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Do you get BA lounge access flying BA codeshares on Vueling, Aer Lingus, Flybe or airBaltic?

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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!)

Today 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 – from the UK – 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 its impressive lounge complex (click for our review) which is well worth a visit.  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.

Imagine ….

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.

 Air Baltic

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.  (EDIT: an unverified comment below suggests that you can now get a guest in following a recent change)

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 on a BA codeshare if you are not a British Airways Gold card holder.  If you are a BA Gold, be careful where you book your ticket and whether a BA flight number (eg BA1234) is shown on your booking.

Aer Lingus 350

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.

Aer Lingus DOES have a very pleasant lounge of its own, however, as I reviewed here.

The rule here is that British Airways Silver or Gold cardholders can use the Aer Lingus lounge at Heathrow when flying to Ireland or, if flying to London Heathrow or Gatwick, a lounge 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 does NOT include the Belfast route, since that is Northern Ireland and not Ireland.  Only a Gold card holder on a BA codeshare can enter the lounge on this route.

Inbound, 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 Gold or Silver card.

Yes …. complicated, I know!


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Comments (94)

  • Janie says:

    I’m trying to work out if there is lounge access on Comair in South Africa for BA booked flights in Durban or Port Elizabeth, any ideas? For domestic flights. BA6216 or BA6323.

  • James says:

    Am I right in saying that BA sliver can use the Aer Lingus lounge in T3 on a flight to Shannon but cannot bring a guest on the same flight?

    (Just to add to the confusion!)

    Thanks

  • Alex W says:

    Are these complicated rules built into the Lounge Buddy app?

    • FlyUpTop says:

      Very good point Alex, I would suspect NO.

      • David says:

        The Lounge Buddy app is basically useless unless you want to buy access to a 3rd party lounge, isn’t it? It always seems to say “you might have access, depending on your ticket and status” for any airline lounges.

  • John G says:

    Might also be worth mentioning access when flying Iberia Express. BA silver should get access at LGW but around half the time I am initially refused, often told it is for Gold only. Never had an issue getting in after a polite request to check again but some may be put off.

  • Lewis says:

    Before I got into this hobby I always felt like code shares were a con and confusing

    • Phil says:

      Sometimes Codeshares are highly beneficial
      A few years ago we flew as a family to LAX
      We bought Iberia tickets on a BA 747 flight
      The only difference was that the tickets were £100 a person cheaper than BA would have charged on the same flight

      • xcalx says:

        Always worth checking with a search engine like sky scanner yesterday I was looking at Iberia flights and AY came in at £958 when IB and BA were identical at £1638 for the same flight a crazy £680 cheaper.

        • Rich says:

          Recently took a trip home to the UK from NYC for Christmas. Briefly one day a handful of flights came up for $470rt booked via AY for direct flights on AA to LHR, same flights booked on AA were $880 and BA over $1000. Also as BA silver got AA lounge access and ended up being upgraded on the way out. Always worth checking something like Google flights.

          • Alan says:

            Wow, great result! I remember it was often like this on TP runs from Dublin too – cheaper on AA than BA codes.

    • Rob says:

      I would be surprised if your view has changed!

  • TripRep says:

    “Do you get lounge access at Heathrow on the way to Edinburgh in economy if you just came off a Club World long haul? ”

    I have had this when stepping off a First Class SQ flight arriving from Singapore (paid for by Virgin). There were 10hour delays due to snow and I think the Galleries guardian kindly took pity on us.

  • Ben says:

    “A BA Gold card holder DOES get BA lounge access (but no guests) when flying Vueling…” etc is not quite right. One guest is allowed in this scenario but the guest must be travelling on the same flight as the gold card holder. I think this rule changed 18 months ago or thereabouts.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks, will amend.

      • Mikeact says:

        How on earth lounge staff are supposed to remember all this information………they need a medal.
        Even though it states that it is not to be copied etc., I will make sure that I have the relevant pages with me while travelling, just in case……do we know how often it is upgraded/amended?

  • Paul says:

    A little OT: Would a BA Gold, flying Qantas metal on an Emirates Flight number be able to access the (Qantas) or any OneWorld Lounge beforehand? I understand if the other way around (Qantas Flight# on Emirates metal) it is not possible.

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