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How to use your Avios points for airport lounge access

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Yesterday I featured two interesting offers to get you into airport lounges this Summer:

Via The Daily Telegraph, you can buy passes for lounges in the Dragonpass network – which is extensive – for £16.50 per person

Via No 1 Lounges, you can buy access to their Heathrow, Birmingham, Gatwick and Edinburgh lounges for just £20 per person – and earn 750 Avios on top

You can find out more on those deals here.

No 1 Traveller

This reminded me that you can use Avios points for access to No 1 Lounges and Servisair / Aspire airport lounges.

This used to be a totally hidden feature of but, since I last wrote about it in 2014, it is now mentioned on the website.

The price quote is ‘from 3,250 Avios’ per person.  Last time I checked this, looking at Gatwick North, I was quoted 3,250 Avios for the Aspire lounge (per person) and 3,750 Avios for the No 1 Lounges 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.  The Aspire-branded lounges, on the other hand, are pretty good and the old Servisair facilities are slowly being converted to Aspire.  Their network is here.

No 1 Lounges is a different story.  The lounges are well regarded and compete with Plaza Premium for the title of the best third-party lounges in Britain.  The only caveat at present is over Gatwick North which is currently overcrowded due to the closure of the British Airways lounge.

Is it a good deal to use Avios to buy lounge access?

No, not really.

However …. it is never that simple.  If you accumulate all your Avios from business travel then you may treat them as ‘free’ and are happy to use them for anything which saves you handing over cash.  If you get your Avios via credit card spend (where the alternative would be using a cashback card) or converting Tesco Clubcard vouchers, you should have a ‘floor value’ of what you will accept per point.

That said, compared to the current No 1 Lounges deal of £20 per person and 750 Avios per booking earned back, using 3,750 Avios instead IS very poor.

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 many Aspire or No 1 Lounges using the two Lounge Club passes that come with the Amex Gold card.  If you are flying from an airport which has a Lounge Club lounge (the network is here) and you are flying in more than two weeks from today, applying for a ‘first year free’ Amex Gold charge card is the best way to get in.  Read my full review of Amex Gold first.

Of course, if you are flying short haul, you may prefer to use your Avios points towards upgrading your flights to Club Europe and getting BA lounge access thrown in!  It is a crazy to pay 3,250 Avios for a lounge pass if you could swap your 4,500 one-way economy Avios flight from 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 Euro Traveller / economy or 20,000 in Club Europe) you may prefer to pay the 3,250 Avios for lounge access instead and stick with Euro Traveller seating.

There are plenty of options out there to get yourself into an airport lounge this Summer so don’t be resigned to sitting in Burger King on the concourse ……

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (27)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Fenn says:

    Morning all 🙂

    Anyone now how far in advance you need to book and pay for dragon pass deal before can use the passes I.e… can I get the deal on way to airport (Heathrow T3) and then show the pdf on phone a hour or 2 later for immediate entry??

  • Cha-ney Kim says:

    I’ve used my two free Amex Gold Lounge Club passes this year already but found out (through calling Lounge Club) that you can show your card and pay £15 for lounge entry! Depending on local lounge availability it may be a cheaper option than the Dragonpass promotion.

  • Andy says:

    I haven’t been able to get into Gatwick South lounge with my Amex Gold Lounge Pass yet: on all 3 occasions they said pre bookings only. I was surprised that it was full each time.

    • gtthree says:

      Yes we also failed gain entry to the No1 lounge at Gatwick in Feb 2015, the receptionist reason “too busy with first class passengers”, we just smiled as clearly there is an instruction to refuse entry unless paid direct.

      We went to a nearby lounge either upstairs or downstairs and awaited our Ba flight to Naples.
      Delayed so receive £15 of food vouchers and of course eu261 compensation eventually.

  • PC the 3rd says:

    Any suggestions on easy access to lounges in Aus/NZ? Lounge Club doesn’t seem to extend to Auckland or Melbourne.

    • Hingeless says:

      Oz domestic airport terminals tend to only have qantas or virgin lounges, you might be able to get into virgin lounges if you have an Amex platinum card 😉

  • Chelseafi says:

    O/T I foolishly used (didn’t know at time not to) my supercard at check in at IC hotel NY & even though the stay had been fully paid (points deal thanks to this site) & nothing charged to room during stay, it immediately charged $300 to my IHG credit card, that was 3 weeks ago now. I called Barclaycard IHG but was on the phone going around in circles trying to explain what had happened & what a supercard was, didn’t get anywhere, can someone please advise, should I get onto Supercard about this charge/transaction & if so how do you contact them? Thanks appreciate any advice.

    • John says:

      Was the $300 not just an authorisation for extras ? I am keen to know as I also have a week coming up at iC NY times sq on points ( thank you Raffles) with my BA 241 on Avios ( thanks again Raffles) . Based on your experience maybe I should give reception fx free post office credit card ?

