Executive Traveller exclusive
Plaza Premium is cutting its ties with the Priority Pass and Lounge Key programs in a move which will deeply impact business travellers and frequent flyers around the globe.
The Hong Kong-based Plaza Premium is the world's largest operator of independent airport lounges.
Its 130 lounges are highly popular with travellers who lack lounge-worthy status with the airline on which they're flying, or who are booked on an airline which either doesn't have it own lounge or has a decidedly sub-par one.
Travellers can book directly with Plaza Premium at rates which vary from lounge to lounge but commonly fall between US$50 and US$65 for a two-hour lounge visit, with higher charges for a longer stay or if you want to use the shower.
Priority Pass is a membership-based card which unlocks access to airport lounges for between US$99 and US$429 per year, with per-visit rates of US$32 for the cheapest Standard package or free unlimited visits under the top-shelf Prestige subscription.
Priority Pass is recognised at over 1,200 airport lounges around the world, including most Plaza Premium lounges.
(LoungeKey is similar but offered though credit card companies as a value-add aimed at premium customers. Both Priority Pass and LoungeKey are run by London's The Collinson Group.)
But the relationship between Plaza Premium, Priority Pass and LoungeKey is set to end on 30 June 2021.
"In view of the rapidly changing travel environment and staying true to our mission in Making Travel Better, we have reassessed our product and service offerings in the hope of creating a comprehensive airport hospitality experience to reach more travellers globally," Plaza Premium PR & Corporate Communications manager Yuman Lau has confirmed to Executive Traveller.
"As a result, it is with regret that we have decided not to renew our contract with Priority Pass and LoungeKey, effective 1 July 2021 except for a small number of lounges which are still under review."
Ms Lau was unable to provide more details on which lounges might still welcome Priority Pass and LoungeKey cards, or why those lounges could be exceptions to the global cull.
A statement issued by The Collinson Group to media said "certain Plaza Premium lounges will be removed from the Priority Pass Programme as of July 1st 2021."
"Due to the recent nature of this change, we are in the process of communicating with our members. We already have alternative lounges in operation for many of the locations and for the remainder we are undergoing sourcing of new partners."
Access to Plaza Premium lounges remains available through selected American Express Platinum cards as part of Amex's broader Global Lounge Collection.
Plaza Premium's portfolio includes over 120 departures lounges alongside a half-dozen arrivals lounges.
In recent years the company launched first class lounges in Hong Kong and Malaysia featuring personalised service, à la carte dining, tended upmarket bars, luxurious shower suites and a massage service.
The firm has also opened a series of boutique transit hotels it calls Aerotels, strategically located in the terminals of major airports in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.