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I always assumed that business class travellers on an airline came above star alliance gold status members so far as lounge access policy was concerned.

But I was just reading Lufthansa's policy for Frankfurt and their Senator lounge access table says Yes for Star Alliance Gold but No for Business class ( presumably even on Lufthansa's own flights)

https://www.lufthansa.com/er/en/admission-rules

Just found it interesting and was wondering if there is a consistent policy across airlines. Do business class flyers get less or more lounge access than star alliance gold.

Eg take Turkish airlines at Istanbul: both lounges are accessible for business flyers but only one is allowed for star alliance gold flyers flying economy.

This would indicate that SA Gold is lower down the pecking order than Business class.

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  • Same is with United, business/first domestic flyers are not entitled to lounge access at all, but SA Gold flying coach are
    – littleadv
    Dec 14, 2023 at 23:01
  • @littleadv Thanks. Not that I mind it. I am SA Gold and OTOH never fly revenue Business. :):) Dec 15, 2023 at 2:57
  • @littleadv: I don't think that is not entirely correct. United is fairly stingy to their own members, SA Gold gets you ONLY if you have Gold status through an airline that's NOT United. Otherwise the lounges would be flooded with Gold/Platinum/1k every day
    – Hilmar
    Dec 15, 2023 at 13:28

2 Answers 2

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is there is a consistent policy across airlines ?

I don't believe so. Most lounge policies are rather complicated and difficult to read. The question of a "pecking" order really just comes into play at locations where the airline operates multiple lounges with different levels, which are typically the main hubs only.

In most cases, the highest level is reserved for the top airline tier and/or highest ticket class. That typically excludes Star Alliance Gold. Examples are the ANA Suites, Singapore First Class, LH First class, United Polaris, etc.

LH is a bit of an outlier since they operate three lounge levels ( business, senator, First) and they also do the business/senator split in a few non-hub airports (LHR for example). I'm guessing this is because LH flies a lot of business class within Europe, which is a relative low revenue ticket and they want to entice higher revenue costumers with Senator status. Personally, I've been to both types of lounges many times and don't feel that there is much of a difference.

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The policies vary between airline.

In most cases where multiple levels of lounge exist, business class would be considered "higher" than status-based access. For example, United Airlines "Polaris" lounges are only accessible by Business Class passengers, whilst those with status travelling in Economy are relegated to their lower-level United Class lounges. In many cases these business class-only lounges are significantly better than the status-based alternatives.

The same is also true at the Turkish Lounges in the new Istanbul airport as you mentioned. In the old Istanbul airport this was not the case and there was a single lounge used by all eligible passengers, however even then there were specific perks of the lounge that were only accessible for business class passengers - such as the use of the sleeping rooms, or the direct land-side access to the lounge (which included it's own security and immigration check-points).

Lufthansa Group airlines (which includes Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian) for some reason have this reversed - Business Class passengers have access to their Business Class lounges, whilst those with status (in any class) have access to their Senator Lounges. The "Senator" lounges are deemed to be better than the normal lounges, but in practice are generally pretty much the same as the business lounges - with potentially one or two additional minor perks such as slightly better food or alcohol.

Lufthansa also operate "First Class" lounges in some location which are a higher level of service than both their Business and Senator Lounges, and only accessible by first class passengers. To some extent, these lounges are the nearer equivalent of the lounges like the United Polaris lounge - especially given that most airlines now days no longer offer First Class.

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  • United Polaris is reserved for Polaris passengers which is United's top tier as they don't have international firs (Global First) anymore. Normal business class does not get you in the Polaris lounge. Domestic First doesn't even get you into the regular United Club (unless it's a so-called premium segment). United lounge access is a mess.
    – Hilmar
    Dec 15, 2023 at 16:11
  • Polaris is NOT a "top tier". It's the name for United's International Long-Haul business class - regardless of status. (I'm pretty familiar with it - my last Polaris flight was yesterday from Europe to the US)
    – Doc
    Dec 15, 2023 at 16:14
  • maybe that's just semantics. United has plenty of international business class flights that are not Polaris. Lima is (typically) Polaris, Quito only regular international business. That's something that I always check carefully before booking. IMO Polaris is the best the United has to offer and it's not available on all flights
    – Hilmar
    Dec 16, 2023 at 15:40

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