Yesterday a friend of mine who at the moment only holds BAEC Bronze Status flew with BA Premium Economy to Shanghai and was looking to access a club lounge at LHR during his 3 hour transit using Avios miles to pay for the lounge access.
I did some research for him and found out that BAEC Avios indeed offers customers to redeem miles for lounge access, however only for local contract lounges and not for their own British Airways Lounges.
Purchasing access for individual lounges can make sense based on how much time one has to actually spend there and there are often a variety of options when it comes to how to get in.
I first found the option to use Avios for lounges (see landing page here) after a quick Google search.
In order to redeem this award one has to call the Avios callcenter in the UK which was already closed at 8pm local time yesterday (what kind of service is that?).
As my friend was flying out of Terminal 5 the relevant lounge would have been the Aspire Lounge which is managed by Swissport.
The pricing would have been 3,250 Avios for a visit there. While that seems low it all depends on how one values Avios points. Given my usual redemption patterns I personally value them at 2.5 cents per mile. Given that I’d never even think about using 3k+ Avios miles to access a lounge which would reflect a US$75 value.
There are other ways however to access this lounge including Priority Pass which even in the paid version would be US$27 per entry (I wrote in detail about Priority Pass here).
On the Apire Lounge website itself you can pre-book access for 34.99 GBP while at the Lounge itself I was told they ask for a flat 40.00 GBP for a 3 hour stay. Both not worth it in my opinion.
Another pre-book website Loungepass offers the access for US$47 which is appr the same ~ 35.00 GBP.
The Avios website advertises that it’s possible to redeem miles for lounges at over 120 airports worldwide but doesn’t offer a complete directory.
Does it make sense to use Avios points for lounge access? Not if you always maximize your redemption value and keep a close eye on your mileage balance. For someone who doesn’t particularly care about a few thousand avios it might be indeed a decent option to spend a few hours transit comfortably. To get something proper to eat and drink at Heathrow will probably run around 20 GBP as well.
Overall I believe it’s the best choice to get a Priority Pass in whatever version, be it the unlimited pass or even the version where you pay per visit. Certain premium credit cards such as American Express Platinum come with the unlimited pass that allows as many visits to Priority Pass partner lounges as the cardholder desires.