Alaska Airlines Is Kicking Most First Class Flyers Out Of Their Lounges As Rules Change In February 2023

0

Alaska Airlines is changing the rules for accessing their Boardroom Airport Lounges which are currently complimentary for all passengers with a First Class ticket but that won’t be the case much longer.

For bookings made on or after November 18, 2022, for travel from February 15, 2023 and beyond, Lounge access will be based on two criteria: Distance (2100+ miles) and date of ticket purchase.

 

Passengers holding a First Class ticket that was purchased prior to yesterday’s announcement will continue to be eligible for access for the year to come, just as nobody will notice a change with tickets currently purchased until the February deadline kicks in. But after that all bets are off.

So far Alaska Airlines was the last airline that still allowed First Class passengers to use their club lounge irrespective of purchasing a membership but this is going to come to an end in mid-February 2023.

You can access their website with all the lounge access rules here.

Alaska is going different ways to facilitate their lounge access coming February and this has the potential to confuse a lot of customers, especially established Alaska fliers.

  • First Class Lounge access:
    • For bookings made on or after November 18, 2022, for travel February 15, 2023 and beyond, Lounge access will be based on two criteria:
    • Distance: Passengers traveling on a paid First Class or a First Class award ticket* on flights operated by Alaska Airlines where one flight has a distance of at least 2,100 miles. Lounge access is granted on the day of the flight only, to all lounges in that day’s itinerary, including connecting flights that are less than 2,100 miles. Lounge access is not included for family or other guests not traveling in First Class. Entrance into other airline clubrooms is not included with First Class fares or awards. To access the Alaska Lounge, passengers must show their eligible same-day First Class boarding pass to the Alaska Lounge Staff. Passengers traveling on a paid First Class or a First Class award ticket* where no single flights exceed 2,100 miles can purchase a discounted day pass**.
    • Club 49 members: Club 49 members can also access the Lounge when traveling on a paid First Class or a First Class award ticket* on flights operated by Alaska Airlines, to, through or from the state of Alaska, regardless of the flight distance, only on their day of flight.
    • For bookings made on or after November 18, 2022 for travel through February 14, 2023: Passengers traveling on a paid First Class or a First Class award ticket* on flights operated by Alaska Airlines have access to Alaska Lounge locations only on their day of flight. Lounge access is not included for family or other guests not traveling in First Class. Entrance into other airline clubrooms is not included with First Class fares or awards. To access the Alaska Lounge, passengers must show their same-day First Class boarding pass to the Alaska Lounge Staff.
    • For bookings made through November 17, 2022 for any future travel date: Passengers traveling on a paid First Class or a First Class award ticket* on flights operated by Alaska Airlines have access to Alaska Lounge locations only on their day of flight. Lounge access is not included for family or other guests not traveling in First Class. Entrance into other airline clubrooms is not included with First Class fares or awards. To access the Alaska Lounge, passengers must show their same-day First Class boarding pass to the Alaska Lounge Staff.

Flights with at least 2,100 miles include coast-to-coast, Hawai’i and international long-haul flights.
*applies to fares booked in C, D, E, J, or I class. Passengers upgraded to First Class, (booked in U class of service) whether complimentary, paid, or using miles do not have complimentary access to the Alaska Lounge.
**Day pass access to an Alaska Lounge location is subject to space availability

I wonder who came up with this extremely confusing set of rules concerning lounge access with Alaska Airlines after they gave lounge access to any First Class passenger flat out for so many years!?

This of course aligns Alaska with the other U.S. carriers that require a membership to access the lounge even as a ticketed domestic First Class passenger. The same policies exist for example with American, Delta and United including the provision that Transcon flights such as Los Angeles-Fort Lauderdale or Seattle-New York are still eligible for lounge access as these flights are over 2,100 miles in distance.

There will be no rule change for non-U.S. oneWorld elite members who are still going to be able to access the lounge when adding their elite number to the reservation:

If you are a oneworld Emerald or Sapphire member that has been earned through an airline other than American or Alaska, you are not required to have an international itinerary. For valid entry, the qualifying frequent flier number must be in your reservation.

Alaska Airlines had a difficult run with their lounges including the constant problems with Priority Pass where members are almost always denied access:

Nearly All Alaska Airlines Lounges Have Just Exited The Priority Pass Network (Yet Again)

Portland  lounges left in early summer, Anchorage last week, and the Los Angeles location as of yesterday (July 23, 2021) which I found to my detriment as I was trying to use it myself.

  • New York JFK remains in the network as the only AS location left (for now)

The Priority Pass has been very strongly pushed and at times over-marketed, especially through credit card products on the U.S. market to the poin of where nowadays every premium credit card product seems to come with a Priority Pass.

Alaska has always been a very prominent member of the PP network and members did like their lounges but the locations in Seattle as well as in Los Angeles started to introduce the feared sign reading:

We’re not accepting Priority Pass or Lounge Club at this time. Apologies for the inconvenience.

While some lounges do indeed limit access for external memberships during peak hours of their own flights Alaska was never one of these as their club facilities are usually large enough.

I always thought that Alaska going the extra mile and offering something extra for their premium passengers is a nice touch but they finally went dumpster diving as well, joining the other U.S. carriers which is too bad.

Conclusion

Alaska Airlines is putting restrictions on their First Class tickets which no longer come with lounge access starting February 15, 2023 with the exception of the long transcon flights of 2100+ miles.

It seems that with these new policies Alaska is trying to combat overcrowding of their lounges which at the same time extracting extra revenue by pushing sales of the Alaska Lounge memberships. I do wonder how many people will bite and purchase a club membership from them, especially as it’s going up in price by another $50 (from January).

What do you make of this change?

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.