British Airways “Lounge Zoo” Returns for the Holidays?

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Lounge access is one of the most important features of elite status with British Airways Executive Club. For short-haul Economy class travellers, lounge access is a major differentiator between British Airways and low cost carriers such as Easyjet or Ryanair. But not everybody has the same priorities, which leads to a certain conflict between:

  • Frequent flyers travelling alone on business, who often prefer a quieter lounge experience where it’s not difficult to find a seat
  • Frequent flyers travelling with their families, who reasonably desire similar elite treatment on their infrequent holidays as they receive during their business travels

In an attempt to keep everybody happy, British Airways Executive Club limits lounge access to the elite member plus one guest. However, during certain holiday-intensive times of the year British Airways implements what I call the “lounge zoo” policy and has been emailing select Gold and Gold Guest List members with the details.

Between 14 December, 2018 and 6 January, 2019, it appears that Gold members will be entitled to guest 5 people into the Galleries Club lounge before their flight.  Gold Guest List members can invite their guests to the Galleries First lounge.

This limited time exemption only applies to British Airways operated lounges in London, although I have seen a couple of reports of members being emailed with an 5-guest invitation for a specific flight TO London.

Capacity restrictions do occasionally apply since, anecdotally at least, the brief expansion of eligibility does lead to the lounges becoming jam-packed or like a zoo…

What do you think? Should lounges be the respite of the frequent flyer travelling alone or with a partner? Or should BA try to cater for those same frequent flyers when joined by their families? Perhaps with a few annual vouchers allowing lounge access to guests?


  1. Bob says

    At least this way I can get the wife, the three children and the mistress into GF. It worked really well last year. I put her indoors and the three kids in Club Europe. I valiantly had to ‘lump it’ down the back. With a bit of shopping and ‘me time’ it all worked out nearly perfectly. I say nearly because I now have to pay for child 4 for eighteen years. Thanks BA.

      • Colin JE says

        And a Plaza Premium at the other end of T5, near gate 8, which has been open for nearly a year I think. It accepts Amex Plat (but not PP) or DragonPass, or cash!

  2. TripleB says

    I don’t have 5 people to bring in with me but I’m totally happy with this approach. If you have directed your business to BA all year – the last thing you want to be doing at Christmas time is sitting at the gate because you can’t take your spouse and kids into the lounge with you when you go on a family trip.

  3. James says

    I think a scheme that allowed you to accrue “guest vouchers” based on your number of solo Lounge visits would be fair and helpful. E.g. for every 10 solo visits you mate you can admit one extra guest above the normal allowance

      • James says

        I was thinking something electronic and which would still need you to be there when you bring extra guests in.

        I think that would work and create no more of a secondary market than people’s existing guesting rights would allow.

  4. Colin JE says

    I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of earning guest vouchers. Electronic on the app sounds ideal, and it should be open to Silvers too, but perhaps not earning at the same rate. And how about Bronzes earning vouchers so they might get a taste of the lounge life and spend a bit more money with BA to get Silver?
    Personally I would not favour giving open season to any card holders because the lounges then become packed and a miserable experience for anyone else travelling alone or with one guest.

    I am imagine the reason BA don’t allow trading points for lounge access is because they worry about overpacked lounges, ironically. However, Virgin Atlantic do it, through their Flying Co scheme.

    • Colin JE says

      Thinking about it further, the vouchers or extra guests should be linked to total spend or tier points earned in the year. If BA were to base it on visits, like a coffee shop card, it rewards short haul frequent visitors to the lounge rather than big spending but more occasional long haul business flyers.

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