Star Alliance may be about to anger some travelers. The organization just updated its terms to allow for airlines to reduce lounge access for elite members. What exactly are elite members looking at? Star Alliance member airlines are no longer obliged to offer automatic lounge access to Star Alliance Gold travelers at airports where third-party lounges are in use.
The change regarding lounge access isn't going to impact Gold travelers at airports that have official Star Alliance lounges or Star Alliance member airline lounges. However, anyone who has traveled as a Gold traveler in the past may already know that some airports contract third-party lounges for their top-tier passengers because they don't have branded lounges. The new rule basically means that airports without Star Alliance lounges don't have to pamper Gold-status travelers.
Star Alliance decided to jump to this new policy mostly because one of its biggest airlines already did. United Airlines recently implemented the policy without approval from the Star Alliance. Star Alliance could have simply told United that it was in violation of the rules. However, a decision was made to amend the formal policy to fit United's new rule.
United Airlines has stopped offering lounge access to Star Alliance Gold travelers at more than 20 airports around the world. The list includes Lima, Glasgow and Cape Town. The fact that United has made the change doesn't mean that every airline will. It is possible that many Star Alliance carriers will choose to simply appease customers by continuing to follow the old policy.