If you’re traveling even on mainline airlines such as British Airways or Lufthansa these days you’ll find that many if not all of their contract lounges at smaller airports no longer offer access for status or Business Class customers.
Reason is that the airline has cancelled their agreement with these local partners as a cost cutting measure and masquerading this as a Covid-19 situation even though the lounge is open and accepting customers.
There have been increasing reports about contract lounges being unavailable on various Facebook Groups and even on Flyertalk during the past few weeks with travelers reporting that despite them having status with the airline or keeping a business class ticket they had no longer access to the third party operated contract lounge.
The instances I read about were British Airways, Lufthansa and Swiss.
It’s very clear that this has nothing to do with Covid-19 but is a plain cost cutting exercise as the airlines (most of them strapped for cash) don’t want to pay their year long contract partners for the services right now while at the same time refusing the service itself to their own customers.
In all of the cases the lounges were open but according to the staff there they had instructions from the airlines not to grant access to any passenger based on ticket or status. Some passengers were even shown a written document outlining the orders to the lounge personnel.
This is where it comes handy that most of these third party contract lounges not only partner with the airline but also with Priority Pass, American Express, Diners Club and other lounge networks.
Anyone with a respective membership can still gain access there during a trip with a random airline, even if the airline itself stopped paying the lounge.
Some lounges also offer entry for a cash (cc) payment while others only accept said memberships.
It’s truly disgraceful how some of these legacy carriers are treating their customers and contract partners, using Covid-19 as an excuse for all sorts of service cutbacks without providing any remedy. This also goes for hotels to a certain degree.
Thankfully in the case of these lounge cutbacks the Priority Pass still helps me a lot over the year either when the airline itself has a rather substandard partner lounge (Bali comes to mind, I hate the Premier Lounge there) or like in these times no lounge at all. I try to have at least one premium credit card where the Priority Pass is included to stay flexible.