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

This is our review of City Airport’s new First Class Lounge in the Private Jet Centre.

This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK.  You see all of the reviews here.

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

You can book the London City First Class Lounge for £95 per person.

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.

You can book the lounge in advance via their agent LoungeBuddy by clicking here.

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.  (EDIT, March 2017:  the Business Lounge is now open and can be booked via this link for £35 per person.)

Thanks to the team at London City Airport for arranging my visit.

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Comments

  1. I have tried it Rob at LHR, when travelling from the middle east with a prominent individual. We were taken from the plane in a Mercedes 500SE directly to the Royal Suite, that is something special.
    Sorry Rob but being met by someone who resembles an Uber X driver and then being driven in a van with a sticker on the side, fails to impress!

  2. Lewis Watson says:

    What’s with all the negativity. I will probably never use this lounge but enjoyed reading

    • A review has been written and it is up to readers/those who comment to form their own conclusions based on what is put in front of them and to decide whether they are willing or not to pay the fee for the product/service offered.

      That’s fair enough – but don’t be surprised if there is an abundance of comments (positive – or negative as in this case) based on the review. You take the rough with the smooth – and in any event, even if your typical HFP reader is not the target demographic for this lounge, I am sure it will provide interesting feedback for the lounge operators…

      I have absolutely no issue with the review and agree it is interesting to learn of the offering – but personally speaking, I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole and would feel somewhat embarrassed to expect my City employer to fork out for what is effectively a few sandwiches in a waiting room and a taxi (even if it were offered to me).

      I can think of a hundred and one better things to do with £95 (discounted) than spend it on this, but that is just my opinion, which I am (and others) are entitled to.

  3. Somewhat related. I was planning on a Friday night flight (7pm departure) either later this month or early December.

    How likely is City airport to be particularly busy at that time? Could be tempted by the lounge option.

    • Last time we flew out of City at that time on a Friday we all had to sit on the floor because there was no seating anywhere.

  4. I think more of the issue is the bolding ‘it is good value for the overall package you get’.
    I just wonder that having to grovel, then getting a comped visit might make it harder to be overtly critical of these things. I find that a very generous thing to write.

    I mean, put it this way, on the site Heathrow Express prices have been criticised as ‘a bit of a joke’ this very site but using the same analogy of our MD concluding his million quid deal, the First Class HEX ticket could be also ‘good value’ in certain circumstances, but no-one really does as such. That doesn’t mean he/she would not use that service, but just because someone else pays does not make it good value.

    You have to admit at LCY £180 for these services is also a bit of a joke considering the airport is already conducive to quick processing, and the quality of the lounge offerings are no better than No.1/Plaza Premium. The ‘VIP’ treatment could not be described as ‘true’, and to be honest at these prices I would look to be enhancing that offering to featuring a desirable car and pick-up/transfer to within an x mile radius which would really make the office/airport commute seamless without having to deal with the peasants on the DLR. (obviously said tongue in cheek).

    Really appreciate the stuff you guys write, so I hope you don’t take it as a complaint.

    • Good assessment, Simon – that’s my take on things too. By all means a useful review to have on the site but the cost really does deserve a bit more of a pinch of salt, especially when compared to some other services as you highlight.

      Nice to be able to have a healthy debate about it though 😀

    • I pay for First Class HEx tickets! Rarely at full price but I do buy them, as the kids go free it is effectively ‘buy one, get two free’ if I am flying with them on my own. This is especially true if the kids are travelling to Heathrow in their pyjamas because it is an overnight flight (they have done this, they find it funny).

      Back on the lounge, it turns out that £95 is now the permanent price and we have amended the article to reflect this.

      You forget that Heathrow charges £2,750 + VAT for this exact same service (for 1-3 people admittedly). This is heavily used as well. City is offering the same thing for between 98% and 93% – depending if there are one or three of you – less money.

  5. Putting a negative comment doesn’t mean bitterness. Why do people keep criticising people with a different point of view/opinion?
    We can’t all agree with Anika or Rob’s assessments and no one should take offence when people express their views (negative). This is an open blog and us 100 commenters are entitled to say how we feel about things regardless of whether we are that “target” privileged city MDs. There is no need to remind us that we don’t have money lying around each time we differ with “them”. I think it’s fair to say us poor souls do agree with a lot of content published on here and actually always express how grateful we are. So get of that high horse… there is no need to tell people that they are grumpy and having a blue Monday just because they differ with you! What happened to freedom of speech? Anika has expressed her opinion, let other people express theirs without fear of being rediculed and being told how they are not the target audience. I strongly believe hfp do benefit even from the low earners even though we “don’t pay a subscription fee” as is often inferred when anyone dares to critisize anything on here. Is the expectation for all to just nod along?!

    Nice review by the way, at least now I know I won’t miss anything and will hold tightly to my hard earned £95 until what I consider to be a good deal comes along.

    All said in good faith. Peace ✌️ and tomorrow is another day.

  6. 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…

  7. 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.

  8. 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.