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Etihad’s Manchester Airport lounge in Terminal 1 becomes a premium independent ‘1903’ lounge

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Last year I went up to Manchester to try out the brand new premium independent lounge in Terminal 3 – the ‘1903’ lounge.

My review of the 1903 lounge is here.  The airport spent £1.6m on the lounge and I was impressed – it was a quiet, grown up space with (fairly) premium drinks and food and very welcoming staff.  I wrote that, so nice was it compared to the BA lounge, for a special occasion I would recommend paying for 1903 rather than using the tired British Airways lounge for free.

1903, by the way, references the year that the Wright brothers made their first flight.

1903 lounge Manchester Airport

The ‘1903’ brand is owned by the airport – as is the cheaper ‘Escape’ lounge brand – and the plan is to roll it out at other Manchester Airport-owned sites such as London Stansted and East Midlands.

There seem to have been a few changes since I visited.  A few airlines have started using it, which presumably makes it busier, and the cash price has come down to £30.  It has retained the ‘no kids’ and ‘no groups of more than four’ policy.

The concept seems to be going well though.

Last week, 1903 took over the Etihad lounge in Manchester Terminal 1.

1903 lounge Manchester Airport

The opening hours are:

6.00am – 10.30am

5.30pm – 8.30pm

This is a little odd, to be honest.  The Etihad flights depart at 9.05am and 8.35pm, so these times were not chosen to fit around those.  Does the airport assume that there won’t be enough paying customers to justify keeping it open for seven hours during the day? Or are they doing refurbishment work during that period?

It also isn’t clear how the ‘no children’ policy can work alongside Etihad’s need to allow all Business Class – and presumably status card holding Economy passengers – to use the lounge.

1903 lounge Manchester Airport

If you are flying another airline from Terminal 1 when the 1903 lounge is open, you can buy admission at the reassuringly expensive price of £45 per person.  It is NOT possible to gain access with a Priority Pass or any other lounge club scheme.

Full details and how to book can be found on the airport website here.

PS.  The photos in this article are of the Terminal 3 lounge and not the new Terminal 1 site

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2023)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit 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.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

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

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes 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 £24 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

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

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (15)

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  • Shoestring says:

    Opening hours seem a perfect fit with Etihad flights IMV.

    • Callum says:

      I was about to say they match almost perfectly – no idea what Rob is talking about there!

      The only bit that doesn’t fit is the gap from 9am to 10.30am, but there are lots of US and a Dubai flight leaving in that period – I assume they are thinking it’s worth staying open a little longer to try and catch those?

      • john says:

        I think he might mean it doesn’t fit with operating as the 1903 lounge outside of the Etihad flight times. Some lounges do this where they operate as an airline lounge at specific times and a priority pass lounge when the airline is not using them (e.g. The Club Lounge in PHX which BA uses)

        • Rob says:

          Correct. The only point in going independent is to drive traffic outside of Etihad flight times.

        • Callum says:

          There surely is a point though? Etihad will presumably be paying a fee to the airport to manage the lounge at that those times for them. It’s therefore effectively just an Etihad lounge you can buy access to (the 1903 branding making that clear).

          If there’s a business case in the future to extend the opening hours I’m sure they will.

    • Peter K says:


  • TimM says:

    In the absence of any other information, there is no reason that Etihad should maintain the same physical lounge space if 1903 has taken it over, especially if doing so is inconsistent with Etihad’s ‘business class child’ policy. There are plenty of lounges in the sea….

  • Gerry says:

    I visited 1903 T3 in July this year after HFP review and I was not disappointed. Great genuinely welcoming staff, pro-active and motivated with food & drink selection v good. Therefore high hopes for this new lounge.
    However is the move another Etihad cutback? This is their last month flying to EDI ( being replaced by Emirates) and there is just a sense of penny-pinching enduring. Having said that my favourite Etihad lounge is the small DUB one where breakfast really is a delight.

  • Darren says:

    Etihad FF’s don’t appear to be impressed on FT.

    • Rob says:

      Lounge was well regarded I believe. However more and more airlines are beginning to realise that having a dedicated lounge for just 1-2 departures a day (so in reality it is used 2.5 – 5 hours per day) is not sensible.

      • Darren says:

        Fair point, I’ll find out how good/bad it is in Nov.
        Emirates at NCL use Aspire premium (or whatever it’s called), it’s ok.

  • vlcnc says:

    So is 1903 basically taking over Etihad’s existing own brand lounge and rebranding it as a 1903 lounge or have they refurbished it to the same standard as 1903?

    • Rob says:

      It switched overnight on 1st September I believe so I doubt any refurbishment will have been done yet. Only a guess though.

  • Margaret Mulville says:

    I am booked Eithad Business Class 19.10 Manila vua Abu Dhabi i30th January 2018 if loung not open till 17.30 where am I an elderly lady who needs assistance expected to wait. Chauffer Service gets you more.than 2 hours before. Eithad will loose customer.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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