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FIRST LOOK: Review of the new British Airways lounge at Aberdeen Airport

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This is my review of the new British Airways lounge at Aberdeen Airport.

Aberdeen Airport has recently seen a redevelopment programme.  As part of the work, British Airways has gained a brand new lounge which opened on Tuesday.  I popped in to take a look.

Aberdeen Airport also has a high quality independent lounge called Northern Lights, which can be accessed via Priority Pass, Lounge Club or for cash.  I also visited the Northern Lights lounge and will review that later.

But which is best?  British Airways or Northern Lights?

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

The new British Airways Galleries lounge in Aberdeen

“I’ve had two customers come in today who went in the new BA lounge and didn’t like it, so they came here” said the receptionist at the Northern Lights lounge where I started my lounge safari.

That wasn’t a great sign, but I can see why.  These people were clearly hungry.

But first things first …..

The Northern Lights and British Airways lounges are both on the first floor of Aberdeen Airport’s departure lounge.  There is also a small Eastern Airways lounge at gate level.

The BA lounge can be accessed by anyone with a Club Europe ticket or with Gold, Silver or oneworld equivalent status.

It is effectively two rectangular areas side by side.  One half has windows running the full length of the lounge overlooking the runway.

There are 15 or so stools by the windows.  This is where I sat with my laptop.  There are TWO power sockets per stool – you won’t go short here!

Click on any picture to enlarge slightly:

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

This area, which is obviously very bright due to the windows, also has around 30 solo armchairs.  Each chair has a side table between it and the adjacent chair, and all of these side tables have UK, European and USB sockets.  It is impressive.

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

The loos are inside the lounge.  For those who care about these things, the gents has no urinals, only cubicles.  The flush is sensor operated which means waving your hand in front of a digital display depending on the size of flush you need!

There is also a decent and smartly arranged selection of magazines.  Newspapers are in the bar area.

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

In the other side of the lounge is a smart looking granite-topped bar.  There are stools here but no sockets (EDIT: apparently there are sockets and I didn’t bend down far enough. What I thought was a handbag holder in the picture is apparently a plug!).

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

This area also contains a dining area with tables and wooden chairs.

The bar area is darker – much of the light from the windows in the other half of the lounge does not reach.  I’m not sure how it will look on a dark Scottish Winter evening.  Cloudless sunny days like the one I had yesterday are presumably scarce in Aberdeen!

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

There is a wide selection of drink:

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

As you can see, there was also an ice bucket with three bottles of Castelnau champagne in it.  I’m not sure if this is an ‘opening offer’ or if BA intends this to be a permanent feature – you rarely see self pour champagne in Galleries lounges except for Galleries First.

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

Staff were also coming around to offer champagne refills, which is definitely not usual for BA!

The food … oh dear.  Why are British Airways regional lounges so bad at food?  The lunch options available at Northern Lights next door were substantial.  Excellent mini-burgers, a curry, pasta, soup, and big lemon cake.

British Airways Galleries lounge Aberdeen Airport review

The only thing that BA could rustle up was the usual sandwich selection (these were very fresh, I should add), some bits of cheese and vegetable soup.  No wonder people were walking out and heading over to Northern Lights for something substantial.  This is becoming a pattern now – I do the same in Amsterdam, going into the Aspire lounge for the decent food before popping into the BA lounge next door for the newspapers.

What I did enjoy in both lounges was watching the runway action.  You’re not in Heathrow anymore, Toto.  Almost all of the aircraft flying in and out were turboprops, with brands such as West Atlantic which meant nothing to me.  There were also Eastern Airways, Loganair, Wideroe and Flybe flights and various helicopters coming and going.

Conclusion

Most people don’t have a choice of which lounge they visit, so comparisons are often moot.  However ….

If you can get into the British Airways Galleries lounge at Aberdeen, you will find a fresh, modern and generously sized (given the number of flights) space.  It is a perfectly pleasant place to spend an hour or so, unless you crave food.

If you can get into the Northern Lights lounge – which accepts Priority Pass and the Amex Gold credit card Lounge Club cards, amongst others – you will find yourself in one of the nicest airport-run lounges in the UK.

If you can get into both, I would recommend Northern Lights.  My review in a couple of days will show you why.  British Airways has done a good job with the new Aberdeen lounge but it was up against stiff competition and fell short.

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Comments

  1. Martin says:

    You say there are no power sockets at the bar… But it looks like there are some in the photo, just not quite as many as at the window seats.

