When 17-year-old businessman Jack Bloomfield was travelling between Brisbane and Sydney on Friday, he stopped at the Qantas lounge, like he has plenty of times before.
This time though, Bloomfield, who started three business ventures and has made himself millions since 2014, was kicked out.
“I’ve never had a problem, but this time they actually asked me if I was 17,” Bloomfield told Yahoo Finance.
“I said yes, and then they told me I wasn’t allowed in - even though I’d been in alone plenty of times before!”
Bloomfield, who had travelled to Sydney twice already this week, just wanted to take advantage of the quiet area and internet facilities so he could reply to emails.
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But he was turned away, even though he’d purchased the business class ticket for those benefits.
While Bloomfield admits not being allowed into the Qantas lounge is a minor issue in the scheme of things, it actually got him thinking about the larger message.
“What are we actually teaching young people about being entrepreneurial? I mean, we want young teenagers to be business-minded, but we’re not really sending the message that we’re taking them seriously,” he said.
Bloomfield’s other point was that Qantas lounges only started serving alcohol at 12pm, meaning under 18s could be allowed access in the morning.
Bloomfield also suggested Qantas could simply ask for ID at the bar, rather than at the entry desk, or alternatively, charge less for the plane ticket if it means you can’t access the lounge.
The Qantas lounge policy officially states that individual membership can only be purchased by individuals who are at least 18 years of age, and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Is this the case for all lounges?
Etihad Airlines, for example, allows minors to access lounges in Abu Dhabi. Its official policy states: “If your child is flying in Business or First, they may use our lounges in Abu Dhabi only.”
Cathay Pacific is another airline that will allow minors to access the lounges, despite also offering liquor.
What’s interesting about that policy is minors can enter a Cathay Pacific lounge as a Qantas Platinum member, but can’t access a Qantas lounge.
The under 18 rule seems to be generally enforced across all Australian airlines, including Virgin Australia.
Should kids be allowed to access the lounge alone?
There’s plenty of discussion around whether under 18s should be allowed to access the lounge, with strong opinions both ways.
On the one hand, the lounge is meant to be a quiet place for business people to take advantage of the facilities available to them, and rowdy children could arguably be quite disruptive.
On the other hand, rowdy adults exist too.
“I actually think all lounge guests should have a file, or a strike count, not just kids. Three strikes, you’re out,” Gilbert Ott from God Save the Points said.
Cathay Pacific has instead introduced a “lounge etiquette guide,” which in short advises guests to keep their voice down, use headphones, set their phone to vibrate and attend to your children properly.
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