Qantas moves to digital passes for Qantas Clubs, business lounges

By David Flynn, June 12 2018
Qantas moves to digital passes for Qantas Clubs, business lounges

Qantas and its credit card partners will no longer issue physical lounge passes for travellers to tuck inside their wallet or hand to a colleague, family member or friend.

In their place: digital lounge invitations stored in your online Qantas Frequent Flyer account, which like their paper counterparts provide access to domestic Qantas Club lounges and international business class lounges.

(There's one notable exception in the LAX business lounge, as despite being operated by Qantas it's officially a Oneworld lounge run in partnership with British Airways and Cathay Pacific.)

Read: Where can you use Qantas Club lounge passes?

Qantas some time ago shifted to digital lounge passes for Silver-grade Qantas Frequent Flyers and its own-branded Qantas Premier credit card, and most banking card partners have followed suit.

Westpac's Altitude Black card is making the changeover from July 2, although previously-issued physical lounge invitations will of course remain valid through to their expiry date.

A spokesperson for Qantas confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "all credit card partners - AMEX, ANZ and most recently, Westpac - have now transitioned" to issuing digital passes.

Qantas' shift from paper to pixels should also stymie the sale of lounge passes on trading sites such as eBay and Gumtree, where the 'complimentary lounge invitations' fetch between $30 and $75 depending on how far its expiry date stretches into the future.

Digital invitations can be shared with fellow frequent flyers by transferring the invite to their QFF account.

However, the electronic lounge passes are less flexible than their paper predecessors.

The process of redeeming a pass requires that it be linked to an upcoming Qantas or Jetstar flight (via the 'Complimentary Lounge Invitations' section on your QFF account page) but this has to be done "at least the day prior to flight departure" rather than deciding on the day if you want to use the invitation or save for a future flight.

For example, if a hiccup in your schedule on the day of travel sees you arrive at the airport much later than planned, you might decide it's not worth redeeming the invitation if all you'll have time for is a cup of coffee. That's an option you have with a paper lounge pass but not its digital equivalent.

And should you change or cancel your booking within 24 hours of its scheduled departure, "the linked Complimentary Invitation becomes invalid, cannot be linked to another flight, cannot be reinstated and will be forfeited", Qantas says.

If Qantas cancels the flight within 24 hours of departure, you're entitled to have a linked lounge pass 'unlinked' and made available for re-use, but this doesn't happen automatically – you'll have to "request for the Complimentary Invitation to be reinstated to unused status through the Qantas Refunds form," according to the airline.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

20 Jan 2017

Total posts 41

I like the idea of going digital and the trouble it will save trying to remember where I've put those invitations some time down the track.


Only critism though is I think it's a little rough that it must be linked to a certain flight and if you decide you don't need to use it on that day then it is forfeited.

In addition it means for anyone to use it they must be a QFF member. Last two years in a row I've given my in-laws the passes and they're not regular flyers who sign up to any programs. So be sure to see membership numbers grow over the next 12 months.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 250

Unless things have changed you can avoid the FF joining fee when signing up someone during the process of sending them a lounge pass, so whilst it will be a bit more effort at least there will be no cost involved.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

31 Oct 2016

Total posts 73

If that doesn't work, then there are always credit card promotions for Qantas Cards that have a special link, or promotional code (such as "NAB") to avoid the fee.

Qantas - P1 Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 43

I have noticed that people are selling digital passes to the QANTAS lounge on Gumtree. I guess the seller finds out what flight the purchaser will be on (and their FF number) and then transfers it. Two passes are selling for around $100

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 107

To transfer them you just need to get the receivers QFF and surname. Once the pass is transferred the receiver needs to assign it to their booking. Ive gifted passes before to a friend. Im not sure i like the new digital ones.


The fact you cant unlink them on the day is a draw back. Also my ANZ ones used to last 2 years before expiry. The new ones only 1 year. So when i got my new ANZ digital ones they expired before my previous year ones. Go figure.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 May 2017

Total posts 17

I've received several digital passes myself. It is a good idea, and was easy to transfer as I don't need to use them myself. Just need recipients QFF number and surname as mentioned.


