Skytrax reveals the top 10 independent airport lounges – two at Heathrow

Skytrax, the company best known for its airline quality rankings (you have probably seem airline ads trumpeting their ‘5-star Skytrax Airline’ credentials), has published its list of the top 10 independent airport lounges.

Note that it is not clear what the methodology was.  Skytrax rankings are generally based on reader feedback but they do not have massive coverage of airport lounges, especially third party ones.

Here is top 10 for 2017:

1 Plaza Premium Lounge, Heathrow Terminal 2

2 Centurion Lounge, New York La Guardia

3 Plaza Premium Lounge, Hong Kong

4 Centurion Lounge, Dallas Fort Worth

5 SATS Premier, Singapore Terminal 1

6 Aspire by Swissport, Heathrow Terminal 3

7 Plaza Premium Lounge, Vancouver

8 dnata Lounge, Singapore Terminal 1

9 Centurion Lounge, Las Vegas

10 Plaza Premium Lounge, Brisbane

I have only been to two of these lounges – Aspire in Heathrow Terminal 3, which I reviewed here, and Plaza Premium in Heathrow Terminal 2, reviewed here and photo below.

Plaza Premium Heathrow 2

I do rate both of these facilities highly.  Aspire has a small communal nap area which is rare in independent lounges, and of course is brand new.  (As the lounge is brand new – it opened in October 2016 – the ranking cannot be based on the volume of positive reports.)  Plaza Premium in Terminal 2 at Heathrow is a very classy facility with impressive food offerings, although it has no natural light.

I would also put Plaza Premium at Heathrow Terminal 4 up there, probably ahead of Aspire in Heathrow Terminal 3.

I’m surprised to see nothing from No 1 Lounges up there, although the Gatwick North facility suffered badly last year due to being used as BA’s overflow lounge.  I haven’t been to the new Gatwick South No 1 Lounge yet (Anika reviewed it here) but my ‘hard hat’ visit before it opened made me feel that it should be an unbeatable combo of size, views and No 1 service quality.  As always, though, awards such as these must be subjective.

The majority of these lounges can be accessed with a Priority Pass card (buy one here, or get one free with an American Express Platinum) or a Lounge Club card (two free visits with the free American Express Preferred Rewards Gold).

PS.  If you’re wondering what a Centurion Lounge is, I explained them in this article.  They are American Express-owned lounges which can be accessed by Platinum and Centurion American Express cardholders.

PPS.  The Plaza Premium Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 is now under construction as I reported here

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  1. I have been to the two in Changi and although the decoration is nice, food and drink is underwhelming and they tend to get packed at certain times. This is specially so for the dnata lounge that services airlines like CX there.

  2. Sam G says:

    Yes, I really wouldn’t put SATS Changi on any list – nice enough for an hour but nothing “top 10” about it!

  3. Roger says:

    I am not even sure about the first rank here?
    Plaza Premium Lounge, Heathrow Terminal 2
    Visited last month on my way to NZ and it was fully packed.
    Was set on the same seating area pictured in front of the bar.
    Can’t fault staff for constantly refilling food and drinks items though.

    • Roger says:

      On my way to NZ we flew via BKK and stopped at Miracle lounges (tried three of them – 2 first class and one business class); which in my opinion were miles better.
      Much better shower facility and food and drinks.

  4. Chris says:

    Certainly seems biased to the larger airports. And I’d be very interested in the selection criteria.

    I’d have thought most independent lounge visitors would be leisure travellers as business pax much more likely to be in an airline lounge.

    My worldwide favourite is the one at Malta airport – the outside terrace is fantastic.

    • Gareth says:

      Hi Chris would you say the Malta lounge is worth the £15/person lounge club cost then? Flight at 8.50pm thanks

      • Polly says:

        Yes Gareth, def worth it…if you want early bite to eat pre flight and a couple of glasses of chilled white, it’s the place to be…wish more lounges worldwide had a terrace…very clever of the Maltese airport…and they get the weather to support it. Gorgeous island….

        • Gibraltar has a terrace, but distinctly underwhelming food and drink. Great views of the rock though!

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          Marco Polo at Venice has a terrace overlooking the apron and runways. It also has fantastic Prosecco served in mammoth wine glasses and exceptional cold meats. Wonderful view and you can eat and drink your entry fee in no time. Great lounge.

      • Chris says:

        Would be value at £30 each.
        Obviously less value if it’s raining!!

    • Crafty says:

      Disappointed to hear that, as I’ve only ever been in about 3 lounges including the Malta one and loved it! Was hoping more would be like that!

  5. I wasn’t that impressed by the No 1 at Gatwick South. They were refusing PP clients anyway – used my CX boarding pass to get in. It was busy not full. It was nowhere near as nice as the BA lounge. I agree that Aspire in T3 is nice enough. Both lounges benefit from being quite new. Does anyone have experience of the Virgin lounge situation in Hong Kong now they are using Plaza Premium lounge instead of their pen-friend?

