Emirates opens airport lounges to economy class passengers

The interior of Emirates’ business lounge at Dubai International Airport. Pic: Sorbis/Shutterstock

EMIRATES is opening up its lounges at its Dubai hub to lower-tier frequent flyer members in what is the latest move by the world’s largest long-haul airline to look for new ways to boost revenues.

Emirates, which reported a 75 percent drop in half-year profit in November, had previously restricted access to these lounges to higher-tier frequent flier members and business or first class travelers.

In an email sent out to Skywards frequent flier members, seen by Reuters, passengers with Blue-tier status, the lowest of four membership categories, can pay US$100 to access the airline’s Dubai business lounge and US$200 for the first class lounge.

An Emirates spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters that the email was sent out to Skywards members.

Other changes to the lounge access policy include Skywards members being allowed to pay for access for non-member travel companions and upgrading from business to first class lounges, according to the email dated January 13.

Will Horton, senior analyst at CAPA – Centre for Aviation, said there could be higher profit on lounge entrance fees than tickets given that it is rare for guests to consume food and beverages worth more than the fee.

SEE ALSO: Millennials are enjoying the ‘airport experience’ more than their parents are

“With a proliferation in the number and quality of pay-as-you-go lounges, it makes sense for Emirates to make a play in this space,” he told Reuters by email.

Emirates, trying to counter the impact of overcapacity in the market and tighter corporate travel budgets, is looking at other additional revenue sources, including fees on bags.

The airline introduced fees for advanced seat selection for economy passengers in October.

Emirates has said it planned to introduce premium economy, a class between economy and business, by 2018.

In a bid to cut costs, Emirates has offered redundancies to staff working in accounting, finance, IT and other head-office departments, sources told Reuters on December 10. The airline has not responded to the report.

SEE ALSO: Will premium economy on Emirates become a reality soon?