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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.

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

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. 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…?

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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 !!!

  7. 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.

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

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