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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

…. 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 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)

  • TripRep says:

    I bet Rob has already done a similar article on Virgin using Delta and vice versa?

    • Rob says:

      Virgin is a lot simpler – Virgin / Delta effectively operate as one airline and I’m not sure there are many (any?) other examples of Virgin codeshares operating out of terminals where Virgin has a dedicated lounge.

  • Alan says:

    OK I’ll give it a go!

    In that case no
    Yes but you might have to argue your case

    • Stu N says:

      Agreed – but on (2) you might be lucky at EDI if you’re on an evening flight to LHR for an early morning long haul.

      • Alan says:

        Agreed, the staff are very nice at that lounge and imagine they’d consider it 🙂

  • Liz says:

    The only time we have ever been in the BA lounge in Edinburgh was before BA introduced CE on the domestic flights. We were booked long haul CW from LHR and were allowed in to the lounge with the economy domestic connection. When you are booking CW long haul now you automatically get booked in to CE for domestic leg anyway. We are lowly blues!

    • Stu N says:

      You used to get lounge access on full fare economy tickets – was called “Business UK” or something like that. Occasionally useful for last minute work trips. One anomaly was that connections to WT+ and above always booked into “Y” fare bucket so while not proper full fare tickets, you would still get into the lounge before your domestic sector but not the long haul. I suspect that since introduction of Club Europe this doesn’t work any more.

      As you say you’d normally get into lounge via CE now, but if you are on an economy ticket connecting to a CW or First on the same day (most likely a redemption with no CE availability for the domestic, or traveling on separate tickets), you should get lounge access anyway under OneWorld rules.

  • Ralphy says:

    Booked a business class flight with Latam, LHR-MAD-SCL, all codeshares for BA to Madrid and Iberia to Santiago.

    When the ticket came through, the first leg with BA is economy (although the baggage allowance is 3 x 23kg). The second leg is Iberia Business Class, same baggage allowance.

    My question is, can my wife use the BA lounge for the first leg of the journey?

    Thanks in advance for all answers.

    • Stu N says:

      Yes, as long as the connection is same-day. OneWorld rules permit lounge access if you’re flying OneWorld economy and connecting onto a OneWorld long haul business flight.

      • Neily says:

        With variations. Eg no status passenger on Iberia Express economy booked on IB code connecting to IB J on one ticket , LGW BA lounge staff refused entry as the flight was operated by Iberia express and not part on one world.

  • Alex Sm says:

    The rule of thumb is that with partner/codeshare airlines/airports lounge benefits are one notch down compared to ‘home’ airline or base. In my experience, it is more of less an industry standard globally.

    A couple of examples:

    – my boss and I were flying BA from London to Madrid and back. He had BA Gold, I had Bronze. In London I was allowed to go through Fast track security with him, but not in Madrid. The exact quote from a member of staff there: “Iberia – yes, Britis Airways – no”.

    – my partner and I were flying a complicated route from London to Singapore via Abu Dhabi and Mumbai on EY-ticketed flight with the last leg operated by 9W (Jet Airways). He had EY Gold and I had Silver. We were allowed into EY lounges at LHR and AUH while ar BOM only he was allowed (no guests).

    All these and Rob’s examples just confirm the rule of thumb. But you can still benefit from minor variations but in the end of the day you are still at mercy of a watchdog at the entrance to a specific lounge.

  • Craig says:

    OT: Reward Seat release at T-355, by my reckoning 23rd Dec should be released but availability is only showing until the 22nd? Is this something to do with the time seats are released?

    • Alex Sm says:

      The word has it that they update the fares once a week on Tuesdays (US time) – which was yesterday, so perhaps this explains it?

  • James67 says:


    If I book and pay for a rental car on the supplementary card of my wifes Platinum Amex, do I have full insurance cover across the UAE or just inside Europe?

    • Alan says:

      Amex car hire cover is worldwide and doesn’t require payment to be on the Plat card (although I still tend to use it myself in case of any issues I just feel it might be easier having the charge on the Amex card)

  • Jtz says:

    OT finally got plat, but it doesn’t show my MR balance, anyone know why?

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