  2. ChrisC says:

    Every chair having plugs etc is almost essential these days and BA need to up their game at many other lounges where they sadly lacking in many chairs and and some don’t even work!

    • I would say the reverse. My laptop battery lasts for 5h and my smartphone goes a week without charging so I rarely plug anything in when at the lounge. Perhaps 10 years ago i’d be looking for a socket but battery life has gotten substantially better.

  3. Martin says:

    “Cloudless sunny days are presumably scarce” !
    Typical london-centric view that the far north is some sort of gloomy twilight zone in semi-permanent darkness or buried under snow.
    Check the facts Rob! Aberdeen has a higher yearly sunshine total than central London.

    • According to the Met Office, from 1981 to 2010 Aberdeen Airport had 1436 hours of sunshine per year. While that is higher than Greenwich Park which had only 1410 hours per year, Kew Gardens (which is closer to where Rob lives) had 1653 hours and Heathrow had 1633.

      • Stu N says:

        “Typical london-centric view that the far north is some sort of gloomy twilight zone in semi-permanent darkness or buried under snow.”

        It is for about 6 months of the year though. 🙂

        The weather and daylight is noticeably worse in Scotland in winter. I think that and I’m in Edinburgh… Light nights almost make up for it though. Sunset at 2200? I’ll take that…

  4. “In the other side of the lounge is a smart looking granite-topped bar. There are stools here but no sockets.”

    What are those things under the counter?

    • I know they look like sockets 🙂 They may be handbag holders. Or I missed the sockets …

      • They are definitely sockets (looking at a better picture on another travel blog site)

  5. The bubbles at the BA Gatwick lounge is also self pour and so not so rare Rob – I don’t recall what brand it is though, presumably the same as at Aberdeen?

    • Jeremy says:

      It is the same

    • ChrisC says:

      In the F lounge they are but not in the Club lounge (unless that’s changed in the last couple of months)

      Same as at LHR.

      Bubbles available on request in Club lounge though.

      • It has changed then – free to pour champagne is available in the bog standard BA lounge at LGW

    • wally1976 says:

      Pleased to hear that the BA Gatwick lounge – that I’m due to visit for the first time for a CE flight in August – has self-pour champagne :-). How does the food there compare with the No1 Lounge?

  6. Spend many an hour in the old BA lounge when I worked for BP, where is this lounge located in the terminal building? Looks a very different shape from what I remember…

    • Allan says:

      Whole new extension, it’s above the old lounge and possibly a bit further toward the old stands where international flights landed.

  7. Wow, quick review, out of interest was this trip entirely funded by HFPs?

    What do BA serve for breakfast, no cooked food, bacon rolls, etc?

    Martin, please share your facts on yearly sunshine total. Whilst the winters are darker than London the summers are much lighter. And like Edinburgh, the air quality is substantially better year round.

    • The budget can run to an Avios return to Aberdeen 🙂 Was about 5% of the cost of Jamie’s NY trip!

    • Simon says:

      Nothing hot apart from porridge. 2 types of cereal, some fruit and a croissant or pan au chocolate. Very poor.

      • Martin says:

        How disappointing! Next door in the Northern Lights lounge they have hot food – bacon, sausage, baked beans, tattie scones & scrambled eggs. Plenty of cold options too and Nespresso coffee.

      • Yep same in EDI – I always end up nipping to Aspire or No 1 for something hot!

    • sunguy says:

      BACON ROLLS…..>!!!!!!!!!

      I wish….neither EDI or GLA lounges have ever had Bacon Rolls….

      Which is just stupid…..

      • Stu N says:

        Did EDI not have hot breakfast them when the lounge was by the arrivals escalator, roughly where No.1 lounge is now? This is going back to early 2000s though so memory may be a bit sketchy.

        If I have time and inclination I usually get a quick breakfast in Aspire on PP then move next door to BA lounge.

  8. Lumma says:

    Slight OT about the Amsterdam lounges, can BA passengers access the Aspire lounge with their ticket or do you use Priority Pass to get in?

    The Oneworld lounge website says “for passengers flying these Oneworld airlines only” which doesn’t include BA

    • Priority Pass

    • Sapiens says:

      AMS BA lounge food is poor, similar to a motorway service station (pepperoni mystery meat tube as source of protein). You also have to leave the BA lounge to use the public bathroom.

      AMS aspire has better food, own bathrooms and IIRC showers.

      • Lumma says:

        I agree, had way too long in there on my last Qatar ex EU, seats really uncomfortable too.

