Here are five new UK airport lounges due to open in 2020

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2020 is gearing up to be a good year for UK airport lounge openings.   I doubt we can beat 2019, which saw Club Aspire Gatwick South, the replacement No 1 Lounge in Edinburgh (review), the 2nd Aspire lounge in Edinburgh, Clubrooms in Luton, the expanded SkyLife lounge at Southend (review), Clubrooms in Birmingham and MyLounge at London Gatwick’s South Terminal (review), as well as the hugely impressive PremiAir terminal at Manchester.

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.

This article does not include refurbishments of existing lounges.  We know that both the Luton Airport Aspire lounge and the original Edinburgh Airport Aspire lounge will both be overhauled this Spring.

Newcastle new luxury lounge

Newcastle Airport

  • Opening date: Summer 2020
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 5

Newcastle Airport has a number of existing lounges – it has a British Airways lounge reviewed here and for cash you have the existing pay-to-use Aspire and Aspire Plus lounges (review).  The airport has decided that it needs a luxury offering, however, and is working on a new 100-seat facility which it will manage directly.

I’ve never been to Newcastle Airport but the existing lounges get decent-enough feedback (the BA lounge got a few write-in votes ‘Best UK Airline-run Lounge’ in our 2019 awards).  Let’s see what the airport can pull off.  It does look very classy (see artists impression above) with a warm brown-grey finish with wood and brass accents, as well as excellent views.

No 1 Clubrooms lounge Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport – No 1 Clubrooms

  • Opening date: 2020
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 5

A brand new No 1 Lounge opened earlier last year at Edinburgh Airport – we reviewed it here.  We also saw the second Aspire Lounge opening virtually next door. There is more to come, however, as the same area will also soon house a Clubrooms lounge.  The company has yet to announce this on its website but the signage is already up!

Clubrooms is No 1’s premium brand with table service.  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 surcharge on the door.

Edinburgh is not short of lounges. Apart from No 1 – which is good, and which will satisfy most people – and the two Aspire lounges, there is also a dedicated BA lounge (review).  BA has put Edinburgh on the list of lounges to be ‘refreshed’ in 2020.  The original Aspire lounge is also being refurbished.

Manchester Airport terminal 2 extension

Manchester Airport – Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

  • Opening date: Spring 2020
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 10 (if you are flying Virgin in Upper Class)

Manchester Airport is dire, apart from PremiAir.  You can pick your favourite bit of dire-ness, but for me I think it is hard to top the Escape Plus lounge.  This unbelievably average, and too small, airport-run lounge is where Virgin Atlantic and Qatar Airways send their premium passengers.  And premium, frankly, it isn’t.

With the new pier at Manchester getting ready to open (image above) we can expect a dedicated Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.  I doubt this will be on a par with the London Heathrow lounge, given that even the New York JFK Clubhouse isn’t life-changing, but it will be a million times better than Escape Plus.

It is also possible that we see a new independent lounge in the new pier.  Manchester Airport is not keen on allowing third party lounge operators into the airport – it would rather run its own – so don’t hold out much hope for a No 1 or an additional Aspire lounge.

Bournemouth Airport lounge

Bournemouth Airport – Premium Lounge

  • Opening date: 2020
  • Quality estimate: 5
  • Customer benefit: 9

Bournemouth Airport was due to open its first lounge in June 2019.  We wrote about this back in February 2019 and an image is above.

It never happened, however.  There were ‘construction delays’.  It is still happening, I believe, and will be in the area above the duty free shop.

I’m not expecting a huge amount from this lounge, given that the airport is apparently 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:  Spring 2020
  • Quality estimate: 9
  • Customer benefit: 3

This lounge was due to open last Autumn.  I never saw this as realistic, to be honest, given that the project was only announced in the Spring.  Building airside in airports is very difficult, due to the difficulty in getting goods and people airside, and when you need cooking outlets is even harder.  Spring 2020 sounds more reasonable.

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.

All in all, there is a lot to look forward to in 2020 and we’ll keep you up to speed.

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.

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Comments

  1. The Virgin Clubhouse at MAN is due for July rather than Spring. Am in the Escape Lounge+ at the moment and its not really good enough for premium fares but compared to the VS offering at TLV it’s luxury. Will be interested to see how the lounges develop at T2, if there are shared OW & *A lounges and if BA are included.

  2. Shoestring says:

    O/T just booked my wife’s August hols 3 weeks parking LHR T3 – went with Purple Parking Meet & Greet – they have a very nice clause in the footnotes: *We will refund you 50% if you have to wait longer than 10 minutes at either your arrival or return to the airport. If you have to wait for both, you’ll be refunded in full.*

    As I often had to wait more than 10 mins with DriveFly, I shall highlight that bit in the printout of the booking! 🙂

    £140 for 22 days, £6.36/ day + hopefully a bit of bonus to come back (£12) brings it down to £5.82/ day – cancellable if I find anything better

    • Shoestring says:

      that clause about 50% refund is from Holiday Extras (ie booked PP thru them)

    • I got 14 days parking at MAN (on the multi-storey next door to our terminal) for £67 with APH, plus 15% return from your favourite website. I was impressed as also August.

    • Rooster says:

      Do purple parking take photos of the car when it arrives?

      • Shoestring says:

        I used to use PP a lot but have been 100% DriveFly Meet & Greet for the past few years – great prices – but they went bust or got taken over for whatever reason so now I’m back to PP

        which is a long way of saying don’t know

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Drive fly were renamed still the same operators.

