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My review of the Northern Lights lounge at Aberdeen Airport – better than the BA lounge?

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This is my review of the Northern Lights 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.

On Thursday I reviewed the new British Airways lounge at Aberdeen Airport.  Next door, however, is the Northern Lights lounge which is run by the airport.  Which is best?

As a reminder, the British Airways lounge can be accessed with a Club Europe flight ticket or Gold, Silver or oneworld equivalent airline status.  The Northern Lights lounge can be accessed via Priority PassLounge Club etc or for cash.

You can find out more on this page of the Aberdeen Airport website.

Inside the Northern Lights lounge at Aberdeen Airport

I went into Northern Lights first.  It hits a positive note from the outset with this attractive reception area which lets you see the scale of the lounge behind:

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

Let me explain how the layout works.  Immediately behind reception is a premium spirits bar:

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

This looked impressive.  It wasn’t manned at lunchtime but the reception staff were getting people shots if they wanted them. Basically, the top shelf is £6 per 25ml shot, the middle shelf is £4 and the lower shelf (not sure about the counter-level shelf) is £2.  The top shelf items were Chivas Regal 18 years and equivalent.

(There is also a range of free alcoholic drinks available if you don’t want anything from the whisky wall, although I’m not sure if there are any spirits available for free or for self pour.  The BA lounge does have spirits on self pour.)

There are lots of little touches in the lounge which really make a difference and which tend to reinforce the ‘corporate’ feel of the British Airways lounge next door.  Take a look at this wine bottle holder for instance (there is a bottle in there if you look closely enough):

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

I don’t know where you can buy these, but I want one!  There were 3-4 scattered around the bar area.

In the same area as the bar is the food.  When the lounge opened last year, it was reported that it is catered for by “The Kilted Chef”, who runs an upmarket restaurant fine-dining restaurant called Eat On The Green in Aberdeenshire.

It was substantial for a lunch spread, especially when you remember that the British Airways lounge next door only had sandwiches, a soup and some cheese.  It had mini-burgers (I had two!) and a curry with rice:

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

It had a salad bar:

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

It had cheese and biscuits:

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

This is the savoury / cake / drinks side.  There is a big full-size lemon sponge cake towards the back which was really good, and is the sort of thing (as these are obviously bought in) that BA could do too very easily if it wanted:

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

In terms of seating, the area in the foreground here is next to the food:

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

Here is the lounge from the windows, looking towards the food area.  You can see that there is more traditional seating on this side

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

The mock fireplace (I’m guessing it is mock) was actually quite effective as a design feature, as were the blue walls which added warmth to the space.

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

There was a long thin high table with bar stools which separated the two halves of the lounge, but I don’t have a picture of that.  Socket-wise it isn’t great as you can see from the photos, although the bar stool table does have sockets by every seat.  The BA lounge is better in that regard.

The view is very similar to the one from the BA lounge, looking towards the runway.  The difference between Northern Lights and the BA lounge is that the Northern Lights lounge is one large area without a dividing wall, which means that the windows bring light to the whole space.

Northern Lights lounge review, Aberdeen Airport

In terms of media, there was a newspaper rack but no magazines (BA wins there).  The wi-fi was the standard airport wi-fi, with no dedicated lounge channel.  Neither of the lounges has any computers for guest use.

Conclusion

I liked the Northern Lights lounge.  Part of that was down to measurable factors (better food and drink, more daylight) but part of it was also down to the fact that the designers had created a more pleasant ambience.

It reminded me a bit of the premium 1903 Lounge at Manchester Airport (reviewed here) where a lot of small clever ideas come together to create something impressive.

As I wrote on Thursday, the new British Airways lounge at Aberdeen is entirely fit for purpose and does its job.  Northern Lights, however, simply has more going for it in virtually every respect.  Taken together, Aberdeen Airport now has two good quality airport lounges which will enhance your trip. 

The new Northern Lights Executive Lounge can be accessed by Priority Pass (buy one, or free with American Express Platinum), Lounge Club (free with American Express Gold) and all other major lounge pass networks. It also hosts premium cabin passengers on certain airlines who do not have their own lounge.

If you want to book in advance and will be paying cash, you can book on the Aberdeen Airport website here.

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Comments

  1. Genghis says:

    No tv in the fireplace showing the fire video à la Glasgow BA lounge?

  2. “It was substantial for a lunch spread, especially when you remember that the British Airways lounge next door only had sandwiches, a soup and some cheese“

    I don’t know how regular passengers on BA with lounge access deal with the same sandwiches and cheese day in and day out…… and every U.K. lounge. It had to be the only consistent thing about BA …. and is cknsistently dull

    • We deal with it quite simply: we appreciate that we are privileged to have access to a quiet comfortable waiting area rather than the main terminal and we are grateful that we are given both food and drink free of charge. Anyone who isn’t grateful for that is of course quite at liberty to go and buy what food they want elsewhere.

  3. Spent a few hours in there a couple of months ago, late morning so we got breakfast and got to see the lunch selections. Seriously impressive, especially compared to the old lounge. Worth paying for access IMHO.

  4. the real harry1 says:

    Looks like it’s sold out but I guess might be available elsewhere
    https://brubaker-usa.com/products/brubaker-wine-bottle-holder-couple-in-plane-6015?variant=30455297927

  5. vlcnc says:

    It does look good and nice to see a regional airport go to the effort. Unfortunately there is little incentive for BA to improve theirs, as they offer it complimentary and most people who have status will just wander in to the BA lounge without thinking.

  6. Graeme says:

    It’s also worth mentioning the beer selection, which is better than anything else I have seen in a UK lounge.

    Off the of my head, the following are available:

    BrewDog Punk IPA
    BrewDog Dead Pony Club
    BrewDog Vagabond (gluten-free)
    Harviestoun Schiehallion
    Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted
    Carlsberg

    There are also some ciders and I think some other beers which I have forgotten.

    Also some high quality comfort food is available:
    Mackie’s ice cream
    Dean’s shortbread

    • Travel Yoda says:

      Been a couple of months since I was last in but think there was word of expanding the brewdog range. Will be in there tomorrow morning so will take a look.

  7. sunguy says:

    Its been a very long time since I was at ABZ, but the view over the apron reminds me of the BAA HR office…..(I worked at the airport for BAA in the late 90s)….

  8. the real harry1 says:

    Wine holder is on Amazon ‘BRUBAKER Wine Bottle Holder Couple on Plane’

    only 10 left

  9. Andy_h says:

    I was in there the day after you Rob and agree with all your observations. The spirits weren’t free pour for us – we were offered single or double shots for our nicely made G&Ts (Gordon’s or Greenalls I think were the choices). Was nice and quiet for a Friday evening flight, and a very pleasant visit – so much so that we lost track of time and had to jog the length of the airport to our BA flight at gate 5 and be “those last two passengers” that were holding up takeoff. Still left 15 or more minutes ahead of schedule so didn’t feel too guilty, but was a reminder to check the departure boards…..

  10. Scott Lawrie says:

    Agree re the lack socket situation in the NLL however the staff will provide you with a handy portable charger that can accommodate 4 USB cables/devices if you ask them.

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