Important update: Cathay Pacific has confirmed this lounge was shown in the Priority Pass app in error. It will not join Priority Pass.
“We have no plans for our lounges to join Priority Pass Programme in HK or any location.”
Thanks to Danny Lee of SCMP for the heads-up.
In a surprise addition to its network, and fresh from its ‘divorce’ with Plaza Premium, Priority Pass has revealed a new lounge option for its members at Hong Kong International Airport starting next week.
From Monday 21st June 2021, the usually exclusive First Class section of Cathay Pacific’s ‘The Wing’ lounge will be joining the programme, one of our favourite pre-flight pads worldwide.
It’s a highly rated facility by regulars flying in premium cabins or with the right elite status.
From 1st July 2021, over 50 Plaza Premium lounges globally will be leaving the Priority Pass scheme, and in Hong Kong that was about to have a big impact for members.
That’s because the only three lounge facilities at the airport currently included in the scheme are all operated by Plaza Premium:
- Plaza Premium Lounge (Near Gate 1)
- Plaza Premium Lounge (Near Gate 35)
- Plaza Premium Lounge (Near Gate 60, temporarily closed)
With Hong Kong’s other airline lounge facilities including SIA’s SilverKris lounge and the United Club also temporarily closed due to COVID-19, it was only Cathay Pacific’s ‘The Wing’ First Class lounge left for Priority Pass to make an agreement with.
With limited revenue due to the pandemic, Cathay Pacific has (probably temporarily) agreed to accept Priority Pass guests to help improve the bottom line a little during this difficult period.
Cathay’s other First Class lounge in Hong Kong, ‘The Pier’, is also temporarily closed along with its four Business Class lounges.
This has led to ‘The Wing’ First Class being the only Cathay Pacific and oneworld lounge facility at the airport since April 2020, open to those flying in Business and First Class plus eligible status holders.
Bring two guests
Priority Pass members will also be able to bring two guests into ‘The Wing’, though do note that lounge access “may be restricted due to capacity constraints”.
The move is likely to upset Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Diamond members and those who fly on the airline with oneworld Emerald status attained in different frequent flyer programmes.
Not only is Priority Pass matching the Marco Polo Diamond allowance to bring two guests into the facility, that’s one more than oneworld Emerald status members get!
Furthermore, Priority Pass members won’t even need to be departing on a oneworld carrier – they can be flying on any airline (e.g. Scoot).
What’s ‘The Wing’ First Class like?
As we mentioned above, very few people come away from a visit to ‘The Wing’ First Class lounge disappointed.
The lounge opens at 5.30am and closes after the last Cathay Pacific flight departure of the day (or more accurately the night). This is typically at around 1am to 2am based on the airline’s current limited schedule, varying slightly depending on the day of the week.
Despite COVID-19, the experience at ‘The Wing’ has not changed that much.
À la carte dining at The Haven, a restaurant within the lounge, remains available with alternate tables used for social distancing.
Outside the restaurant section, drinks and snacks that were formerly self-serve can now be ordered with one of the lounge staff for delivery to your seat. Showers and business work stations remain available.
The five cabanas are still accessible for those with lounge access, not only a rare opportunity to soak in a bath tub before a flight, but also a welcome break from your face mask for the 90-minute booking slot!
We wrote a comprehensive review of ‘The Wing’ First Class lounge in July 2018.
Bear in mind that it’s possible Priority Pass members using the lounge could be assigned a separate specific seating area with a more limited F&B selection, and could be ineligible to use the cabanas, but it should still be a very nice experience regardless.
Alcoholic drinks and shower facilities are still being promised by Priority Pass.
Don’t get too excited – it won’t last
While it remains a bit surprising that Priority Pass members will be able to use this excellent lounge in Hong Kong from Monday, it’s worth tempering your expectations for the next time you’re passing through.
Once travel restrictions start to be lifted, Cathay Pacific will need to open at least one of its Business Class lounges, and the best-case scenario is that Priority Pass access will then shift to one of those facilities rather than remaining at this First Class one.
Nonetheless if the proposed Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble ever gets off the ground, this could be an excellent option for those travelling in Economy or Premium Economy Class, even with Singapore Airlines.
Many of us are sitting on a stack of unused Priority Pass lounge visits that accompany our miles earning credit cards.
COVID-19 has certainly dealt us some strange curveballs when it comes to travel for the few people still able to do so internationally to and from the Asia-Pacific region.
Seeing one of the top airline-operated First Class lounges in the world appear on Priority Pass sure is a surprising development, though airlines are welcoming any revenue they can get at the moment, plus there are no other non-Plaza Premium lounge alternatives in Hong Kong for the time being.
Cathay Pacific status holders will probably feel aggrieved by this development, which is akin to opening up SIA’s ‘The Private Room’ in Singapore or BA’s ‘The Concorde Room’ in London to Priority Pass members, but they shouldn’t worry – it’s certain to be a temporary arrangement.
Who knows though – if the Singapore – Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble kicks off in the coming months, we may be able to take advantage of this rare perk… while it lasts!
Hat-tip to One Mile at a Time.
(Cover Photo: Cathay Pacific)