Two weeks ago Rewards Canada broke the news of Mastercard Canada switching their business class lounge access membership program from LoungeKey to DragonPass and now we have learned Visa Canada will be doing the same! This appears to be the case for various Visa cards in Canada that provide lounge access, which are some Gold and Visa Infinite Cards and all Visa Infinite Privilege Cards. As of July 1, 2022 Visa Canada’s new airport lounge program will be called Visa Airport Companion (powered by DragonPass).
Here is an excerpt from the new Visa site announcing the new program:
Visa is excited to launch the Visa Airport Companion Program in Canada starting on July 1, 2022!
In order to provide you with the best experience and greatest lounge
coverage based on your needs, we’re consolidating the Global Airport
Lounge Access Program to be solely provided through the Visa Airport
Companion Program (powered by DragonPass). This new Visa Airport
Companion Program will provide you with access to over 1,200 lounges
worldwide including more than 20 lounges within Canada.
As of July 1, 2022, Cardholders who have a Visa Card that is eligible
for the Visa Airport Companion Program will be able to enroll for this
benefit either through the Visa Airport Companion App (available to
download for free) or on the Visa Airport Companion Website
(visaairportcompanion.ca). Enrollment for the Visa Airport Companion
Program will commence on July 1, 2022, which is when both the App and
Website will be live.
Just like with Mastercard this is big news for us here in Canada as if you recall from 2021 there were changes in lounge access due to Plaza Premium cutting most of their ties with Priority Pass who happened to be the partner of pretty much every Visa and Mastercard in Canada.
For some background info here is our coverage from last year:
- Major News: Priority Pass and LoungeKey losing access to most Plaza Premium lounges worldwide
- Sorry for the bad news – It is now confirmed that Canadian Plaza Premium lounges are leaving Priority Pass & LoungeKey
When Plaza Premium announced they were leaving Priority Pass they revealed a new partnership with Dragonpass and now we have both Mastercard and Visa partnering with DragonPass. The reason behind this is that Plaza Premium is dominant lounge provider in Canada and when they left Priority Pass it left very few lounges in the big Canadian cities (namely Toronto and Vancouver) that could be accessed by cardholders. And with those biggest cities being the most populous in terms of credit card holders who get lounge access the credit card issuers needed to do something to keep the cardholders happy. Thus we have now seen both Mastercard and Visa announce the shift to DragonPass. These changes are good for most cities in Canada however you’ll note that Calgary and Ottawa are on the opposite end – they actually have less lounges in Dragonpass than they have with Priority Pass.
The program runs the same as Priority Pass which means by having an eligible Visa card you get free access to the Visa Airport Companion program (normally programs like these charge an annual fee so that’s what it gets you) and then you pay a discounted fee for each lounge visit unless your card provide annual free visit passes. This discounted fee tends to be less than what most of these lounges charge as their walk up fees. The discounted per visit fee will be US$32 just like Mastercard charges.
In terms of annual free passes this is where Visa outshines Mastercard as there are more Visa cards available in the market the do provide free passes. You have the CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card and CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card each providing four passes each, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card providing six passes and then all the of the Infinite Privilege cards in Canada like the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Privilege* Card, RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege and others which offer six passes annually as well.
|Screenshot of CIBC Visa Infinite & Gold’s updated benefits guide announcing this change|
|Screenshot of the CIBC Aventura & Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card’s updated benefits guide|
Unlike the Mastercard partnership which has already launched and is having cardholders already register for membership, the Visa Airport Companion program will not be available until July 1st which coincides with the end of the select Canadian Visa cards receiving limited time Plaza Premium business class lounge access.
Recommended reading: Rewards Canada’s Guide to Business Class Lounge Access
Wrapping it up
This is exciting news for Canadian Visa cardholders that have lounge access as they will now regain permanent access to over a dozen Plaza Premium lounges in Canada. Some of those were cities where Plaza Premium was the only lounge provider, namely Edmonton and Winnipeg but it also provides access once again to many more lounges in Toronto and Vancouver. For the most part this a great development for them! Hopefully we can see DragonPass however add some of the lounges in Calgary and Ottawa that currently aren’t part of the program!
Click here to learn more about the Visa Airport Companion Program
Title image via DragonPass