Ways to enter airport lounges without a business class ticket

Ways to enter airport lounges without a business class ticket

The Independent’s recent survey shows that more travelers are opting to pay for access to airport lounges before their flights, as air travel resumes and airports become increasingly crowded. This trend reflects a sentiment similar to Jean-Paul Sartre’s famous quote, “hell is other people.”

What draws people to pay £30 or £40, potentially even more than the cost of their flight, for this experience? These are the main inquiries and responses.

What sets pay-per-use lounges apart from the departure lounge?

“Departure lounge” is the generic term for the large waiting area close to the boarding gate for your flight. Airport lounges are more exclusive spaces where you typically get complimentary food and drink, more room to relax and a working zone. Some also provide an excellent view over the airfield.

For numerous individuals who travel, a lounge symbolizes a safe haven from the chaotic crowds, providing a feeling of tranquility in contrast to the hustle and bustle outside.

According to a survey on X (previously known as Twitter), 27% of the 13,000+ participants reported paying for a lounge during their most recent trip through a UK airport. Another 24% stated that they receive complimentary access to lounges.

How do complimentary lounges operate?

Not all lounges are equal, and indeed the classiest are those run by airlines for their commercially important passengers (CIPs). The first was opened at what is now New York’s La Guardia airport in 1939 by American Airlines. British Airways opened its first Executive Club at London Heathrow in the early 1980s. Concorde passengers were the initial beneficiaries.

To obtain access, you can either purchase a business or first-class ticket or achieve a high frequent-flyer status by spending a significant amount with the airline or its alliance. This status is generally recognized within the Oneworld, Skyteam, and Star alliances.

In numerous regions, it is not feasible to purchase entry into an airline lounge. However, in the US, I have spent approximately $60 (£50) for access to both American Airlines and United lounges during lengthy layovers.

What if I am traveling on a low-cost airline?

Except for The Gateway at Gatwick, which is managed by No 1 Lounges for easyJet, most low-cost airlines do not offer pay-per-use lounges. However, they may offer access for purchase as an ancillary service. Passengers with affordable tickets on “traditional” airlines like British Airways are also unlikely to have access unless they have elite status, which can be obtained through frequent trips on BA or its Oneworld partners.

To access a lounge, the recommended option is to make a purchase. In the UK, the most affordable option I have come across is £18.99 per person for two people traveling together at easyJet’s The Gateway in Gatwick North Terminal. This rate is for one hour; for two hours, it is £22.99, and for three hours, it is £27.99 per person.

Gatwick – the biggest budget-airline airport – has five pay-per-visit lounges at North Terminal and four at South Terminal, as well as dedicated airline lounges for British Airways and Emirates.

The standard price for two to three hours is usually £30 or £40, but at Manchester airport’s 1903 Lounge, it costs £50. You can enter the lounge no earlier than 2 hours and 30 minutes before your flight. Our promise is to provide impeccable attention to detail, sophistication, and exclusivity. Indulge in our high-quality food and drink options, and relax in our meticulously designed lounge that will transform your perspective. Champagne is available, along with a view of the airfield that is touted as the best.

The cost for access to the exclusive Clubrooms at Gatwick North is £45. This price includes fast-track security, typically priced at £7, as well as “Hosted table service” and a wider selection of complimentary food options and cocktails. The Clubrooms do not allow children under 12 years old and have a dress code that does not permit tracksuits or sports jerseys. Additionally, the Clubrooms are only open from 6am to 2:30pm, coinciding with the busiest departure times at the airport in Sussex.

Is it possible for me to remain in the lounge if my flight is delayed?

This will vary depending on the lounge’s policy and level of activity. No 1 Lounges provides a “guaranteed delay cover” which allows you to remain at ease in the lounge until your departure time.

What are travelers expressing?

Kathy Lewis, one of the fans, shared with me that they prioritize comfort, tranquility, and minimal noise. They also appreciate the availability of nice restrooms and unlimited food and drinks. They also mentioned the convenience of having WiFi. In comparison to the expensive prices of food and drinks at the departure lounge, they find it reasonably priced.

