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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.

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 VS club house will certainly make Man a more appealing option than before fir UC and Gold passengers and is much needed especially with the increasing numbers of VS flights at the airport.

    I know a few people go will revert to MAN instead of going to LHR or LGW because of this.

    And VS have done some very good pricing ex MAN in the past as well.

  2. Benilyn says:

    Only one in London? Joking don’t kill me

  3. Riccatti says:

    –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.

    I disagree radically! The spacious CX business class lounge section/Qantas also spacious premises/EK own lounge complex in T3/Virgin Clubhouse — all guarantee that Amex Centurion lounge experience will be decent.

    T3 has plenty US departures, including for BA itself, and so Amex provides valuable service to its core customers.

    T5 can use the third-party lounge but that would be purely to benefit of UK flyers, plus BA ‘monopoly’ over the terminal — and Centurion Lounge there will a. frankly reduce benefit of having BA Silver status and b. guaranteed to be the same overcrowded zoo as BA Galleries (while not changing situation in Galleries).

    T2 has US departures for Star Alliance but equally huge United Club, SQ lounge, Air Canada lounge, and LH lounge in the main building.

    On that note it’s difficult to call T3 ‘the best collection of airport lounges’ — perhaps better collection is Sydney International.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Rumours some AA flights to USA will switch to T5 soon. Also the driver behind a T5c lounge.

      • Riccatti says:

        Interesting. BA likely will not allow Centurion Lounge in T5. It will be damaging to Silver status and Club Europe fares — if I would be regular BA commuter to Europe: ditch the status and get AMEX Platinum, also helpful in those periods when you are out of status or Ruby.

        • I think the 3rd party lounges benefit BA. If you only fly short haul you won’t earn BA status. Anyone with a Priority Pass may otherwise look to fly other airlines with a PPass lounge in their terminal.

          • Lady London says:

            I wonder if BA would not have blocked a Centurion Lounge in T5 if BAPP holders could exceptionally access that particular lounge? seems a bit dog in the manger for BA to have blocked a T5 Centurion but it’s looking like that’s what they’ve done. Good chance it would pull Transatlantic pax off some off the T2 flights as well.

            Personally I think there’s room for Centurion in T5 as well as T3. The Plaza Premium in T5 is, TBH, good but not their very best lounge. Because currently it’s only got that belief escaped level T5 Aspire lounge to beat. Which I could beat catering out of the back of my van.

          • “If you only fly short haul you won’t earn BA status.”

            Are you including domestics in that? On a Friday evening at Heathrow there must be 150 people in the Gold and Silver queues for Edinburgh or Glasgow with just a few stragglers on Blue or none.

            For many, it’s a regular commute.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            @LadyLondon BA blocked a centurion lounge being built at T5? Why would they block that but not Aspire or Premium Plaza?

          • Lady London says:

            @TGLoyalty I can’t explain it either but with the dearth of decent lounges in T5 and the fact that BA has control of that terminal, it looks like it.

            I can only think @Riccatti’s comments are kind of near it – BA feeling a threat from a luxury end lounge that would funnel away their luxury customers and show up their own rubbish provsion in the main BA lounges.

            Let’s face it no one is going to feel threatened by the T5 Aspire lounge its very much a last resort kind of level in that location. And as I mentioned the T5 Plaza Premium is OK but Plaza Premium has much better lounges.

            Hard to argue for it when my own thoughts are much closer to Robs and they might even grab some traffic off Star Alliance airlines like UA and AC in T2 if the T5 lounge provision went up a notch.

          • Riccatti says:

            Rob, if one commutes on BA regularly then doesn’t take the second thought to book an occasional commute in Club, and occasional holiday in Club to achieve BA Silver and get lounges for regular commute.

            If one doesn’t commute on BA — then exactly what you wrote happens: switch to T2 for EU flights and use Plaza Premium on Priority Pass. But that removes the need to be tied to Qatar Airways for holiday flights to earn Tier Points. The only reason to fly out of T5 will be direct BA flights, and having Centurion lounge erodes the lounge access value of BA Silver (I value on-board CE experience less).

