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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. David says:

    LY fly C from LTN.

  2. Ot
    For those who did the Hackett deal for 3500 bonus Avios and 10 per £1, how long did it take to arrive into your bad exec club or Iberia account?

  3. Chris says:

    Anyone know the exact location of the new Glasgow Lomond Lounge? I read that it has runway and Campsie Fell views and is located on the second floor on the site of a previous retail outlet that has been closed for about 5 years. Sounds like the old Frankie & Benny’s, up the stair to the right of the old upstairs domestic arrivals gate. If so, just like Upper deck, still a fair trek to any departure gate, domestic or international.

    • Trickydic says:

      Hi Chris,
      I’m sure I read somewhere that it would indeed be in the old F&B unit, totally agree that it is quite a walk to the gates from there. Especially after a few premium cocktails.

      Although for £40 a head I would expect to be carried to the plane by a strapping staff member. 🙂

      • Joseph Heenan says:

        Yeah, it sounds like the old F&B location to me, or somewhere similar.

        At least it sounds like it won’t be too much of a diversion from the route you’d have taken to the gate anyway.

        If they’re thinking ahead, they might give a way to exit the lounge via the old route (down the side of the first whsmith) to get to the BA / easyJet / ryanair gates, rather than making people walk right around the long way through what use to be the international departure and is now just the main departure area.

    • When certain charter flights were leaving GLA, the old Upper Deck lounge used to have to rope off the free pour alcohol section. Story goes that people were filling up water bottles with the spirits! Wonder if it will be one free cocktail only! It is quite a stagger from the old Frankie and Benny’s.

      Rather than paying £40 in cash (as opposed to entry via PP) i would probably go to the champagne/wine bar in the terminal – decent food and drink, and a view of the runway too.

  4. David says:

    I don’t normally fly to/from Luton, but I did yesterday.The Aspire lounge was at capacity – another passenger was grumbling was told that it was then norm from May until October (presumably at certain times of day – this was around 5:30/6pm). If it really is the norm, then they really need another PP lounge, such a shame that #1 are only opening a Clubrooms and not also a normal lounge.

    Regarding the new premium lounges not valid on PP, £120/year credit towards entry/upgrade fees may be a better benefit from Amex Plat than the £10/month towards Adison Lee. Especially if you could use it for the £5/visit to reserve your place in lounges which do take PP.

    • I agree, refunding the £5 No 1 reservation fee would be a smart move – especially now Amex has bought LoungeBuddy and has the technology to do this easily.

    • Exactly what I was about to write to AMEX about, a more comprehensive lounge access approach would have been much more persuasive to pay the £575 fee, No1 Clubrooms for example.

      Got the ‘exciting new benefits’ pack from AMEX yesterday, def less inside than promised on the front!

  5. Amex only allow ppl with departure tickets into their lounges now. I was refused entry into the LGA landside lounge on arrival

    • Some people think it’s unethical to book a refundable ticket just to gain lounge entry then refund the ticket. But if the lounge is 3rd party I can’t see any ethical issue.

    • marcw says:

      That policy was changed some time ago.

  6. SimonW says:

    O/T – Have had 2 fraudulent uses of 2 different BAPP supp cards in last 2 weeks. I think both were used to buy BA flights last year….. So keep ’em peeled.

    • Thanks for the heads up, especially as I’m trying to delay triggering a companion voucher at the moment!

  7. I walked past the BHX clubrooms on Monday and it was yet again deserted. Quite a shame given the dire experience I had in LH’s contracted lounge (Aspire) that had all the ambiance of a pub with a flat roof.

    Do Clubrooms offer the ability to pay an upgrade premium from No.1 lounges if you have PP? I couldn’t justify spending £40 at that point to get access to a different lounge, but £20 would make sense if you can be somewhere that’s quiet enough to think and do some work.

  8. Jim Thompson says:

    If the Manchester Airport PremiAir option works out like the rest of the airport’s dreadful operations, what a waste of money that will be.

    • Mr Entitled says:

      If you have been recently you will have noticed the £1bn currently bring spent on rebuilding the airport. Operations should be set for a significant improvement.

      • Jim Thompson says:

        Yes, have been recently, at least once a week. My recent experience was this:

        – pre-book parking in T1 multi-story. Cannot find a space and have to do loops around each floor until a space becomes free. I was starting to get towards an hour from departure so a dreadful experience, particularly as I’d paid £42 for the pleasure of 12 hours of parking.
        – fast-track security queue was pretty much as big as the normal queue. Another dreadful experience which cost me £5 for the pleasure
        – on arrival back into the new pier at T2, we were unable to disembark for 35 minutes while two Swissport employees struggled and failed to join the brand new air bridge to the side of the plane. While 150+ passengers watched the pair of them look like complete muppets, a set of stairs was brought to the back of the plane. That was really handy for those that had paid for seats up-front to disembark first. Another dreadful experience.
        – as my car is in T1, I have to walk back from T2 and find all of the moving walkways out of action. Brilliant.

        So, having used a new bit of the airport that has had some of the £1bn spent on it, it was shambolic. I hold no hopes of things improving but will be pleasantly surprised if they do.

  9. I thought the 1903 lounge at Manchester airport was very good on the two occasions I’ve visited. Much better than the escape lounge.

  10. Am I the only one who dislikes the Qantas lounge in T3? It looks nice but the downstairs bar is usually closed and you either seem to get ignored by the bar staff or they’re snowed under making a million coffees because “Aussies won’t accept machine made coffee”

    • Oh you should see some of their Qantas Pubs in regional areas. QP ASP anyone?

    • Shoestring says:

      Lumma it opens at 4pm, just asked! Ready for people arriving for a 6pm Qantas flight, apparently

    • Jim Thompson says:

      I think it’s an excellent lounge. It’s rarely very busy and has a decent selection of food & drinks. The bar upstairs is always staffed and they are quick to serve some chilled champagne.

  11. The Real Harry how did you get extra clubcard points for tesco insurance? I am doing that today

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