Is This The Most Restrictive Airline Lounge Access Policy?

Filed Under: Swiss, United

Lounge access policies can be rather complicated. Some airline executives in charge of lounges don’t even know the correct policies.

Obviously airlines are all over the place in terms of “generosity” when it comes to lounge access.

British Airways only allows their own first class passengers into The Concorde Room, and not oneworld first class or oneworld Emerald passengers.


Lufthansa only allows their own first class passengers and HON Circle members (and United Global Services members under limited circumstances) into The Lufthansa First Class Terminal & Lounges, and not other Star Alliance first class passengers.


Singapore Airlines only allows those departing in Singapore Airlines first class into The Private Room.


And all of those policies are fair enough, because the airlines clearly publish them. They have every right to be more restrictive than other airlines.

Swiss’ lounge access policy is the most restrictive

When it comes to the stingiest imaginable lounge access policies, I think Swiss takes the cake. This ridiculous policy has been in place for a long time, though it just occurred to me that I had never written about it.

While the above airlines all have restrictions in place about having to fly the actual airline in order to access the first class lounge, Swiss takes it a step further. You can only access the Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich & Geneva if you’re traveling on a Swiss operated and marketed flight. In other words, if you’re booked on a United codeshare flight operated by Swiss, you’re not allowed to access the lounge.


That’s the only airline I know of which has such a ridiculous policy. British Airways will let you into The Concorde Room if you’re on a British Airways operated and American marketed flight. Lufthansa will let you into the First Class Terminal if you’re on a Lufthansa operated and United marketed flight.

But Swiss won’t allow someone who spent $12,000 on a one-way first class ticket for a flight operated by Swiss into their own first class lounge if it was issued as a codeshare.


Worst of all, they don’t even publish this policy on their website, but rather it’s something that passengers on codeshares have to find out the hard way.


I think FlyerTalk member IAN-UK‘s reaction to being denied lounge access is pretty hilarious:

After I’d been refused F-lounge entry on a Swiss operated code-share with a revenue ticket, I put together a (very nice) lunch to take on board the SFO flight, complete with a bottle of wine.

On board, the MdC was mortified when I explained I’d been told only SWISS passengers received SWISS service, and so I’d brought my own lunch. She pledged to write a full report. And I enjoyed my picnic.


What’s the logic behind Swiss’ policy?

In theory I can understand the logic behind what Swiss is doing. They want to encourage you to book directly with them rather than as a codeshare flight. Presumably there’s more revenue sharing involved when you’re ticketed through another airline as a codeshare rather than by the same airline you’re flying.

Still, for that incentive to be denying passengers access to a lounge is sort of preposterous. The next logical step would be for them to only offer the full onboard service to passengers traveling on Swiss marketed flights and not codeshares.


What’s the marginal cost of one extra person in the first class lounge? It’s just ridiculous…

Bottom line

While I appreciate the concept of an airline wanting to create an incentive to book directly with them, this isn’t the way to do it. This is possibly the single most arrogant lounge access policy I know of. Denying a full fare first class passenger traveling on your airline lounge access because they’re on a codeshare is a new low, in my opinion. And the fact that they don’t even publish the policy and leave people to find out the hard way is even worse.

What do you make of Swiss’ restrictive lounge access policy for codeshare passengers? 

  1. “Singapore Airlines only allows those departing in Singapore Airlines first class into The Private Room. You can’t even use it if you’re connecting from a Singapore Airlines first class flight to another Singapore flight without a first class cabin.”

    In July we flew ZRH-SIN-DPS with ZRH-SIN in suites and SIN-DPS obviously in business class. At ZRH we were given both boarding passes and an invitation to The Private Room (which we visited).

  2. They should leave the JV in case they are going to be enforcing dumbass rules like this. Swiss First Class is way overrated though and LH is much better in my opinion, having flown both at least 20 times in total.

  3. This doesn’t really surprise me as Swiss is also the only airline I know of that won’t allow you to book F award seats unless you have SEN status. What’s even worse, I’ve heard that apparently it must be a Swiss SEN status, not a LH one…

  4. Loved the reaction of the guy that brought his own picnic on board. LOL!!!! I hope he brought a very stinky food on board.

  5. Ben, the statement “You can only access the Swiss First Class Lounge in Zurich & Geneva if you’re traveling on a Swiss operated and marketed flight” is not entirely correct.
    You can also access the lounge if you hold a LH F same day boarding pass (from FRA, MUC) or if you hold M&M HON status and travel on any *A flight in any class.

  6. Are code-share passengers allowed in the business class lounge, at the very least? To me it doesn’t make any sense but I guess it does to the Swiss. Thinking more about it, this would never happen to folks in the miles/points world since the only way to be in Swiss First is to have SEN status with Miles & More and to be on a Miles & More award ticket.

  7. Lucky, it is impossible to access the Concorde Room at LHR flying F in American, simply because the CR is in T5 and all AA flights depart from T3. Only BA and IB fly out of T5. Since IB doesn’t have F, the Swiss and BA policy are the same.

