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My review of City Airport’s new First Class Lounge – get driven to your plane!

Last week I flew to Amsterdam with CityJet and got to check out the First Class Lounge at London City Airport.

Yes, London City Airport DOES have a lounge but not many people are aware of it as it only opened this year and isn’t in the main terminal.

Instead it is located in the Private Jet Centre and comes with true VIP treatment, as you will see.

I should mention that as I was writing a review for Head for Points, I didn’t have to pay the £95 fee for this experience.  Whilst you digest that number, I should say that – in the right circumstances – it is good value for the overall package you get.

I should also mention up front that British Airways passengers cannot use the full service.  I will explain why later.

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My trip didn’t start too glamorously with a trip on the Jubilee Line and the DLR.

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As soon as I got out of the station the First Class Lounge service began.

I was greeted with a name sign and escorted to a car. If you have luggage to check in, you can either do this when meeting your First Class Lounge host who will take you to the front of the bag drop queue, or you can take your luggage with you and have it checked in at the lounge.

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The car was a mini van – so travelling with family or in a group is possible.

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It took only a few minutes from City Airport main terminal to the Private Jet Centre.

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This is the reception area.

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The First Class Lounge is very bright and classy. It was very quiet when I was there, as in I was the only guest, which was great as I was able to take photos without disturbing people’s privacy (it actually says in the T&Cs that taking pictures is not allowed).

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There was a table with snacks and newspapers.

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At the far back is a shelf wall with magazines.

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The bar had a good selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as a Nespresso machine.

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In the bar area were another four armchairs.

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The First Class Lounge doesn’t currently serve hot food, however this is planned for the future. There is breakfast in the morning and sandwiches during the day.

I was too late for breakfast and had the sandwiches.  These were nicely presented with flowers that probably were edible although I didn’t dare to try them!

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Now to the coolest part – your own security lane! For security reasons I wasn’t allowed to take a picture of this area but it’s like the security lanes at any airport – just smaller. There is only one body scanner and one luggage scanner and the whole process took literally 2 minutes.

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Outside security was a car waiting to drive me to the plane. Yes, to the plane!

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The best and last part of the First Class Lounge service is to be driven all the way to the plane and being the first to board.  Rob has done this a few times in Frankfurt when flying First Class with Lufthansa but it was a new experience for me.

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To give an even better idea of what the First Class Lounge is about, I made a short video.  This is a new experimental Head for Points service (with music by my little brother!)

If you want to subscribe to our YouTube channel and be notified about future videos, click here to visit our YouTube channel page.

You can also watch the video via that page if it does not appear below.

 

 

Using the lounge as an arriving passenger

It is also possible to use the lounge when flying into London City.   Arriving passengers are immediately collected at the aircraft with their luggage and driven to the lounge for customs and immigration.  You can then use the lounge until you are ready to head into London.

How to book

Currently you can book the lounge for £95 per person (it was twice that price earlier this year).

Though it says in the T&Cs that you must pre-book by 4pm on the day before your flight, last minute bookings are possible depending on third party resource.

As well as booking via the Jet Centre website, you can also book the lounge via LoungeBuddy from $119.  You get $10 off your first LoungeBuddy booking if you sign up via the link in this HFP article which makes it a little cheaper than booking direct.

Unfortunately British Airways doesn’t allow for passengers to be driven to their aircraft.  This doesn’t mean that you cannot use the lounge when travelling on BA.  However you would need to be taken back to the main terminal and go through the regular security check if you’re flying with BA. The same goes fo Luxair passengers.

Conclusion

Using the First Class Lounge is definitely a great experience. Especially as City Airport can get very busy and there is nowhere to relax before a flight, I believe there are ways to justify the fee of £95.

For a business traveller, you will be able to do some work at the airport which is virtually impossible at the main terminal in peak times – business travellers would also be able to reclaim the VAT.

The First Class Lounge is also a great way of starting a special birthday trip or honeymoon.  If your flight ticket isn’t too expensive (CityJet, for example, has good prices and a decent service as I will discuss in my upcoming flight review), it might be a justifiable splurge.

