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A recent trip to the Qantas First Class lounge at LAX (courtesy of my airline status) reminded me that the Australian flag carrier is now allowing passengers of all airlines and all cabins to pay to access some of its lounges around the world. When you see what some of these lounges are charging you may be tempted to give one of them a try.
It was back in fall last year that Qantas first started trialing paid access to some of its worldwide lounges but as I saw a couple of travelers paying to enter the First Class lounge at LAX on my last trip, this “trial” is clearly still in full swing.
The Important Info
Allow me to make a few things abundantly clear before I continue:
- Only a few Qantas lounges are participating.
- Stays will be capped at 3 hours.
- Just because you walk up to a participating Qantas lounge’s welcome desk with your credit card ready to pay doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to be allowed to buy your way in.
- There are no firm rules stating the times of day that travelers can pay to get in
- There are no firm rules stating which travelers can pay to get in.
Which Lounges & How Much?
Prices are (in some cases) approximate and in USD
First Class Lounges
- Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX – $150 (review)
Business Class Lounges
- The Los Angeles oneworld Lounge – $75 (review)
- The Qantas Lounge at London Heathrow T3 – $72 (review)
- The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge – $58
- The Qantas Auckland Business Class Lounge – $39 (review)
- The Qantas Wellington Business Class Lounge – $36
- The Qantas Perth (T1) International Business Class Lounge – $47 (review)
How This Works
You’ll struggle to find a broader set of lounge access rules anywhere else in the world and that’s because, ultimately, it’s down to the individual lounges to decide who they allow to pay and at what times they’ll permit paying visitors to enter.
The idea behind this scheme is for Qantas to monetize its lounges during quiet/off-peak times so if you turn up at one of these lounges a couple of hours before one or more Qantas flight are scheduled to depart there’s a very good chance you’ll be turned away.
If, on the other hand, you turn up when the lounges are quiet there’s a very good chance you’ll be allowed to pay to get in…and it shouldn’t matter which airline you’re flying or what cabin you’re booked to fly.
This is a pure money-making scheme for Qantas so they’re welcoming all 🙂
I’m sure there are a lot of Qantas flyers out there who are not at all happy with this move (I don’t really blame them) but for travelers who would otherwise be stuck sitting at the gate, this could be a very nice option to have.
I usually get access to all of these lounges courtesy of my oneworld status but I can still see times when being allowed to pay to get in may be very useful….specifically when I’m traveling with Joanna and MJ.
My oneworld status only allows me to bring one guest into a lounge so unless we’re all traveling in Business Class we usually have to find a Priority Pass lounge that we can all access courtesy of my Amex Platinum Card and my Chase Sapphire Reserve card…but not all airports have particularly good Priority Pass lounges.
LAX, in particular, has some poor Priority Pass lounge options in the Tom Bradley Terminal and we’re almost always passing through LAX (as a family) when the Qantas First Class lounge is nearly empty….and that makes the option of buying lounge access quite interesting.
On the rare occasions that we can’t all access a Business Class lounge, I can imagine a scenario where I get MJ and myself into the First Class lounge with my oneworld status and then get Joanna in buy paying $150.
Clearly I’m not going to be doing this very often, but given the choice of a few hours in the Korean Airlines lounge…
…or a few hours in the Qantas First Class lounge…
…I know which I’d prefer….even if it costs $150! 🙂
Some lounges on this list are definitely not worth the entry fee that’s being demanded (e.g. the Perth lounge) but I can see times when being able to pay to access one of the Qantas lounges that are taking part in this extended trial will be an attractive option to have.
The 3-hour time limit should be more than enough for most people to get their money’s worth and with lounges only granting paid access during the quieter times of day, this paid access option shouldn’t really affect travelers who access the lounges courtesy of the cabin they’re flying in or the status they hold.
This is a good idea from Qantas and one that I may well make use of.
As an aside: American Airlines is reportedly trialing the idea of charging flyers $150 just to access its Flagship Dining facilities in airports like DFW and LAX. Considering you can access the whole Qantas First Class lounge at LAX for the same price I can’t help but feel that American thinks a little too highly of its Flagship Dining offering.