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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 lounge 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.

You can book access here.

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.

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 for free from a credit card

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

60,000 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 60,000 points which is a special offer running to 2nd November 2021.  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 (143)

  • boi says:

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

    • Rob says:

      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).

      • john says:

        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

      • boi says:

        thought so…. thanks Rob

      • Pete says:

        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.

    • John says:

      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

    • APPL says:

      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.

  • Alan says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

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

  • 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!

  • David says:

    LY fly C from LTN.

  • Nick says:

    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?

  • 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.

    • CV3V says:

      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.

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

    • Dale says:

      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!

  • r* says:

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

    • John says:

      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.

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