Reader Question: Cathay Denies Emerald Member Lounge Access When With Spouse + One Children?

32 Comments

A LoyaltyLobby reader left a message on the website regarding status based (BA Emerald) lounge access in Hong Kong when traveling with spouse + five year old kid.

Reader Question Oneworld Lounge Access HKG

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I am a oneworld Emerald through BA executive Gold and recently travelled with my wife and 5 year old from HKG-NRT on an economy Cathay flight. Though I was able to checkin in fine at the first check in counters, I was denied entry into the Cathay first and business lounges as I had 2 guests with me. I did explain it would be awkward to leave my wife or the 5 year old out alone while I sat in the lounge, they did not budge from their policy.

The lady did mention that if the child was below 2 years of age, it would have been fine.

Is this a policy that is strict ly enforced at cathay lounges at HKG airport only? I did not have any issues when I was coming from HAN-HKG earlier with my family. They allowed us – no questions asked.

Here’s what Oneworld’s website states about the lounge access policy:

oneworld lounge access for frequent flyers by tier status

Enjoy exclusive access to premium airport lounges around the world with oneworld Emerald or Sapphire frequent flyer tier status. Members of oneworld airline frequent flyer programmes with the equivalent of oneworld Emerald or Sapphire tier status can use lounges offered by oneworld airlines when departing on any flight marketed and operated by any oneworld member airline, regardless of cabin class being flown (exceptions are noted below).

  • Emerald tier frequent flyers can use First Class, Business Class or frequent flyer lounges.
  • Sapphire tier frequent flyers are welcome in Business Class* or frequent flyer lounges. (*does not include Qantas Domestic Business Lounges)
  • Emerald and Sapphire members may invite one guest to join them in the lounge. The guest must also be travelling 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.

The following exceptions apply:

  1. American Airlines and Qantas offer programmes enabling customers to pay to gain access to their lounges. These programmes are not part of the oneworld agreement, and members of these programmes are not entitled to access lounges under the oneworld agreement.

  2. American Airlines AAdvantage® members, regardless of their tier status or class of travel, are not eligible for lounge access when travelling solely on North American flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean. For more information, visit, http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/airportAmenities/AdmiralsClub.jsp

  3. Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold members, regardless of their oneworld tier status, cannot access Qantas Domestic Business Lounges.

  4. Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First and Al Mourjan Business lounges in Doha (DOH) and Qatar Airways’ Premium Lounges at Dubai (DXB), London (LHR) and Paris (CDG) are excluded.

Conclusion

This is really tricky situation. The rules are clear that Oneworld Emerald can guest one person to the lounge that can be problematic when traveling with family.

I guess that the two year mark is because the children below that can travel as lap kid without having to pay for extra seat. Being able to guest only one is borderline useless in a situation such as this. Would you leave the kid or spouse outside?

Where do you draw the line? Some may have more than one children. We like when the access rules are bend in our favor but perhaps don’t like when the lounges are over crowded or too many children.

Airlines in Asia tend to follow the written rules more to the point than elsewhere. I would say that this is generally good but fewer favors than elsewhere (rules are rules).

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  • In my opinion, children shouldn’t have access to the lounges. They are unexpected about cry or scream and as usual, people who use it, looking forward for silence and calmness. Personally, I escape to the lounge from children… if they will cry when I paid for access and silence, I would definitely argue with crew.

    • Siwusa

      You are the same person who would sue a city for having a playground close to your home.

      • jakpott

        yes, he’s worse than Stalin for (rightfully) voicing his (correct) opinion. By the way, he doesn’t mention any legal options as you have suggested. Sorry, no offense but I totally agree with Grzegorz here.

        • Siwusa

          Well is is rightful? Kids have the nature to be not always able to sit still and tidy in a corner and breath as quietly as possible. Not sure what you did as kid – but even I did not always behave perfectly. Therefore I find it not rightful, that he suggest to ban kids from lounges which are – since flying is public transport – also a sort of public space.

