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Extra ‘secret’ Amex Platinum benefit – access to Virgin Australia

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The American Express Platinum charge card offering differs from country to country.  Whilst the cards look the same wherever you go (unless you turn them over) you receive different benefits depending on where it is issued.  These benefits do NOT always apply to holders of American Express Platinum cards issued in other countries.

Of course, when the cards look the same, it is easy to pass them off.

I’m sure that plenty of holders of non-UK and non-French Amex Platinum cards have used the Eurostar lounges, for example, even though it is not meant to happen.

This works both ways though.

Reader Liz dropped me a note to say that she was able to access Virgin Australia lounges on a recent holiday in Oz, despite flying on a £12.50 economy ticket!

As you can see from the Australian website for the Platinum card (don’t get wound up by the 80,000 points sign-up bonus!), you can flash your card to get in.  Here are the rules:

Access is complimentary for Basic Platinum Card member and one guest only. The Basic Platinum Card member and guest must be travelling with Virgin Australia domestically. Access is to Virgin Australia-branded lounges in Australia only. Name on boarding pass must match the name on Platinum Card. The Platinum Card member and guest must present his or her valid Card and same-day boarding pass (containing your Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer number and status) to Virgin Australia lounge agents. One guest per Basic Platinum Card member permitted. Guest must be travelling on same Virgin Australia flight and present boarding pass. All access is subject to space availability. This benefit is subject to change.

Lounges are available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Mackay, Cairns and Gold Coast airports.

It doesn’t even say that non-Australian Platinum cards are not allowed, although that is almost certainly the case.  It would surely be mentioned in the marketing material for the UK card if it was.

It isn’t clear why it says that your frequent flyer details must show on your boarding pass – this was not an issue for Liz.

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Comments (12)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • David says:

    This seems to me to be slightly the wrong side of the illegal/unethical line. If Amex Australia are paying VA for use of their lounges then what right does a foreign Plat user have to enter?

    • JQ says:

      1. They’re all the same company anyway
      2. It’s not illegal if the dragon lets you in
      3. If they don’t like it, they can always get the dragon to check the first 4 digits of the card

    • Hingeless says:

      The £450 fee?

    • Rob says:

      None, in theory, but Amex is one big global business.

  • Guesswho2000 says:

    The requirement for the FF# makes it Au only – I dont think you can join VA Velocity if you’re a non resident

    • callum says:

      Well I did, though I was in Australia at the time so had an Australian address. You could just use your hotel address when signing up – once you have the card then the address doesn’t really matter (even that probably doesn’t matter if you can quote the number!).

  • BarbicanAndy says:

    Is it safe to assume that this also applies to Centurion Cards. Despite having one I do slum it down the back now and then 🙂

  • Nick Burch says:

    Virgin Australia partner with Virgin Atlantic and Etihad, so your FF number on the boarding pass could be one of those.

    The Virgin Australia lounge in Melbourne is quite nice for a domestic lounge, miles better than anything in the states! Huge selection of beers, salads, and DIY toasty machines 🙂

  • Robert Kennedy says:

    The lounge at Ko Samui airport in Thailand gives access with Amex Platinum but only if issued by a Thai bank. I tested the Dragon and she refused me – she didn’t look at the card she just asked if I had a Thai issued one and I said no.Thankfully they took prioritypass anyway.

    I used a lounge recently at San Jose airport in Costa Rica, which took Amex Platinum for entry without problems. Dunno if they were limited to only locally issued ones. The lounge was terrible tho, you had to pay for soft drinks!

    • Rob says:

      It seems that various Canadian lounges also give access, albeit most are in Priority Pass anyway. This includes Plaza Premium lounges in Canada.

  • Simmo says:

    These new AMEX Centurion lounges in the states are next on the list to try. They seem to have them in LAS, MIA, and SFO at the moment.

    Looks like no regional restrictions on who they let in here.

    Anybody have any experience?

    • Alan says:

      You’re entitled to access to those with UK Plat card – no problem. Have been to the one in LAS – was a big step up from the usual lounge in the USA!

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