Which of the SEVEN UK airport lounges opening soon am I most looking forward to?

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2019 is gearing up to be a good year for UK airport lounge openings.  The last six months have already seen the new No 1 Lounge in Edinburgh (review), the new SkyLife lounge at Southend (review), the No 1 Clubrooms in Birmingham (review to come) and MyLounge at London Gatwick’s South Terminal (review).

There are more on the way. Because the news has been coming through in bits and pieces you might not appreciate how much building work is going on, so I thought it would be good to do a summary.

Just for fun, I have scored each lounge out of 10 on two criteria:

the first mark is ‘Quality estimate:’ where I say how impressive I think the decor, food and drink offering will be

the second mark is for ‘Customer benefit:’ which is based on how much I think the lounge will improve your airport experience based on the current state of the airport and the other lounges available

After all, an average lounge in an airport which doesn’t currently have one is arguably more useful than a good lounge at an airport which is already full of them.

Lomond Lounge Glasgow Airport

Glasgow Airport – The Lomond Lounge

  • Opening date: early August 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 7

I have started with The Lomond Lounge because I didn’t even know this was coming until a reader tipped me off last week.  The Lomond Lounge is an uber-premium lounge, priced at £40 per person.  According to the airport website here, it will

“offer signature cocktails, a specially selected a la carte menu and spectacular views of the runway in a relaxing and luxurious environment.”

At £40, with presumably no access via Priority Pass etc, it is unclear who will use this.  I imagine that the airport has done a deal with certain airlines to take their premium passengers as I doubt it would be viable on its own.  The dummy menus online do look impressive, including cooked-to-order pizza.

In terms of competition, I think the British Airways lounge (reviewed here) is very pleasant.  I can’t see any BA passengers with inclusive lounge access paying for The Lomond Lounge.  The existing independent Glasgow lounge, Upperdeck, which I reviewed here is big and bright but underwhelming in terms of decor, furnishings and food, so I expect a big improvement.  This lounge will raise the bar at Glasgow and I look forward to trying it out.

No 1 Clubrooms lounge Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport – No 1 Clubrooms

  • Opening date: unknown but 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 5

A brand new No 1 Lounge opened earlier this year at Edinburgh Airport – we reviewed it here.  There is more to come, however, as the area next door is being turned into a Clubrooms lounge.  The company has yet to announce this on its website so you need to trust us!

Clubrooms is No 1’s premium brand with table service and free champagne.  No 1 does an excellent job at designing attractive and welcoming spaces so I think we can look forward to a quality product.  You cannot get in for free with a lounge club card, however, unless you pay a £15 surcharge on the door.

Edinburgh is not short of lounges. Apart from No 1 – which is good, and which will satisfy most people – there is an Aspire lounge (average, reviewed here) and for BA travellers a dedicated BA lounge (review).  This is very large but, based on my visit last month, in need of a full refurbishment.

No 1 Clubrooms lounge Luton Airport

Luton Airport – No 1 Clubrooms

  • Opening date: July 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 6 (8 if it accepts lounge club cards)

Edinburgh isn’t the only airport to gain Clubrooms.  A facility at Luton Airport is due to open in July.

This will be the first time that No 1 has opened a Clubrooms lounge without already having a standard No 1 Lounge.  This raises questions over whether they will allow Priority Pass access.  I doubt they would be allowed to charge an ‘upgrade supplement’ when there is no No 1 Lounge to upgrade from!

The other lounge at Luton is Aspire, which we reviewed here.  This lounge is fairly new but, because it is usually very busy (and because the airport itself is a mess) I have given Clubrooms a higher ‘Customer benefit’ score than Edinburgh.

With few (any?) airlines offering business class out of Luton, it will be very interesting to see if Clubrooms can pay its way if it does not allow Priority Pass access.  More details can be found on the No 1 website here.

