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Review of the Aspire lounge at Belfast City Airport

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This is our review of the Aspire lounge at Belfast City Airport.

We are still building our collection of UK airport lounges reviews.  Today we’re running reader Vasco’s review of the Aspire lounge at Belfast City airport.  You can find all of our other UK airport lounge reviews here.

Over to Vasco and his review of the Aspire lounge at Belfast City:

“Sadly, Belfast City has recently joined the trend of forcing you to walk through a meandering duty free shop before being able to access the main airside area—including the British Airways lounge (a HfP article on the British Airways lounge at Belfast City is here) and the Aspire lounge.  These are the only two lounges at Belfast City and are located right next to each other.

Neither of the lounges has toilets, and guests at both have to use the set on the corridor. However, these are usually clean and far enough away from the busier departure areas that very few people who are not using the lounges end up there.

Aspire Lounge Belfast City Review

The Aspire lounge is part of the Lounge Club and Priority Pass networks as well as being used by KLM, FlyBe (for those travelling on their All In tickets), and oddly, Aer Lingus. As often seems to be the case, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing at IAG, and despite BA having a perfectly good lounge a few yards down the hall, they prefer to pay Aspire for the privilege of using their lounge.

The lounge looks very pleasant, with an understated, grey décor which is common to other Aspire lounges around the country (this is a PR picture below).

Aspire Lounge Belfast City Review

The view is right onto the tarmac, giving you a great vantage point from which to watch planes land and take off—although as a major FlyBe hub, most of these will be Dash 8s rather than anything more exciting. You can see the Bombardier plant in the background and the Harland and Wolff shipyard cranes in the far distance.

Aspire Lounge Belfast City Review

I’ve used this lounge a few times before, and I’ve never seen it crowded, although that’s not to say it doesn’t happen.

There are quite a few seats with an even amount of high and low tables. There is also a quiet area on the left side.

Aspire Lounge Belfast City Review

The provision of power points is slightly lacking as not all tables have them.

As seems to be a theme across Aspire lounges, the food and drink selections aren’t ideal. There are what the HFP reviewer of the Birmingham Aspire lounge very aptly described as “entry level spirits, beers[,] and wines,” although the wine was pleasant enough. I do wish there was at least one real ale option, though. They could also have a bit more local fare: Bushmills and Tayto crisps wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Aspire Lounge Belfast City Review

In addition to the alcohol, there was a selection of non-alcoholic drinks, an espresso machine, peanuts, crackers, crisps, sandwiches and a “soup of the day,” but given the time of my flight, I didn’t indulge too much.

Aspire Lounge Belfast City Review

Conclusion

I’m happy to visit this lounge whenever I’m flying out of Belfast City on a non-BA airline.  Whilst I’ve been in far worse lounges, I’ve also been in far better ones.

The British Airways lounge next door is just a cut above, although that’s probably more due to the selection of alcoholic drinks and direct boarding from the lounge.  It’s not worth arriving early at the airport just to use the Aspire lounge but it is a pleasant place in which to wait for your flight and get that pre-flight work done.

I don’t want to finish the review without giving a shout out to the staff, who have always been uniformly friendly and professional, replacing food and drinks regularly and going out of their way to help whenever I seemed to have trouble locating anything.”

Thanks Vasco.  You get into the Aspire lounge at Belfast City Airport using a Priority Pass, which comes with an American Express Platinum card (or you can buy one) and allows unlimited free lounge visits.  It also accepts Lounge Club, which comes with American Express Gold (two free visits per year) or HSBC Premier’s LoungeKey card.  You can also pay cash on the door, or pre-book a spot via the Aspire / Servisair website here.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list 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

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

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.

Comments (9)

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    Ive spent many a happy hour in this lounge in its various guises over the years and up until the latest refurb as Aspire, Tayto crisps were the order of the day in the lounge. Tayto were the first crisp manufacturer to make Tomato Ketchup flavoured crisps, back in 1968 I think it was!!
    The drink selection is barely entry level to be honest with the white being almost undrinkable – maybe that’s the idea?!! Red isn’t much better.
    The staff are its greatest asset followed by the view, sadly though it falls far behind the BA lounge next door. Such is the unreliability of the Fly(may)be service to BHX, I have been known to fly BA to LHR and get the train up to Birmingham International or Dorridge instead!!

  • Vasco says:

    I think I might have screwed up and left a couple of paragraphs over from the BHX lounge review I had used as a template! These two:

    “The lounge is long and narrow, with good segregation and seating throughout. When it gets busier, the small business work area is great to sit down in and relax while reading emails or even just a newspaper. Position-wise, the lounge is well placed to access the budget airlines area of the terminal (Gates 1-20) which are a 5 minute stroll away. That said, as Belfast City is a pretty compact airport a 15 minute walk allows you to get where you need to be regardless of your gate.

    There aren’t many staff members in this lounge, and it can get a little messy during busier periods, but if you’re just making a short stop then you shouldn’t have too many issues.”

    Are not part of my review. This is definitely my fault, but please delete that, as they don’t relate to BHD at all. In fact, at BHD a 15 minute walk would probably put you out of the terminal! 😛

  • Simon says:

    Review left out the fact that the “coffee” machine is like something from a 1980’s leisure centre. Dreadful, and everything tastes the same

  • Graeme says:

    There is a new Aspire lounge at BHX which opened last Monday. It is in the satellite area, gates 1-20. Same food offerings as main Aspire lounge but has a staffed bar with Heineken on tap, which is not available in the main lounge. Was very quiet, not many people seem to know about it yet.

  • Lady London says:

    Very nice review Vasco. Thank you.

    As Belfast is one of the places in the UK that is exempt from APD, it’s always worth having that information about what lounge would be there if one booked from there.

    • John says:

      Competition from Dublin is always going to be a problem with offering lower taxed flights.

      But if they ever get their act together, longhauls will use BFS-Belfast International (miles from Belfast) rather than BHD-Belfast City George Best (brilliantly located on harbour).

      Norwegian and Virgin are using BFS right now, but nothing to get excited about (fares/destinations).

  • David says:

    Semi-OT:

    Does anyone know what’s happening with Aspire’s loyalty programme? Last year, signs went up that it’d be replaced by a digital loyalty card “in the autumn” and that the existing LoungeMiles cards would continue to be stamped, but new cards wouldn’t be available. I have sometimes seen cards since, but only very rarely – and once when I asked a friendly member of staff the response was along the lines of: oh don’t ask, none of us even know what’s happening, it seems to have been a bit of a shambles

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