to access, while Star Alliance Gold members aren’t…
What do you make of Star Alliance’s policy update?