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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.
We have an excellent question today from TPG reader Bradley, who sent us a Facebook message asking…
Does Canada qualify as an international itinerary for Oneworld Sapphire or Emerald lounge access?TPG Reader Bradley
Having elite status on one of the Big 3 legacy airlines means you also have additional status with that airline’s associated alliance — Oneworld, Star Alliance or SkyTeam. For every elite level on United, American or Delta, you can get extra benefits when traveling internationally or on partner airlines.
One of the more popular perks of upper-tier alliance status from these US airlines is lounge access when traveling internationally. With all three carriers, when you’re on an international flight on an alliance airline and have more than the lowest-level elite status, you can enter an alliance lounge for free in your departure city on the day of your flight, even if you’re booked in economy.
But what exactly does “international” mean? Well, according to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “international” is…
of, relating to, or affecting two or more nations international trade
of, relating to, or constituting a group or association having members in two or more nations international movement
active, known, or reaching beyond national boundaries an international reputation
That certainly sounds like Canada qualifies, right? Well, unfortunately, airlines don’t follow Merriam-Webster’s definition of “international.” Instead, they will insist on using their own terms and conditions, which can contain exceptions to the international lounge policy.
For instance, according to Oneworld…
American Airlines AAdvantage members, regardless of their tier status or class of travel, are not eligible for lounge access when travelling solely on North American flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
Boo. So while you won’t get lounge access as an American Oneworld elite when traveling between the US and Canada, you should still get it if you’re traveling to or from Canada to another nation not on this exception list. For instance, a flight from Toronto to London on British Airways should get you lounge access in Toronto as a Oneworld Sapphire — the level given to AA Platinums and Platinum Pros — or Oneworld Emerald for American Executive Platinums.
But hang on! Not everyone is such a Scrooge. Delta’s SkyTeam Elite Plus status is somewhat more generous…
International Travel includes: Customers traveling to/from Europe, Asia, South America, Central America, Africa, Canada and Mexico (excludes travel to/from the Caribbean, Guam and Saipan).
Canada makes the cut with Delta, so you’re in luck as a Delta Diamond, Platinum or Gold if you’re flying from the US to Canada. How about United’s Star Alliance?
An international itinerary includes travel to or from any destination outside the 50 United States. Travel to or from Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Guam and Mexico are considered international itineraries for the purposes of United Club access.
That’s the most liberal policy of all three, with Canada, Guam and the Caribbean all included as international destinations.
It’s important to keep in mind when traveling to or from the US on American, Delta or United, the rules that govern lounge access are set by them, not the alliance, and are different depending on which airline you earned your elite status on in the first place. So if your status comes from an airline other than the ones listed here, you’ll need to check the terms and conditions to determine if there are any different restrictions.
Featured image of the Cathay Pacific lounge in Vancouver courtesy of Cathay Pacific.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees