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Review: the Aspire Lounge at Belfast City Airport

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This is our review of the Aspire Lounge at George Best Belfast City Airport.

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

After a fun flight on Flybe’s inaugural to Belfast and a quick lunch with lovely HfPers Eoin and Frank in town I returned to the airport to write up my flight review in the Aspire Lounge.

Covid has shaken up the lounge offering at Belfast City Airport a little. In March 2020, days before the first lockdown, British Airways handed management of its own lounge at Belfast City to Aspire. Aspire already had its own lounge next door, and it’s unclear whether the original plans were to combine the lounges to create a bigger space. In the end covid got in the way and Aspire now only operates a single lounge – the former BA lounge – under the Aspire brand.

Review: the Aspire Lounge at Belfast City Airport

To be fair, the ‘new’ Aspire lounge is a much better space, with windows along its entire length filling the space with light and offering views across the tarmac. The lounge also offers direct boarding to Gate 4, which is still used by all of the main (non-CityFlyer) British Airways flights, which is a big bonus.

The current opening hours are:

Monday 5.30am – 9.00pm
Tuesday 5.30am – 9.00pm
Wednesday 5.30am – 9.00pm
Thursday 5.30am – 9.00pm
Friday 5.30am – 9.00pm
Saturday 5.30am – 8.15pm
Sunday 5.30am – 9.00pm

Where is the Aspire Lounge at Belfast City Airport?

It’s very easy to find – it’s just on the left as you exit duty free, right by Gate 4:

Aspire lounge belfast City airport entrance

Inside the Aspire Lounge at Belfast City Airport

Inside is a check-in desk with Aspire branding. The lounge is rectangular, and split between casual seating and a dining area:

Aspire lounge Belfast City seating

The armchairs on the left had plug sockets between them which was very useful.

In the middle of the lounge is the buffet island. I was there around 3pm and, to be honest, the food selection was meagre, with just some pastries, crisps and soup on offer:

Aspire lounge Belfast City airport food

The drinks selection is much better, with self-pour alcohol plus the usual range of hot and cold soft drinks:

Aspire lounge Belfast City airport drinks


Aspire lounge Belfast City airport alcohol

By far the best part about the lounge is that you can board straight to Gate 4. Very few lounges offer direct boarding (the Emirates Lounge at Heathrow is another) and it’s always nice to be so close to your gate – assuming you are flying British Airways.

How to get entry to the Belfast City Airport Aspire lounge

There are two ways to get access to the Aspire lounge at Belfast City Airport. One option is to book ahead on the Lounge Pass website here, with headline prices starting from £25.99 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, both of which are accepted at the Belfast City Aspire lounge. Standard Priority Pass membership is currently £69 per year or you can get it for free via the following credit cards:

Using a Priority Pass or LoungeKey membership doesn’t guarantee you a spot – it is first come first served – but I had no trouble on Wednesday despite fairly busy BA flights.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (June 2024)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit 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 1,500 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Eurostar, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 £24.  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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (19)

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

  • _nate says:

    What a shame that the BA lounge has gone. It was a simple lounge but the staff were great. However, if the direct boarding is still there, that’s a good thing.

  • PSE says:

    Of course the third option is to be a BA Gold or Silver card holder and fly with them, or travel in business with BA or KLM, or be a SkyTeam Gold or Silver etc.

    It would be very, very unusual to find the lounge near capacity at Belfast City. I’ve never been refused entry in, historically, either of the two lounges since the terminal opened many years ago.

  • Jim says:

    We found this a surprisingly spacious, quiet and generally pleasant place to be. Particularly having been met with the usual overcrowding of lounges during holiday times at LHR T5 on the outbound leg.

    We were there last week at the same time as you, and I remember you doing your photos for this piece.

    If you have some form of prepaid access, it of course makes sense to use this lounge just to get the value and novelty of boarding direct from the lounge.

  • Michael AC says:

    There’s a whole section past the main lounge. Last time I was there there were no seats in the main lounge, but the other section was almost completely empty. So it’s bigger than it seems.

    • Rhys says:

      I don’t think so. At least, not last week. The old Aspire appears to be behind – not sure if they open it during periods of high capacity perhaps?

      • Michael AC says:

        Where your back is facing in the second picture, was that closed? It’s got some more seating and chairs facing the windows. Might only be when it’s very busy, which it was a few weeks ago when I visited.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      My last visit (middle of last year) they said they were going to merge the two lounges (the BA and the original Aspire) and as far as I know that work was completed months ago (but I’ve not seen for myself) perhaps they’re a partition wall that can be opened now to expand the lounge space and that explains why some people see the BA lounge at its original size as they might only open the extended area when truly busy.

  • Wee paul says:

    I get access to this lounge as a BA gold and I hope that BA isn’t paying much for my entry. I’m coeliac so medically gluten free. Rhys used the word meagre to describe the food… Non existent is more appropriate for coeliacs. Even the crisps, a local brand, are full of gluten. For me the door to board directly to the pier for the BA LHR flights (not Citiflyer) is the Lounges only saving grace. Sure, there is self serve alcohol, but most of my flights are heading to London for work so not advisable!

    • k says:

      Its just the cheap n nasty booze on offer anyways, so you’re not missing much.

  • Michael says:

    I think the food and drink offering was definitely better when it was a BA lounge. It’s gone downhill, but still good relative to the offering in the old Aspire lounge. The direct boarding is very convenient though, and really for mainline BA flights you can relax from entering the lounge. If you’ve no hand baggage stowage worries it’s easy to maximise lounge time to the very end of boarding!

    To think in the past there used to be a Flybe lounge where Starbucks now is, and the space of the present Aspire and old Aspire lounges was two bmi lounges (business lounge and diamond club lounge)!

  • Catherine says:

    Food in Aspire at BHD varies according to time of day. For the first few flights of the day, home-made porridge is generally available, along with croissants, pastries, bacon butties, sausage butties and a pancake machine. By early evening, two home-made hot mains are generally available – typically a chicken stew/curry and a vegetarian alternative, with rice. There is also a small fridge which usually contains individual portions of cheddar, brie and natural and fruit yoghurts. There’s usually also Tayto crisps with traditional flavours (e.g. salt and vinegar, cheese and onion, smoky bacon) and depending on time of day, small finger sandwiches. But quantity can be hit and miss so if a series of full flights has just departed, stocks may be lower. Mid afternoon does tend to be a low point.

    But the stand-out feature of that lounge is the staff. They know their regular customers by name, and go way beyond their job descriptions to help all passengers. On one occasion, Sam, for example, at the end of his own shift, carried luggage for me all the way across the railway bridge to the train station. Nicola regularly makes porridge to order, and Jackie (sadly now working elsewhere) used to offer informal exercise coaching/stretching classes during quiet spells in the lounge. They’re treasures and among the best anywhere in the world. (I travel 250,000 miles+ annually, so have a reasonable grasp of norms.) When it was a BA lounge, I gave them all Golden Tickets. Now they’re Aspire, the means by which they can be recognised is limited so I’m writing this instead.

  • JG says:

    That’s a lovely review of a lovely lounge Catherine, hope you send it to Aspire management!

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

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