          But sure. People paying for business and first are part of the upper class and therefore have the right of peace and harmony. Shall the economy class take care of the little screaming kids which are basically our future.

          You were probably the first to throw a baby aboard the Titanic to save your first class ass, right?

          I know, its a bit dramatic. I am also sometimes not happy about kids, but wouldn’t suggest this. I usually just switch to a more quiet area or use my noise cancelling headphones.

          • Make notice, @Siwusa, that if we will allow a little bit, they will always expect more and more. If we will allow children to be in “special”, “business”, “luxury” and as usual “quiet” area, they will fight more about their rights.

            When I fly by LCC or Y within EU, only what I can do is to bite my tongue and “survive” the flight. Anyway, I always search my way for to bypass this problem as much as possible. That’s why I pay for some lounge access or extra seat… or some airlines has quiet zones (for example Scoot) where people would like to extra pay for silence. I can’t imagine to use every tools for my calmness and get screaming, anxious and make my comfort less.

            It’s not always only whim. Try to imagine one thing. Some people are sick and need to fly. Even some fever or pain. Every sound make them feels worst. Some people fly for artistic projects and after long-haul flight, they have to go immediately for some work. If they will not full-rest during the journey, they will be definitely unsuccessful. That’s why there should be some “closed-for-children” zones… extra paid, for make sure that if someone will decide to use it, can totally calm fulfil the journey.

    • jakpott

      I agree with the OP. Lounge or premium cabin is not for children.

      • Der Fliegende Amerikaner

        Unless, you buy the entire cabin, a child-free environment is not in any way an entitlement to your premium cabin ticket

    • ramneek

      Pretty harsh assessment about children not being welcome in lounges! Frequent traveller families also benefit from lounge access, and are most often careful to not have their children disrupt other passengers. I like that LH lounges have special play areas for children. The SAS cph lounge has a very inviting children’s room and family policy (card member + family allowed). Ironic to see Europe recognising traveller families more than Asia!

    • Haitao Sun

      I paid business fares for my kids’ ticket, why would they not allowed in the lounge?
      My kid always behaves, either in the lounge or in the cabin. She learns to be polite and say thank you to every flight attendants, while being only three years of age. She would be quite active, but knows when everyone else is sleeping, she needs to quiet down.
      Meanwhile, you have adults having loud phone calls, video-chatting and loud and sometimes disgusting conversations, chewing food with yapping noises in the lounge and in the cabin, and snore like a 400 pound pig, why is a kid seriously worse than these adults? also, kids behave as what they are taught, if you see a disruptive kid, go talk to the parents if you have the balls, don’t talk it out on the kids. don’t be a pussy and “argue with crew”

      • If you can promise that your child will be quiet and acting like mature people, then ok. But 99% of children cannot be like that. As @ramneek wrote, it’s good that some lounges has special areas for children – playground, mini-tables… and also quiet areas for take a rest. You’re right that some businessman are loud but still they are “stable”… and as I said, 99% children are very unexpected.

        • Haitao Sun

          I cannot promise that, and why would I? My daughter is 3, she’s a kid, why would I want her to act like mature people?
          Children are a bit unpredictable, but not that much. I can always tell if she’s cranky or about to throw a fit. “Noisy kids” just have parents who don’t give a fuck, either about other people or about their children.
          It’s not 99%, it’s just that the quiet ones you don’t notice.

          • Gary

            Classy

    • Der Fliegende Amerikaner

      That’s nice and all that Grzegorz Dymon believes that children shouldn’t have access to the lounges. I frankly don’t give a shit though what he thinks and I’m sure neither will many parents who are entitled to bring them into the lounges. For those who absolutely want to ensure a child-free experience, may I suggest you use private jets.