    • Pen-friend = own lounge. Great auto-correct mishaps of our time!

      • I am in Gatwick tomorrow and I hoping to have a look at No 1 South.

        Norwegian uses it for its Premium pax (Anika was in there on Thursday) which, as their network grows, is presumably taking up quite a bit of capacity.

        • Its perfectly okay. Suffered in comparison to the spanking new (that week) BA lounge maybe.

  6. Edmond Rose says:

    I am in no position to comment on Skytrax ratings of airport lounges as I don’t have enough experience of non-airline lounges, but over the years many people have pointed out a seeming lack of rigour and accuracy in Skytrax airline ratings and awards. Personally, I wouldn’t be guided by Skytrax. As others note here, it’s not clear what the selection criteria are.

  7. AmandaB says:

    Used the T2 Plaza Premium lounge last week. Very poor coffee.
    And why do people watch vidoes without headphones and use their phones on speaker to talk to their children? Or is it just me who wants a quiet visit? Grrrrrrrr

    • Because it is much nicer and comforting for kids to see their parent on FaceTime/video rather than just voice talk. Sometimes we have to travel without our young kids and it’s hard enough.
      Why do people like privacy/quiet even in public places?! Grrrrr

      • However that doesn’t stop you using headphones! I’ve no issue people making video calls, but why not plug in headphone so that the sound doesn’t boom around the whole room?

      • Crafty says:

        You really ought to use headphones though, it’s quite selfish not to.

  8. mark2 says:

    It seems like another meaningless list to me. How many people have visited enough lounges to make a valid judgment.
    On the subject of Centurion lounges, we visited the one in Seattle two weeks ago. It has just been enlarged from a Studio and was very impressive if not enormous. The food was very good and the two barmen very knowledgeable, in fact all the staff were very good..

  9. Alex W says:

    I went to the Centurion lounge at DFW and didn’t think it was anything to write home about. Partly because it was packed – presumably all these lounges will now be even more packed after the Skytrax article!

  10. startupflyer says:

    The Centurion lounge choices are odd, the one in San Francisco is far better than Las Vegas or La Guardia. The Seattle lounge is nice, glad to hear its been expanded, it was a little on the cosy side. The staff and service levels in the Centurion lounges has been consistently excellent anytime I have visited them.

  11. I’m surprised Centurion lounges haven’t been opened up in other locations.

    slightly off topic but does anyone know why Emirates gets rated a 4-star when it consistently wins Skytrax airline of the year awards?

  12. Scottydogg says:

    Ive got priority pass and im travelling through LHR terminal 3 , after I looked at what is on offer through the PP app , I thought No 1 Lounge looked better for us , but we have 2 kids to amuse so the idea of the games room and cinema was more appealing for us . Perhaps if we were just 2 adults , we would find this Aspire lounge more appealing

  13. Andy E says:

    Was impressed by the quality of the food in both Sydney and Las Vegas Centurion lounges. A big advantage (for me anyway) is that with a Platinum Charge, you can bring in all family members (and with some supplementaries presumably an extended family too).

  14. Artem says:

    We are travelling from Terminal 5 soon with 2 kids on CW, no BA status, and also have PP.
    What lounge would you recommend?

    • Klaus-Peter Dudas says:

      BA Club Lounge. Use the fast-track security away from First Class and go to the lounge straight after security.

      • Yes, definitely. Use the new private Fast Track at the far, far north end of the terminal (get your taxi to drop you by the first set of doors, or just walk straight forward as you exit the tube lift). You will be in the lounge in less than 5 minutes from entering the terminal if you’re not checking in a bag (and it is quiet).

    • Gavin says:

      Galleries 5B as in all probability in CW you will travel from 5B or 5C

      • Artem says:

        Galleries 5B it is! I’ll double check the gate. Thanks Gavin. I hope they will serve something for breakfast in contrast to what Rob experienced at 5pm.

  15. Lounge Lizzard says:

    Flying BA Y short haul out of T3 in August. O/W Sapphire/PP.
    Am I correct in saying the best choice (in order) would be CX Business lounge, then Aspire? Anything else worthy of a visit?

    On return back into T3….(before transferring to T5 domestic) can I access the AA Arrivals lounge (is it worth it / any other options, other than T5 Galleries?)


    • Qantas if it is open, but I think they are saying September now.

      Try BA as well, purely for comparison with Cathay.

  16. Scott says:

    Anyone have lounge experiences for a ZRH departure to another schengen country? Lounge club shows 5 lounges at ZRH, but I can’t work out which of these will be accessible from my departure terminal/gates.

    • Genghis says:

      PP has the Swiss lounge in the Schengen terminal which isn’t too bad. Not sure if there’s access with LC

  17. Garye says:

    Have just come back from Vancouver, and I would not rate the Plaza Premium Lounge at all. The lounge is not very large and the choice of food and drinks is very poor. It is also a considerable walk from many of the gates.