No1 Lounges sells Australian arm, drops My Lounge and may not reopen Luton and Edinburgh
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No1 Lounges announced yesterday that it has sold its Australian arm to Swissport, owner of the Aspire lounge brand.
No1 entered Australia in 2018 when it took over the management of Etihad’s lounges in Sydney and Melbourne. The idea was to open these up to other airlines whilst still providing a good environment for Etihad’s passengers. It also opened a branch of My Lounge at Brisbane Airport.
The press release announcing the sale was interesting for another reason.
This is what it said:
“No1 Lounges is an award-winning airport lounge operator offering two lounge brands – Clubrooms and No1 Lounges. No1 Lounges currently operates nine lounges in the UK across both brands, located at Gatwick, Heathrow and Birmingham.”
Notice what’s missing?
- It doesn’t mention the ‘hipster’ My Lounge brand. Going off to the No1 website, it seems that all mentions of the two My Lounge spaces at Gatwick have disappeared. These lounges may not reopen.
- It doesn’t mention the Clubrooms lounge at Luton Airport – will this permanently close?
- It doesn’t mention the No1 Lounge at Edinburgh Airport – will this permanently close?
All No1 Lounges are closed until at least 22nd July, so the four lounges above have not been removed from the website purely because they are currently shut.
What happens to No1 Lounges now?
There is chatter in the market about Collinson acquiring No1. As well as running Priority Pass, Collinson runs a US lounge network called The Club and also owns 50% of the Club Aspire brand, as found at Heathrow and Gatwick.
A deal would make sense. No1 Lounges has pulled out of Priority Pass, as has Plaza Premium. Priority Pass will be a far harder sell to UK bank and credit card partners without either of those lounge portfolios in it.
Buying No1 and putting it back into Priority Pass would go a long way to help Collinson keep Priority Pass contracts with the likes of American Express in the UK. DragonPass and Plaza Premium are now working together to pitch for corporate contracts such as this and will become a far stronger competitor.
Who else could buy No1 Lounges?
Other potential buyers could include:
- Plaza Premium – I am told they are not interested, although it would be a dream fit in terms of network overlap and product quality
- American Express – if it wanted to roll out its Centurion Lounge product quickly in the UK
- JP Morgan Chase – the bank has just announced its own US airport lounge network, in partnership with Collinson, and is gearing up to launch a premium banking product in the UK. The acquisition of Nutmeg yesterday shows that it is very serious, and No1 would be loose change compared to that deal.
…. or, of course, No1 could rebuild under its own steam and try to achieve a higher price in 3-4 years. Let’s see how this story plays out.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (March 2023)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable 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 Air Lines and Eurostar lounges. Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four 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 four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get 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.