“The House” Lounges Join Priority Pass… With A Big Catch

Filed Under: Travel

Priority Pass recently picked up two major lounges in Australia, though there’s a catch. Specifically, “The House” lounges at both Melbourne and Sydney Airports have joined the Priority Pass network.

These are the former Etihad Airways lounge locations. The airline has been cost cutting significantly the past couple of years, and as part of that they decided to hand over control of their Australia lounges to a third party, though their passengers continue to have access to these lounges.

As you might expect, in order to change the economics of the lounges, they’re trying to open them up to more passengers, and Priority Pass members are among those. As of now:

The House Lounge Melbourne

That’s right, the lounge is even open to Priority Pass members over the same hours that Etihad passengers would use the lounge… but there’s a huge catch.

These lounges aren’t actually accessible by Priority Pass members for “free.” Rather, Priority Pass members have to pay an additional 20AUD co-pay to access The House locations.

On the one hand I guess it’s better than nothing that Priority Pass members can access these lounges for a relatively reasonable co-pay. On the other hand, it sure presents a slippery slope for Priority Pass lounges when a membership only gets you discounted access to a lounge.

It’s believed that Priority Pass reimburses lounges somewhere around 20-25USD for each guest who visits, so I guess the operators of The House lounges decided that wasn’t sufficient.

In fairness, there is otherwise a shortage of lounge in these terminals:

  • At Sydney Terminal 1 this is the only Priority Pass lounge, though there are four Priority Pass restaurants
  • At Melbourne Terminal 2 there are two Priority Pass lounges plus three Priority Pass restaurants

Bottom Line

There are two new great lounge options for Priority Pass members in Australia, though you’ll have to pay a modest co-pay if you want to enjoy the lounge. So I’m not sure whether to be happy about this or not — I guess more options are a good thing, though I’d also hate to see this co-pay trend continue…

  1. Your slippery slope argument is absolutely right. What is to stop other lounges from demanding the same in the future?! This is a terrible move by Priority Pass. I hope nobody uses these lounges and they get kicked out of the network.

  2. This is a bad precedent for sure. The HKG model works better as there are free options with Plaza Premium lounges and a co-pay for Plaza Premium First.

  3. Copay is a great move and it’s definitely something should apply to the PP restaurant. I’m wondering if PP company actually hires Economists, the fact they allow no copay unrestricted access to the restaurant is the most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard as a business decision. PP is so cheap to get these days, it has become a free-rider situation… what is worst is that it’s actually hurting the “real profitable” customers.

  4. Hardly a slippery slope. There are free PP options at both Melbourne and Sydney. But they’re not great… if people want something better than those options, they can pay the 20 bucks and go to The House.

    Considering the plaza premium lounge at Melbourne is in the dungeon basement with the qantas business lounge I would gladly pay 20 bucks to have natural light and some space. Let alone the proper a la carte restaurant and bar.

    Stop whining without understanding the local airport situation.

  5. What I am wondering about is the dearth of lounge options for domestic travellers in the US on the PP program. With the significant amount of travel I have to accomplish within the continental US, it is shocking how few options there are at even major airports.

  6. Priority Pass lounges at mang UK airports require a £5/person payment for a “reservation.” At BHX, I’ve been turned away almost every time in the past few months, as all 3 lounges have claimed to be booked through for most of the day. There’s also no waitlist available if you don’t make a reservation.

  7. If you’re an Etihad passenger in SYD, you’d hope not many people will use it. It’s not exactly a big lounge, especially the dining area. Will feel like like yet another Etihad cutback for those travelling with them.

  8. “There are two new great lounge options for Priority Pass members in Australia”

    No they are not. Once the pay to enter model is established it will expand until it becomes universal.

    PP members should avoid these like the plague, even if it means sitting in the terminal. Short term pain for long term benefit.

  9. Don’t these lounges have a la carte dining? If so, a AUD$20/USD$14 co-payment seems pretty reasonable given most other PP lounges don’t offer that.

