The miles and points game is so complex that you should never think that you know everything. Something will always come along to prove you wrong!
This was news to me. Visiting avios.com did not enlighten me – a Google search for ‘site:avios.com lounges’ doesn’t bring you much. However, I did find this thread over at moneysavingexpert.com which shows that it is possible.
I got on the telephone to Avios and asked what they could do.
It turns out that you can order passes for the No 1 Traveller lounges (their home page is here). I only asked for a quote for Gatwick – No 1 Traveller is in both terminals – although I assume they can do their lounges at Birmingham, Heathrow (T3 only, photo below) and Stansted (domestic and Ryanair international). I’m not sure if Manchester is included, where they have a subcontracting deal with the Escape lounge in T1, T2 and T3.
For Gatwick, I was quoted 3,250 Avios for the Servisair Aspire lounge (per person) and 3,750 Avios for the No 1 Traveller lounge.
Servisair airport lounges are generally poor. I can’t think of any which would be worth 3,250 Avios per person to enter, but if you really, really did want lounge access at a UK regional airport then they can almost certainly help you. Their network is here.
The headline price at Heathrow Terminal 3 is £30 per adult. This is not the greatest ever use of Avios points at 3,750 per person (assuming it is the same price at Gatwick) although it depends how many you have of course.
There are also usually a few promotions going on which can reduce the cost of access if you paid cash.
At Gatwick, the Gatwick Express gives a free No 1 Traveller pass when you buy a First Class Anytime Return ticket, albeit they cost £56!
You can also enter using the two Lounge Club passes that come with the Amex Gold card. No 1 Traveller at Gatwick is probably the best use of the Amex Gold / Lounge Club passes, and actually offsets a decent chunk of the £125 annual fee for that card after the first year.
Of course, if you are flying short haul, you may prefer to use your Avios points towards upgrading the outbound flight to Club Europe and getting BA lounge access thrown in! It is a bit crazy to pay 3,250 Avios for a lounge pass if you could swap your 4,500 one-way economy Avios flight to Paris to a 9,000 Avios Club Europe flight instead.
However, availability issues mean that this is not always possible. For long-haul or longer short-haul flights (eg Malta, which is 10,000 Avios one-way in Economy or 20,000 in Club Europe) you may prefer to pay the 3,250 Avios for lounge access instead.