American Express is the only network in India that has been able to offer its own stand-alone lounges. In a country that has airport operators getting into the lounge business and with massive queues outside contract lounges due to the complimentary lounge access offered by almost all debit and credit cards, the USP of American Express was the part where they have exclusive lounges for their cardmembers in Delhi and Mumbai for domestic transit passengers. However, RuPay is now looking to break into the big boys’ club with its own marketing budget and an airport lounge.
RuPay prepares to launch its own lounge at Delhi Airport.
Over the past few weeks, Gate 41 at Delhi Airport’s Terminal 3 is abuzz again. This was where the Vistara Lounge used to be located (it shut down during the pandemic, as the airport operator wanted the space back). On a flight out of Terminal 3 in January, I noticed the big work area come up.
RuPay is serious about bringing more than one lounge in India, and this is perhaps a testbed to see the way forward for the network. It makes business sense as well. The costs of offering lounge access via your own lounge are lesser compared to paying a contracted lounge operator. So, while you pay INR 2 towards authentication, that is not the amount payable for the lounge, which is the reason why banks are being brutal about cutting down lounge access.
As is predictable, the current lounge operator will manage this lounge after taking over all the other available lounge space in Delhi Airport, including the American Express Lounge. With this move, the only lounge in Delhi without a lounge operator taking care of it is the Air India Lounge.
It will be interesting to see if RuPay enables lounge access for a wider variety of customers or restricts it to the RuPay Select Credit/Debit Cards.
Work is ongoing to launch India’s first RuPay airport lounge, which will come up at Delhi Airport’s Terminal 3 Gate 41. The lounge will be in the same spot where Vistara’s Lounge used to be earlier. A timeline towards launch is unclear at the moment, but Encalm Hospitality will manage the lounge.
What do you make of RuPay offering their own Lounge?
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