Virgin Atlantic and Plaza Premium have announced this morning that Plaza Premium will be taking over the management of all Clubhouse lounges outside the UK.
This arrangement will begin on Monday when the Clubhouse lounge in New York JFK reopens. Here is our review of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at London Heathrow which opened yesterday.
Plaza Premium will also take over responsibility for the Clubhouse lounges in Boston, San Francisco, Washington and Johannesburg as they reopen.
In terms of branding, nothing will change. The lounges will remain as Clubhouses.
It is not clear if the lounges will be opened to the general public for cash or become part of the Plaza Premium lounge pass programme. Even if the lounges do join the main Plaza Premium network for much of the day, they may be reserved exclusively for Virgin Atlantic passengers in the hours before a departure. The San Francisco and Washington lounges previously had such a deal with Priority Pass.
I think that the lounges were currently managed by Sodexo. This move puts control in the hands of a lounge operator which also has the ability to drive new business via its Smart Traveller lounge pass, as well as being a higher quality operator.
There is some genuinely positive news in the announcement:
“Virgin Atlantic and Plaza Premium Lounge have also agreed on the co-development of lounges in other key hubs within the airline’s network. Details will be announced at due course.”
This opens up the prospect of Plaza Premium using the Clubhouse brand to create ‘pay per use’ lounges at airports served by Virgin Atlantic, with the airline becoming the core customer and lending its cache to the site.
In a statement, Virgin Atlantic said:
“We’re delighted to welcome customers back to our Clubhouse at New York JFK offering the signature Virgin Atlantic experience we know they have missed over the past 18 months. With the friendly faces of our Clubhouse team, enhanced health and safety measures at every touchpoint and our innovative food and beverage offering, we will ensure our customers fly safe and fly well.
We look forward to expanding our partnership with Plaza Premium Group to our Clubhouses in North America and South Africa. Our shared values of top-notch hospitality, the most hospitable teams in the industry, a pioneering mindset and dedication to innovation will ensure our customers enjoy every moment of their journey as travel restrictions begin to relax and demand for global travel returns fast.”
I don’t think that Virgin Atlantic passengers should be worried about this move. Plaza Premium has an excellent reputation for running high quality airport lounges, and if Virgin Atlantic was going to partner with anyone I would have wanted it to be Plaza.
It is also true that, with long haul premium cabin travel likely to be depressed for a number of years, an arrangement like this is far better for everyone than Virgin Atlantic deciding to close its overseas lounge network entirely.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (August 2021)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points:
(Want to earn more Virgin Points? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)