The long-awaited opening of the new pier at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2 is likely to be the biggest UK airport development this year.
In terms of airport lounges, the plans are hazy.
Virgin Atlantic is opening a Clubhouse
We know that Virgin Atlantic is opening a Clubhouse at long last (article here), which should transform the experience for passengers. My last Virgin Atlantic flight from Manchester left me in the Escape Plus lounge – reviewed here – which is not exactly premium.
We don’t know much about the new Clubhouse except:
“In order to provide an unrivalled travel experience, Virgin Atlantic will bring its iconic Clubhouse lounge to Manchester for the first time from Spring 2020. Upper Class customers and Gold Card members can take advantage of the exclusive space before their flight, which will include a la carte dinning and a full service bar, quiet working spaces and a spa, allowing passengers to relax and rejuvenate before they depart.”
It isn’t clear if oneworld will be opening a lounge in Terminal 2.
There are plenty of oneworld carriers using Manchester Airport, and Aer Lingus (not oneworld, but related by marriage) will also need somewhere for long-haul passengers on its new services if it ends up in Terminal 2.
You can be certain that Qatar Airways is also desperate for something better than Escape Plus.
It is also possible, of course, that British Airways moves across to Terminal 2. British Airways is permanently closing its existing lounge in Manchester Airport as we covered here.
We need to wait and see here.
What about everyone else?
We now know what will be available for the general public in the extended Terminal 2.
The Manchester Airport website now talks about two new lounges opening in the new pier – click here.
It seems that we will see a new Escape lounge and a new premium 1903 lounge.
Here is an impression of the 1903 lounge:
I found the original 1903 lounge in Terminal 3 to be excellent, as we reviewed here. I haven’t been to the one in Terminal 1 which the airport converted from the Etihad lounge.
Manchester Airports Group is not keen on letting third party lounge operators into its airports, so don’t expect anything from Aspire, Plaza Premium or No1 Lounges.
This strategy is not great for the passenger, as the Manchester-owned Stansted Airport shows, with only the basement level Escape Lounge available there. However, I have high hopes for the new 1903 lounge in Terminal 2.
Don’t forget PremiAir
If you are not price sensitive, of course, the smart thing to do is to avoid the main airport altogether and use the PremiAir terminal. You never go near the main airport as PremiAir is down by the Runway Visitor Park.
This can cost as little as £90 per person during promotional periods. You will be wined and dined in the brand new facility, after which you will be driven directly to your aircraft.
We reviewed PremiAir here (image above) and cannot recommend it highly enough.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 2021)
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 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.
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 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.