This article is part of our ongoing Business Travel 101 series for newcomers to the world of business travel.
You’d normally associate flagship airline lounges with flying business class or having a shiny Gold frequent flyer card, but did you know that quite a few airlines also give free access to Silver members?
Granted, the rules are usually more restrictive with Silver-member entry, but it’s a useful perk for business travellers who find themselves not quite travelling enough to reach Gold status, yet but still often enough that lounge access is appreciated.
Here’s a round-up of popular frequent flyer programs that reward Silver members with entry to airline lounges.
Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Silver
Silver members of Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club benefit from a more generous lounge access policy than other airlines, with access to Cathay Pacific business class lounges before a CX-marketed flight, including flights operated by other partners.
Departing from Hong Kong, Marco Polo Silver unlocks all of Cathay Pacific’s excellent business class lounges at its home hub. For all other destinations, check Cathay Pacific's website to see which cities have an eligible lounge.
By special arrangement, access is also granted in Auckland and Hong Kong prior to Air New Zealand flights which carry a CX flight number.
Silver status is earned after 300 Club Points, and a Sydney-Hong Kong-London return flight in business class will net you at least 320 Club points.
Emirates Skywards Silver
This status is yours with 25 eligible flights or 25,000 Tier Miles, which can be earned on a simple Sydney-Dubai-London return jaunt in a business class ‘Saver’ fare or higher (a return business class ‘Special’ fare falls just short at 24,800 Tier Miles).
You’ll get access to Emirates business class lounges in Dubai (but not anywhere else) when departing on an Emirates or Qantas-codeshared flight.
Etihad Guest Silver
If flying Etihad through Abu Dhabi is your transit of choice, then 25,000 Tier Miles will get you to Silver in the first year, and 20,000 Tier Miles to maintain that status thereafter.
A return flight from Australia to London via Abu Dhabi on the lowest-priced Business Saver fare will easily net you enough Tier Miles to pocket that Silver card.
Etihad Guest Silver opens the doors to Plaza Premium’s Al Reem lounge in Abu Dhabi (as well as the Air Serbia Premium Lounge in Belgrade and the Air Seychelles Premium Lounge in Seychelles).
4. Qatar Airways Privilege Club Silver
Rounding up the three main Middle Eastern carriers, Qatar Airways also offers lounge access for Privilege Club Silver members at ‘selected lounges’ worldwide when flying on a Qatar Airways-operated and marketed flight.
In Doha, that’s the Qatar Airways Business Class lounge (different to the Al Mourjan lounge which is exclusively for guests flying in business class).
In London, you can access the SkyTeam Lounge along with Privilege Club Gold and Platinum members, as access to the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge is restricted to business class guests again.
For other airports, check the Qatar Airways worldwide lounge access page to see if Silver access will be granted on your next journey - it’ll say ‘Silver and Higher’ if so.
Members also receive two guest passes allowing companions to join them at the Doha business class lounge. The guest must be travelling within three hours of the main member, not necessarily on the same flight.
Silver status is earned with 150 Qpoints within a 12-month period – easily be achievable with a Sydney-Doha-London return flight in business class which nets a minimum of 170 Qpoints on a ‘Business Promo’ fare.
5. Fortune Wings Club Silver
The Fortune Wings frequent flyer program is part of Hainan Airlines and subsidiary airlines, which also includes Hong Kong Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines.
Silver members of the program get lounge access in home-port lounges of those airlines, including the modern Club Autus Lounge in Hong Kong prior to Hong Kong Airlines flights. Elite member lounges are also available in Beijing, Haikou, Xi’an and Tianjin airports.
You’ll need 30,000 Status Qualifying Points or 20 sectors within 12 months to reach Silver status.
Although best suited for those living in Europe, Lufthansa's 'Miles and More' program offers lounge access to Frequent Traveller card holders, which is equivalent to silver-grade status. Access to the Austrian Airlines, SWISS, Brussels Airlines or Lufthansa lounges is offered before any Star Alliance or Eurowings economy flight on a Smart, Best or Bizclass fare.
LOT business lounges are also opened to Frequent Travellers when flying with LOT Polish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Lufthansa or SWISS.
Closer to home, Qantas offers Silver members one complimentary Qantas Club invitation that can be used at most Qantas-operated international business lounges and domestic Qantas Clubs.
Single entry passes aren't able to be used at the Los Angeles and Perth International Transit T3 lounges – nor at Singapore until that lounge's overcrowding issues are alleviated – but are welcome in places such as Hong Kong and London.
Likewise, Virgin Australia offers its Velocity Silver members two lounge invitations that are valid at any of its domestic locations.
Note that British Airways Executive Club Silver is generally equivalent to other airlines' Gold status, so it's not included in this list.