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Something To Watch: Will The Amex Platinum Cards Offer Access To Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses?


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Plaza Premium seems to be on a little bit of a roll. Recently, Capital One announced that its new lounge in Denver will be operated in partnership with Plaza Premium, and now we’re hearing that Plaza Premium has just taken over the running of all Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses outside of the UK. For holders of the Platinum Card® from American Express, and the Business Platinum Card® from American Express, this may turn out to be good news.

Head For Points has been given confirmation that as of Monday 19 July, Plaza Premium has taken over the running of all Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses outside of the UK and this includes locations in New York (JFK & EWR), Boston, Johannesburg, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

I’m finding it very hard to believe that Plaza Premium would be getting involved in running the Clubhouses just for the benefit of Virgin Atlantic flyers, so I suspect that at times when there’s limited demand for Clubhouse access from Virgin’s customers (e.g. during the hours of the day where there are no Virgin Atlantic flights scheduled to depart), we’ll see Plaza Premium selling access to the Clubhouses just like it does for its own standalone lounges.

Furthermore, as standalone Plaza Premium lounges usually participate in Amex’s Global Lounge Collection, I see no reason not to hope that holders of the Platinum Card® from American Express, and the Business Platinum Card® from American Express (who are granted free access to lounges in Amex’s Global Lounge Collection) will be able to access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses outside of the UK without having to pay a fee.

With Amex paying Plaza Premium for every cardholder that accesses its lounges this would seem to make financial sense for Plaza Premium and as long as this doesn’t impact on the experience of Virgin’s premium flyers (only granting eligible Amex cardholders access at the quieter times of the day should minimize any impact on Virgin’s flyers), I can’t see why this wouldn’t be a winning situation for everyone concerned.

No doubt there will be some Virgin Atlantic flyers that would rather keep the Clubhouses more exclusive (I can understand that), but having Plaza Premium running the Clubhouses may turn out to be a very positive development.

Even outside of a global pandemic, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t offer very many daily flights to most cities in which there’s a non-UK Clubhouse and with the airline hardly flush with cash right now, this could have brought into question the very existence of some of the current Clubhouses.

With Plaza Premium as a partner, not only should the Clubhouses be in good hands (Plaza Premium knows how to run a lounge), but it should also guarantee the existence of some of the less-used Clubhouses in the system.

As if that wasn’t enough, Virgin Atlantic and Plaza Premium have also confirmed that their partnership includes an agreement to investigate the possibility of opening more lounges in destinations that Virgin Atlantic serves so not only could this development save some Clubhouses from closure, but it may also see more Clubhouses opening. That can only be seen as good news for Virgin Atlantic flyers.

Bottom Line

All non-UK Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses are now operated by Plaza Premium. Long-term this should guarantee the survival of some of the less-visited Clubhouses, and it may even see new Clubhouses being opened. This development also opens up the possibility that Virgin’s non-UK Clubhouses will be incorporated into Amex’s  Global Lounge Collection which would see holders of select American Express Cards being given free access to the Clubhouses under specific conditions.

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