American Airlines has moved to qualify the rules, and smooth the ruffled feathers of top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyers, over access to its US airport lounges.
Last week saw an unannounced change to the lounge access rules on the site of the Oneworld airline alliance, of which both AA and Qantas are partners – with the updated text specifying that
American Airlines AAdvantage members and oneworld top tier status holders, regardless of their tier status, cannot access lounges when travelling solely on North American itineraries within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
Previously it was only members of American's AAdvantage frequent flyer scheme who were excluded from using AA domestic lounges on flights within the US.
However, the addition of 'oneworld top tier status holders' implied this exclusion would hit Gold and Platinum members of the Qantas Frequent Flyer scheme, along with other high-flying Sapphire and Emerald members of Oneworld airlines including British Airways' Executive Club and Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club.
For example, a Qantas Platinum cardholder would be unable to use American's lounges during any travel within the USA.
This caused an understandable uproar throughout the business travel and frequent flyer community.
However, American Airlines and Oneworld now claim the update was made in error.
"It seems that the language in this section of oneworld.com was changed inadvertently and without proper authorisation" Oneworld spokesman Michael Blunt told Australian Business Traveller.
"The good news is that the alliance’s policy has not changed. Top tier cardholders in other member airlines’ frequent flyer programme continue to be welcomed in lounges on purely North American sectors – and everywhere else in the world, subject to usual oneworld rules."
The relevant section of the Oneworld website has now been changed to the previous text, and once again only singles out "American Airlines AAdvantage members" as being unable to enjoy use of AA's own lounges on domestic US flights.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.