Oneworld Carriers Make their Own Lounge Policies
I recently flew St. Louis-Chicago-Boston-New York-Los Angeles-Phoenix-St. Louis for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to take a look at American’s brand-new International First Class Lounge in JFK. Second, I’m working on obtaining elite status. Third, flying is fun.
I knew I’d have lounge access in New York and LA (or so I thought). Additionally, on past Flagship First trips between New York and Los Angeles/San Fransisco, I had access to all Admiral’s Clubs and Flagship/First Class Lounges. So, I assumed I would have access to lounges in Chicago and Boston. Furthermore, after rigorous research, I concluded that I would be able to access both the Oneworld Business Class Lounge and Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX. I was wrong.
My morning began around 2:45 AM. My flight to Chicago departed St. Louis at 5:00 AM and arrived in Chicago around 6:00 AM. To my surprise, I arrived into a gate which was just adjacent to American’s Flagship Lounge or as it’s now called, American’s International First Class Lounge. Unfortunately, the Flagship Lounge wouldn’t open until 7:00 AM. So, I decided to visit the new Admiral’s Club in the L concourse for a while. That’s where my problems began.
“No, I’ve Never Heard of That–Why are you even in Chicago?”
I entered the Admiral’s Club located in the L concourse a little before 6:30 in the morning. I was the only soul in the entire lounge. I presented both my departure ticket for Boston and my transcon ticket from New York-JFK to Los Angeles. I explained why I was in Chicago and expected to be let in without issue. It became obvious very soon that this was not enough.
After explaining the lounge policy for three-class transcontinental first class passengers, (read it here) the agent looked at me and said, “No, I’ve never heard of that. Why are you even in Chicago?” I explained again the situation I was in and asked that she contact the supervisor. She called around Chicago and couldn’t reach her supervisor. While she was making calls around the airport, I brought up the lounge policy on my phone.
She looked at my phone as I read the line aloud. She looked back at me and said, “I don’t think that’s true but since there isn’t anyone here, I’ll let you in I guess.”
Though I was glad that I would have a place to relax and grab a cup of coffee until the First Class Lounge opened, I was still a little annoyed at the fact that the lounge attendant didn’t even accept what was on American’s website. She also didn’t care that I had done this exact trip a few times and had access each time.
“It’s not going to work but I guess I’ll scan it”
Around 6:55 I arrived outside the International First Class Lounge near my arrival gate which turned out to also be near my departure gate. I and two other guests waited eagerly until around 7:10 when the door to the lounge unlocked. I was the second guest to check-in. When I went to check in, I explained to the lounge attendant why I was in Chicago and why I was entitled to lounge access that morning. Once again, I got push back. The attendant said, in regards to scanning my ticket that, “It’s not going to work but I guess I’ll scan it.”
To his surprise, my ticket scanned and allowed me access to the lounge. I knew it would as it had before.
Additionally, as you can see above, American’s Twitter team didn’t even know the policy. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of my lounge dilemma.
“We called our friends at Qantas…you need to be flying internationally”
Mid-way into my six-hour flight from New York-JFK to Los Angeles, I decided that I’d contact American on Twitter to confirm that I’d have access to both the Qantas First Class Lounge and the Oneworld Business Class Lounge in LAX. I had already done a fair amount of research and all of that research indicated that (if I got past the age restrictions which I normally do) I’d have access to the lounge.
So, after that response from American on Twitter, I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to fight with the lounge attendants at the Qantas First Class Lounge. Keep in mind, Qantas First Class Lounge attendants at LAX advocated for calling police on guests that wouldn’t leave when they didn’t follow the made up policies.
Instead, I visited the Admiral’s Club at Los Angeles. My goal was to gain access to either the Admiral’s Club or makeshift Flagship Lounge and ask the lounge attendants about the Qantas First Class Lounge access policy. That’s where my day of flying came to an abrupt end.
When I checked in with the lounge attendant at the Admiral’s Club (someone I’d never seen at the lounge before), I presented him with my ticket and had my passport open for ID. He looked at my passport for nearly a minute, crunched the numbers, and then looked at me. It turns out that the numbers he was crunching were to see how old I was. In front of eight or so other guests, the lounge attendant said aloud, “You were born in 199x, how old does that make you Mr. Prosperi?” I answered, rounding up five months 😉 He then corrected me, “No Mr. Prosperi, you won’t be eighteen until June!”
Already humiliated, he then said that I couldn’t visit the Admiral’s Club. I responded that this was the first time since I began coming to Admiral’s Clubs (when I was ~15) that I was denied entry on a paid first class ticket. He looked up at me with the most disgusting smile and said in the most sarcastic way possible, “Really? Well there’s a first for everything isn’t there Mr. Prosperi.”
Anyway, it ended with me storming out of the lounge in disgust. I’m not too proud of my response to being denied entry into the club. I pretty much confirmed that I wasn’t mature enough to merit lounge access. What can I say? I was tired and mad.
Back to the topic of Lounge Access Policies
I contacted America and Qantas throughout the day. At various times throughout the day, depending on the airline, I received multiple different responses. Only one response followed the lounge access policy posted on American’s website and Oneworld’s website. Even after I shared the screenshots of both websites with lounge attendants and the Twitter team, they still were reluctant to admit that I was right.
It’s almost as if the posted policies hold no value anymore. I get it, maybe you’re in the process of adjusting your access policies. However, until you finalized these changes, what’s on your website is what I’m going to go on. It’s that simple. Communicate properly with your customers and you won’t have these issues.
So, what’s the moral of this story? One, most lounge attendants at Oneworld lounges don’t have a clue anymore about who has access to the lounges. Two, it sucks being a teenager.
Note: Use the following link to Oneworld carrier lounge policies when checking into Oneworld First/Business Class lounges. Oneworld Policy
What’s your experience with Oneworld partner airline lounge access?