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O2 mobile customers now get FREE airport lounge access if their flight is delayed

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O2 has launched a very interesting special offer for anyone whose phone runs on the O2 network and who is signed up to the O2 Priority benefits programme.

If you are an O2 customer and your flight is delayed by 60 minutes or more, you and up to three friends or family members will be allowed free access to an airport lounge.

The scheme is called Priority Smart Delay, and is a partnership with Priority Pass.

O2 Priority Smart Delay

This is how it works:

“Register your outbound and return flight details up until the time of your flight’s scheduled departure, and if delayed, we’ll send you an email with your complimentary airport lounge access vouchers.

Not alone? No worries, you’ll get access for you and three friends or family members travelling on the same flight.

With 1200 airport lounges in over 500 airports across more than 100 countries, you’re sure to find some peace of mind.

Before you know it, you’ll be hopping on that plane to begin your exciting journey.

Offer Goods/Services: This Offer entitles you access to an airport lounge for you and three friends, in the event that your flight is delayed by 60 minutes or more. You will not be granted free lounge access unless your flight is delayed by 60 minutes or more.

Can be used once a month per customer. To access this Service, you must register via Priority before your flight departs. Not all flights are eligible for registration. SmartDelay reserve the right not to provide Service if you fail to accurately register your details. Subject to successful prior registration and lounge availability, the Service will provide you with airport lounge access via email and SMS in the event that the flight tracking system identifies that your flight is delayed by more than 60 minutes (the ‘Delay Threshold’).

To access the lounge, you must display your lounge access email. A delay which matches or exceeds the Delay Threshold must be announced as one single period of delay or reached as a consequence of multiple incremental shorter delays.

In the event of a qualifying travel delay, a lounge access voucher will be provided to you and up to three travel companions on the same day of your flight. Cannot be used on any other day of your travel. Only named individuals in the email confirmation will be eligible.”

The scheme is working on a rolling monthly basis – it is not clear if you need to re-register each month or not.

There is a limit of 7,500 one-way flight registrations per month which isn’t going to go far given that O2 has 32 million customers in the UK, although Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Lycamobile customers are excluded.

The offer is guaranteed to run until at least January 2020.

O2 has done the maths here.  If we assume 5% of flights are an hour late, that all 7500 monthly registrations are used up (a registration covers a one-way flight, not a return), that there is an average of two people per booking and that O2 is paying £15 per person for the lounge, the offer will cost O2 £11,250 per month.  This is peanuts, frankly.  It is excellent PR for O2 at a very low cost.

PS.  In theory, nothing stops you buying a £1 O2 SIM card from your local newsagent, putting it in your phone and creating an O2 Priority account.  You can then ditch the SIM card.  You’ll note from the rules above that, if your flight is delayed, your lounge voucher is emailed to you.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (October 2021)

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 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. The card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points which is a special offer running to 2nd November 2021.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

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 a special 30,000 points sign-up bonus until 9th November 2021.  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 (43)

  • IslandDweller says:

    Good luck getting into a lounge with PP…
    I hold a PP card (via Amex platinum). Five times in the last month (at five different lounges across three UK airports) I’ve been refused entry. Accepting pre booked reservations only.

    • Anna says:

      +1 – I wouldn’t even bother trying at MAN T3!

      • Paulo says:

        Same at T1. I don’t bother trying anymore. I just pre book the 1903 lounge

        • Qwertyknowsbest says:

          Same here. Can you pre-register using a PP for Manchester lounges?

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          PP lounge access now useless: too many successful adverts offering lounge access as an extra when you but Ryanair or Easyjet flights!

        • Sandgrounder says:

          I have never been refused entry to a lounge at MAN, I suppose it must just be down to the times you usually fly.

          • AndyGWP says:

            Likewise, always been able to get in MAN T3, no problems 👍🏻

          • Lady London says:

            I though that until this month and last months i was never refused (unlimited PP – not Amex issued PP. Suddenly getting refused even at quiet times with an empty lounge holding 3 or 4 times the capacity of J and F on all their contracted airlines clearly visible behind the person refusing me.

            They ask “Did you pre-book”. Translation: Did you pay our lounge £5-10 more than you already paid Priority Pass otherwise you’re not coming in and thats our new policy”.

            Either Priority Pass is not paying thé lounges enough or they’re going along with the lounges to bring in co-pay to keep their own costs down.

            Noting also as BJ and others have commented, there are different sorts of people in the paid lounges now. So they may be moving away from quality (peace, quiet, the ability to get some work done in a long day including travel) as a fréquent flyer understands it.

            Either way, Priority Pass and the lounges have made a profit out of me (mostly shortish visits no alcohol, little food) but i will not be renewing.

      • Gail says:

        MAN T2 lounges full to bursting often.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      A factor in me ditching Amex Plat was that I now value the Priority Pass card included at close to £0 for this reason. Something that Amex should probably consider when looking at available benefits and how they offer airport lounge access.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Why value it at £0? Just knock £5 a visit off your valuation.

        I don’t value the hotel status’ I get a 0 because I don’t get an upgrade all the time. I value it because the sometimes I do it is well worth the fee including an upgrade to a lovely suite in Geneva

        Tbh I always see these comments and wonder Because everyone knows it gets busy so just pay the £5 to pre book if it’s that much of a big deal you get in.

