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New Aspire lounge, used by British Airways, opens at Belfast City Airport

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The newly extended Aspire lounge has opened at Belfast City Airport.

This is the lounge used by British Airways for its premium and status passengers and it is also part of the Priority Pass and DragonPass lounge card programmes.

Aspire Lounge Belfast City Airport

The lounge can also be used by Aer Lingus and KLM passengers who have suitable elite status or a qualifying ticket.

Aspire has invested £1.2 million in the new site.

Aspire lounge Belfast City Airport

The lounge has been able to grow because Aspire has extended into the space which became available when British Airways decided to close its lounge.

(We believe that history is about to repeat itself at Newcastle, where Aspire is rumoured to be planning an extension into the old British Airways space.)

Aspire lounge Belfast City Airport

The new capacity is 178 people, an increase of 70.

The original Aspire space has been refurbished to match the extension, creating a unified space. Direct boarding to British Airways flights remains.

Aspire lounge Belfast City Airport

Aspire said in a statement:

“We are excited to unveil our new Aspire Lounge at George Best Belfast City Airport which showcases the Aspire brand and the rich culture of Belfast and beyond. The new lounge offers business travellers, families and individuals a welcoming, relaxing and energising experience before their flight, in a comfortable lounge that is recognisably Aspire, with a distinct sense of place.

“Guests can enjoy an enhanced food and beverage offering, work from purpose-built booths, or relax and soak up the view of the airfield and the surroundings.”

Aspire lounge Belfast City Airport

Access to the lounge for anyone who cannot get in for free is available for £36.99 via the airport website. It is cheaper at £31.99 from Lounge Pass.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (December 2023)

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 1,300 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) 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 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. 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 £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 (43)

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

  • SGJ says:

    £1.2 million on the lounge, £3.99 on a bottle of wine! Says it all really. Perhaps they blew the budget on the spirits?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Youre confusing capital investment and operating costs. Not necessarily directly related.

      • Rob says:

        Absolutely they are not. BA spends $200m on an aircraft and fills it with £7 wine upfront.

        This is an accounting issue, primarily, with day to day costs coming immediately out of todays profit whilst capex is just depreciated away below the headline EBIT line.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          🙂 yup I was just trying to be nice

          Personally neither have anything at all to do with each other. Other than I wouldn’t approve capex above a level where the profit means the project falls below an acceptable IRR. But everyone has their own criteria for these things.

          • SGJ says:

            Not being quite so thick, I do understand the difference, and not being an accountant, I do have a sense of humour . No need to be “nice” to me, it was a simple contrast based on £ values, clearly extreme and not “real” accounting!
            The lounge was and remains awful (after BA), but does have new seats and lots of plug sockets. The food is dire, as are most of the drinks on offer. I “enjoy” this 10/12 times a year so much, so I am now just going to to get a coffee and leave

    • Michael says:

      The last refurb (from the old bmi lounge to the BA lounge) in 2014 was reported to cost £300k. There has been inflation in the last 9 years, and the Aspire lounge will be larger, but I would be expecting a decent product for the amount spent. The BA lounge originally was a very decent fit out – probably better than T5 Galleries – but Aspire had changed quite a lot of the fittings in recent years to make it feel a lot less premium.

  • Niall says:

    The Belfast city Aspire lounge has been awful ever since Aspire took over. Soft drinks inevitably flat as only in 2l bottles. They replaced BA’s coffee machine with their Nescafé one not long after taking over and it produced truly the worst coffee around. Cleaning is poor. Some shockingly poor food (rock hard sausage bap anyone?), Staff who can be quite friendly but don’t really know what they’re doing.

    The lounge was never completely full. I’ve never heard of anyone refused entry using priority pass. And the furniture apart from being dirty was generally fine.

    I really don’t think they needed to spend £1.2m on this, but I’ll be happy if they’ve spent a few pennies more on catering, cleaning and staff training.

