IT’S BACK: How to buy refundable airport lounge passes for £7.80 each!

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(EDIT:  This deal now appears to be dead again.  We’ll let you know if it returns!)

We covered this deal a couple of weeks ago.  It went absolutely crazy and was one of our most-read articles ever, at least in terms of Day 1 readership.  The Platinum upgrade code was then blocked by Dufry and no-one else could take part.

The good news is that the deal is working again.  This is a clever way to buy airport lounge passes, valid globally, for just £7.80 each.

Even better, this includes the Plaza Premium Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 which is NOT available via Priority Pass or Lounge Club.

Even better …. the passes are refundable if you end up not using them.

(Plaza Premium in Heathrow Terminal 5 was just voted ‘Independent Airport Lounge of the Year’ by your fellow readers in the Head for Points Travel & Loyalty Awards.)

Regular BA flyers from Gatwick will also be able to access My Lounge in Gatwick South which is rarely crowded as it is also not in Priority Pass or Lounge Club.

Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal 5

How do you get your cheap lounge access?

Let me explain what you’re going to do in three bullet points – I will then spend the rest of this article expanding on how it works:

You are going to sign up to the RED by Dufry loyalty programme (this is the loyalty scheme for World Duty Free and many other airport duty free shops globally)

You will then use a code in order to get yourself a free 30-day period of top-tier Platinum status

Once you are Platinum, you can take advantage of the only useful benefit – being able to buy DragonPass lounge passes for $10 each

Red by DUFRY reviewWhat is RED by Dufry?

Frankly, it doesn’t matter – for the purposes of this deal – what RED by Dufry is!  However, for completeness, Dufry is the dominant global duty free retailer.  As well as owning World Duty Free in the UK, it also owns:

  • Dufry (various locations)
  • World Duty Free (outside the UK, it is in Western Europe, Americas, Middle East, Asia)
  • Nuance (Europe, Asia, North America)
  • Hellenic Duty Free (Greece)
  • Colombian Emerald (Carribean, Central America, Norwegian Cruise Line vessels)
  • Duty Free Uruguay (Uruguay)
  • Hudson (US & Canada)
  • Duty Free Shop Argentina (Argentina)
  • RegStaer (Russia)

Dufry has its own app-based loyalty programme called RED By Dufry.  The key benefit of downloading this app is that you get a 5% discount on purchases at selected Dufry stores.

If you buy at World Duty Free or Dufry on a regular basis, you could make decent savings by signing up for RED By DufryAt Heathrow, the discount for Silver level members – which is what you get when you sign up – is 5%.  Tobacco purchases are excluded, as are airport arrivals stores.  This makes it a no-brainer to sign up if you ever make purchases at World Duty Free stores in UK airports or from other Dufry businesses abroad.

But how do you get your lounge passes …..?

RED by Dufry review

Step 1: Sign-up for RED by Dufry

Register for RED by Dufry by downloading the app from your local app store.

If you have a DragonPass account already for any reason, use a different email address for RED.

If you intend to keep your RED account open for the long-term, add your Iberia Plus or Vueling Club number on the sign-up page under ‘Programme’.  This will allow you to earn Avios as well as RED points when you spend in Spanish duty free shops.

Step 2:  Get yourself upgraded to Platinum status

Platinum status normally requires you to spend $1,000 or equivalent over a two year period.  This unlocks a bigger discount on your shopping.  More importantly, it unlocks the airport lounge benefit.

Click on ‘My Profile’ / the face icon in the top right corner of the initial page:

RED by Dufry review

You then select ‘My Profile’ (again) for the next menu.  Scroll down, past your personal details, and you come to a box marked ‘Promotional code’:

Get airport lounge passes for £7.80

The code you need to use is HAPPYBIRTHDAY2020.  Scroll to the bottom and click ‘Save Changes’.

Go back to the home page and you are now Platinum:

(If you get a message saying ‘Code used too many times’, it has probably still worked.  Log out and log in again.)

