6 things you need to know about Alaska’s new lounge access rules

Apr 3, 2021

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Alaska Airlines is officially a member of the Oneworld alliance.

We’ve previously covered what that means for earning and redeeming miles and elite benefits. Today, we’re going to discuss the implications for Alaska’s lounge access rules.

Alaska has historically been more generous than some other airlines when it comes to lounge access. Luckily, that isn’t changing, though there are some important things you need to know.

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In This Post

First-class passengers still have access — with some restrictions

Unlike the other major U.S. airlines, Alaska continues to offer lounge access to domestic first-class passengers (excluding those who were upgraded). This rule is specifically for those traveling on Alaska-operated flights and doesn’t extend to American Airlines first-class passengers on domestic itineraries.

It’s important to note that first-class lounge access is only available to Alaska Lounges. Unfortunately, Alaska first-class passengers do not get access to other Oneworld lounges, such as Admirals Clubs.

Related: The ultimate guide to Alaska Airlines lounge access

Alaska Lounge entrance
(Photo by Harriet Baskas for The Points Guy)

Alaska elite status doesn’t guarantee access

Although MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members now have Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald status, respectively, and are supposed to receive lounge access — business class lounge access for Sapphires and first-class lounge access for Emeralds — there’s a notable exception.

As is the case for American Airlines AAdvantage elites, Alaska elites don’t get access when traveling solely on North American flights. This restriction applies to flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

That said, if you have Oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status in any program other than Alaska Mileage Plan or American AAdvantage, you can access Alaska Lounges when flying any Oneworld flight the same day. Eligible elites are allowed to bring one guest.

Related: Everything you need to know about Alaska’s partnership with Oneworld

Certain non-Oneworld elites still have access

The same way Alaska MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K members still have access to some non-Oneworld lounges, some non-Oneworld elites still have access to Alaska Lounges. Specifically, Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum members, Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Platinum & Gold members and Icelandair Saga Club Gold members can access Alaska Lounges on eligible international itineraries that connect to/from Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines lounge at LAX
Alaska Airlines lounge at LAX (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access

Most locations accept Priority Pass

Even if you aren’t flying first class and don’t get access through elite status, there’s an easy way to get into Alaska Lounges.

Most Alaska Lounges participate in the Priority Pass program and continue to do so even though they’ve joined the Oneworld network. You sometimes need to wait on a waitlist if the lounge is busy.

Lounges that accept Priority Pass members include:

  • Anchorage (ANC) — Concourse C, near gate C-1
  • Los Angeles (LAX) — Terminal 6 on the mezzanine level, near gate 64
  • Portland Airport (PDX) — Concourse C, across from gate C5
  • Seattle-Tacoma (SEA) — North Satellite on the mezzanine level, above gates N13-18
  • New York-JFK — Terminal 7, on the Mezzanine level, just above security (temporarily closed)

If you don’t already have a Priority Pass membership, here are a few top cards that include it (enrollment required):

No changes for Alaska Lounge members

Like most major airlines, Alaska Airlines sells annual memberships to its lounges. The locations members have access to aren’t changing. Members still get access to all Alaska Lounges, Admirals Clubs, Qantas Clubs, a few United Clubs and some other partner lounges. Similarly, Admirals Club members still have access to Alaska Lounges. Although there is some overlap, Alaska Lounge members will not receive access to other Oneworld lounges unless traveling on an eligible itinerary.

Related: Airport lounge access policies for active-duty military

Active duty military still get free access

A lesser-known perk of being on active duty is that you get airport lounge access with many airlines. Alaska is one of them and their policy isn’t changing. Complimentary Alaska Lounge access continues to be available to military members traveling on active orders only. Service members will need to show their active orders to gain entry.

Bottom line

While Alaska’s entrance into Oneworld brought some new lounge access rules, the changes aren’t very significant. Overall, access is expanding to more passengers, and no one’s losing access. One of the easiest ways to gain access to Alaska Lounges continues to be with a Priority Pass membership.

Featured image by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.

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