Staff at Qantas’ Los Angeles First Lounge are in for a refresher course on the rules covering lounge access, following reports that top-tier frequent flyers from American Airlines have been denied entry for spurious reasons.
Those travellers turned away have been Executive Platinum members of American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, arriving into LAX on international flights before moving onto a domestic flight with Oneworld partner American Airlines.
Australian Business Traveller readers and those of US travel blog One Mile At A Time have detailed several instances where the front desk staff at the Qantas first class lounge have told eligible passengers they’re not entitled to use the first class lounge and instead redirected them to the adjacent Oneworld business class lounge.
Bring out the rule book…
This is at odds with the published lounge access policy of the Oneworld alliance, of which both Qantas and American Airlines are members.
Under those rules, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members – who sit on the same Oneworld Emerald status tier as Qantas Platinums, for example – can use the Qantas first class lounge after an international flight provided they have a domestic AA connection (regardless of travel class) on the same day.
All that’s needed is to flash the necessary international boarding pass or e-ticket confirmation of an international flight marketed and operated by a Oneworld airline (including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and of course Qantas).
Qantas: no changes to LAX lounge access rules
Australian Business Traveller sought comment from a Qantas spokesperson, who confirmed the airline has not changed its access policies for the Los Angeles first class lounge.
“We want all of our customers to have an enjoyable pre-flight experience and wouldn’t want to deny an eligible lounge member the opportunity to sample Neil Perry’s salt and pepper squid before they fly,” the spokesperson quipped.
“There are a number of different lounge access policies across our network and we are working hard to ensure our lounge hosts in LA are trained and understand which frequent flyer members are eligible to access both (first class and business class) lounges.”
It’s become a popular option for American Airlines international travellers to pop into the Qantas LAX lounges ahead of their onwards domestic flight since the airport opened a connecting walkway between American Airlines’ T4 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal used by Qantas.
It’s happened before…
This isn’t the first time that Qantas’ Los Angeles lounge staff have misinterpreted lounge access rules to the misfortune of frequent flyers.
Just over a year ago, Australian Business Traveller reported a similar circumstance affecting Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers travelling on domestic flights with Qantas partner and Oneworld member American Airlines were being barred from the lounges.
At the time, Oneworld corporate communications executive Michael Blunt told Australian Business Traveller that the alliance had been “liaising with Qantas and have asked them to remind their colleagues at Los Angeles of the Oneworld lounge access rules – which they tell us has now been done.”
Blunt also confirmed that “eligible customers… departing on flights from Terminal 4 should be able to access the TBIT lounge(s).”
What to do if you’re denied access?
If you’re connecting from an inbound international Oneworld flight at LAX onto a domestic Oneworld flight – regardless of the terminal – and hold Oneworld Emerald status (such as American Airlines’ Executive Platinum), but find your path to the Qantas First Lounge blocked, here’s what to do.
1. Make sure you’ve got proof of your status and your inbound international flight.
2. Show this article to the lounge concierge and draw their attention to the earlier quotes from Qantas.
3. Click here to call up the relevant set of rules for access to Oneworld lounges and point out the relevant paragraphs to the lounge staffer.
4. Be civil and courteous at all times, but stick to your guns and stand your ground. Don’t accept any off-hand reason for being refused access. Unless there’s a dire situation such as standing-room-only overcrowding, you’re fully entitled to enjoy the first class lounge.