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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 – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes 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.

  • MrMcBurger says:

    Cheap way to gather your information.

    • Rob says:

      Right … the only information they get is what flight you may (or may not!) be on. Not exactly a lot of extra data given that they know, to within 10 sq m or so, exactly where you are 365 / 24 / 7 🙂

  • Anna says:

    We used this last year after flight LHR to BIL was showing as initially delayed by over an hour but was then unfortunately cancelled and unable to get a flight until the next day. We came back and used it at the oceanic pub before departures, got £15 off each for a meal. Also had a seven day deadline on the voucher so could have even used it in the lounge in BIL, which we used our priority pass for which I would recommend.

  • t. says:

    Am I right in saying that the vouchers one gets from a delayed departure aren’t tied to that specific date and airport? My vouchers say they are valid for 3 months and can be used at “LoungeKey participating lounges and lounge alternatives”. So I guess I can use them for e.g. a (non-delayed) inbound flight from another airport later on? Doesn’t look like that would be gaming the system, why else do the t&cs state the 3 months expiry, it’s not like one is expected to stay in a lounge for a 3 months departure delay!

  • Isherwood says:

    Thanks HFP for reminding me of this O2 perk. We arrived at Gatwick yesterday to see that our BA flight to FAO in Y was delayed by exactly an hour. After security I logged into the O2 app and followed all the links. This took some time and I was very careful to add in all the passenger names. It did say at one point register two hours before the flight which had in fact passed. Anyway, ignored that and clicked ‘register’ and confirmation email came back straight away, then a text and then the email with the q code voucher for each passenger. We thought we would try our luck at No1 lounge first. Q code and boarding pass scanned for each person and they let us in without a hitch. Kids and other half for once quite impressed with one of dad’s ‘deals’. True kudos goes to HFP of course. Thanks guys.

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

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