  10. For context, if you’re not a PP member, access is AUD$80 if you book online ahead of time or AUD$90 if you just walk up and pay.

  11. As Adrian mentioned, there are only 4 lounges in Melbourne which have natural light. The Qantas first, Emirates, Marhaba lounge, and this one. 2 of them are exclusive whereas the other 2 provide paid entry. Natural light is definitely worth A $20 premium over the dungeons

  12. The slide down the slope is already well underway. In practice, it’s very difficult to access any of the Priority Pass lounges at Gatwick if you haven’t paid a “booking fee”. Last week I was turned away from three, practically empty, lounges because they were “fully booked”.

    I’m sure it’s no coincidence that most of the Gatwick lounges are run by No. 1, who, if memory serves, also run the House lounges.

  13. @Bill
    What is a “copay” for a restaurant? Such an idiot. All Priority Pass does is give you credit for food. A co-pay is the same as reducing the amount they give you. You can already go to the restaurant without priority pass. You cannot do the same for some lounges.

  14. IMHO it’s more the thin edge of the wedge for people that have paid sh*t loads of money for Business/First class fares on Etihad/Virgin Australia. I wouldn’t be happy if more airlines went down the path of giving access to Priority Pass, paid or otherwise.

  15. @James
    While you attempted to insult me, you exposed your ignorance. The “copay” idea is to avoid free-rider situations. The way PP can do is each entry (including guests) have to pay $5 copay when they decide to use PP. And then PP still gives you ($27 credits) + ($5 credits from your copay) = $32 for you to utilize in the restaurant. Also, you can apply your copay to the tips as well. By having this, you can reduce some people who have incentive to bring tons of people or people who are too cheap to tip.

  16. Nothing new here. There’s a $15 discount at all Escape Lounges (US) with Priority Pass. The standard $45 entry fee becomes $30.

  17. They are not the first nor the last – the El Dorado lounge in Bogota requires you to pay USD$7 to access their restaurant or bar. They don’t blink twice in asking… so $7 becomes $20. What will be next?

  18. The Sydney House is not worth paying extra for – crowded already and fairly inefficient service for the a la carte menu. Better value to get a burger & beer (and a soft drink to take on the plane) at Better Burger, and then head over to the Peroni Bar for another couple of drinks.

    Haven’t been to the Melbourne House, so can’t comment on it, but I wouldn’t pay for entrance to the Marhaba lounge.

    Agreed that it is not a precedent that I’m keen on. As mentioned earlier, the Gatwick South lounge is impossible to access, so this will encourage a charge – although the Grain Store does a decent breakfast and the easy access from the security check area (avoiding the escalators down through the duty free shop) saves mucking around. The Gatwick North lounges are a bit better – particularly the one in the old BA lounge area.

  19. Well, Darn 🙁 I’ll be there tomorrow in Sydney Grumble Grumble.

    Then I get to fly to AUH and hopefully not watch watch drones go overhead! :-O

    Pot tip: Always let the State Department know where you are!

  20. Not worth the additional entrance fee, the Marhaba Lounge MEL has superior product, we recently tried the a la Carte menu options.
    View is also magnificent.

  21. @RF I think one point to make about Plaza Premium First lounges is that both lounges in HKG and KUL are pretty new. They were built not for the Priority Pass business, but rather to be contract lounges for airlines that do not have lounges at those airports. That business takes a while to build up and so as an interim measure I see Plaza Premium offering buy ups, but as their contract business builds up over time they will not be offering as many upgrades (likely only at times when their contract business is not high). In contrast, The House lounges were created as a result of Etihad cost cutting and divesting itself of lounges. They too will eventually become primarily contract lounges over time, but for now are offering buy in and Priority Pass access (with a modest co-pay) but I imagine over time, the Priority Pass and buy in will be limited over time as they become the contracted lounge for more and more airlines.

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