      • Chelseafi says:

        Yes it was just an authorisation for extras but after I’d checked in I read on here advised against using the supercard for any hotel authorisation at check in & don’t use for car rental either, so I’m $300 down at present. I also had 2 BA 241 (family of 4 1st class out open jaw return from Chicago Club) thanks to Raffles, my trip wouldn’t have been possible without HFP.

        • rams1981 says:

          I had this issue and it took over a month for supercard to remove the charge. They are utterly useless with very poor customer service run by Wirecard.

          I wrote a letter of complain to Travelex who promptly passed it to the same person who I had been dealing with at Wirecard. I have now complained to the financial ombudsman.

        • Jason Cousins says:

          I did the same thing a month ago and I’ve had to call/email/twitter constantly to Supercard for weeks to try and claim my money back. I get all sorts of excuses, the most recent one being a ‘technical issue’ despite numerous promises to the contrary. By all means continue to pursue with your credit card, but contact Supercard to get them to acknowledge the problem. Supercard have since updated their app to say that these type of transactions will be declined to prevent this in the future. It’s a shame as the concept of the card is brilliant, and rightly recommended by Raffles. It’s just the handling by the company that is dreadful.

          • YL says:

            Sorry for the OT question. I was wondering if any of you have used either Supercad or Curve card at New York ATM recently? I assumed that there is an extra ATM charge on top of the Curve/Supercard fees? Thank you.

      • dgsupersonic says:

        I always put my Amex for authorisation and when is time to settle the bill I choose the card I want it to be charged to (i.e supercard, etc).

    • John says:

      No need to explain to barclaycard what supercard is. Just say that you didn’t authorise this transaction.

    • Mr Dee says:

      Wirecard has sure changed the way supercard works now, with the previous beta it would not go and charge your card but instead pre authorise it like it should and release the funds when the transactions drops off or is charged. Its not just hotels but some online merchants such as Amazon do £1 charges which wirecard charges instead of pre authorising the amount, usually the amounts get refunded after a week or so but it can be longer, I would be double checking as well as you can’t rely on Wirecard.

      Since wirecard has taken over the supercard barely works for transactions online without any notifications or declined messages, I can barely get it to work at all to be honest and certainly would not rely on it. Thankfully the Lloyds card is working well for me but would have preferred to use supercard on many occasions.

  • Scottydogg says:

    With regards to lounge access , do non of them do them at a reduced fee for kids ? we are a 2 adults 2 kids and have just got an Amex Gold so have 2 free lounge ready to use . When we use them (we are thinking on the way back from Larnaca in October) we will have to pay 2 amounts of £15 for the kids . It seems expensive as they are not going to drink any alcohol and will probably only have a little snack and a juice

    • harry says:

      Not that I’m aware of.

      And remember your Amex Gold associated 2 passes are just for the main cardholder so you’d end up paying 3 x £15.

      • Worzel says:


        I used up two free Amex Gold passes at BCN in March.

        Party of 4, me(cardholder), Mrs G + 2 friends-subsequently billed £30 by Lounge Club.

        No longer have t&cs to hand, but pretty sure there was no stipulation that the two freebies were for the main cardholder.

        • Worzel says:

          Just wondering whether there are some new t&cs ??

          • Worzel says:

            Relevant up to date t&cs found:

            ‘You will be entitled to two complimentary lounge visits at participating lounges each year you hold a valid Preferred Rewards Gold Card, which may be used by the primary Cardmember or by the primary Cardmember and one guest’.

          • harry says:

            OK thanks

            I think that’s new but good to know even if I’m wrong

          • John says:

            It’s not new. I’ve always used both my/my wife’s (depending on who is churning) Amex Gold 2 free entries at the same time since 2012.

          • harry says:

            Then it seems I shunted my eldest son rather needlessly out of the T3 lounge in July to save the £15 (that wasn’t)! Somehow I got the impression it was main cardholder only, maybe because supp doesn’t get a lounge card in their own right.

            Can a supp/ guest use the main cardholder’s lounge pass even when travelling alone?

    • Gavin says:

      Which lounge in Larnaca? Do not bother with the Aegean one, it’s terrible, the Swissport one is little better and has some food, but think light snack rather than meal. Booze is a fairly poor selection and often there are no glasses!

      • John says:

        When did you go to the A3 lounge in LCA? I went in Jan this year and found it fine, better than LHR GC in terms of food anyway

        • Gavin says:

          When I walked up to it back in May, it just seemed to be a dark room with some leather seats unless there was something else I was missing. I was in a rush and couldn’t find a voucher in my wallet so didn’t bother. Perhaps I should look again next time I’m there

    • Andrew* says:

      Using Priority Pass (so cardholder plus one free guest), NCL airport didn’t charge for the second child, Belfast International airport charged a child rate for the second child, which was cheaper than adult guest rate paid via PP.

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