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And the Priority Pass ‘Lounge of the Year 2018’ award nearly goes to ….. Aberdeen Airport

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Airport lounge network Priority Pass has unveiled the winners of its ‘Airport Lounge of the Year 2018’ awards.

Whilst it is easy to take such awards with a pinch of salt, the fact that the Priority Pass awards are based on 52,000 reviews from cardholders does give them some credibility.

The global winner for 2018 was Sala VIP Internacional at Quito International Airport in Ecuador.

To quote:

Sala VIP Internacional put the customer experience at the heart of their recent lounge expansion and pride themselves on offering services that will cater to everyone’s needs. One of the main highlights of this lounge is the outdoor terrace with panoramic views of the city, providing a space that captures the light and colour of Ecuador’s vibrant capital. The lounge is fitted out with ample seating and distinguished locally sourced furnishings, providing a luxurious and cultural feel. The lounge menu, designed by renowned local chef Andrés Miño, includes international and Ecuadorian cuisine, and guests can enjoy a variety of wines from the lounge’s private cellar, while watching Quito’s beautiful sunsets. This modern and elegant lounge is open around the clock and features private working spaces, dedicated sleeping areas, a massage room, and showers for guests to refresh themselves before a long flight or during a layover.

More relevant to HfP readers are the European winners.

Northern Lights lounge Aberdeen

The overall European winner was the Primeclass Riga Business Lounge at Terminal E at Riga International Airport, Latvia.

The good news is that the European runner-up award was the little-known Northern Lights Executive Lounge in Aberdeen.

I am very pleased about this.  I reviewed the Northern Lights lounge in May 2018 – see here – and was very impressed.  It was actually the best lounge, adjusting for the airport it was in, that I visited last year and it is great to see it getting broader recognition.

As I wrote last May:

“a lot of small clever ideas come together to create something impressive”

The Northern Lights lounge can be accessed by Priority Pass unsurprisingly (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.

Northern Lights lounge Aberdeen

The other Priority Pass lounge winners

Here are the winners of the other awards:

Africa & Middle East

  • Regional Winner: Ahlan Lounge at B, Terminal 3, Concourse B, Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates
  • Highly Commended: Marhaba Lounge, Terminal 3, Concourse A, Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates

Asia Pacific

  • Regional Winner: Miracle First Class LoungeInternational Concourse D, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand
  • Highly Commended: SATS Premier Lounge, Terminal 3, Singapore Changi International Airport, Singapore

North America

  • Regional Winner: Lounge 19, Terminal 1, Mexico City Benito Juarez International Airport, Mexico
  • Highly Commended: The Club MCO, Terminal B, Concourse 4, Orlando FL International Airport, United States

Latin America and The Caribbean

  • Highly Commended: Eldorado Lounge, Terminal 1, Bogota El Dorado International Airport, Colombia

It is worth noting that, if you’re in Dubai, you can access the Ahlan First Class lounge in Terminal 3 Concourse D – which is better than the Ahlan lounge which won the award – via DragonPass.  This lounge is used by a lot of airlines for their First Class passengers and has free flowing champagne and a la carte dining.  You can read more about that in this HfP article.  It does not accept Priority Pass unfortunately.

If you have been to any of the lounges above, please let us have your thoughts in the comments below.


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 (36)

  • Peter says:

    Isn’t the overall winner for Latin America the same as the global winner?

  • David says:

    It makes sense that the overall Latin America winner is the overall winner, they couldn’t really say there was a better lounge than the one in Quito as a regional winner

  • Robert Kennedy says:

    The Ahlan lounge in Dubai terminal 1 is excellent and has a fairly extensive la carte menu on top of an excellent self serve buffet. I accessed it using Priority Pass in January.

    Easily one of the best Priority Pass lounges I have been in (I’ve probably been in over 50 of them by now). It is right around the corner from the, much inferior, BA lounge.

  • BLINDMAN says:

    I was in the Quito lounge earlier this month.
    I did not see the terrace and thought overall the lounge was average.
    There is free beer, but a 2 drink limit per person for wine and spirits.
    So far on my trip the best Priority lounge has been at Aukland.
    Great food and alcohol,large space and no alcohol limits.
    We were there for 6hrs,with no fuss from the reception as I think the limit is supposedly 3hrs.
    Worst so far has been at Baltra airport on the Gallapogos.
    Minimal food,space and the Internet did not work.

    • Paul says:

      I agree with your comments on Quito. Whilst Baltra is not great, try going to some of the lounges in domestic terminals in South America, I think Lima is a stand out worst

  • Tim says:

    Anyone know which lounge is best at BKK? I’m going through next week (BA 10 in J, so I assume Concourse G?) and was going to give the new Turkish lounge a go but a) not sure what the walking distance is if this is in Concourse D and b) if Miracle First voted best (albeit Concourse D) does this mean Miracle First in Concourse G is as good? Or does the Cathay lounge still outshine? (I have Priority Pass). Many thanks.

    • BJ says:

      I was interested to learn Miracle First D gates was tops in Asia. Never bothered with them at BKK before but was in a small version at DMK last summer and food offering was excellent. Proper tables to eat and separate relaxation area with comfy chairs. No problem with using D gate lounges at BKK as pass by anyway on way to BA in extremities. You can walk from there to BA gates in 10-15. Quicker and easier downstairs besides the lounges and gates, the main level with shops is crowded. Forget BA lounge it is rubbish. Cathay lounge is a better option if flying CW or with OneWorld status. If you have Priority Pass and crave peace and quiet then I recommend Oman Air lounge. The newish Qatar lounge is also near D gates I think but I didn’t bother trying it as reviews are not all that great. Next time I am trying Turkish and will have a look in Miracle First too.

      • Tim says:

        Thanks for the advice BJ. We popped into Turkish and Miracle First at Bangkok and neither impressed with both being too hot. The food offferings didn’t look great and the furniture was tatty and not particularly clean. The only saving grace was neither lounge was busy but they need to offer more than that. We’re BA Gold and have PP but the Qatar and Oman lounges we’re closed (about 10:00 in the morning) so we retreated to the Cathay lounge where we had a pleasant stay until the flight home.

  • Cat says:

    Brilliant – I’ll be paying a visit to the Mexico City lounge this summer!

  • Ben says:

    How on earth did the Club MCO at Orlando Airport get Highly Commended? We were they last year as BA use it for their Club World customers and it was terrible. A small lounge anyway, became super cramp as it’s used by so many other people. The service was miserable – when plates ran out and we asked a member of staff they tutted without saying anything as if we’d incomvienced them. The food was also really basic. If I had the choice I would most definitely use other lounges! I definitely would NOT get to the airport early to enjoy the lounge experience.

    • Smid says:

      I’ve never been to it, but I’ve heard it’s crap via other airline travellers. Is it the one Virgin uses? One of the few bucket and spade places deserving a VS lounge due to amount of passengers.

    • Alan says:

      My thoughts precisely – almost choked on my cornflakes when I saw that choice!

    • Graham Walsh says:

      Same here. Been there as a UC passenger on VS. Not they great and overcrowded.

  • TripRep says:

    I think ABZ is a great lounge especially when you compare it to its predecessor.

    Staff need to ensure they keep those craft ales in stock though.

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