        I’m not sure if I could’ve used the Aspire lounge anyway as I’d came off a Qatar flight and was transferring to BA.

        I also remember the receptionist in the BA lounge seemingly being annoyed that I knew that I was entitled to lounge access due to my inbound business class flight, although that might have just been legendary Dutch customer service (I was only bronze at the time).

  9. Simon says:

    I agree. The food offer in regional lounges seriously lets it down. In Glasgow there is not a better option unless you’re flying Emirates.

    The breakfast offer is also terrible and has no hot food apart from porridge.

    BA need to up their game in these lounges but I really don’t see it happening any time soon.

    • Down the Back says:

      Hi Simon,

      I agree the food offering in Glasgow is especially poor in the morning, if I get there in time (which is rare) I use the Priority Pass Lounge upstairs, it has decent Bacon rolls and then I move down to the BA lounge which is much nearer the gates for domestic flights. Not sure what food offerings are in the Priority Pass Lounge after breakfast time as I just use the BA lounge in the afternoon or evening.

      Regards

      DtB

    • EDI is the same, its as if BA would rather have you drunk than fed. At least at EDI you can go to the No.1 Lounge or Aspire. At GLA it would be a long trek to the paid for lounge (which has got much better in last few years).

      • Ditto MAN – you can have some delightful wines but you have to pair them with (often) stale sandwiches and a bag of crisps!

        • Lady London says:

          I’d say the same about the T5 lounges actually. Not bad spirits choice though.

  10. The food at the BA Edinburgh Lounge is pretty poor – no bacon rolls etc.

    Brother-in-law is a meteorologist in Aberdeen for anyone needing to settle the ‘Aberdeen is a sunny place’ debate!

    • Down the Back says:

      The Aspire lounge at EDI which is very close to the BA lounge has decent breakfast options, always my first choice when travelling through EDI.

      DtB

      • Mike L says:

        Couldn’t agree more, the bap style rolls in there are fabulous 👍

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Comparing Aberdeen to London is what my Latvian wife would call ‘comparing a dxxk to a finger’, but it is well sheltered from the prevailing winds, a lot drier than Glasgow for example (about 50% more rain), and although the days are shorter, has a higher % of sunshine in Nov-Feb than London.

    • sunguy says:

      I lived and worked in Aberdeen (including at the ABZ as ground staff) – I can firmly confirm that Aberdeen is a fantastic city, gets about 1 day a year of hot, warmness, but in general it can be a bit dreich….

      Aberdeen is not called “Europes Oil Capital” and the Granite city for nothing you know 🙂

  11. Completely O/T but need some help. I have just booked a west coast USA to Hawaii flight with Alaska over Easter (which is a bit of a result) but I need some clarification. On my way out the Alaska website stated that the two flight first leg (change of planes in Portland) was priced as a one way, however, when BA did it for me they proceed it as two one ways. Is this correct?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    • Stu N says:

      Is this an Avios booking with connections? If it is, you are charged for each leg separately even on a single ticket. Say you’re doing SEA-PDX-HLL outbound and HLL-SEA direct inbound on Avios:
      – outbound will be charged as sum of SEA-PDX and PDX-HLL, so two lots of Avios and charges
      – inbound will be HLL-SEA with one lot of Avios and charges
      It’s annoying but that’s how it works now.

      A cash fare booked with Alaska probably won’t be much different if you have connections in there.

  12. Ot – @Rob, how long do you think the BAPP has left?

    • No idea. We are now in the odd position where Amex would probably want to ditch it so that it can aggressively start promoting Gold and Platinum to people as good air miles cards (and which still have 1.5%+ interchange fees).

      Random numbers. We know BA Amex spend is £1bn+ per month. Assuming 33% is on the paid card, that is £12m per month paid to Avios. Interchange is £3m per month. OK, you need to add in annual card fees (but BA must take some of that, and presumably is paid for the 241), interest charges (probably not much) and whatever else Amex can screw from merchants. However, you can potentially see how Amex could be losing £100m per year on the BA card now ….

      • So, do you think BA would offer another 2 4 1 card if Amex pulled out or would that be the end…?

  13. Presumably the BA regional lounges only service flights to London, so one would not expect them to be equivalent to the lounges at Heathrow and Gatwick, surely?

    What does Aberdeen have – 3 BA flights a day?

    • 7 flights daily! and even more frequent when the oil & gas bubble hadn’t burst

      • Yep, Sleasy jet has picked up a lot of what’s left of the ‘oilys’ run from LGW.

