What are the best UK airport lounges you can visit for free with Amex Gold’s Lounge Club passes?

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We have made a determined attempt this year to build up our collection of UK airport lounge reviews.  We aren’t totally there yet, but we are well on the way.

Having just added reviews of the Aspire (click here) and No 1 Lounge (click here) at Edinburgh Airport, I thought it was worth an overview of all the lounges which can be accessed for free via Lounge Club.

Lounge Club membership comes with the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card, which is free for the first year. You receive two free passes to visit any Lounge Club lounge and further visits or further guests are charged at £15.  My full review of Amex Gold is hereYou will also receive a further two Lounge Club passes every year when you renew your Amex Gold card.

If you’ve not visited an airport lounge before, getting yourself an Amex Gold card is the best way to try one out for free.  There are a lot of places in the UK where you can use your two free Lounge Club passes, however, and the quality varies sharply.  Here are a few of my favourites.  (There are also hundreds of overseas lounges where you can use Lounge Club, of course.)

Heathrow No 1 Traveller lounge

The Lounge Club network via Amex Gold currently comprises:

The two best lounges on this list are arguably the Plaza Premium facilities in Heathrow Terminal 2 and Heathrow Terminal 4.  Skytrax recently awarded the Terminal 2 lounge the title of ‘Best Independent Airport Lounge in the World’ – I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it is very good.

I am also very positive about the No 1 Lounge chain.  The new site at Gatwick South (the BA terminal) is impressive, as was the – admittedly a lot smaller – Edinburgh lounge I visited last week.  No 1 in Gatwick North is also very good.

The Aspire lounge at Luton is very well regarded and is especially worth visiting because of the chaos that is the main terminal!  The Escape lounge at Stansted is worth visiting for the same reason.

Of the major airports above, the main one that I am not too keen on is the Club Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.  This is generally overcrowded – you often have to wait for 30 minutes to get in – and the space inside is badly used.  It is unfortunate that the new Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 5, which opened last week, is not currently accepting Lounge Club.

Plaza Premium LHR T5

Getting an American Express Platinum card gives unlimited free visits!

Priority Pass membership comes with the American Express Platinum card. Both the main cardholder and one supplementary cardholder receive a Priority Pass, and each card admits two people for free. This means that you can get four people into a lounge for free, as many times as you want if both the main and supplementary cardholder are travelling together. There is NO LIMIT to the number of lounge visits you can make for free.  My full review of Amex Platinum is here.

As well as getting Lounge Club or Priority Pass membership via Amex, you can also buy Priority Pass membership directly. There are various membership options with different combinations of membership fee and ‘per visit’ fees – but, oddly, you cannot buy a card with the same features as the Amex Plat version, ie cardholder plus a free guest.

If you have a Priority Pass card, you get access to the following additional lounges:

If you fly out of one of these airports on a regular basis then Priority Pass via Amex Platinum may be more useful than Lounge Club via Amex Gold.

They are not the most exciting bunch of lounges though.  The two best ones on the list are the SkyTeam lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4 and the No 1 Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3.  However, in both of those terminals there is an equally good alternative via Lounge Club – the Plaza Premium lounge in T4 and Club Aspire in T3.

If you have an American Express Platinum card, you can also access the new Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 pictured above.  This is NOT a Priority Pass benefit – it is a specific Amex Platinum benefit.  You need to show your Platinum card and not a Priority Pass at the door.  This lounge is currently very quiet as word has not yet get around.  The same goes for the new Plaza Premium arrivals lounge in Terminal 3.

Overall all of the three cards offer impressive coverage and if you have no airline status and fly from the airports above on a regular basis you should look at ways of adding a lounge access card to your wallet.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Never used a lounge so far…Is it Ok to show up in a lounge casually dressed when going on holidays?

    • the real harry1 says:

      sure – they don’t like football shirts much but shorts, sandals/ trainers and decent T-shirts (for example) are fine in UK lounges

      • No wife beaters?

        • the real harry1 says:

          if they don’t like the look of you, they may simply default to ‘sorry, no room’ – vests/ sleeveless undershirts might be thought pretty rough but does anybody travel in those?

          @ Mike if you just dress in clean normal clothes you’ll be fine, jeans are common, for example

          Aus/NZ lounges have stricter dress codes

    • I went into the new T5 Plazza lounge on Sunday *very* casual and was no issues. Last flight to Oslo and I wasn’t getting dressed up for it 🙂

  2. Lee-Anne says:

    What an idiot I never realised that it was 2 free per year on Amex gold! I thought it was just 2 free in the first year. I feel slightly better at forgetting to cancel the card this year as this means I have a couple to use on next holiday 🙂 As we are traveling BA Club Europe EHI-LHR we don’t need them there but could use at LHR terminal 4 before our MA long haul flight.

    • Also don’t forget that even if the year has renewed you get a pro rata refund if you didn’t need the card for a long time (best plan is to refer to partner and back again every 6 months to get multiple lots of new sign up bonuses). Adding in a upgrade to platinum adds another chunk of points (20K), hotel statues and unlimited lounge passes if timed with a trip.

  3. Scottydogg says:

    With regards to lounge access
    I will be flying BA club europe from Venice to Gatwick , i then have a few hours in Gatwick before catching an internal Easyjet flight home .
    My question is , could i possibly gain access into the BA lounge in Gatwick showing my BA club europe boarding pass , or is it a case of , after your flight done , then thats it ?
    Its probably a stupid question but there is lounge hacks around so wondering if this is one ?
    Ive not got any Status with BA

  4. Any means of using a platinum card to enter a lounge if you’re still awaiting the PP cards?

  5. Currently in BHX, had a quick peek inside Aspire and No1, both looked ok, the No1 edging it between them.

    Also passed through the ABZ newish Northern Lights lounge recently which was v impressive, great cooked breakfast, even has real ales on offer.

  6. Manchester just took back the Escape lounges and ‘revamped them’.

    NSFW link due to awful MEN autoplaying videos on every page.

    http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/manchester-airport-escape-lounge-book-13924112

  7. It is all fine saying unlimited entry etc, turned away from Newcastle with my priority pass as they were only accepting pre bookings!

    • the real harry1 says:

      Why have I been denied access to a lounge on the Priority Pass program?

      We apologize for the inconvenience. Sometimes lounge operators will impose restrictions based on lounge capacity, to ensure guests have a pleasant experience.

  8. I was in the No1 Lounge at Gatwick South yesterday. Not too bad. Wasn’t too busy so fairly relaxing. Food and drinks were adequate. Could maybe do with more cleaning but I’m probably super fussy.

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