As of July 1, 2021, Plaza Premium and Priority Pass have officially ended their partnership, meaning that the Priority Pass memberships on many Canadian-issued credit cards can no longer be used to access the 15 Plaza Premium Lounge locations in Canada.
As a temporary replacement benefit, Visa Canada has now partnered with DragonPass, Plaza Premium’s new partner lounge network, to offer continued Plaza Premium lounge access to Visa cardholders over the upcoming year.
On every Visa product issued in Canada with Priority Pass lounge access benefits, the lounge entitlements have now been replicated on the Plaza Premium side until June 30, 2022.
What Is DragonPass?
Headquartered in Guangzhou, China, DragonPass is a global airport lounge network and one of Priority Pass’s chief competitors.
On June 7, 2021, a few months after Plaza Premium had announced the end of their relationship with Priority Pass, they linked up with DragonPass instead in the form of a new strategic partnership.
Recognizing that Plaza Premium’s exit from Priority Pass has left many Canadian Visa cardholders unduly affected (as they can now no longer access many Plaza Premium Lounges at their home airports), DragonPass has now teamed up with Visa Canada to offer a temporary replacement benefit to Plaza Premium lounges for a one-year period.
DragonPass & Plaza Premium Group Limited Time Program
The new program launched by DragonPass and Visa Canada is known in full as “Visa Global Airport Lounge Access – DragonPass & Plaza Premium Group Limited Time Program”. The landing page can be found here.
Under this program, all Canadian-issued Visa cards that come with Priority Pass lounge access benefits, there will now be an additional set of Plaza Premium lounge access benefits through to June 30, 2022. Cardholders’ exact entitlements on the Priority Pass side will be replicated on the Plaza Premium side.
This means that all Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders will enjoy six complimentary visits to Plaza Premium lounges over the upcoming one-year period, in addition to their existing six complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges:
- BMO eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Card
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
- CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card
- CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Privilege Card
- RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege
Meanwhile, select Visa Infinite and Visa Infinite Business cardholders will enjoy the same number of complimentary visits to Plaza Premium Lounges over the upcoming one-year period as their current Priority Pass entitlements:
- Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card (6 lounge visits)
- Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Business Card (6 lounge visits)
- CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card (4 lounge visits)
No enrollment is required in this program; you simply need to present your eligible Visa credit card at the front desk of a Plaza Premium Lounge to gain access.
A cardholder’s complimentary visit allowance will be verified at the check-in desk by way of a DragonPass profile and user ID, which will be created upon your first visit to a Plaza Premium Lounge using your Visa card:
How are my lounge visits tracked?
Upon your first visit to a participating Plaza Premium Lounge under the Program, a unique user ID and DragonPass profile will be created for you. This user ID is associated with a truncated version of your credit card number, however your full credit card details will not be stored by DragonPass. Each time you visit a participating Plaza Premium Lounge using your Visa card under this Program, your visits will be logged in your DragonPass profile. Upon admission to a participating Plaza Premium lounge, you will be issued an admission slip that will include the number of complimentary visits used (if applicable) and/or details about your paid visit.
If you exceed your complimentary Plaza Premium Lounge visit allowance, additional visits will be charged at US$32 apiece, similar to the existing benefit with Priority Pass.
These complimentary visits can be used at any of Plaza Premium’s 15 locations in Canada or 70 locations worldwide. As per the usual Priority Pass benefits, each visit can be used by either the cardholder themselves or an accompanying guest.
Note that, just like the original Priority Pass benefit, the replacement Plaza Premium lounge benefit applies to supplementary cardholders as well (with the exception of the two Scotiabank products).
Double the Lounge Access Benefits for Visa Cardholders
As a result of this new benefit, eligible Visa Infinite Privilege and Visa Infinite cardholders will essentially receive double the lounge access benefits over the upcoming year.
- 6 complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges during their membership year
- 6 complimentary visits to Plaza Premium Lounges until June 30, 2022
(TD and CIBC Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege cardholders would also receive unlimited Maple Leaf Lounge access in North America prior to travelling on an Air Canada flight as part of their Air Canada card benefits.)
And a CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite cardholder would receive:
- 4 complimentary visits to Priority Pass lounges during their membership year
- 4 complimentary visits to Plaza Premium Lounges until June 30, 2022
Even though the Plaza Premium Lounges in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Winnipeg had previously formed the backbone of Priority Pass’s network across Canadian airports, there are still plenty of non-Plaza Premium locations where you can redeem your complimentary Priority Pass visits within Canada.
Over the upcoming year, eligible Visa cardholders enjoy airport lounge access will be able to sample the full spectrum of these airport lounges with double their usual entitlements.
Essentially, what was initially perceived as a negative change (i.e., Priority Pass and Plaza Premium severing their relationship) may now turn out to be a net positive for Visa cardholders, at least on a temporary basis.
Going forward, I’d certainly expect Visa, DragonPass, and Plaza Premium to work together to build a long-term benefit for Canadian Visa cardholders after the current temporary arrangement ends in June 2022.
What About American Express Cards?
Besides Visa products, the other set of Canadian credit card users who have been affected by the big “PP shakeup” of Summer 2021 are American Express cardholders, who also enjoy Priority Pass lounge access as a benefit on a handful of cards.
However, Amex cardholders largely wouldn’t need a replacement Plaza Premium benefit. That’s because the American Express Platinum Card and American Express Business Platinum Card, two of Canada’s leading premium travel credit cards, had already offered unlimited access to both Priority Pass and Plaza Premium lounges prior to the shakeup.
Previously, these benefits essentially overlapped with each other: you could either use your Priority Pass membership to access Plaza Premium Lounges, or simply flash your Platinum Card or Business Platinum Card directly.
Now, you can still access Plaza Premium Lounges (for yourself and one guest) by flashing your credit card directly, so nothing has been lost.
The only American Express cardholders who might still feel aggrieved are those who have the Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card; these cardholders enjoy 10 complimentary Priority Pass lounge visits, but have not received any kind of replacement benefit for Plaza Premium Lounges. Then again, this was never a very attractive card to hold in the first place, and it’s only gotten less attractive now.
You can refer to the DragonPass landing page for all the details you need to know about the new lounge access benefit for Visa Canada cardholders. The terms and conditions of the Visa Infinite Privilege program have also been updated to reflect the new program.
While the end of the Plaza Premium and Priority Pass partnership had originally sparked fears of a severe devaluation to the lounge access benefits on many Canadian credit cards, this new temporary arrangement with DragonPass until June 2022 ensures that cardholders are well taken care of for the time being, essentially equipping them with double the usual lounge access entitlements for the upcoming year.
I’ll be curious to see whether this translates into a permanent benefit on the Visa Infinite Privilege and select Visa Infinite credit cards, or if Visa and DragonPass have something else up their sleeve following June 2022.