Why you might not be allowed into that Oneworld arrivals lounge

By Chris C., April 26 2016
Why you might not be allowed into that Oneworld arrivals lounge

Airport arrivals lounges can be a godsend after long overnight flights – you can freshen up and enjoy a bite to eat on the ground before bouncing to your first meeting, or to hotel check-in at a more reasonable hour.

Several airlines belonging to the Oneworld alliance (a group which includes Qantas) operate arrivals lounges at their home ports.

But because Arrivals lounges don't fall within the usual Oneworld access rules, just who gets through the doors? 

As it turns out, it varies significantly between airlines: here's what Aussie travellers need to know.

Cathay Pacific The Arrival Lounge, Hong Kong

Nestled into the walkway between Hong Kong airport's Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, you can use this lounge if you're inbound on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair business class and first class.

Top-tier frequent flyers arriving on Cathay Pacific or Dragonair flights are also on the invitation list: this include Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold or Diamond members, Qantas Platinums, British Airways Executive Club Gold and other Oneworld Emerald-grade frequent flyers.

The lounge itself is a compact affair, but it's sufficient for a quick pit-stop before you catch the Airport Express into the city.

There are eight showers where you can freshen up...

... plus a small dining room with a la carte table service.

Review: Cathay Pacific The Arrival Lounge, Hong Kong Airport

American Airlines Arrivals Lounge, London Heathrow Terminal 3

Qantas partner American Airlines operates an arrivals lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3, which is open to first class and business class passengers on both those airlines as well as British Airways and Cathay Pacific.

American Airlines' top-tier Executive Platinum frequent flyers travelling on AA flights in premium economy or economy are also waved through the door, but not their Qantas Platinum equivalents.

At the time of writing the AA Arrivals Lounge is closed for refurbishment until June, with eligible American Airlines passengers (but not Qantas or Cathay Pacific flyers) offered temporary access to the British Airways Arrivals Lounge at Terminal 5.

When the AA Arrivals Lounge re-opens mid-year, travellers will enjoy all-new private shower suites, dressing areas and valet pressing service, along with an improved food and beverage zone.

Until then, there's no alternate lounge available unless you're also a Qantas Aquire member, in which case you can duck into the Regus business lounge at Heathrow T5.

Also read: American Airlines to revamp London Heathrow Arrivals Lounge

British Airways Arrivals lounge, London Heathrow Terminal 5 

Located in BA's Heathrow T5 hub, access to this Arrivals lounge is largely restricted to travellers coming off long-haul international BA flights such as those from Australia, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East (relatively short hops from most of Europe don't count).

You'll also need to be in first class, Club World business class or holding BA Executive Club Gold/Premier or Iberia Plus Platinum frequent flyer status on World Traveller economy or World Traveller Plus premium economy.

While American Airlines Executive Platinum members stepping off British Airways and American Airlines trans-Atlantic flights are also welcome to use the lounge, Qantas Frequent Flyers are not – unless of course you've been flying in BA first class or business class.

For those eligible, BA's arrivals lounge packs in an impressive 94 shower suites and six cabana booths, full breakfast and valet facilities and a private Concorde Breakfast Room for first class passengers, Concorde Room cardholders and BA Premier members.

Review: BA Arrivals Lounge, London Heathrow Terminal 5

Qatar Airways Arrivals Lounge, Doha

Just touched down at Doha's Hamad International Airport in Qatar Airways business class or first class? Make a beeline for passport control – you'll spot Qatar's arrivals lounge shortly after exiting the immigration area.

Joining the expected amenities of showers, free wireless Internet access and a business centre is both a buffet and an a la carte restaurant, allowing travellers to maximise their sleep on board before enjoying breakfast on the ground as they arrive.

Also offered is a smoking room and general seating and TV areas, but if you've arrived off an economy flight – regardless of your Qatar Airways Privilege Club, Qantas or Oneworld frequent flyer status – you won't get through the door.

Japan Airlines passengers arriving into Tokyo

In lieu of a full-blown arrivals lounge, Japan Airlines instead provides complimentary shower facilities on arrival at Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports to eligible passengers.

Those include Japan Airlines’ business class and first class guests arriving off an international flight plus JMB Sapphire and Diamond members, JGC Premium guests and JAL Global Club cardholders after the same – but again, not other Oneworld Emerald members like Qantas Platinum.

Also read: Visiting Qantas, Virgin Australia lounges after your flight

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.


16 Oct 2015

Total posts 10

Air Canada has one at LHR too, but highly restrictive access: https://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/airport/maplelounges/lhr.html

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Dec 2014

Total posts 284

This is an artice about Oneworld lounges, not Star Alliance lounges... Seeing that Air Canada is part of Star Alliance

20 Jun 2014

Total posts 59

Cathay need to invest in the Arrival. When CX178 arrives from Melbourne just before 7am, it is invariably jam-packed - you end up squeezing past people and waiting for a seat to open up. And there's often an hour long wait for the showers. I usually have time to wait and I greatly appreciate the ability to shower and change (and get my shirt ironed) but it needs to cater for a bigger crowd.

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 139

Arrives where from Melbourne?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 241

It looks to me like OneWorld have kept to their tradition of being unnecessarily complex with lounge access rules. I think when you bring destinations into it, it gets more complex.

I still like what Star Alliance does. As long as you’re a club member of either UA or AC, (or perhaps even other Star members,) you can access any alliance lounge when travelling on any class ticket on any class alliance member airline, (with the possible exemption of flagship lounges in which case there will be alternatives).

That being said, I do remember someone in the AusBT universe did have an explanation for it.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

Hi Jono, this article discusses Oneworld arrivals lounges, not departure lounges – Star Alliance Gold members and paid Star Alliance lounge members also aren't routinely given access to Star Alliance arrivals lounges.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 241

Ah, that's my misunderstanding. I was thinking arrivals and departure lounges were the same. Apart from the time in which they are used. 

Do you know if there is an AusBT article in the works about the best lounges at Melbourne international? Just thought I'd throw the idea out there.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

Hi Jono, it's something we can consider later in the year once new ones have opened and others refurbished. :)

17 Jun 2011

Total posts 65

So basically QF membership gets you into 0 arrival lounges if flying economy?

QF Platinum

20 Apr 2013

Total posts 11

Hi mrmaxwell,

You can get into BA arrivals lounge LHR T5 as a QF Platinum flying BA World Traveller+ (Premium Econ.) or World Traveller (economy) as long as you fly BA and book your flight on the BA site (NOT on the QF site). 

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

Hi kcarlson, BA HQ has confirmed this is not the case – any Qantas Platinum members admitted who arrived in economy or premium economy have been admitted in error.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

03 Oct 2014

Total posts 3


Does anyone know whether there is an Arrivals Lounge for QF Business Class in SFO?


24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

There's not.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

ARRIVAL lounges are always liek that.. very restrictive and I believe they should stay in that way. Otehrwise they could be very corwded and not efficient for those who are travelling in Business Class... line ups for the showers and breakfast.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2015

Total posts 13

If you fly on BA metal on a JL ticket will  you be allowed to use the arrivals lounge. Travelling in Club World. 

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