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Review: the Aspire lounge at Birmingham Airport

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This is our review of the Aspire lounge at Birmingham Airport.

It is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK.  You see all of the reviews here.

All this week, in partnership with Priority Pass, we are reviewing some of the best independent airport lounges outside London. All of these lounges can be accessed with a Priority Pass membership, which you can buy here with a 40% discount or get for free with selected UK credit and charge cards (click here to learn more). You can also pay cash, of course.

Aspire lounge Birmingham entrance

There are currently two Aspire lounges at Birmingham Airport – the ‘main’ lounge and the South lounge, which is temporarily closed. This review is of the ‘main’ lounge, just round the corner from where you exit duty free after security.

Inside the Aspire lounge at Birmingham Airport

The lounge is very easy to find – just turn left and take a few steps towards gates 1-20. You will immediately see the entrance, pictured above.

You are asked for your boarding pass and booking (if you have one) at the little reception desk:

Aspire lounge Birmingham reception

As you can see, Halloween decorations were out in full force!

The lounge itself is long and thin, but straddles windows overlooking the gates. There are a few different zones, including:

Aspire lounge Birmingham seating 1

and

Aspire lounge Birmingham bar seating

and

Aspire lounge Birmingham seating 3

As you can tell, this Aspire lounge has not yet been refurbished and still features the older style decor and design. The lounge was due to be refurbished during Covid but the plan was put on ice – it’s not clear when that will now take place. Despite this it is all in good shape and I believe a lot of the soft furnishings are new.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that the lounge does not have its own toilets or showers. You need to exit the lounge and head to the main toilets instead which are not very far.

Food and drink at the Birmingham Airport Aspire lounge

Unlike the other Aspire lounges I have reviewed recently hot food and alcohol is table-service only. You order by scanning a QR code.

At breakfast time hot items include a full English, sausage or veggie barm and bacon roll. Alcohol includes Famous Grous Whisky, Absolut Vodka, Boddingtons, Magners cider, Beefeaster pink gin, Gordon’s gin, Martell, Havana Club Rum and red, white and rose wine. A 125ml glass of prosecco is available for £4.99.

In addition to the table service you have access to the cold buffet, which includes a pancake machine as well as croissants and cereals:

Aspire lounge Birmingham cereals

…. and fruit and yoghurt:

Aspire lounge Birmingham fruit yoghurt

Here is my full English:

Aspire lounge Birmingham full english

…. and a croissant:

Aspire lounge Birmingham croissant

When is the Birmingham Airport Aspire lounge open?

At present the lounge is open from:

  • 4:30am until 6pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sundays
  • 4:30am until 9pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays

Keep an eye on the lounge website as these times are subject to change in the current environment.

How to get entry to the Aspire lounge at Birmingham Airport

There are two ways to get access to the Aspire lounge at Birmingham Airport. One option is to book ahead on the Executive Lounges website here, with headline prices starting from £24.99 per person. This guarantees you a spot at your booked time.

The alternative is to use a lounge membership program such as Priority Pass or DragonPass. Standard Priority Pass membership is currently £41 per year (40% off) via this link, or you can get it for free via the following cards:

Using a Priority Pass or LoungeKey membership doesn’t guarantee you a spot – it is first come first served – but the Birmingham Aspire was not particularly busy when I went. Capacity will also increase when the Birmingham South Aspire lounge re-opens.

Thanks to Priority Pass for supporting this series of articles

Comments (52)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Justin says:

    Travelled through BHX at the start of October and tried to access the lounge with my PP. The lounge was dead, but they were only accepting pre bookings. Went back 20 mins later still dead, still same message of “oh I’m sorry we are full”… Apart from they were happy to let in PAX paying on the door. It’s not even as if there was an Emirates flight that they needed to hold back capacity for.

    I have long valued my Platinum PP, but as many comments yesterday, getting access is getting harder and harder into most UK lounges as they get more money from walk ups or prebookings.

    • Tony says:

      Have you raised that with Amex/pp? Would be interesting to know how they respond.

      • Aston100 says:

        I raised this with PP 2 years ago, before Covid after getting refused entry yet again into one of the Gatwick lounges (which looked empty-ish, as usual).
        They contacted me back and said they would take it up with the lounges at Gatwick, but I’m sure nothing actually happened.

  • Deb says:

    BHX is my local airport. Tried the last 3 times to access the lounge and was told only pre booked passengers. So no PP allowed. Two other lounges at BHX not open. Platinum Amex holder – virtually worthless at present for lounge access.

  • John T says:

    You say “thanks for Priority Pass for supporting this series of articles”. Does that mean PP sponsored them?

    • Rhys says:

      No, if PP sponsored them then that would be clearly stated at the top 🙂

      They arranged guaranteed access for us to be able to review.

      • Chris L says:

        I think therein lies the problem…if they had any confidence in their proposition, they wouldn’t need to guarantee access for review purposes.

        • Aston100 says:

          This.
          Would be good if Rhys & co simply walked up announced with a PP and see what happens.
          It’s like those unrealistic airline reviews that Sam Chui does, whereby the airline knows in advance he is coming and give him an experience that normal passengers would not get.

          • Rob says:

            Slight difference here, ie Rhys was in the airport for no other reason than to review the lounge, so if he couldn’t get in the whole project kind of falls apart ….

            We always pay or otherwise guarantee that we will get into a lounge when we intend to review it.