        • Lady London says:

          Thé amount I travel @TGLoyalty that cost is not worth paying that many times in a year for those mediocre lounges. What i paid for is certainty of knowing my environment at the airport will let me get some work done or sit quietly and recover if i am a bit exhausted with my multistop journeys – barring very occasional genuine ‘lounge full’.

          Thats not what i’m getting now. At quiet times with an empty lounge clearly visible i am now being refused (wasnt before). The excuse of contracted flights does not account for them not letting me in if i didnt pay the lounge extra money, given the capacity of F and J in their contracted planes and the emptiness of those lounges.

          I’d sooner pay less the same or more and go somewhere else given what being in the lounges has become a lot of the time now in some airports. What I was prepared to (over)pay for previously, was knowing my environment would let me get some work done most of the time, when I got to the airport. This new policy means I can’t count on this, so a lounge access card is pretty much useless to me.

          I will also bet the lounges also earn a lot from ‘breakage’ on reservations when for whatever reason people who reserved don’t turn up.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            That’s why I said pay if it’s a big deal that you get in.

            Tbh there are still some great lounges out there most of which do charge a supplement to PP cards like clubrooms or some that aren’t in it at all like The Manchester lounge or The house @ T4 etc

            If you don’t drink and the snacks are average then the fee goes a long way in a terminal restaurant / cafe.

    • Gail says:

      I no longer see the value of a lounge pass. Lounges are often the busiest and noisiest places in the airport. Tensions in queues to get in. Okay, it depends on time of day and which lounge. My primary aim in busy times is now to disregard lounges and locate a comfortable place to sit and work.

  • Jon says:

    I wonder what their estimate is of the value of the information they’ll gather on who flies where when… Surprised they’re limiting registrations, as opposed to redemptions.

    • Lady London says:

      Max 7500 registrations basically means 3750 per month. As their O2 customers probably travel, on average, in 2’s.

      that goes precisely nowhere in comparison to how many O2 customers take a flight per month.
      If I registered all mine that would be 9 flights per month in a lot of months. So getting registered AND a flight delay, that’s over 1 hour and yet not about to leave after a few smaller delays while you’re stuck at the gate…. let’s face it O2 will hardly, ever, pay out anything on this.

      Without the 7500 limit – or with a more serous limit of, say, 100,000 or even 250,000 cap per month, yes this might be seriously meant as a benefit by O2. A serious flyer is going to see though it, though, as we have.

      It’s a bit like the “no transfer bonus” from Tesco to BA, but goody goody you can go into a draw with a 1 in 500,000 chance of winning 🙂

      • Shoestring says:

        but no fecker bothers to actually sign up for these deals

        thereby increasing your chances if you *do* actually get off your backside & sign up

        look at my DM Shares competition – I told everybody here how easy it was to win after my first £500 win

        did any fecker bother to enter? even Genghis endorsed the method/ made it simple/ penny shares as I said

        did they feck

        so I won it again. just proves that no other fecker was bothering to even enter

        2x £500 for us

        • TripRep says:

          Harry – interested in the mechanism you use for picking the top weekly performers for the DM compo.

          Technical Analysis, Fundamental news event, results due, etc, etc?

        • David Aames says:

          Where do I find out more?

  • Bernard Farr says:

    Good publicity for O2? The ‘subject to lounge availability’ clause could generate great frustration given how often lounges are already full with people who have paid to reserve places!

  • Andrew says:

    Priority Pass is a waste of time at UK airports now – you can never get access. I would think this will massively backfire for O2 as people using it will assume the access is guaranteed, only to be turned away.

  • Tony says:

    Shouldn’t there be another nought on that monthly cost? And that’s based on only one passenger per registration?

    • Jonathan says:

      Nope. 7,500 registrations, 5% of whom will be on a delayed flight = 375 eligible customers. 2 passengers per claim = 750 x £15pp = £11,250.

      • n_g says:

        I assumed people would wait until it was clear that their flight was going to be delayed before registering but maybe not if there is a limited allocation of registrations.

      • Andrew says:

        And O2 will probably only be changed if the voucher is redeemed, so much lower than that still.

  • David Aames says:

    To get O2 Priority you can’t just buy a £1 SIM card. You need to top it up, and I don’t think you can get less than a £10 top up for O2. However, you could use the offers on the Priority app a few times to get your money back. E.g 2 courses for £10 at PizzaExpress or get a free drink from Cafe Nero after 12pm on a Tues/Weds.

    • pablo says:

      The site that shall not be named will give you a fiver for ordering an O2 sim and if you purchase the top up voucher during amex shop small in December at your local Premier shop that’s another fiver back making the initial £10 top up free.

  • The Jetset Boyz says:

    “In theory, nothing stops you buying a £1 O2 SIM card from your local newsagent, putting it in your phone and creating an O2 Priority account. You can then ditch the SIM card.”

    You can only access the o2 Priority app from a o2 connected mobile or tablet.

    • Dave says:

      You only need an O2 number to register. No need to be connected to O2 network for app to work

      • ChrisC says:

        I check my priority offiers when sat on the sofa connected to my home wi-fi and they still appear with no ‘you must be connectd to the O2 network’ message to get the offers.

    • Andrew says:

      Leave it in your phone as your second SIM then.

  • jimA says:

    But delayed flights aren’t evenly spread eg the drone chaos, air traffic problems or bad weather Delayed flights like London buses often come in groups
    Further decreasing your chances of getting in

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