Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: back in the First Class Lounge at London City Airport (and you thought it didn’t have one)

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This is our follow-up review of the First Class Lounge at London City Airport.

You may not know that London City Airport has two lounges tucked away in the private jet terminal (‘Jet Centre’) next door.  The Business Class Lounge costs £35 and is a standard airport lounge experience, requiring you to head back to the main building for departures.  The First Class Lounge lets you use a private security line and be driven to your aircraft.

Anika reviewed the First Class Lounge here.  I finally got to try it on Friday.  For clarity, I paid for my wife and myself but I did not have to pay for my children due to our relationship with the Jet Centre team.  It was money well spent to avoid City’s departure areas on the Friday night of half term – last time we used City on a Friday we all had to sit on the floor.

It was a genuinely civilised experience.  It isn’t flash (don’t come here looking for Johnnie Walker Blue or Dom Perignon) but there was never more than one other group in the lounge for the time we were there.  They even let my kids – but not the parents – put on hi-viz vests and have a look inside one of the private jets parked up.

London City Airport First Class Lounge

When it was time to go we went through the private security channel and were driven to the steps of our BA plane, which was very cool.  Note that BA’s JFK flight is excluded due to the extra security rules for US departures.

Is this a cheap experience?  No, not at £95 per person.  Is it ‘worth it’?  Well, there are different definitions of ‘worth it’, of course.  It helps if you’re a bit of a lounge / aviation geek.  It’s a no-brainer if you charge your work by the hour and can fit something in before you fly.  Put it this way … I’d rather pay £95 for this and fly in Economy (which we did) than pay for Club Europe and have to use the standard City Airport procedures.

My only caveat is that, if you have checked luggage, you need to drop it in the main terminal as usual which is a bit of a pain.  The Jet Centre team will pick you up from the airport bus stop afterwards.  It is FAR smoother if you are on hand baggage only as you can then head directly to the Jet Centre and avoid the main building.

Anika’s full review of London City’s First Class Lounge is here.  Anika also did a 60-second video which is on YouTube here.

One lounge photo is above.  A full set are on our Instagram page (I couldn’t photograph the car or the security set-up.)  You can book the lounge here – it MUST be done in advance so that your passport details can be cleared.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

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

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points 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.

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 – 30,000 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 30,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

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 (104)

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

  • Matt says:

    O/T recently stayed two nights at The Venetian on points which was great. Zero points have posted even though $400 of incidentals were charged to room. CS say that you don’t earn points on incidentals for Intercontinental Alliance resorts. Also they say you earn fixed 2000 points per qualifying stay. Is this true as that’s a terrible deal!

    • Paul says:

      True, and in my experience you don’t earn points at IC hotels on incidentals when staying on any non qualifying rate.

  • Paul says:

    £95 per person to check in at the terminal, wait at a bus stop and all to be driven to the plane in a car. That’s mad.
    It’s hardly LH first class!

    • Matt says:

      All things are relative. I’m sure the salary of the typical city airport user is many multiples of the UK average and therefore wouldn’t baulk at paying £95 for a civilised airport experience.

      • Rob says:

        Try sitting on the floor in the terminal for 2 hours with young kids which is what happened last time we flew out of City on a Friday and the weather turned a bit wet.

        As I said in the article, it works better if you’re with hand baggage and get dropped directly at the Jet Centre.

        • mutley says:


          I guess your doing this solely for research purposes, no one would really pay close to £400 for a short cab ride surely?

          • Rob says:

            I wouldn’t pay for all 4 of us. I’d do it for myself, I think (especially as any HFP trip would be a tax write off). You are totally missing the point though. It isn’t ‘paying for a taxi ride’, you are paying to totally escape (if on hand baggage) the hell-hole that is City Airport on a Friday night with effectively your own private lounge, private security channel and be driven to the plane.

            Given that Heathrow charges £4k, I think, for the same service £95 is not pricey. It only adds up if you’ve got kids. As I said in the article, if you would pay for CE then I would suggest not paying for CE and doing Economy plus this instead.

