Is it Possible to Buy BA Lounge Access?
I recently visited Etihad’s business and first class lounge at Heathrow’s T3. Whilst the lounge has recently been taken over by a third-party operator, prior to this Etihad (like many other airlines) was selling entry to economy passengers who were prepared to pay £45 per person. As British Airways is the preferred airline for the majority of our readers, I thought it would be useful to explore whether BA has gone down the same route as Etihad by offering a British Airways lounge access day pass…
British Airways operate over 30 lounges ranging from the exclusive Concorde Room at Heathrow’s T5 (reviewed here) to the entry-level Galleries lounges. With so many BA airport lounges it’s no wonder I’m regularly asked about entry criteria and possible methods of gaining access.
Here’s something you may find interesting – in 2018 approximately 78 million passengers passed through Heathrow and of these 38 million used Terminal 5! With T5 exclusively used by British Airways and Iberia (owned by the same parent company as BA), that’s a staggering number of people who may want to gain access to a BA executive lounge.
Whilst there are a total of 5 British Airways lounges at Terminal 5 (technically 6 if you include the arrivals lounge), accommodating the huge number of business and first class travellers as well as executive club members is enough of a challenge – especially during peak times!
As the British Airways lounges experience heavy footfall, British Airways have refrained from offering the ability to buy BA lounge access, much to the frustration of those who don’t qualify for entry and would be prepared to pay to enter a BA executive lounge!
Let’s take a look at the requirements for British Airways lounge access and more importantly the alternatives if you’re not eligible.
British Airways Lounge Access Rules
Whilst it’s not possible to purchase a British Airways lounge access day pass you may still be eligible to gain entry to a BA airport lounge – full details can be found on the British Airways website here.
As you’d expect there are a number of variables that will influence whether you gain BA lounge access. Let’s take a look at the various options:
- Galleries Club Lounges – Complimentary access to those travelling in either Club Europe or Club World, or alternatively British Airways Executive Club Silver members (or oneworld Emerald) flying with either BA or another oneworld airline.
- Galleries First Lounges – Complimentary access to those travelling in first class, and British Airways Executive Club Gold members (or oneworld Sapphire) flying with either BA or another oneworld airline.
- Concorde Room – Passengers flying in first class or holders of the Concorde Room card. To obtain the CR card you need to earn 5,000 tier points in a membership year – an almost impossible challenge for most people as we discuss here!
- Galleries Arrivals Lounge – Available to passengers flying on a BA flight in either first or business (Club World) or a Gold member of the BA Executive Club arriving on a BA long-haul flight.
Don’t qualify for any of the above British Airways lounges? Not to worry, there are a number of alternative options as you’ll see below.
Alternatives to a British Airways Lounge Day Pass
Can you pay to enter airport lounges? It’s a question I’m regularly asked. The answer is of course yes however as we’ve recently written here, there are ways to access some for free – yes that’s right – for free!
Within the UK there are 3 main lounge providers, being No 1 Lounges (who operate the Etihad lounge I visited and reviewed here), Aspire and Plaza Premium. Each offers the ability to purchase access through their website with pricing generally ranging from £20 to £40 per person.
But what if you don’t want to pay every time you visit a lounge? Introducing Priority Pass which offers access to over 1,200 airport lounges. The premium membership (Prestige) comes with an annual fee of £339 and offers members free visits.
This is however poor value. If you regularly travel with a companion, you’d have to pay a further £20 per visit for a guest pass. An alternative option would be to sign up to the American Express Platinum Card which alongside a long list of benefits also includes a complimentary Priority Pass Select card. The ‘Select’ version allows free access for both the cardholder and a guest. That’s not all. If you choose to give your travel companion a free supplementary American Express Platinum card they’ll also receive a complimentary Priority Pass – essentially providing the ability to bring a total of 4 guests into a lounge for free.
Now the Platinum card comes with a whopping annual fee of £595 which will rule it out for most. However, there’s an alternative, more financially viable option. The American Express Gold Card offers 2 free lounge passes as one of the perks for signing up. You’ll also receive a further 10,000 points when you spend £3,000 on the card (12,000 if you use this link) making it one of the most generous free credit cards on the market. After 1 year those sneaky people at American Express begin to charge an annual fee of £140 so we’d recommend most people cancel before the end of the first year…
What about British Airways Avios lounge access?
Whilst some airlines allow you to redeem air miles for lounge access, unfortunately unless you’re using your Avios points to purchase either a business class or first class ticket you’re unable to gain access to a BA executive club lounge using Avios points.
What are the rules for British Airways Executive Club lounge access?
The general rule is that Silver members are able to gain access to Galleries Club lounges with Gold members benefiting from access to Galleries First Class lounges. If you reach the dizzy heights of Gold Guest List at 5,000 tier points you’ll also receive a Concorde Room card. Full details can be found here.
Let’s Wrap This Up
BA lounge access rules are relatively simple. Unless you’re travelling in either business or first class or are either a Silver or Gold member of the Executive Club or oneworld equivalent (or flying with someone that is) you’ll be unable to benefit from British Airways lounge access. As we’ve seen, all is not lost. It’s possible to either purchase entry directly through the lounge operators or alternatively benefit from complimentary access with the likes of the American Express Gold card. With a market-leading sign-up bonus and other benefits such as the 2 free lounge passes, it’s no surprise the Gold card is currently our favourite credit card for travellers – read our full review here to learn more.