It is annoying how the recipient does need to link it to a flight in advance. Removes the flexibility. I don't see why it cannot just be linked to the recipients QFF account in general to make the choice when they are at the airport to redeem or not.

These digital passes were originally offered to combat people selling the physical passes, but I have also seen plenty on Gumtree and eBay - so I don't think its going to help with that unfortunately. I imagine if Qantas starts suspending seller's QFF memberships that might curfew this process a little...

22 Dec 2017

Total posts 25

The lack of flexibility is an issue.

Also I’ve experienced technical issues where despite linking the pass to a flight I have had to show lounge staff the confirmatory email to get in. Nothing is less welcoming than being grilled at the door. Has anyone else had this issue?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2015

Total posts 107

Yep, had a friend with this issue. The pass had issues being linked to the booking. The person at the door said they could see he had passes but also couldnt figure out why they werent working. So they ended up just letting him in and now he still has the pass to use.

Qantas

15 Jun 2016

Total posts 14

If these passes are linked to your FF account, then why can't you just show your FF card at the entry on the day and have a pass cancelled just as Amex does in their lounges. Seems to be a very bureaucratic process and can only see increased customer frustration and lots of passes expiring without being utilised - which possibly is their intended outcome, cost savings.

13 Jun 2018

Total posts 3

Iam currently experiencing a similar issue. I am flying Brisbane-Perth-London in October. On my QFF account I can link my Complimentary Invitation to the 1st Leg at Brisbane Qantas Club however there is no option to link the Invitation to the 2nd Leg at the Qantas International Transit Lounge in Perth. Incidentally i have a seperate booking flying BA from London City-Florence and there is an option to link the Invitation to this flight - despite there being no lounge at LCY.


I have called QFF Customer service and have been given differing reasons that are clearly incorrect - firstly, The Qantas International Transit Lounge is under re-development (i should think not) and secondly, the International Transit Lounge is accessible to all travellers - again not correct. I have also attempted to resolve the issue through the online portal email without success.

Has anyone else experienced issues trying to link the invitation to a 2nd Leg?

Any advice on how to escalate the issue would also be appreciated.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 35

I recall seeing in the Terms and Conditions for complimentary passes, that the Perth International Transit Lounge is not eligible for those passes, unfortunately.

13 Jun 2018

Total posts 3

Thanks for clarifying ... I had scaled the Qantas Club T&Cs and had not found that previously but now can see it under 16.1:


Eligible Lounge

is the Qantas Club, Qantas International Lounge or Qantas International Business Lounge at the departure port of the Eligible Flight and on the Type of Complimentary Invitation. Complimentary Invitations are not valid for use at Domestic Business Lounges, the Perth Transit Lounge, the Los Angeles (Tom Bradley Terminal) International Business Lounge, or any Associated Lounges. Associated lounges are operated by, or on behalf of, other airlines in selected airports to which Qantas operates.

I’m at a loss now to understand why ... if capacity is a concern then call it on the day ... very disappointed - i had booked Brisbane-Perth-London based on the whole experience including the Transit Lounge (with the Invitation).

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 263

Sadly it’s not surprising they’ve over engineered the process. This is the same organisation that manages to make gift cards complicated!

13 Jun 2018

Total posts 2

Is anyone aware if the passes can be linked and used to access a lounge after they expire? My son has one that expires in October but it has the option to link it to a flight in December.

23 Feb 2017

Total posts 1

These are absolutely aweful - so painful to use it’s ridiculous!!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

25 Sep 2017

Total posts 4

I am a lifetime Silver and have been trying to link my complimentary pass to one of my upcoming flights with no success. Clicking on the Link Invitation results in an endlessly spinning circle. (Yes I have tried different browser, different computer, different OS etc). Contacting Qantas customer support didn’t result any joy either, apparently they are unable to link an invitation to a flight at their end (don’t ask me why). Contacting email support brought an incredibly insightful answer “complimentary lounge invitations are at sole discretion of Qantas” - very relevant (NOT). Still unable to use it...

QF

21 May 2014

Total posts 24

I had a friend lose out on one as they couldn't unlink the pass and had a change in plans.

If they can improve the user experience, these will be a winner.


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