    • Denis D

      Really don’t know why you focused on children? In my experience adults in lounges are so much often more annoying – loud conversation, endless phone calls, facetime, flaunty behaviour, sleeping on coaches with bare feet, putting their feet on chairs nearby, drunk pigs, loud TVs and so on.

      What’s your solution?

      Just funny, have you ever been to a lounge in a major European hub or in the US? Are you really looking for a quit tranquil place?! Then you’re in for a disappointment.

      • Gary

        It sounds like you are describing for us a time or two when you met up with little Sebastian.

  • Noharm Inasking

    Honestly … i would have waited at the top of the escalator with my wife and child for the next solo female to arrive.

    Then explain the situation and ask if she’d take my wife in as her guest.

    • Malcolm

      So you would put another person in the uncomfortable position of having to say ‘no’ ?

      • Just Ask

        ‘Uncomfortable’ ? No … just a simple request which they can say yes or no too. Karma and all that ….

        • Harry Webb

          Let us hope fervently that the first thousand or so such solo females all say “no”, or even “go bag your head” so that the considerate people who do not travel with small children are not forced to put up with such a cheapskate as this person appears to be.

      • Denis D

        I would not ask anyone to guest my extra personally. However if I were asked to guest a kid in such situation I would do that without hesitation.

        What’s wrong with you people?!

  • Bill___A

    Although he might have found the situation harsh, they should have a facility to pay money for the second guest. However, given what I usually see with children in airline lounges, they are often disruptive and poorly behaved. Although this person’s child might be well behaved, in general I think that since the airlines are selling the “peace and quiet” of the lounge, they should in fact not allow children.

  • Attention All Passengers

    Follow the rules (you knew about when you enrolled). Period.
    When did we become a people/nation that insist that rules should constantly be broken because of “special” circumstances, always making the rule maker feel guilty for enforcing them?….and it’s always about children – the “poor” children who need the full adult experience at age 5. Even worse, start complaining and getting all over social media about it because it’s just not the way they want it.

  • Daniel

    With Iberia, access to iberia lounges is granted to one guest and kids below 18 years old on top of the guest for gold/platinum customers which is great when travelling with family.
    Source in spanish: http://www.iberia.com/es/iberiaplus/oro/

  • Jeff

    No sympathy for this traveler. The lounge access policy is very clear. Good job for CX.

    • jakpott

      Same here.

  • Gary

    Rules are rules.

    • Denis D

      Rules are the rules… for other, yep?! For ourselves we gladly accept exceptions from the rules and this site is half about those exceptions and how to get them:
      – upgrades (you pay eco take a seat in eco, rules are the rules)
      – no suite upgrades (you pay for a standard then go get it, rules are the rules)
      and so on and so on

      • Gary

        Glad you agree. I think.

  • Bader Al Omar

    I will be flying regularly with my well behaved 13 & 7 year olds. This is un-welcome news. If I’ll be forced to pay, then sorry, I’ll ask my kids to start shouting and screaming.. I will too. We’ll simply have loud fun. We paid after all, right?

  • Disgruntled

    If you want your kids in the lounge then pay for it. CX allows for lounge access using Asia Miles.

  • Denis D

    I don’t know why a poor guy got such aggressive treatment from other commenters. Sad to see that. Maybe it has something to do with the website target audience – frequent travellers who are often single white males. Still such a hateful stance towards kids seems unnecessary. Of course kids might be annoying, however:
    – there are kids in any lounge anyways, so it’s up to a lounge to have a proper kids areas to get them involved
    – noice cancelling headphones do help – from kids noise, from announcements, from galley noise, from TV noise, from fellow adult pax noise

    I do believe they could and should have made an exception for this guy. It’s extremely unfriendly policy to threat families in a such way.

  • Mahesh Vasnani

    Ever since they introduced cost cutting measures at Cathay, they’re more strict about children. Previously as a GOLD member i would bring my 9 and 2 year old with me, but now they’re trying to trim down any demand on their resources. Cos once they scan the boarding pass, its a fixed cost they have to pay.