Gatwick Airport (South Terminal) – Club Aspire

  • Opening date: 1st August 2019
  • Quality estimate: 7
  • Customer benefit: 8

This lounge has suffered from excessive delays – it was due in early 2019.  It is taking over about 2/3rd of the old Virgin Atlantic lounge – the other 1/3rd became MyLounge, which has been open for months and which we reviewed here.

This is a much needed lounge.  If you can access the British Airways lounges then you’re fine (see my review here of the EXCELLENT new BA Gatwick lounge complex).  If you are relying on Priority Pass etc, your only option is the No 1 Lounge (reviewed here).  The problem is that No 1 Lounge runs to 100% capacity most of the time and you are unlikely to get in unless you pay £5 to reserve a slot.

Priority Pass seems to be deliberately not working with Gatwick South’s MyLounge.  Collinson, the company behind Priority Pass, is also a 50% shareholder in Club Aspire lounges and probably wants to drive traffic there.  I am guessing that this is also why Plaza Premium in Heathrow Terminal 5 does not accept it, since it competes with Club Aspire.

Club Aspire lounges lack the flair of No 1 Lounges but they are solid and dependable.  Because this lounge should relieve the Priority Pass crisis at Gatwick South I gave it a high ‘Customer benefit:’ score.

Bournemouth Airport lounge

Bournemouth Airport – Premium Lounge

  • Opening date: Was 1st June, now ‘missing in action’
  • Quality estimate: 5
  • Customer benefit: 9

Bournemouth Airport was due to open its first lounge on 1st June.  We wrote about this back in February and an image is above.

The lounge seems to have disappeared, however!  The official page on the airport website has been taken down.  It is still theoretically bookable via the airport website but there are no dates when it shows as available.

I wasn’t expecting a huge amount from this lounge, given that it appeared that the airport was going to operate it directly.  On the other hand, as the airport has no lounge at all today, it is a major improvement for everyone who passes through it.

EDIT: it now appears that the lounge has been delayed until at least December following construction delays. It will be above the duty free shop.

Amex heathrow centurion lounge entrance

Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 – American Express Centurion Lounge

  • Opening date:  late 2019
  • Quality estimate: 9
  • Customer benefit: 3

The American Express Centurion Lounge network has an excellent reputation.  Over the last few years Amex has opened a number of these spaces across the US and Hong Kong and feedback has been great.  The only problem has been overcrowding.

They are open to all Platinum and Centurion charge card holders, plus guests.

It is fantastic news that Amex is opening in London.  It is less fantastic that they are opening in Terminal 3.  It is a HUGE waste.  Terminal 3 probably has the best collection of airport lounges in the world.  OK, the BA and AA spaces are poor but you’ve got two great Cathay Pacific lounges (review), the Qantas lounge, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (review) and, for Priority Pass cardholders, two well regarded options in the No 1 Lounge (review) and Club Aspire lounge (review).

The Centurion Lounge should be better than the two existing Priority Pass lounges but it won’t add much.

PremiAir Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport – PremiAir

  • Opening date:  September 2019
  • Quality estimate: 9
  • Customer benefit: 9

This is hard to believe, I accept, but Manchester Airport is building a private ‘pay to use’ terminal at the airport.  For £50, passengers with just hand baggage and a boarding pass can go directly to the PremiAir terminal and its lounge.  You will be transported directly to your departure gate for boarding.

For £100, you can check in luggage at the PremiAir terminal and be driven directly to the steps of your aircraft.  For £125, you can book a dedicated arrivals service where you will be met at the aircraft and driven to the PremiAir terminal for private passport control and luggage collection.

The existing airport lounges at Manchester are not great, to be polite, and the Priority Pass ones are usually full.  Our recent review of Escape in Terminal 2 is typical.  The airport experience if you cannot get into a lounge is terrible.  PremiAir cannot come soon enough and I can’t wait to try it.

All in all, there is a lot to look forward to in 2019 and we’ll keep you up to speed.  And please let me know if you have any idea what is happening with Bournemouth …..

