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It’s back: O2 and Virgin Media customers get FREE airport lounge access for delayed flights

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Just before the pandemic, O2 launched a very interesting offer for anyone whose phone runs on its network and who is signed up to the O2 Priority benefits programme. It also applies to Virgin Media broadband customers.

If you are an O2 mobile or Virgin Media broadband 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 airport lounge club Lounge Key, which is a slightly restricted version of Priority Pass.

Priority Smart Delay was suspended during covid, but at some point it was quietly relaunched.

O2 mobile customers get FREE airport lounge access if their flight is delayed Priority Smart Delay

You can find full details on the O2 website here.

This is how it works:

“If your flight gets delayed for 60 minutes or more, get complimentary access to 1200 airport lounges in over 500 airports across more than 100 countries. Sit back, relax and leave the frustration behind. Not alone? No worries, you can also bring along three friends travelling on the same flight. Register your outbound and return flight details up until the time of your flight’s actual departure, and if delayed, we’ll send you an email with your complimentary airport lounge access vouchers.

Before you know it you’ll be, hopping on that plane and getting ready to roam freely in the EU with O2, sharing everything you want this summer.

Who can use this service

This exclusive service is available as a free reward to all Priority members. We have made this reward available to you and up to three additional passengers on the same journey, so even when you are travelling with family or friends they can join you. Available to use once a month on the Priority app.

How it works

Flight registration must take place no later than the flight’s actual departure time. You will need to register any additional or return flights separately. You will receive a confirmation email to acknowledge your registration.

In the event of a qualifying flight delay announcement, we’ll immediately send you an email with your complimentary airport lounge access vouchers*.

This benefit will not be provided if the reported delay does not meet the qualifying delay requirements.”

O2 mobile customers get FREE airport lounge access if their flight is delayed Priority Smart Delay

Before the pandemic there was a monthly cap of 7,500 one-way flight registrations per month. It isn’t clear if this is still in place or not – I can’t find it mentioned.

The only restriction now appears to be that you can only register one return flight (or two one way flights) per month.

That said, nothing stops you registering after arriving at the airport when you realise your flight is delayed. There is no benefit to registering early, as long as your registration is done before the scheduled departure time. HfP reader feedback is that the lounge voucher is sent immediately if you register a flight which is already showing a delay of 60+ minutes.

PS.  In theory, I don’t think anything stops you buying an O2 SIM card from your local newsagent, putting it in your phone, adding the minimum £10 credit and creating an O2 Priority account.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (July 2024)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

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 1,500 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Eurostar, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four 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 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (59)

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

  • Sam Wardill says:

    My wife just used this en route to Nairobi. Unfortunately she only got the text whilst boarding .

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    Meanwhile those who have subscribed to the top tier Priority Pass card will continue to be turned away unless they have paid the £6 booking fee prior to the departure date?
    Very fair ……….

    • Nick says:

      Indeed. Just been turned away from the escape lounge in BRS as was everyone else I witnessed attempting to get in. 1903 is closed ‘unforeseen circumstances’

    • GaryC says:

      Agree with this. Good opportunity for some investigative journalism to expose the “lounge is at capacity, pre bookings only” sham.

      • David says:

        Sure this will be high on the list for Panoroma.

        • GaryC says:

          There are other, more specialist, outlets for journalism…the one you are reading and posting on would be an example of such.

          • Rob says:

            We know the CEOs of the lounge companies and we know how it works. Airlines buy 50/100/200 spots a day off No1 to cover the max number of people they could ever get. No1 cuts its other capacity to adapt. If the airline guests don’t arrive, they don’t care – they have been paid.

            If you paid your favourite restaurant £10k per year to ensure that your favourite table was always available for you if you walked in at random, it would be the same scenario. Other guests want to know why they can’t have your table but the restaurant has had its annual profit from the table from you and so it stays empty.

  • Ian says:

    Re the final paragraph, I think you will need to credit a sim with £10 to make it active. Or fairly sure you always did.

  • JimBH says:

    I always pay the £6 PP fee at Gatwick as it automatically gives FastTrack security which is usually worth its weight in gold.

    • GaryC says:

      What times are you travelling? Almost all my travel is from Heathrow, but I still regularly use Gatwick for the late evening domestic up to Inverness, and security queues are never a problem.

  • Bumblebee says:

    Not sure if it is a perk, most times now uless you pay to reserve to get into a lounge, there is no way to get it !

  • HotiNewcastle says:

    Hi all (sorry if it). Just received an email from BA that my late evening (last flight) flight back from Dus has been cancelled and booked onto tomorrow morning. My questions are :
    A) if I choose to accept this change I presume I can claim eu261 compensation due to the delay but I was wondering if I go to mmb and change it to an 11am departure tomorrow do I forfeit the compensation?
    B) presume duty of care applies either way eg overnight accomodation (200 for hotel) and meals (20 for adults).
    Kind regards

    • Ls says:

      Compensation due if due to extraordinary circumstances. Regardless of if you accept a slightly later flight.
      Duty of care due regardless of cause of delay. No set limits for food or hotel. But if you go above a reasonable amount I would expect you to have to show you booked the cheapest room available out of hotels reasonably available to you (eg if all hotels are £500 due to a Grand Prix being on).

      • Lady London says:

        Ls not correct.

        Compensation is **not** due if the cancellation is due to things the airline can claim as extraordinary circumstances. in other words if your specific plane gets struck by lightning or exceptional air traffic control instructions to cancel flights. Mechanical problems with the plane or staff problems do not count as extraordinary, they are viewed as within the control of the airline so do qualify a cancelled flight pssenger for compensation (though airlines do try it on).

        It’s due in all other cases.

        If requests are posted in the place they belong in the forum then they are alongside other similar questions and the answer or similar answers and any answer received, are there to be seen by those coming along.

    • Mikeact says:

      Suggest you try today’s forum, not here .

  • Bigmaggot says:

    I registered for 2 flights on 18 May. The article needs updating as its 2 flights per 1 code:

    Each customer can redeem one code per month for the next five months. Each code allows you to register up to two flights, so your outward and return journeys for example if these fall within 14 days of each other. Your SmartDelay lounge access voucher is valid for three months from the date of issue and can be used once.

  • Paul says:

    Good luck with this in Manchester. There is never any space for walk ins. I cant imagine them making space for O2 customers

    • Jay says:

      Smartdelay is a completely different company to O2. The way this works is you get a voucher in pdf format and that is scanned by the lounge to get you access.

      • Rob says:

        Same point though – if a lounge isn’t accepting Priority Pass it won’t accept these either.

        However, one comment here says that the vouchers are good for 3 months.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        The number of people taking about priority pass and overcrowding 🤦🏼‍♂️

    • Mike says:

      Not strictly true – last half a dozen times I’ve flown from MAN T2 and T3 I’ve walked in no problem – even at the crazy 5am slot. In T3 they now have a dedicated lounge (ex1903) just for PP / LK / DP cardholders

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

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