£7.80 airport lounge passes

Step 3:  Get RED to create a DragonPass account for you

Dufry has a partnership with DragonPass which is a competitor to Priority Pass / Lounge Club / LoungeKey, all of which are owned by Collinson.

As a Silver member of RED by Dufry – which is what you get just for signing up – you can pay for access to any DragonPass lounge for $25.  Virtually every lounge in Priority Pass is in DragonPass PLUS some others.  In particular, the Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 is in DragonPass, as is the Regus Express lounge in Terminal 2 and Terminal 5 arrivials and Terminal 3 departures (pre-security).  My Lounge in Gatwick South is also included, even though it is not in Priority Pass.

Gold and Platinum members of RED by Dufry get additional discounts on DragonPass vouchers. Gold RED members pay $20.  The cost for you as a Platinum member is just $10.

To order a lounge pass, this is what you need to do.

Click on ‘Enjoy’ at bottom left.  It will bring up the redemption options available to you at that particular airport.  Click ANY lounge at random which displays a ‘Platinum benefit’:

RED by Dufry review

You then go to this page which explains that you will be transferred to DragonPass to make your purchase:

RED by Dufry review

Click ‘Submit’ and a DragonPass account is created for you.  This account is valid for 12 months, apparently.

RED by Dufry review

Step 4:  Download the DragonPass app and log in with the membership details that RED created for you

When you open the DragonPass app and log in, you will see on the home page your membership card and a QR code.  Under that it says ‘Add Visits’.  Click there.

You can then purchase as many lounge access vouchers as you wish for just $10 per voucher:

RED by Dufry review

These are valid for 12 months from the date your DragonPass account was opened, so if you open it today they are valid until 6th January 2021.

I bought one voucher as a test for $10.  My home screen was updated to show one available visit:

RED by Dufry review

To get into a lounge, you simply go along – in the same way that you would access a Priority Pass or Lounge Club lounge – and have the app home page scanned.  As long as you have a valid voucher in your account you will be allowed in, and a voucher will be deducted from your account.

Vouchers must be pre-bought.  You CANNOT turn up at a DragonPass lounge and have $10 automatically charged to your account.  However, lounge passes are refundable if you can’t use them.  I’m not sure how you do this, but it is clearly stated before you buy.

I will probably end up using it at a Regus Business Lounge in Heathrow or at My Lounge in Gatwick South (not in Priority Pass) given that I can access almost all other DragonPass lounges with my Priority Pass or American Express Platinum.


And there you go!  You can now purchase lounge passes for $10 (£7.80) each for the next year.

There is one important thing to note.  You cannot share your vouchers with others.

In the app under ‘Card Details’ it says:

Accompanying Guest Allowed: No.  The visits can be used by the cardholder only.

This means that you need to get your partner and potentially kids a separate account.

Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal 5

Getting airport lounge access via a UK credit card

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

Two free Priority Pass cards (one for you, one for your supplementary Platinum cardholder, each admitting two – so a family of four gets in free) giving access to every lounge 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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

You get a Lounge Club card loaded with two free visits to any Lounge Club network lounge – see the list here.  The list is slightly shorter than the Priority Pass list, but not by much.  Additional visits are charged at £20 per person.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  No annual fee in Year 1.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

You get a free LoungeKey card allowing you access to any property in the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although regular travellers will find it cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card (adults only, of course).  The card has an annual 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.

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  1. So..if 3 adults and two little children are flying, I need 5 passes via 5 different accounts? Are they valid in Manchester airport does anyone know?

    • Just got this email from Dragon Pass customer support: “ Kids under 2 years of age generally get in for free.”

  2. It does not work for me. I am already Platinum anyway, but when I try to “enjoy” it asks me to register for DUFRY. I click that I already have an account and it just keeps on coming up with web page not available.
    Same with my wifes account when she clicks on “i already have an account”.
    Is it just a temporary problem?