  8. Even the regular SWISS lounges are rude about non-SWISS access. When transiting through ZRH on a Swiss flight (in business no less) connecting to another *A carrier, the lounge agent reluctantly let me in with star gold access (she scoffed at the fact that it was with United) but told me I could not bring a guest. I insisted this was the policy and she said she was being accommodating by even letting me access the lounge as a United FF. After pulling up the website she said she’d make an exception but wanted me to know this was only due to the fact that the lounge was mostly empty…

  9. I had a similarly irritating experience trying to check into the SWISS arrivals lounge in ZRH this week. Despite *A gold and arrival with AC on a J ticket, I was politely declined access. Evidently it’s open to practically all M&M members and LX passengers only. So much for that shower….

  10. “Singapore Airlines only allows those departing in Singapore Airlines first class into The Private Room. You can’t even use it if you’re connecting from a Singapore Airlines first class flight to another Singapore flight without a first class cabin.”

    That’s incorrect, fortunately 🙂

    The following passengers have access:
    Passengers departing on a same-day Singapore Airlines flight in First Class or Suites Class.
    Passengers connecting from Singapore Airlines First Class or Suites Class to any same-day Singapore Airlines flight.

  11. Swiss sounds awful, but my wife was denied access to the Lufthansa First lounge because she had a United codeshare ticket, even though she was flying Lufthansa. On the opposite end, it has been a couple of years, but BA has never given me a problem with using the Concorde Room while flying American metal with an American ticket. I don’t think that their published rules allow for that, but they have honored it. Although, with the state of repair of the Concorde Room, I’m not sure how much I care anymore.

  12. Apparently you can call UA and have them change the flight number from the UA codeshare to the actual LX flight:

    I love the UA agent’s response to one passenger doing this:

    “you passengers need to get a union to protect you or else UA will take as much as they can from you. Apparently UA sees no difference between customers and employees, we are all here to lower managements bonuses”

  13. If I was spending upwards of £10k on a flight I would demand lounge access, that sounds a bit like a snob but really! over £10k and you don’t get a lounge??

  14. As the Swiss woman said to me….Ooo la la….I am sorry Madame, you are not allowed in on THAT ticket…..Last time I flew Swiss….

  15. I’ve had the same experience, flying in a Swiss-operated flight in F, but with a United codeshare flight number. I was allowed access, but then was accosted once inside by the lounge dragon, who insisted she had made a mistake in letting me in….this was impossible….I had no right to be there…..but after some protestations, she said she would make an exception “this one time only”. That was the last time I flew Swiss F, period. They have a nice onboard product, but the F lounge in ZRH is laughable compared to the LH F lounges in Munich and Frankfurt. I have no idea why they think they are so superior, because they are most definitely not. A rather unfortunate attitude, especially in comparison to the smiles from LH, NH, OZ, and TG personnel.

  16. This might come across as slightly off topic, but this Summer I (living in Hong Kong) did university tours in the States with my sons.
    I booked 10 domestic First Class flights with Delta and only realised there that First Class on domestic flights even don’t get you in the lounge unless you have the status.
    You,ll tell me, well, that’s American Airlines, but all aspects of service, even for First Class travellers are truly shocking.
    Maybe I am spoilt by Asian carriers…

  17. If traveling on a FULL fare F ticket and you encounter this problem, its simple. Demand they re-issue it onto Swiss stock (or whichever carrier), problem solved. Any ticket that is a FULL fare can then be transferred before or on day of departure…solving this mess.

    With that said, the “people” who work at Zurich Airport are barely human, so it might still be a fight. FRA is only marginally better. Better still, call your travel agent and have them do it

  18. Simple. Do not pay money into Swiss pockets (nor UA’s for that matter, since they cannot be bothered to stand up to the Swiss nonsense on the behalf of their F customers).

    Fly others. If airlines do not value F paying customers, why bother? We are paying an insane amount of money afterall, and you are denied ground F service, so what are we paying for?

    Both UA and LX have something to answer here.

  19. Strange. I was flying LH F and was allowed into Swiss First-class lounge no problem with no issues discussed above. Guess I got lucky!

  20. Jordan, just me wondering; if you call the people in Zurich ‘barely human’, which I, as a Swiss citizen, fully agree by the way, how do you call the people at any US airport?

  21. As has been mentioned in the comments above, same day LH F ticket holders may also use Swiss First check-in, lounge and other services at ZRH. Still very stingy that they don’t let codeshare ticket holders on Swiss metal into the lounge…

    Also, all M&M SENs can book LX F on miles. I’ve done it recently as an LH SEN.

    Additional stingy LX Lounge access rule; to enter an LX SEN lounge (available to all *G), you must present your card to the lounge dragon in ZRH. They won’t let you in without physically having your card, even if your boarding pass clearly shows your status as SEN or *G..!

    Also of note,

  22. Swiss is a ridiculous airline when it comes to non-airborne issues. I was flying ZRH-YUL in J month ago, and what I saw is “preferred seats” in J! And I have to be a SEN to book it.. I phoned LX call center in Canada and they told me this..

