This is our review of the new 51 Degrees Lolfa Faoethus (Executive Lounge) at Cardiff International Airport.
Last year in February we published a review of the Executive lounge at Cardiff Airport by one of our readers Nathan. A few weeks ago the lounge reopened after a refurbishment, presumably to tie in with the launch of Qatar Airways services from Cardiff. Here is Nathan’s update on the changes. Over to you Nathan ….
“The Cardiff airport lounge has been expanded and renamed. The new name is 51 Degrees, for reasons not explained. The entrance has moved further around the corner into the new large seating area, opposite the new large WH Smith.
Here is the new entrance:
Once I was through the double doors the desk was staffed by two very friendly members of staff. You can get access by paying cash (£20), showing your Priority Pass, Lounge Club or Dragonpass card or your business class boarding pass. I scanned in my Priority Pass card and was given a code for the wifi, which was fast enough to stream Netflix well.
There were two flight information screens within the longue to keep you up to date.
My first impression was that the new layout is much bigger and brighter than it was before. There is a lot of armchair seating and coffee tables. The image below is approximately a third of the new seating area. As you can see it was not very busy at 2pm on a Friday.
The wall behind me in that image has a bar style seating area, and the bar stools were very comfortable. There are no longer any private booth style seats.
If you want a plug socket to charge any of your devices, you should either sit on one of the bar stools or find a chair adjacent to the wall. The sockets were standard British plugs and USB chargers.
There was one highchair available if you are travelling with a little one.
The outlook from the single window is still over the car park. There is only one table by the window but I would not be upset if I didn’t get to sit there.
There is one very large TV playing BBC news, a fair selection of newspapers on the bar and what I consider a poor magazine selection.
Food and drinks
The new 51 Degrees Cardiff airport lounge has one self service area for snacks and soft drinks.
As you can see in the picture below, to quench your thirst you have a tea and coffee machine, a selection of Schweppes mixers, fruit juices and just off the photo a coke and lemonade fountain – sadly not the one where you can make cherry coke.
The snacks were acceptable but would not equate to a full meal. There were nuts, crisps, pastries, cereals, fruit and welsh cakes. If you were a fan of the rocky road in the old lounge like myself you will be sad to hear they are no longer available …..
All alcoholic beverages are served from a staffed bar. The spirits are still locally sourced from the Penderyn distillery in the Brecon Beacons.
Some of the beers are also locally sourced from the Glamorgan brewing company. There was wine available but I did not see the exact bottles and, as I am not a wine drinker anyway, my opinion would have been moot!
Within the lounge there was a door to another section that is only for business passengers flying Qatar Airways or KLM. While I was there I did not see anyone go in or out of there. I looked through the glass door and from what I could see it was just a continuation of the main lounge design. I couldn’t tell whether there was anything else special in there – it seemed not.
Overall the revamp has improved the Cardiff Airport lounge substantially. 51 Degrees is now a very bright, spacious and peaceful place to spend an hour before flying. The Welsh history theme has been lost to make way for clean muted colours. I liked both but I have to admit the new ambience is very nice.
The staff were extremely friendly and there were so many of them! Maybe there are more at the moment in case of any teething problems, but at a rough estimate is that there was one member of staff to every three guests. I never had to queue for a drink.
As previously the food lets the 51 Degrees lounge down which is a shame because it is really nice place to be. Even just some sandwiches and soup would put it up there on par with similar lounges such as Bristol and Dublin.
The dress code is apparently ‘smart casual’. I was wearing my customary shorts and t-shirt and did not get the slightest ‘look’.
There are some downsides of the revamp mainly due to how the existing space has been split. There is now only one window in the main body of the lounge as the expanded space is all internal. The windows in the old lounge are all now inside the business section. This is also where the toilets are, which means that they are for business passengers only and everyone else has to leave the lounge to use the bathroom outside. This annoys me slightly – I couldn’t take a look but the old toilets were rather shabby.
I doubt that it will ever be full as I never had a problem with the lounge when it was half the size. Of course this may all change if Qatar Airways or any other airline start investing and flying more regularly from Cardiff Airport (I hope they do)! The scope is there and I know plans are in motion for a much faster link road direct from the M4 at J34. Watch this space.”
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (March 2021)
As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.