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How to get free airport lounge access | Simple tricks for travelling in style

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There’s nothing better than jetting off on holiday, but often your experience at the airport can leave lots to be desired. Despite the likes of Heathrow Terminal 5 and new improved terminals at Gatwick, bars and restaurants are often overrun with travellers and over-priced. In the past airport lounges were reserved for flyers with business or first-class tickets or serious frequent flyers. But there’s a new range of club lounges, such as No 1 Lounges and Swissport, that can be accessed by travellers regardless of the class of your ticket for a small fee or sometimes for free.

Which lounges?

In the high-end lounges, you could be lucky enough to have access to five-star treatment such as massages and champagne. The airport lounges we are referring to might not be quite so luxurious, but they do offer some sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the airport and free tea, coffee and snacks. The Number 1 Lounge at Gatwick, for example, is £36 entry and includes hot and cold food, drinks (champagne is £6 extra) and a full choice of magazines, newspapers and unlimited WiFi. We’re sure you’d spend more on breakfast or lunch in the main terminal.

Lounge Buddy is a great way to find airport lounges in airports across the world, just enter your location and date to find sanctuary on your next trip. You can search online or download the app. Access to lounges starts from £20 per visit, check out reviews on each lounge so you know what to expect from the facilities.

How can I access lounges for free?

If you’re a bargain hunter and want to access airport lounges for free, you’ll find that some credit card companies and banks offer access as a perk for signing up. For example, AMEX Preferred Rewards Gold card is a good option for frequent flyers and offers membership to the Lounge Club scheme, which gives you two free passes a year. Plus, spend £2,000 within the first three months and you’ll get a bonus 20,000 rewards points on top of the normal 1 point per £1 spent. The bonus is equal to £100 in vouchers, 20,000 Avios points or Virgin Flying Club miles, and more. For something not so high end check out the HSBC Premier Credit Mastercard, which offers membership to LoungeKey lounges and a discounted rate of £15 per entry.

gatwick lounge

Number 1 lounge Gatwick

If you’re feeling cheeky there are some other ways to access club lounges especially the luxury ones only available to First Class flyers. Most lounges allow people to bring one person in as their guest, this won’t cost them anything extra, all you have to do is appear professional and friendly and ask! Dress professionally and hang out in the vicinity of the lounge you’d like access to, pick your friendly looking flyer and let them know you are flying economy and have a long layover but have lots of work to catch up on. Is there any way they would be willing to add you as their guest? The worst that could happen is they say no!

Which lounges are best?

If you’ve secured membership to access a lounge, where are the best places to make the most of food and drinks? See our top 5 airport lounges in the world below.


  1. Al Ghazal Lounge by Plaza Premium Lounge, Terminal 2, Abu Dhabi International Airport — £21.45. Imagine opulent decoration, hot showers and an all-day continental and Asian buffet.
  2. Strata Lounge, International Terminal, Auckland Airport — £28.15. Travellers have commented on the fantastic range of pastries, cheese, salads, sandwiches and desserts and the brilliant selection of New Zealand wine and beers.
  3. Lounge @ B Terminal 3, Dubai International Airport — £28.86. Relax in a free massage chair and peruse the menu of wines, beers, spirits, champagne and hot food.
  4. 1903 Lounge, Terminal 3, Manchester Airport — £40. This luxury lounge is adults-only with an impressive selection of food including vintage reserve cheddar and ice cream from local makers.
  5. Plaza Premium Lounge (Arrivals), Terminal 2, Rio de Janeiro Galeao International Airport — £24.42. Take advantage of private relaxation rooms and showers and a wide range of food. There have been reports of made-to-order sandwiches too.


Louise Boxall

Louise Boxall

Louise has 10 years experience in Travel Journalism, Blog Writing and Research in the Travel Insurance sector. Louise’s goal is to provide interesting, informative articles on subjects we know will interest our customers.

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