  3. I have received platinum membership but the Red by Dufry app flickers on my android phone. Is this a known problem?

    • Shoestring says:

      yep it’s well dodgy on Android phones & tablets – if you allow it to track your location, it’s much better (you might have to uninstall & reinstall if you already denied this)

  4. Chinafish says:

    Something curious happened.
    I got the account set up with platinum status etc from earlier in the month.
    I bought the dragon pass last Sunday.
    I managed to use it to get into No1 Lounge LHR T3 last Sunday.

    This morning my curve app told me my USD10 transaction was refunded.

    I didn’t ask for a refund. I didn’t contact anyone. I used the pass…!

    Checked my dufry and dragon pass accounts, nothing looks out of ordinary.

    It is a mystery I am yet to solve…

  5. You should be able to do something like settings, apps, find the Red by Duffy app, then permissions and set the permission for location. I’d allowed location while in the app, but it’s very determined to track your location continually, which of course is data harvesting and of no benefit to you.

  6. Howie D says:

    Have successfully loaded up the Platinum Pass but unable to access the DragonPass. Dufry keeps asking me to create an account even though I’m registered, when pressing the ‘I have an account’ text it attempts to load up but keeps inviting me to set up an account. I have set up a DP account is this creating a problem for Dufry to work? it has asked me on every attempt to allow full notifications which I’m reluctant to change from once only or only when using the App. Very frustrating to have got so far only to be blocked at the stage of access to the DP pass.

    • Shoestring says:

      you can delete the Dufry app once you get your D/P a/c, so you’d only be allowing full notifications for a few minutes – and yes, it can make a big difference to successfully navigating to the right page and asking for D/P a/c

  7. All working fine today (20 Jan, 1218 GMT)

  8. I have successfully booked two passes in my name, can I take a travelling companion in to the lounge with one of my passes or do they have to get their own passes?

    • Shoestring says:

      both possibly true – the T&Cs say no guests, but people have used them successfully for guests, a lot may depend on the person manning the lounge desk as the QR code will work fine for more than just the cardholder

      you’d clearly be safer to get the travelling companion their own passes

  9. Promo code has expired and can only be a silver member

  10. As above, entering the promo code says changes saved, but no change to the card status, remains silver.
    Too late to the party with this one!

  11. Not worked for me as well. I’ll try to call them later

    • Unless it really was your birthday last week and they emailed you that code, I really wouldn’t bother ….

      The UK head of DragonPass was at the party last night. He is a very happy bunny – they don’t lose any money on this. Apparently Dufry is also happy – not necessarily happy about the subsidy of your lounge visits, but they love the increased engagement with the app. They also genuinely did not understand the value in the $10 lounge pass benefit and will now look at ways of making this a bigger selling point. It has turned out to be a cheap bit of valuable market research for them.

      • I can see why Dufry would be happy to pay away $5 or $10 for app engagement (with someone who is effectively never going to be a customer), but not to be doing this repeatedly on an open ended basis. It’ll also drag all the lounges down to the lowest end of the quality spectrum, which in turn will risk a backlash from other ‘buyers’ of Plaza Premium as a benefit – ever been in a regional Aspire lounge when it’s full of people hell bent on drinking £30 worth of booze to justify the £15 admission fee?

        • Shoestring says:

          there are ways to control that, eg a limit of 4 or 5 drinks per visit

          • No, At under £8 a pop to get in – which is to be fair not far off the cost of a pint and a packet of crisps in a typical airport bar* – the drinks will need to be limited to one per person. Which is a bit of a thumb in the eye to those people paying £40+ a visit (walk up rate at T5 Plaza Premium). So DragonPass might be the winner here in the short term, but Dufry won’t see the RoI and the lounge network will be left busier that ‘Spoons with queues out the door as became the norm with the PP lounges at HKIA a few years back.

            * – made up stat as I’ve never bought this combo in an airport bar, but you get the idea.

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