Some travelers feel like they're being left out in the cold based on lounge access rules for airlines that are part of the oneworld® alliance. The lounge rules are supposed to mean that members who qualify for oneworld® Sapphire status can enjoy the Business Class lounges offered by any of the 13 airlines that participate as part of the alliance. Members who qualify for oneworld® Emerald status should be welcomed at the First Class lounges of all oneworld® airlines. However, this isn't always how it plays out.

Some airlines have stipulations that exclude members from other oneworld® airlines from enjoying the best. For instance, the Concorde Room from British Airways is only available to First Class passengers flying with British Airways. Any frequent travelers with Emerald status through oneworld® will be directed to a separate First Class lounge that pales in comparison when they show up. British Airways also has a similar policy for its arrivals lounge at London Heathrow's Terminal 5. This exclusive lounge is only available to Business Class passengers and First Class passengers using long-haul flights and members of the British Airways Executive Club Gold. No equivalency from other oneworld® airlines is recognized in this lounge. American Airlines also has some tough rules when it comes to getting access to its Flagship Lounges. The airline will grant access to oneworld® Emerald members traveling in Economy Class on any haul. However, the airline isn't so generous when it comes to its own members. Even AAdvantage members in the highest tiers aren't granted lounge access unless they are booked on international flights headed for destinations beyond North America.

The airline world is full of examples of lounge restrictions that leave travelers feeling like they've gotten the short end of the stick. While it's true that oneworld® does set up some basic rules for its participating airlines when it comes to lounge access, the reality is that those airlines have a lot of freedom to bend the rules. Many airlines use loopholes to keep their lounges exclusive without actually breaking the rules.

Pedro Pla is co-founder of He has been around the globe several times and considers collecting air miles and points from credit cards to be a hobby, if not, an obsession. Email: