AviationFor US$75, you can enjoy the high life, and the noodles, at these airports.

Cathay Pacific lounges to welcome paying economy passengers, but not everyone is happy

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Cathay Pacific will allow economy class passengers into its premium lounges – for a fee.
Cathay Pacific will allow economy class passengers into its premium lounges – for a fee.

The pilot scheme will run until March 31 with industry observers suggesting the airline is testing it as an additional revenue earner to help recoup its on-going losses.

Good news for Cathay Pacific’s economy frequent fliers, not so much for the airline’s business and first travellers. The airline is opening up lounge access in Manila, Melbourne and Vancouver airports to the economy hoi polloi for the sum of US$75. 

The pilot scheme will run until March 31 with industry observers suggesting the airline is testing it as an additional revenue earner to help recoup its on-going losses.

If all goes well, paid lounge access to economy passengers looks likely to roll out through more airports.

The airline’s lounges feature bartenders and noodle bars, as well as comfortable seating and shower facilities. 

Already popular, the lounges can be crowded at peak times, and Cathay’s top-tier fliers have apparently reacted coolly. One flier said Manila’s lounge is often crowded, especially when flights are delayed, and the premium image of the lounge will be affected.

Other airlines already offer paid lounge access, including Emirates and Etihad. 

At Hong Kong International Airport, Plaza Premium charges the same US$75 for two hours of  business lounge use, US$90 in its first class lounge. 

For Cathay, the additional revenue stream joins the recent charges for seat reservation, additional baggage and business class seat auctions.

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