Getting airport lounge access via a UK credit card

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 

Two free Priority Pass cards (one for you, one for your supplementary Platinum cardholder, each admitting two – so a family of four gets in free) giving access to every lounge in the Priority Pass network – search it here.  You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here but read this first about the changes coming on 11th June.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold 

You get a Lounge Club card loaded with two free visits to any Lounge Club network lounge – see the list here.  The list is slightly shorter than the Priority Pass list, but not by much.  Additional visits are charged at £20 per person.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  No annual fee in Year 1.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard 

You get a free LoungeKey card allowing you access to any property in the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although regular travellers will find it cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card (adults only, of course).  The card has an annual 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.

There are some other World Elite Mastercards on the market which also offer LoungeKey.  It is also worth flagging that the Miles & More Global Traveller cards come with a one-off pass for a Lufthansa airport lounge.

Our review of the three lounges at Leeds Bradford Airport - which is best?
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Comments

  1. A bit hard to take your analysis seriously after you flag up ‘cooked to order pizzas’ as some sort of wow factor 🙂

    • Joseph Heenan says:

      Well if they’re targeting Glaswegians I’d imagine it’ll go down well… though at 40 quid a head I’m less sure.

      I wonder which airlines will use the new Glasgow lounge. It’d be a sorely needed upgrade when flying KLM business class but I get the feeling the lounge is aiming to be a bit more exclusive than that.

      • They would need to add deep fried Mars Bars or chips with curry sauce and cheese on top to excite some of the locals but who cares, live and let live. I think Rob’s interest in pizzas is driven by his kids, I imagine he would be hoping for something fishy himself based on previous reports.

        • Sandgrounder says:

          Glasgow does have a sizable Italian population, so good pizza is available and aporeciated. You can also get deep fried pizza of course, which is not how they do it in Naples, but certainly does keep you warm on a damp winter’s night.

    • Can you name another U.K. lounge that will make you a pizza on demand?!

      • Not UK but the QF domestic business lounge in PER did

      • Andrew says:

        Is there clarification on whether the Pizza will be deep fried or oven baked?

        The former is the more common method of cooking in Glasgow.

        • No, that is not correct, it is the most common method of cooking in fish and chip shops not in Glasgow.

      • I woulcn’t know Rob since I cannot stand cheese so I’ll take your word for it.

        If one doesn’t have any other means of accessing lounges I think there is definitely a place for £40 lounges. However, more in busy transit airports like LHR and where layovers can be appreciable. I am less convinced about airports like GLA where people can comfortably arrive 75 minutes before departure and most travel originates or ends there. That said, the key is in how good the food is on offer, when considering the prices and poor quality of a full meal available at other outlets in GLA and elsewhere, the real cost of the lounge is substantially less than the £40 headline entrance fee.

        • £40 is pushing it though. Clubrooms at Luton is currently advertising £27 for the first few months.

          That said, a few high quality champagnes and decent food and word will get around. 1903 seems to be working OK at Manchester BUT a few airlines have started using it which underpins the revenue.

    • As opposed to lukewarm slop in most lounge buffets?

    • Rooster says:

      It is a wow factor compared to the usual offerings of a lot of lounges

  2. Rob have u seen the Curve metal lounge pass news?
    They launched the lounge pass yesterday and are trying to charge £15 per person for the privilege even for card holders.

    • Yes, got the email. I have said on here before that it would work this way.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Not sure why anyone would expect any different for the relatively low fee compared to cards which include complimentary access

  3. Claire says:

    Shame about Bournemouth lounge was looking forward to trying in October.

    • I’m travelling out of Bournemouth on Sunday, so I’ll have a look at any progress and report back.

  4. Marcw says:

    Surprised Rob not commenting about Qatar’s 3 daily flights from Gatwick.

    • I assumed they were already timetabled, to be honest! I thought it was already permanent.