      • Yorkieflyer says:

        Using Priority Pass?😬

  • Stu N says:

    Like others, I’ve found this lounge impossible to access with a Priority Pass and so despite travelling through BHX on a regular basis, I’ve never been in this lounge. Every time I have tried (usually evenings) I’ve been told they aren’t taking Priority Pass customers. A couple of times they have had the cheek to suggest I could pay cash for regular admission which rather blows the “restricted capacity” argument… Last time was in October, but it’s been that way for years.

    I used to pre-book No.1 lounge for £5 as that was a better alternative – sadly no longer possible.

    • Chris L says:

      Agreed, pre booking the No1 was good, particularly as the £5 also included priority security.

    • GM says:

      No1 reopening on Dec 16th, apparently! Have prebooked card access for Dec 24th anyway – or the website let me do it. Now £6 but included QR for security so hoping that still works.

    • Rhys says:

      Have you ever taken this up with Priority Pass?

      • Tony says:

        Not sure whether people have fed back to PP but as HfP seems to have a good working relationship with them, based on these articles, it might be helpful if you were able to feedback the problems. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence in the comments on each of the PP articles to at least raise it as a concern. PP are more likely to listen to you rather than individuals phoning up with specific access problems. Im not saying they’ll necessarily listen or change things but worth doing.

        • Rhys says:

          You can be pretty sure that the PP PR team will be reading these comments 🙂

        • Rob says:

          How do you suggest this is solved? Lounges don’t turn you down for fun – it’s free money after all.

          • GM says:

            Even when all the lounges were open before this, they were VERY reluctant to take PP/LoungeKey etc, even when obviously plenty of room. Aspire South helped a little. It was so universal and frequent as to seem like a policy.

          • Ken says:

            Free money?

            I guess if there was sufficient delays in providing food and drinks, there would be no marginal cost at all…..oh wait.

            Perhaps the issue is that the per visit PP pay is simply too low.

          • Mark says:

            I understand this argument but if they state they’re full but will accept you if you pay full price then that directly contradicts their own statement of being ‘full’

          • Stu N says:

            Three possibilities:
            – Allow customers to pre-book for a moderate cost, the £5 for No.1 lounge, especially when bundled with Fast Track represented value for money for me.
            – Priority Pass could buy a block of spaces for their card holders so they were in similar position to airline premium cabin/ status passengers. Wouldn’t solve the problem but could mitigate it significantly.
            – PP could pay lounges a decent fee so they were more profitable. This would mean lounges would be more willing to accept PP walk-ups. If PP pay £12 a visit, a rational lounge operator would be willing to run well below capacity to ensure they could always accommodate walk-ups paying £25-30 as the walk-ups would be significantly more profitable.

          • Aston100 says:

            Rob, you & Rhys sound surprised (I think?).
            People have been complaining about lounges turning PP holders away for a long time now.
            This isn’t anything new, though the frequency seems to be increasing hugely.

          • Rob says:

            No-one turns down free money though, which implies that the slots have been pre-sold to airlines for the use of their own passengers.

            Any A-Level economics student can tell you why a business with high fixed costs and low variable costs isn’t going to reject your £12.

      • Stu N says:

        Yes, “working hard to deliver value/ feed back to lounge operator blah blah blah”. Have spoken to Amex as well who fed back to PP.

        Nothing changed.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      “cheek to suggest I could pay cash for regular admission“

      Well that really is taking the mic. I would feed back to PP/Amex if that ever happens again.

      I’ve only used this lounge once pre covid as preferred No 1 (used to pre book though) it was an ok place to pass the time before boarding.

    • Lady London says:

      Sounds like could be worth collecting some recordings of these conversations

  • Rob L says:

    I’ve travelled through BHX weekly this last year and never made access to this lounge. It always appears empty but the staff always refuse access saying they have to keep space free for business passengers so can’t accept Priority pass. As the others have said Priority Pass is totally useless at the moment. No idea when the two other lounges at Birmingham will reopen, there appears to be demand they just don’t seem to want the business.

  • Colin JE says:

    Disappointed to hear how much trouble people are experiencing getting access.
    How about Dragon Pass? You mention Lounge Key but I thought Dragon Pass gets access and may be held by more people nowadays, especially as the Barclays travel pack includes it, with decent insurance.

  • GM says:

    Have prebooked for LoungeKey last two times (£5 fee). First time was mid October and they turned away everyone after me. They said reduced capacity, expecting premium passengers and only one open etc. Ordered my breakfast through the QR code and it didn’t come so had to ask. My full English was one sausage, one rasher, eggs and beans. Two weeks ago lounge was much busier…with people having loud conversations in the quiet zone. Breakfast options were sausage or bacon bap, or veggie sausage bap.
    Basically don’t count on getting in there in the morning without pre-booking. It was a bit like that before the pandemic too – only got in through kindness of guy on desk once, another time managed Aspire South. Usually paid to prebook No1 Lounge (was £5, now £6…but seems to still have QR code for fast track security as a bonus)

  • ken says:

    Would be lovely to see Rhys try and get in to either Birmingham or Manchester with a simple priority pass, not a sponsored invitation.

    My money’s on, “Sorry Sir, we are full” (as tumbleweed blows accross the lounge).

    If you don’t get in at Manchester, believe me, you have dodged a bullet.

    • john says:

      Perhaps at the next one Rhys could ask with PP first before flashing his ‘reviewing the lounge’ invite and feedback if he could get in!

      • Lady London says:

        Now I know why there were so many rashers of bacon on that plate delivered by table service.

        • GM says:

          Seriously! My breakfast was one sausage, one rasher, eggs and beans. Nothing like he got. And they’re not even doing that this month – it’s sausage or bacon bap. Nice, but limited. And buffet a bit miserable.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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