Both Qantas and Virgin Australia have stopped permitting arriving passengers to access their airport lounges, without updating their websites or informing affected customers.
Qantas still advertises lounge access on arrival as a benefit for Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers, while Virgin Australia advertises arrival access for Velocity Gold, Velocity Platinum and Business Class customers.
Qantas removes Platinum & Platinum One lounge access on arrival
Qantas appears to have suspended lounge access on arrival in early December 2020, with many AFF members recently reporting they were denied entry after their flight. But it hasn’t been applied consistently – some members say they were allowed in after their flight, while others say they were refused entry despite the lounge being almost empty.
Some Qantas customers were told the loss of lounge access at the destination was due to COVID-19 capacity constraints, or because Qantas was not able to collect contact tracing details for passengers without an onward boarding pass. (Qantas already uses a QR code check-in system for Jetstar passengers, so this does not seem entirely accurate.)
Other travellers were not given any explanation as to why they were refused entry to the Qantas lounge, and were abruptly told to leave.
It would seem reasonable for Qantas to restrict lounge access on arrival during the pandemic if the lounge is already full, given indoor venues are operating at reduced capacity. But Qantas has not informed affected frequent flyers of this change to the rules, resulting in confusion for travellers and placing lounge staff in a difficult position.
We couldn’t find any reference to this change on the Qantas website, which simply says in reference to COVID-19 lounge capacity restrictions:
The Qantas website also continues to list “lounge access before or after your flight” as a published benefit of Platinum and Platinum One status, with no caveats or disclaimers.
Australian Frequent Flyer understands that the removal of Qantas lounge access on arrival is a temporary measure, and arrivals access for eligible customers will resume when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be in the near future.
In a statement to Australian Frequent Flyer, a Qantas spokesperson said:
During the pandemic we implemented a number of capacity restrictions in our airport lounges to ensure members were better able to adhere to social distancing measures. This includes reducing arrivals access for customers with onward boarding passes where required.
Virgin Australia also suspends lounge access on arrival
Since reopening some of its domestic airport lounges, Virgin Australia has also stopped allowing passengers to use its lounges after arrival due to COVID-19 restrictions. This policy was confirmed recently by Virgin Australia lounge staff, who also mentioned that the new policy was currently the most common complaint received from lounge guests.
But Virgin Australia has also failed to inform its customers of this significant change. There is no mention of the removal of arrivals access on the webpage outlining the temporary changes to the Virgin Australia Lounge experience. Lounge access on arrival is also still listed online as a benefit of Velocity Platinum status:
A Virgin Australia Group spokesman said that the airline is “proud to have a network of Lounges open for our frequent flyers to enjoy”.
“We have had to limit the number of guests that can access our lounges at any one time, to comply with state health regulations, which include social distancing measures and restrictions on capacity,” the Virgin Australia spokesman said.
“While these regulations are in place, we have temporarily paused access to eligible frequent flyers entering our lounges on arrival flights, to ensure that we comply with the government-imposed regulations, and that access is granted fairly and reasonably for eligible guests during the current climate.
“We thank our frequent flyers for their understanding and we look forward to resuming Lounge access for eligible guests arriving on same-day Virgin Australia flights in the future.”
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: QF Platinum Denied Lounge on Arrival with Qantas Sydney Airport