Hannah Rostill shared: “I took my grandson to Crete in July, during the first week of school holidays. Knowing how crowded it can be, I booked a lounge. It was definitely worth it to have a reserved table instead of searching for a place to sit. The extra cost was well worth it.”

Ian Naylor stated that UK lounges are subpar compared to those in other countries, often crowded with children and individuals indulging in excessive drinking and low-quality sausages within a limited time frame of 120 minutes.

Shaun Sayers addressed the topic, stating that he was unsure if all of them were still peaceful havens, Simon. The last time he visited one, it resembled a family-friendly pub where soup was served endlessly and at no cost.

The amount of time spent: A survey on X social media platform indicating interest in pay-per-use airport lounges.

Can you purchase memberships for airport lounges?

I pay £650 every year for an American Express Platinum credit card. One of its main perks is extensive travel insurance that covers worldwide trips. Additionally, it provides complimentary access to over 1,400 airport lounges in more than 140 countries through the Priority Pass program.

In general, this functions well. However, as the lounges become more and more popular, there are instances where I am unable to enter: at Toronto and Atlanta, the wait time was too long and I would have missed my flight.

When purchasing directly from Priority Pass, there are three types of membership available.

  • The standard requires a £69 initial payment in order for the member and one guest to gain entry. An additional £24 per person must be paid for admission.

  • For £229, you can purchase the Standard Plus package which includes 10 lounge visits. Each additional member and guest visit will cost £24.

  • For an unlimited number of visits, the cost is £419 for Prestige members. Each additional guest will cost an extra £24 per visit.

What other options are available if you do not wish to spend money on lounge access?

I enjoy visiting Wetherspoons, whether it’s located airside (past security) at Stansted, which offers a great view of the airfield, or landside (near the departure gates) at Gatwick South. A cup of tea or coffee with unlimited refills is priced at £3.25.

Chris Dunn expressed his enjoyment of being among the bustling crowd at the main airport. He specifically mentions Dublin airport as a favorite spot where he could relax with a pint of Guinness at the gate. However, this preference does not extend to Ryanair gates, based on his personal experience.

One option for travelers is to book a day room at an airport hotel. On the website DayUse, a stay at the Delta by Marriott near Edinburgh airport can be purchased for £61 for two people, which includes access to the pool.

At certain airports, such as Madeira, the scenery from the outdoor terrace is so impressive that it would be absurd to stay indoors.

How about lounges for arrivals?

Mostly, these are reserved for CIPs traveling on long-haul flights. Another option is to book a day room at an airport hotel, such as the Ibis Styles at Birmingham airport, which costs £55 for two people.

Which lounge has been your favorite and least favorite?

I am not a fan of alcohol-free lounges, and the one at Antalya airport in southern Turkey was especially unenjoyable. At Berlin’s new airport, I was informed that my card was not valid for the designated lounge, but I could access a beer and sandwich from the airport cafe using a QR code (which were both surprisingly good).

Reworded: I used to greatly appreciate the Heathrow Terminal 5 lounges of British Airways, with their wide array of food and drink options and conducive working spaces. However, my Silver membership was revoked due to my insufficient flight spending. The ultimate lounge experience, in my opinion, was at Japan Airlines in Tokyo’s Haneda airport. It offered a peaceful atmosphere, excellent showers, and endless sushi.

Instead of just trusting me, let’s listen to what the experts have to say. Rhys Jones from headforpoints.com shares his recommendations for when the cost of a ticket is not a concern: “In the United Kingdom, we have a large number of lounges, especially at Heathrow Terminal 3.”

“My personal favourite is Cathay Pacific’s First Class Lounge which has spectacular views across the airport and features an intimate dining room serving Asian and Western favourites.

“If you’re searching for the top coffee, give the Qantas lounge a try. On the other hand, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse still holds the title of being the best business-class lounge in the UK.”

The Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong is my top choice among all lounges. It has everything I could ask for, including amazing a la carte dining, luxurious showers, rejuvenating spa services, and exquisite design.

Head for Points has an extensive assortment of evaluations for lounges in the UK.

Source: independent.co.uk