These five silver frequent flyer cards give you airport lounge access

By Brandon Loo, February 14 2019
These five silver frequent flyer cards give you airport lounge access

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.

Marco Polo Silver unlocks the excellent Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong
Marco Polo Silver unlocks the excellent Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong

Also read: A business traveller’s guide to Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong lounges

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.

Also read: Your guide to Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club loyalty program

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.

AusBT review: Emirates Business Class Lounge, Dubai Airport Concourse A

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).

Also read: Al Reem Lounge review (Plaza Premium, Etihad Gold)

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. 

Hong Kong Airline's 'Club Autus' flagship lounge
Hong Kong Airline's 'Club Autus' flagship lounge

You’ll need 30,000 Status Qualifying Points or 20 sectors within 12 months to reach Silver status.

Honourable mentions

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.

Also read: Qantas Singapore Lounge no longer accepts Qantas Club passes

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.

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

11 Jun 2018

Total posts 26

To correct: CX silvers are granted lounge accesses before any cx marketed flights even those lounges are not operated by Cathay Pacific. The misunderstanding is from what website says “Cathay Pacific lounges”, which are not referring to “cx operates lounges”.

Kindly notice this.

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 107

Hi Koji, may we ask if you're a Marco Polo Club Silver member and have been offered access to partner lounges when your ticket otherwise didn't provide it? The information we've received from CX HQ is that MPC Silver only provides access to Cathay-branded lounges, not lounges of partner airlines (with Gold and above having partner lounge access in line with Oneworld rules).

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

11 Jun 2018

Total posts 26

See the other comments plz. And another correction: “with access to Cathay Pacific business class lounges before a CX-marketed flight, including lounges (not flights) operated by other partners.”

10 Jul 2018

Total posts 107

Hi Koji, that sentence is in reference to the fact that MPC Silver can access CX lounges before CX codeshare flights operated by other partners.

As noted on the Marco Polo website: Available to members departing on flights marketed but not necessarily operated by Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon.

Thanks for your previous comments regarding your personal experiences - we'll check with CX HQ to see if the official rules have changed and will update the article accordingly :)

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

11 Jun 2018

Total posts 26

Oh yes you are right. Since mpc silver lounge access rollls out for a short while, some partners were not updated this. BA rejected my access last month even I showed them the lounge pass in my mobile app. Nevertheless, cx’s silver is the best ruby in the alliance and cx got very generous lounge policy. I took a syd-hkg-pek flight last month, and was lucky to pay a visit to Sydney F lounge based on my miles upgrade hkg-pek segment in F class. :)

Dining experience in Qantas F lounge is impressive, much better the ones in the wing and the pier.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 151

Silver with Lufthansa will give access to all LH and affiliated business lounges, which covers Austrian, Swiss and LOT, as well as the LH lounge in LHR.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

11 Jun 2018

Total posts 26

Hi Brandon, Yes I am currently silver tier and has been provided lounge accesses of Qantas Business lounges and some China mainland associated lounges travelling in economy. You may also check the website that at JFK, silver is granted access to admirals club while business, gold, and diamond are using flagship lounge. Admirals club obviously is not CX operated, but can be understood as Cathay Pacific lounges or Cathay Pacific branded lounges. Very confusing statements on the website I have to admit...

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 74

I think also chinese mainland airlines silver level membership gives lounge access for 1 person. CZ and MU i remember do.
CI gold is like silver level status and grants access to lounge on any CI flight to which ever lounge is contracted by the airline.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

20 Jun 2013

Total posts 48

Indeed when I was Marco Polo Silver last year (now Gold) I was always provided with unfettered access to the QF Managed Lounges on CX Tickets in Y Class..


05 Jun 2012

Total posts 128

I think the point is that if you have CX Silver and are on a CX-marketed flight you will be offered access to the lounge that Cathay offers in that airport/terminal, whether it is CX-operated or a contract lounge.

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