Credit card based lounge access at Indian airports

Airport lounges are a critical benchmark, and a key selling point for airlines across the world. Be it for their premium class passengers or their loyal and frequent fliers, airlines spend millions of dollars on these oases of peace, calm, exclusivity and privacy and rightly so. In this day where passengers are treated more like cattle than humans, a little tranquillity helps soothe the nerves.

So where does that leave the mere economy class passenger who is not a jet-setting road warrior with thousands if not millions of air miles under their belt?

To escape the madding crowd, a relatively simple answer is credit cards.

Many credit card issuing companies offer airport lounge access with their premium level credit cards.

Recently American Express unveiled its American Express Platinum Lounge at Terminal 1C at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai. Amex has a similar lounge at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Access to both these lounges are free for The Platinum Card (charge card) holders, but holders of Platinum Credit Cards like the Kingfisher Card will be charged an entry fee.

Lounge guests can obtain snacks or a full meal with table service.

Probably the best airport lounge access program in India comes from MasterCard. Typically offered at the Platinum level, MasterCard has teamed up with the Oberoi hotels group to offer lounge access program at five metro airports across India.

International terminals

1. Mumbai Clipper lounge – Terminal 2B
2. Kolkata Clipper lounge
3. Chennai Clipper lounge
4. New Delhi Clipper lounge
5. Bangalore Executive business class lounge

Domestic terminals

1. Mumbai – Clipper lounge at Terminal 1B on the first floor
2. Mumbai – Clipper bar & restaurant at terminal 1A on the mezzanine
3. Mumbai – Clipper lounge bar inside the security hold area of Terminal 1B
4. Kolkata – Top desk restaurant and bar
5. Kolkata – Clipper lounge in the departure area
6. Cochin – Clipper restaurant and bar

Please check with your bank if they are participating in the lounge program, and if your Mastercard is eligible. From research we found Citibank, SBI, HSBC, HDFC and RBS participating.

The lounge access program is only meant for cardholders of MasterCard issued in India. The lounge operator will take an authorisation for Rs. 25, which will be reversed, and will allow access to the lounge only upon successful authorisation of the MasterCard. Also you are allowed only one entry per day per card holder.

ICICI customers are the unlucky lot here. ICICI is deep with VISA, and unfortunately VISA has no lounge access program that we are aware of. For the few MasterCards ICICI does offer, the bank’s website does not indicate the bank’s participation in the lounge program.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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