In the end the service is amazing and it’s really just down to the price and the airline you are using as to whether or not to use the lounge.

I can also announce that a Business Lounge is currently being built right next to the First Class Lounge which will be more affordable at around £35. We will keep you posted about the opening date and what to expect from the Business Lounge.

You can read more about the lounge on this page of the London City Airport website.  Thanks to the team at London City Airport for arranging my visit.

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Comments

  1. What I want to know (and this is asked with actual semi seriousness as I’m in the market) is how I go about getting a job as one of the ‘city types’, maybe like Rob’s wife I guess, for whom this is just small change…

  2. Good article, a lot of non business types pay up to £300 to be a passenger in a sports car, without ever getting to drive it, so £95 seems like a fair price if you arrive at City Airport early to take advantage of what this small lounge offers.

    It’s not clear if its just one plate of sandwiches and a drink or if its unlimited, if its the latter then you can calculate the value of what you’ve consumed and by how many, given that terminal food and drinks prices are significantly higher by comparison. £95 for what is on offer is in Anika’s review is actually a good deal. I’d pay it, only 1.5 hours work.

  3. Blimey £95 for a few butties and a glorified taxi and that is half the usual price! They are planning to do a bit of hot food in the future though…………for £190 I would have thought the taxi could have at least stopped off at Greggs on the way there! Surprised this comes under the “good value for what you get” bracket! Sounds pretty heavy to me :)

    • City Airport did 4.3m passengers last year which is 11,780 a day. They want 50 to use this lounge. 99.6% of passengers can take your view and they will still be full :-)

      • But that’s just the point, Rob. They are not full – unless I’ve missed something.

        And the 0.4% of pax could well take a similar view to those that you state in your figures which would screw it – and the lounge’s very existence – completely.

        1. The booking engine (though not a true barometer) says no.
        2. The evidence from Anika’s review largely says no.
        3. The majority of objective comments on here say no.
        4. And most importantly, the price – despite your protestations of MD types clamouring to get in there – says no.

        If this lounge offering is still around in one year, I’d be amazed.

        • the real harry says:

          you can’t expect them to be full from month 1 (or even month 12)

          and presumably BA’s non-participation really damages the model

          what % of flights from LCY is non-BA?

          • Crikey!

            If BA’s non-participation damages the model, then surely the question is – what on earth was the model in the first place?!

            The whole thing smacks of a ground based Silverjet/EOS to me.

          • the real harry says:

            possibly included a fair bit of hope – which is similar to lots of start-ups

            location is always paramount, sounds like it’s in the wrong place/ not enough throughput/ stale sandwiches/ downward spirals

            so you need to reverse the spirals

        • I reckon it’ll still be around, albeit in a different format. Heathrow is a bit of a different beast – a huge amount of passengers flying into the main airport in the country and for a wide range of destinations, the only airport.

          A facility like this, once a regular lounge is set up is of little use to business users. However, high profile people who might not want to be snapped by the paps might find it fairly decent.

          I predict that it’ll probably use Heathrow’s example and charge mega dollars + but then they’ll need to beef up the product, include a VIP car trip to or from London address, guarantee first row seating on the aircraft, and also have some sort of reciprocal arrangement with the destination airport for onward travel.

          Once the regular lounge is open, I don’t think best case revenues of £4,750 (50 x £95) justify the usage, and in fact might be markedly down on this if not full, and that’s before the additional staffing costs of the security, driving, meet and greet. I think even a projection of 0.4% of LCY fliers is quite generous.

          I could be wrong, but I think the airport is correct in offering VIP products, it’s just that this isn’t a VIP product by a long chalk. And you won’t get VIP for £95 either. It’s far better to put the prices through the roof and offer a commensurate product. Having a proper, integrated product (transfer, meeting rooms, proper food, treatments, concierge) would then really put this on the radar for businesses who then might not even need to make other arrangements and talk right up until boarding, not to mention the celebs.