        • mutley says:

          I wouldn’t do either, especially as CE isn’t very good, but then again I’ve totally missed the point!

  • Andrew M says:

    OT. Any success stories to report of Amex overturning a card application decline via calling the Brighton call centre? First decline, despite many of their cards held in past (+ only Gold Credit held at present), perfect 999 on Experian (perhaps “too” good), stable income vs previous applications. Have a large credit limit on Gold Credit, which they upped themselves earlier this month. Would be very happy to trade down some of that, but do they ever negotiate on such things?!? Thanks!

    • Voltron says:

      I managed to get a rejected nectar card appealed by phoning up. However, before I appealed, I drastically reduced my credit limits on all my cards as I believe that was the reason I was rejected.

    • Scallder says:

      Yes – late 2017 I had one overturned. Was simply as I had a few other Amex cards with high limit, they approved it when I moved some of my credit limit from one of my other cards to the new one. So credit limit across all cards with Amex stayed the same, but number of cards was increased.

  • Aron says:

    Stayed at the Pullman in 2016 (pre refurb) and even then it was superb. Really big rooms, excellent breakfast, service was really good too.

    The location is perfect. With the Zoo and Tiergarten being on the door step it’s great to find a quiet spot. But the transports links make its so easy to get to places. The Zoo station, Wittenbergplatz is a 10 min walk and has 3 lines if I remember right. And there are bus stops 100m away outside the IC so you can grab a bus to basically anywhere in the city.

  • Roberto says:

    Hi Rob, do you have any useful tips for booking flights with long layovers i.e. one or two nights?

    Your comment about an overnight stop in Berlin made me realise I don’t know where to begin with finding these types of flights.

    Perhaps there is enough for a ‘beginners guide’ article?

    • Anthony Edwards says:

      +100. I am flying back from Seville next week on TAP with a 36 hour lay-over in Lisbon which I found purely by accident. I would love to know how to do this strategically.

      • Callum says:

        Just search for a multicity flight instead of one way or return, or book two separate tickets.

        Otherwise, ITA Matrix is a useful tool if you want to put in some time learning how to use it (there are several guides if you do a search for it).

      • Alex says:

        Or search for your desired route on, filter it by 1 stop flight and list the flights by Longest to shortest. You will see all the stop-over options there.

    • Chuck says:


    • marcw says:

      Technically stopovers are aspects of air fares that allow +24h connections (less than <24h is considered normal connection). The "problem" is that not always stopovers are allowed in airfares, or you have to pay an additional sum (sometimes 100-200 extra), just for the stopover – which doesn't include any additional taxes/fees (example, you are travelling on a BA fare from AMS to JFK on a fare that allows stopover in London – because your connection will be longer that 24h you must pay additional taxes/fees, such as APD which is exempt on <24h connections).

      In summary, the key is to fina "free stopovers" in cities/countries that do not charge excessive fees/taxes. TAP Portugal and Cathay usually are good examples to get used to it.

      • Alex Sm says:

        Some airlines (like Swiss and Icelandair) even encourage long stopovers. How do they ensure they are free and seamless? Perhaps there is a feature on Amadeus?

  • Benylin says:

    OT: How long for SPG Amex points to post? They have left my Amex account fee days ago (balance showing zero) but not hit my Marriott account yet.

  • mark says:

    I’m about to cancel my Amex gold now I have got my annual points. What is the best way to get my pro rata fee back, is it via paying the account off and asking for a cheque / bank transfer or is asking for a credit against the balance before paying it off?

    • Rob says:

      You don’t make the decision now. You cancel and you need to wait until the credit balance shows on your online statement. Easiest thing to do at that point is message Amex and ask for it to be moved to another Amex account you have.

    • Mark2 says:

      I always make sure that I owe at least enough to offset the credit before I cancel.
      Incidentally, just cancelled SPG Amex and no offer to keep it.

    • Benylin says:

      They can BT or move to another one of your amex account, very simple.

  • Shoestring says:

    O/T woo-hoo! – just found over £5 worth of RSH vouchers, expiry 2020 (gotta buy my daughter a ticket today).

    Worth a check if you played the points game.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.