    “Can I reserve a ‘preferred seat’ if I am a *G?”
    “Nope, you have to be MM SEN or HON to reserve it.”
    “How about I pay?”

    All right then..

  23. I understand some of the criticism in the posts above, but you can’t expect an other airline to give you the same perks as an other just because they are in the same alliance. Air Canada will give its top members perks that other *gold members don’t get because they don’t fly Air Canada, seems perfectly logical to me, or else whats the point of flying SWISS? The entire point of this is to encourage loyalty with one particular airline. If you look at it the other way, when you have SEN/HON status, you always get the best seat, quiet lounges and other perks. Only the people looking in from the outside are unhappy. And why not just book with SWISS in the first place? Is it less expensive?

  24. Not sure This is still the policy.

    I fly into Zurich for business and book my tickets through United, but fly the Swiss Air flights direct from Chicago.

    When I arrive in Zurich, I’m not granted access to the Swiss lounges inside the terminal, but am into the “Arrivals” lounge after immigration.

    The Swiss are very particular with their rules. I don’t agree with the inside terminal lounges only being for departures, but the access issue was how they differentiate departures vs. arrivals at the inside terminal lounges, and not an overall issue of access for code shares, as I entered the “Arrivals” lounge and used all services including showers with no problem.

    At the time, I was only silver status on United (and not status on Swiss Air), so it wasn’t like I got access to the “Arrivals” lounge because I was Star Alliance platinum or some special status.

    Good luck next time with the lounge. My only issue with Swiss Air has been the cabin temperatures being too hot and inhibiting sleep on the way over to Europe.

  25. I’ve a reservation with Swiss first from BOS-ZUR and a connection from ZUR-ARN both booked through Lufthansa. The last leg is operated by Edelweiss with a Swiss flight number. Does the above mentioned policy I will not have access to the First lounge in Zurich? That sounds really stupid!

  26. So I purchase a RT F ticket to Europe from the USA on the Lufthansa website. The front end tickets are on LH metal via FRA and return portion on LX metal via ZRH ( thus the tix stock will be LH). Will this exclude my access to Swiss First lounges in ZRH on my return ? The booking reference is the same for all segments.

  27. Please HELP, does anyone know the answer?
    Same as above…arriving ZRH in LX FIRST (from pvg) and connecting to Germany via LH (there is no first class despite booking first for the entire trip in 1 ticket)…will I have access to first class lounge in ZRH?
    Generally asking: PVG-CGN…what would you recommend? Would use miles for my wife and me…what gives most bang for buck? E.g. LH first via MUC (same question, will we get first class lounge access?!), OS J, or LX first as above?
    THANKS! 🙂

  28. @David
    Thank you very much for the quick reply – those 2 websites were also my sources…my omission that I did not see LH mentioning arriving flights (was looking at footnote 1 talking about the FCT). LX does not explicitly mention arriving first class flights though? Just wanted to double-check with you knowledgeable people who probably have first-hand experience…

    Re. the other question: what would you recommend for 1-way PVG-CGN? I’m a LH SEN (thus, wanted to leverage companion award) and currently can’t decide whether to go for Y/J/C and which airline…I know LH, but none of the others to know what to book – wdty?
    Alternatively, I’m currently also Platinum with Delta (but not enough miles for wife and me, so probably need to pay 1 ticket).

  29. I have used the ZRH LX F lounge as arrivals lounge myself (ZRH is my homebase), and I know of others who have done the same – no issues there. Definitely no problem using it after arriving in F and then continuing on a flight in a “lower” class.

    In a recent post on Flyertalk, the LX lurker also confirmed: “You’re welcome to use the [First Class] lounge at departure and arrival of the FCL flight”

    (as this is the comment section of a blog, I recommend you use online forums for further questions, you may get more responses)

  30. David, thanks so much again for the quick and informative reply!

    Excellent (makes sense – which forum would you recommend?), if I may ask you also more specific questions based on your experience then:
    1) can you shed some light on LH vs LX (and/or vs. OS) in terms of business and first class?
    2) there are rumors that LX F lounge serves cheese fondue in cold months…is that true?!
    I only know LH and my research so far shows the following (with regards to PVG-ZRH as e.g. it does not have new business class for LX yet):
    J in this order: OS (superior food), LX (better seats), LH (not good which I know well…)
    F in this order: LH (really good product, but food is hit/miss which I can confirm), LX (also great, but not as good as LH?), OS no F product
    Would you be able to confirm this?

  31. Hi,

    Is this still the case? I am thinking of booking SYD-VIE in F, first leg SQ to SIN, then SIN-ZRH in LX F. Only SQ sells the flight I want departing SYD (new SQ Suites), Swiss does not sell it, therefore SIN-ZRH although operated by LX has a SQ codeshare flight number. I would like to access the LX FCL in ZRH before the flight to VIE (for the “hotel room”). Will I be able to with a SQ flight number even though operated by LX?


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