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Plaza Premium lounges part ways with Priority Pass from 1 July; launches own PPL Pass

Plaza Premium has announced that it will stop accepting Priority Pass entries at most of its lounges worldwide from 1 Jul 2021, and will be introducing its own PPL Pass

Why this matters?

Priority Pass is the world’s largest network of independent airport lounges, with over 1,300 lounges around the world. All kinds of premium credit cards offer a Priority Pass membership, which is a great way to get lounge access when traveling. Priority Pass doesn’t operate lounges as such, but rather has partner lounges that it pays when a member visits.

Plaza Premium operates the world’s largest collection of independent airport lounges, with 180 locations across nearly 50 airports. You can’t directly buy a Plaza Premium lounge membership, but rather Plaza Premium acts as a contract lounge provider for premium airline passengers, and for other lounge access programs.

Historically you’ve been able to visit virtually all Plaza Premium lounges with a Priority Pass membership, but that will soon be changing.

There will be a handful of lounges that will continue to accept Priority Pass entries, but these will be announced only in the months ahead.

Other credit cards that have partnered Plaza Premium directly for complimentary entries will not be affected by this change.

Possibly the best third party lounge network

While Plaza Premium lounges cannot compare with top airline-operated lounges, they are still rather popular because they have worked on improving their offerings in recent years, offering quality lounges that are well decorated and carrying very decent offerings.

In recent years, Plaza Premium also upped the ante with its new first class lounges called Plaza Premium First, available in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur airports. These are a step up from its regular Plaza Premium lounges and require an added fee for those who are using free lounge passes.

Plaza Premium First Hong Kong (photo: Plaza Premium)

Who is affected?

Most people with a miles-earning credit card will be familiar with Priority Pass, which usually comes as part of their credit card perks. In Singapore alone, those holding the Citi PremierMiles card and DBS Altitude Visa card will have one that offers two complimentary visits a year, while the fee-paying Citi Prestige card offers a souped up version that offers unlimited entries. Unfortunately, such Priority Pass members will definitely be affected by this change.

For customers holding the American Express Platinum Charge card and the OCBC Voyage card, lounge access to Plaza Premium facility will continue to be available, though they may or may not be able to bring guests for free.

Plaza Premium’s partnership with DragonPass will continue, so those holding some ICBC and CIMB cards, plus UOB Visa Infinite Metal cardholders, will still be able to use the lounges within their annual entitlements.

The Maybank Horizon Visa Signature card also retains access to the Plaza Premium lounges, but only at Changi Airport.

Which lounges are affected?

Of the 66 participating Plaza Premium lounges, 59 will be leaving Priority Pass. Most of them will discontinue from 1 July 2021, but there is a small handful that have differing end dates so check the details here.

In Singapore, there used to be three Plaza Premium facilities:

  • Terminal 1: Plaza Premium lounge
  • Terminal 2: TGM (currently closed)
  • Terminal 4: Blossoms Lounge

With the change, Plaza Premium has confirmed that

From 1 Jul 2021, only the Terminal 4 facility will remain accessible by Priority Pass members. This is not unexpected, given that the lounge is a joint venture between SATS and Plaza Premium and the role it plays as the only pay-per-use lounge in the terminal.

With Terminal 2 closed for refurbishment, it’s unclear if TGM will make a return, so that’s a question when it’s ready a few years down the road.

Terminal 1’s lounge will be unavailable to Priority Pass members from 1 July, but there are plenty of other options in the terminal, including dnata lounge and SATS lounge.

PPL Pass

In a follow up to Plaza Premium’s departure from Priority Pass, Plaza Premium Group has also introduced its own PPL Pass, a new membership programme providing access to the Plaza Premium lounges for an annual fee, based on your usage.

Similar to Priority Pass, PPL Pass is a membership programme where you can pre-load your account with either 2, 4 or 6 visits per year. The per visit cost ranges from USD33 to USD37.5 depending on the number of passes you buy.

If you purchase the passes through the Smart Traveller app, you can shave a few more dollars off the passes, so your cost per visit goes down to USD29.83 to USD34, again depending on the number of passes you buy.

All passes are valid for 12 months from the day of purchase.

Where it differs from Priority Pass is that there is no unlimited option, so you will have to reload with more passes if you run out.

Final thoughts

Plaza Premium ending its contract with Priority Pass will definitely affect many travellers and how they value certain credit cards, when travel resumes in time to come.

Effectively, for Singapore-based travellers, the options available at Changi Airport will be reduced to either the Ambassador transit lounge at Terminal 3, SATS lounge at Terminal 1 or the Changi Lounge located in the public areas at Jewel.

With most third party lounge options gone from the Priority Pass list, this can swing in one of the following ways: Credit card companies will move towards partnering Plaza Premium on its PPL Pass, or throw in other perks to make the annual fee worth paying.

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