  5. Roger* says:

    The Miles & More DC/MC package offers £15 access to ‘more than 800 Diners Club Airport Lounges around the world’ and IMO could be one reason to maintain the cards.

  6. So does anyone know the date of when the Centurion Lounge in Heathrow will be opening?

    • If I’m honest, I think the 2019 date will slip. The timetable feels tight – has work even started yet? Do not underestimate how hard building airside is, when EVERY tool has to be signed in and out each day and materials and contractors screened. That’s before you start on issues re installing kitchens and loos.
      Rt

  7. Shoestring says:

    DragonPass is just as ‘free’ as the other 3 ways identified to get ‘free’ lounge access. £18/ month with Barclays Travel Plus Pack, 6 free lounge passes per annum with additional visits allowed but payable. You also get car breakdown insurance and family travel insurance.

    • As is NatWest Black and various others, but they are not credit / charge cards.

      • Charlieface says:

        What’s your point? People are just as likely to have one as the other.

        • The point is that the list in the article was of credit / charge cards which is why NatWest isn’t on 🙂

          However, we are doing a big push on NW over the next couple of weeks as we now have ‘permission’ from Avios to tell you that they are giving out Avios.

          • The NatWest reward current account is also great for converting to Avios. 2% cashback on main bills vs 0.5% on reward credit card.

          • Shoestring says:

            Barclay’s give you a debit card!

          • Charlieface says:

            Although I’ve never understood your refusal to mention current accounts in the same sentence as credit cards. They both require a credit check and arguably the impact from a current account is lower both at application and ongoing. And the lack of credit line is immaterial given you’re looking at benefits rather than spending.

          • It’s just added complexity, frankly. It might change because the NatWest credit cards and current account both let you earn Avios so we need to cover those.

  8. This has really cheered me up this morning – had no idea a new lounge was coming at Glasgow and it is LONG overdue. Existing Upperdeck lounge is just awful. You make a valid point as to who will actually get to use it though?!

  9. OT: can I get a suplementary card for a non uk resident and would they get benefits?

    • No. They won’t pass the ID check.

      I tried to get one for a nanny once, who clearly did live here, but was refused as she didn’t have enough ‘proof of existence’ for Amex – a UK bank account and NI number was not enough. (She wasn’t on the electoral rol, had changed address a few times in quick succession, had no utility bills in her name, was on a PAYG mobile etc).

      • It’s a bit of a catch 22 that one.. as PAYG mobile is probably for the same reason can’t get contract due to credit check

      • thought so…. thanks Rob

      • I have supplementary cards for my niece and my mother who both live overseas, it just has to be arranged on the phone rather than online. They may contact you during setup to ask for a copy of the photo page of the passport.

    • I managed to get supplementary cards for my dog from many banks, but there are no benefits unlike amex so may explain why they didn’t do any checks

    • I got supplementary Amex Plat for my brother who doesn’t live in the UK. I applied over the phone rather than online, and still got the points. Had the card sent to my address in UK (that was agent’s suggestion, to make it easier). Obviously our last name is the same, so that might have helped.
      I assume the insurance won’t work if he was to claim, but he got Priority Pass + all other status benefits ok.

      • Genghis says:

        To get the Plat insurance you don’t necessarily have to live in the UK. Insurance valid outside country of residence.

    • David says:

      It is possible.

  10. New premium lounge in Edinburgh and Glasgow – what’s the chances Emirates moves to both and closes its Glasgow lounge? It uses No.1 at EDI presently which is enough of a reason to fly from GLA but as stated surely Glasgow Airport has signed up some airlines to justify building that level of lounge. I hope Emirates don’t but I fear the worst.

    • To be honest, when I first read this story it is what I was expecting. Makes no sense otherwise given the Glasgow passenger flow.

  11. James says:

    Agree – BA lounge in Edinburgh is in desperately in need of a refurb. Very dated. Only good thing is that it’s usually very quiet compared to next door!

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