British Airways lounge access policies are, on the face of it, straightforward. You get access if you are flying in Business or First Class or have a Silver or Gold card or equivalent oneworld status.
The devil is in the detail. Can you get lounge access in Edinburgh if flying economy to connect to a Club World flight? Does it make a difference if the Club World flight is tomorrow and not the same day? Do you get lounge access at Heathrow on the way to Edinburgh in economy if you just came off a Club World long haul? How about if you came off a Finnair Business Class short haul?
(I’m not going to answer these questions, but I might do a separate article!)
Based on a recent email from a reader, I wanted to look at whether you are allowed access to British Airways lounges if you are flying on a BA non-oneworld partner? This means an airline with whom BA has a codeshare relationship, such as Vueling, Flybe, Aer Lingus or AirBaltic.
This is a situation which comes up frequently now that British Airways has moved to Gatwick South because Vueling, Flybe, Aer Lingus and AirBaltic also use that terminal and BA has a super new lounge complex (click for our review). If you are flying Vueling from Heathrow, you will be in Terminal 3 which also means that there is potential to use the British Airways lounge.
you book an economy flight on ba.com
…. with a British Airways flight number …..
…. but which in the small print says ‘operated by Vueling / AirBaltic / Aer Lingus’
…… should you get lounge access, assuming you are departing from an airport where BA has a lounge?
Logically, you would think you should.
In practice, it is even more complicated. For reasons no-one really knows, these are the rules. Even some lounge agents don’t understand them.
A BA Silver card holder does NOT get BA lounge access when flying Vueling, AirBaltic, Flybe or Aer Lingus, even when the flight has a BA flight number and was ticketed by British Airways
A BA Gold card holder DOES get BA lounge access (but no guests) when flying Vueling, AirBaltic, Flybe or Aer Lingus, when the flight has a BA flight number and was ticketed by British Airways
A BA Gold does NOT get BA lounge access when flying Vueling, AirBaltic, Flybe or Aer Lingus if the flight does not have a BA flight number or was not ticketed by British Airways
A BA Gold does NOT get lounge access when flying Vueling, AirBaltic, Flybe or Aer Lingus if the lounge is not directly operated by British Airways, which is likely to be the case when flying to the UK or from many UK regional airports, irrespective of whether you are on a BA flight number or whether BA issued your ticket
Bottom line – forget lounge access if you are not a British Airways Gold card holder. If you are a BA Gold, be careful where you book your ticket and what ticket number is shown.
Flying Aer Lingus from Heathrow Terminal 2
There is an extra quirk to this if you are flying Aer Lingus from Heathrow. As Aer Lingus is based in Terminal 2, there is not a British Airways lounge you can use.
The rule here is that British Airways Silver or Gold cardholders can use the Aer Lingus lounge at Heathrow or, if flying to London Heathrow or Gatwick, in Ireland. Your ticket does NOT need to be issued by BA and it does NOT need to be a BA codeshare. If you have BA status, even a super-cheap ticket booked on aerlingus.com will do the job.
This deal only applies to flights to London. If you fly from Dublin to, say, Manchester you will not get Aer Lingus lounge access in Dublin with a British Airways shiny card.
Yes …. complicated, I know!