          • Shoestring says:

            is it Blue Circle? they weren’t coming up much in my searches for Meet & Greet – and when they did appear were not cheap

  3. Shoestring says:

    O/T dirt cheap rail tickets on GWR eg https://www.gwr.com/tickets/#/3580/3087/2020-01-15/D12:00/N/N/1/0/0/1/1/N/N/
    click on ‘Cheapest fare finder’ –

    £15 Plymouth to Paddington, £12 Bristol to London etc

    or do your own search for rail journeys South West to/ from London

    • Shoestring says:

      …cheap upgrades. London Paddington – Bath in March. Standard is £28.50 but First Class is £30. The return train is £12 Standard or £18.50 First Class

  4. Slightly OT, but lounge related:

    Heading to HK next week for a tour of Asia, returning in Feb. Flying in J thanks to Lloyds upgrade vouchers (£35 each tax – thanks HfP!). What lounge(s) do folks recommend in HKG on our return? The One World site lists Cathay Pier, Wing, Deck and Bridge. Plus there’s the Plaza Premium, Qantas and Hong Kong airlines lounges.

    I’m BA Silver and have Amex Plat (& therefore PP), so that adds the Centurion as well I think!

    Seems like a lot of choice, I think I’ve read that some of these are a long way from the BA gates, and many get very crowded.

    TIA

    • I’d recommend the Pier but do bear in mind it’s a good 15 mins walk from the gates BA use. The Wing is odd, I didn’t like it that much. Haven’t tried the other Cathay lounges, I think the Deck and Bridge are quite small. Qantas is right next to the usual BA gates.

      Best HK tip is to use the in-town check-in to drop your bags at Central or Kowloon Airport Express stations. You need a valid train ticket but means you are not tied to normal check-in opening times.

      • Thanks Stu_N

        I don’t mind the walk, but might be too much for Mrs Mzungu. Sounds like Qantas is worth a look – might try The Pier first as we should have plenty of time.
        Great tip about the in-town check in, but we’re flying in from Vietnam and back out, so I don’t think we’ll be able to benefit this time around.
        M

        • There are travelators most of the way so it’s not just walking

        • There’s also the one-way people carrier from security to the Pier – that speeds things up.
          The Pier is your best option IMHO, it’s marvellous! AMEX is alright for a cocktail, but the Pier is loads better. AMEX is at the far end of the terminal, much like the Pier, so easy to hop from one to the other.

    • Lady London says:

      See @Cat’s reviews of the CX lounges in HKG on HfP, they were done very recently from visit last mid-year.

      • Thanks LL, I remembered those, but I thought that they were of the 1st lounges – maybe my memory is faulty, I’ll take a look!

    • Not sure where the gates will be in relation to the Amex Lounge, but I can highly recommend that personally. Particularly if you like a drink…

      The barman there was exceptional and mixed me up some of the best old fashioned’s that I’ve ever had, purely off the back of seeing me review the cocktail list for my other half and asking what kind of poison I liked.

      Safe to say I slept well on my return flight…

  5. Simonbr says:

    O/T Amex just deposited the wrong 241 voucher in my BAEC account. I have the black card and triggered the voucher yesterday. Today I received an email showing an image of the blue card and informing me incorrectly that I’d spent £20k, so I check my account and sure enough the voucher expires in 12 months, not 24. I called Amex and they apologised, said very unusual etc, promised to correct the mistake ASAP. So advising HFP readers with black amex cards to ensure they have the correct 241voucher awarded.

    • Did you recently upgrade to the black card?

      • TGLoyalty says:

        And if you did recently upgrade was that before or after you spent £10k?

        • Simonbr says:

          No I have never had a blue card, always black. I hope they don’t take long correcting the voucher because I want to use it fairly soon for a competitive midnight booking!

  6. O/T @Shoestring… re matching the National Emerald club to Hertz, could you confirm what email address you sent It to pls? I emailed [email protected] twice now but getting no response

    • Shoestring says:

      that’s the correct address, worked for me!

      Hello Shoestring fella,
      Good morning.
      Thank you for providing a copy of your National Executive Elite profile. Your Hertz Gold profile has been status matched to President’s Circle Gold.

      • Ok thanks, been waiting for 8 days and 3 days… 2 emails sent 🙂 I’m sure I recall you saying they replied pretty quickly?

  7. Can’t agree more about the shocking lounge situation at Manchester Airport. Mind you, at least the lounges are in step with the rest of the customer experience at MAN…

    Problem with the new Premier Terminal is that you can only use it with some airlines (including not with with Emirates or Singapore when going to the US).

    Best lounge experience I’ve had from Manchester Airport Group was at MSP, where they have an Escape lounge!

  8. You missed out the new lounge that Newcastle airport announced for 2020!

    Looks like it will be operated by the airport directly. They also have an Aspire and Aspire Plus lounge and a BA lounge. Neither of the BA and Aspire lounges are particularly overwhelming, BA is dated but large for the size so never too cramped and Aspire is just rammed with package holiday makers abusing the booze.

    I be interested if Emirates, Lufthansa, KLM and Air France negotiate deals with the airport for their business passengers or they keep them in the Aspire lounge.

    https://www.newcastleairport.com/news-and-reporting/latest-news/brand-new-luxury-lounge-set-to-open-at-newcastle-international-airport/

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