I was at Mumbai Airport (BOM) earlier today, to take the first leg of my flight to New York. Middle of the night flights are quite my forte, but it turned out that this time my usual flight to Brussels 9W228 was taking off at 03:00 AM. The schedule to bring it to BRU late is the first time I knew of it, because I usually travel on this flight 3-4 times a year at least, and it has always been at about 01:00 to 01:30 AM.
The silver lining this time seemed to be the fact that I was booked on an American Airlines codeshare (AA7836) because I was further continuing on an AA flight to JFK. Now, in a perfectly rational world, I’d skip my usual haunt at the Clipper Lounge at Mumbai CSIA Terminal 2, and head to the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge. Reasons? The bullet list below:
- I am (now) an Executive Platinum via the oneworld MegaDo status challenge extended by AAdvantage;
- Executive Platinum on AA is equivalent to the highest tier of oneworld alliance (Emerald);
- All oneworld member airlines (are supposed to) extend status privileges to other member airline elites equivalently;
- When I last checked, British Airways was still a oneworld member airline (in fact, they are supposed to be hosting the MegaDo participants at their Waterside HQ since London thinks they are ow members.)
Like I mentioned above, I booked with American Airlines to get me from BOM to JFK, and usually, my flight routing would have looked like BOM-DEL-ORD-NYC, with BOM-DEL on a codeshare and everything else on American Airlines. Since the soon to be discontinued DEL-ORD flight was going full load, the only options they offered me on the website were BOM-BRU on Jet Airways in a codeshare and BRU-JFK on their own metal. In this case, AA marketed me the flight on Jet Airways and put their codeshare on it.
The oneworld alliance website clearly states on the privileges page,
So, I hop over to Mumbai’s British Airway’s Galleries Club Lounge, with the print of this page in the bag, hoping that it’d make life simpler. The oneworld lounge access policy got updated last year. As a result, members by tier status, could access a lounge of another oneworld carrier internationally, if they were travelling on a flight sold by a ow carrier, or operated by a ow carrier. This simply means if I bought a Jet Airways ticket with an American Airlines codeshare, AA marketed it to me.
However the understanding on the ground was mighty different. I ran into an agent who had a copy of a 2007 British Airways Lounge Access policy which was her sole reference. I presented to her my ticket and boarding pass, and explained to that I was travelling on a oneworld member airline codeshare ticket, and that under the new rules I was eligible to access the lounge.
BA Agent 1: Sir, this is a British Airways lounge and only British Airways travellers are allowed here.
AJ: On the door it states that you welcome oneworld frequent fliers who are Emerald or Sapphire as well.
BA Agent 2: Sir, do you have a British Airways card?
AJ: What card?
BA Agent 1: A Gold or a Silver membership card?
AJ: Umm, no, but I do have an equivalent membership on American Airlines as an Executive Platinum
BA Agent 1: Sorry sir, this is a British Airways Lounge and you are not flying British Airways today.
AJ: But I am travelling on an American Airlines codeshare flight booked via AA.com
BA Agent 2: But it is a Jet Airways flight
AJ: I know, but it was marketed by American Airlines which is a oneworld member just like British Airways. On the door you state you welcome oneworld Emerald status inside. (points towards door again)
BA Agent 2: Yes sir, I know, we’ve put it out there to inform people that we are a oneworld member
AJ: And I am a oneworld flyer. You’re policy changed in 2011 to allow access on codeshare flights.
BA Agent1: But this is not a oneworld lounge. It is a BA lounge. And you cannot access it because we are not a part of oneworld. You should go to the Jet Airways lounge.
AJ: Then why do you state you are… (points towards list of oneworld members)
BA Agent2: We welcome oneworld members in this lounge.
Grrr, I went to myself. Nothing is more irritating than to talk to someone who does not want to listen to you. There were two agents, one with a special services badge (what is that anyways?), and they were both trying to convince me otherwise, stating their policy did not allow them. I invited them to look at the new oneworld policy which is on display at the website. At this point of time, it was no longer about lounge access. They did not want to listen. And we were getting nowhere. No superior to talk to in spite of waiting for 10 minutes, and I got out of there.
I proceeded to the Clipper Lounge next door where I was welcome indeed. I don’t know if reason really has a voice in this world anymore, but just to make sure that BA in India knew that they needed to align their policy and train their agents, I asked to receive this decline in writing. Guess what, they Agent 1 and 2 promptly took down my details again but refused to give anything in writing. Such is life!
What beats rationality is that Cathay Pacific is also a member airline, and in spite of having a BA lounge in the airport, they direct all their passengers to the Clipper Lounge. Beats me.
And if this interests you, this post has largely been composed sitting in the BA Club Lounge (again!) but in Brussels. And this time, I made sure that once I checked-in, the first thing I did was to confirm with the agent, “Are you guys a oneworld member?”
The MegaDo has not even officially begun, but the travel adventures have! Now you guys could go get yourself some swag!