    • think its about double that from LHR.. Not sure if use of the BA lounge is allowed on any other airlines, eg LoganAir/FlyBE?

    • Stu N says:

      EDI has 20+ weekday flights to LHR, LCY, and LGW with a lot of Club Europe, Gold and Silver members – you just have to look at the length of the priority boarding queues on peak time flights. That amount of traffic should justify a better lounge provision, especially for food.

      Apart from JFK, I’m not sure if any other outstations will have more passengers and remember the BA lounge is also available to OneWorld partners. Daily Finnair and Qatar flights year round and summer-only daily Iberia and AA flights too.

      • Agree with Stu. We were in EDI last weekend, and the sandwiches were not great. We did as Rob suggested in an earlier post – ate in No 1 Lounge, and then went to the BA lounge for drinks and a better atmosphere.

  14. On the loo, we were at the Hilton Munich (excellent breakfast by the way) and had a corner suite in the new wing. When MrCate went in the bathroom at night the main light switched on immediately, the loo surround lit up and when he arose the toilet self flushed and on leaving the light turned off immediately. He was well impressed!

  15. You can also enter the Northern Lights lounge with the Barclays DragonPass which I find one of the best cards around and doesn’t get enough of a mention.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Barclays DP deal has been mentioned on HFP in the fairly recent past though not sure what happened here http://www.headforpoints.com/dragonpass-card/ . If you can use the other benefits, esp insurance for under 80s and the breakdown cover (cars), it is a very good option if you can do everything within 6 months minimum term ie use all 6 passes

  16. OT – Rob, I contact the Marriott I’m staying at in Bangkok in January to ask if they’d honour the status benefits that I had as a Gold when I booked even though as an SPG Gold matched to Marriott I wasn’t going to be in the new Platinum status come the end of the year, got the following reply:

    “First of all , do not worry about your status. After August you will be Platinum level under new program and keep your all benefits of Gold level now. So you will definitely enjoy your stay in January with lounge access and late check out etc….”

    Am pretty sure I won’t be platinum from everything I’ve read. Would you take this as confirmation that they will honour those benefits even if it turns out I’m not Platinum or will I be chancing it turning up and expecting the benefits?

    • The hotel is just a franchise which knows even less (probably) than you do, so I wouldn’t treat that response seriously, unfortunately.

  17. Gordon says:

    The only advantage the Northern Lights lounge has is it’s range of hot food. The staff at that lounge are undertrained and undermined by inadequate systems that often sees check in queues extending out through the entrance doors.

    BA offers a better range of liquor, including premium brands; all of which are self pour. The way that the Northern Lounge not only guard but dispense using measures is just annoying and slow.

    I was at the BA lounge on Tuesday, when it opened. The fizzy is not self-pour but happily served and replenished by the excellent lounge staff. I know this because due to a misunderstanding I started to uncork one of the two unopened and sealed bottles resting in the ice bucket. Whilst doing this someone arrived with a pre-poured glass and took the partially opened bottle off me and back to the kitchen.

    Finally, the BA lounge has far more sockets than the Northern Lounge and most other BA lounges since they have learned the mistake of undersupply from the refurb of LGW.

    Oh and as a native Aberdonian, what’s sunshine?

    • grex910 says:

      It’s that yellow light you sometimes see when you briefly release your grip on your cash…

    • IanMacK says:

      The Northern Light Lounge has undertrained staff – well some of them look very similar to the ‘old BA lounge’ staff to me – maybe I’ll see them back next door tomorrow …
      Annoying was the whole drawn out process that BA travellers had to go through to be ‘checked in’ at the Northern Lights lounge entrance – it was clear the system couldn’t cope and details had to be manually entered – hence the long Q.
      Amazingly, in the last couple of weeks its been boarding pass scan and walk right through – technology (almost too late !!) …
      And there was more sun in Aberdeen yesterday than London !!!

  18. BA Galleries LGW South has self pour Castelnau champagne too!

    • Premier01 says:

      What about other BA Galleries lounges e.g. JFK- do they serve bubbles on request- can’t remember seeing self-pour?

      • No sadly not! Only a German sparkling wine… but if you ask any staff member they will serve champagne from the kitchen.

      • In theory but I have never asked.

        • No, I can assure you in JFK Galleries they serve champagne upon request.

  19. The First lounge at Gatwick was brilliant this morning – excellent breakfast and great environment.

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