            Now, what happens when a BA Silver/no status (no First Class check-in) finds Centurion Lounge an excellent choice — they will hesitate to book Club or spend extra to retain Silver.

            T5 Centurion lounge would give more options while not earning BA status, so it will entrench the position: no need for tier point runs, no bother with BA status — to use T5 occasionally or frequently, lounge situation would be covered.

            American Express is a stronger brand that will disturb BA branding and dominance in T5 — Amex will be promoting to a much larger global audience than Priority Pass/Plaza Premium.

    • I wonder if Amex targeted T3 specifically as there is a large number of priority pass visits so would rather send these to their own lounge.

  4. No1 clubrooms do not provide free champagne.

  5. Shoestring says:

    Amex lounge:
    What is the guest policy?
    Platinum® Card members who receive complimentary access may enter with up to two guests at no additional charge. (otherwise $50)

  6. IOM is supposedly having a refurb soon

  7. I visited the Centurion Lounge in Miami earlier in the year and was very unimpressed (especially as I had left the AA Flagship First Lounge, taken the monorail to go there and check it out after Rob going on about how amazing the lounges are). It is a very priority pass feeling, nothing exciting at all, so I went back to AAFF after about 15 minutes. So I wouldn’t expect much from the LHR one – although probably will be a bit of an improvement on the current third party lounge offering.

    • But the AA Flagship lounges are very nice. They’ve really upped their game there, huge improvement on Admirals Club.
      My experience of Amex lounges in US is that they’re simply overcrowded. The lounge itself is nice, the experience is poor, often with every seat taken.
      I remember last year using a Delta lounge in Miami when on a Virgin flight and it was grim. No space, queue to get in as the entry staff were helping people with flight changes, which seemed nonsensical, lounge entry 20 seconds, flight changes 15 minutes, yep have one queue. The difference to the Clubhouse at Heathrow was so marked. I left for the terminal as a quiet seat at an unused gate was so much nicer.

    • Riccatti says:

      That’s exactly what Centurion Lounge will become in T5.

      When MIA Centurion Lounge was a few months old, they have served gourmet food in styled portions. But day after day the lounge suffers from HEAVY over-crowding. Typically there is nowhere to seat. Quality of drinks went down, even coffee machine not cleaned often enough.

  8. Flying BA F in a couple of weeks to Miami. I take it my best lounge option is Cathay Pacific in terminal 3 ?

    • It really does depend on what you want. If you have an hour go to Cathay or Qantas. If you’re allowing longer try them all, see what you like. Give the business side of Cathay a try too, I prefer it. I like the breakfast in AA, but I think that’s a minority view.

      • I like AA too. Nice and quiet, like you said good breakfast and serve yourself drinks. If only they had the beers that they have in their US flagship lounges and not Carlsberg and Bud. Get a bag of pick and mix for the flight

        Qantas lounge is very overrated

      • +1 Qantas and Cathay are generally regarded as the best, depending on what you like. Get there early, go lounge hopping and form a definitive opinion on your favourite for yourself!
        Have fun!

  9. “ Manchester Airport does not allow third party lounge operators into the airport, so don’t hold out any hope for a No 1 or Aspire lounge.”

    Aspire currently operate lounges in both T1 & T2 at MAN.

    The 1903 airport lounges in T1 (ex- EY) and T3 are pretty good too, for airport lounges.

    T2 is the only one without the more premium focused 1903 lounge concept so I’d bet on that.

  10. Mark Lee says:

    Curve Metal also acts as a LoungeKey card.

  11. Shoestring says:

    O/T tinyurl.com/rpba78m

    Amazing value on Ryanair – return flights from London Stansted to Ponta Delgada (Azores) now £56 (Departing 29th Feb – 7th Mar Inc. taxes & Cabin Bag) 🙂

    always wanted to go there!

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