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 (July 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.