Qantas will now let low-tier frequent flyers purchase single-visit passes to its domestic and international airport lounges.
Lounge passes will cost $49 (or 7,000 Qantas Points) for entry into domestic Qantas Club lounges; $69 (or 9,900 Qantas Points) for International Business Class lounges (such as Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles); and $99 (or 14,500 Qantas Points) for the new category of single-class Premium International lounges at Hong Kong and Singapore and, from March 2017, London).
Passes won't be sold for the more up-market first class lounges.
The scheme is being introduced on a trial basis, with passes restricted to Bronze and Silver-grade Qantas Frequent Flyer members booked to travel at what Qantas describes as 'off-peak periods depending on the time, day and route, when there is capacity in the lounges.'
"Off-peak basically means when we know it will be quiet, based on our monitoring of loads and the schedule," a Qantas spokesperson explained to Australian Business Traveller.
For domestic lounges this will typically mean Qantas flights departing during the middle of the day on weekdays, except for school holidays and other peak travel seasons.
However, given that Qantas flights from the overseas international lounges at Los Angeles, Singapore and Hong Kong tend to leave around the same time, it's likely there will be very few invitations offered to those lounges.
Eligible flyers will receive an email invitation to purchase lounge access for themselves as well as their travelling companions between three and five days prior to travel.
The passes will be sold only online, and will not be available at the lounge itself on the day of travel.= Qantas is quick to address concerns that this could lead to over-crowding. "We regularly monitor lounge capacity so invitations to purchase a lounge access pass will only be made available during what we know are quiet times," the spokesperson said, adding that the trial is currently on-going.
"During the months ahead we're going to regularly monitor take-up to determine interest from recipients and importantly, capacity in the lounges to see if we need to make any further tweaks to the offer."
Qantas will control the number of invitations sent, and passes will be sold in limited amounts to avoid overcrowding.
In the event that substantial and widespread flight delays results in packed lounges which are at capacity, passengers who have purchased a one-off lounge access pass 'will be provided a refund if they cannot be accommodated'.