    • Guy says:

      There’s a soft drink/soda fountain in the lounge. So the 2l multi-pack bottles should be retired shortly! Cans were also on offer while the fountain hadn’t been fully commissioned.

      Also, the lounge was regularly running at and over capacity! Friday nights, Sunday nights, Monday morning. All the peak commuting hours.

      • Niall says:

        I’m glad about the fountain! I did see the very short lived cana while no alcohol but when I was there it was only Coca Cola.

        Interesting, I never experienced over capacity and I fly in commenting hours, especially Monday mornings and Friday nights. But by over capacity, you mean people being turned away?

        • Simon Miller says:

          Delighted to hear the two litre bottles of Pepsi Max are on the way out. That really did feel decidedly unpremium and my pet hate about the lounge.

          I think the Nescafé machine had been replaced with a bean to cup machine last time I was in? The Nescafé coffee was truly shocking!

  • JD says:

    Is anyone able to successfully use the Aspire rewards app? Every time I got to a lounge they say the staff say they are unable to credit points to the app. This has happened to me the last 4 times I have visited the aspire lounge in Newcastle. Wondering if anyone else has had this issue

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      Mine works fine but the sole use of Aspire reward points is now….a free Aspire visit!

  • qc says:

    The food offerings in the old BA lounge whilst not gourmet was perfectly edible. The egg mayo sandwiches were particularly good. There was also soda bread and Irish oatcakes to go with the cheese or soup.
    I hope they continue the catering in a similar vein. No champagne as there was in the old BA Lounge I see!

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      There’s probably champagne if you’re willing to pay for it

  • Thomas says:

    Do they have decent beers now? Selection in the terminal used to be ok but has gotten a lot worse recently.

  • Jake says:

    Wider question but what is BAs lounge strategy?

    They operate very few European lounges and have closed many in the UK. Is this just a cost saving exercise? If so why do other airlines choose to operate their own lounges?

    Also the ones in T5 are in dire need of an upgrade and should probably form part of BAs re-pivot to being a more premium airline. Don’t quite know why this doesn’t get traction. It could be relatively cheap and bring in some very good press.

    • Rhys says:

      Redoing the lounges at T5 is a logistical nightmare because there are no real options for decanting all the passengers. It is urgent, I agree, but it needs more than a light refresh.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        They need to be gutted. Investing in a T5C lounge complex would be the best solution … maybe then we could have US immigration etc based there

        • VALittleRed says:

          Is that so once a T5C lounge complex is open they can then refurb the existing lounges one by one without denting capacity too much?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            It’s a large area. Perhaps there would be some inconvenience but honestly T5B is so dead most of the time it could easily take some capacity aswell as a T5C lounge

            Could make the refurbished club lounge the “first” lounge while they refurb that and use the refurbished terrace as a CCR again for example.

            Leave T5B til last.

          • Rhys says:

            I was in T5B recently and it was very busy. Perhaps not as busy as A lounges but still busy.

    • Rob says:

      Realistically I think we will see BA close all of its lounges outside London as contracts expire. I can’t see why Edinburgh or Glasgow should be saved when Manchester and Amsterdam went – especially as the Scottish airports have better alternatives than Manchester did. A day without a penny saved etc.

      You can even start questioning the US lounges now that New York is basically being run by AA. Any reason to keep the rest? We’ve seen Toronto go to Plaza.

      • Jake says:

        Isn’t the only reason that they can offer a controlled and better passenger experience than outsourcing. Granted it may save £ in the short term but I thought BA were re-focusing on premium passengers?

        I find it odd that in some areas BA are enhancing the premium experience (food) and in others taking away (lounges).

        • VALittleRed says:

          Sounds like politicians, give with one hand and take with the other

      • John says:

        I can see Glasgow going, but not Edinburgh. Even if European carriers continue on their stampede to offload their lounges to third parties except bases at CDG (AF), AMS (KLM), FRA and MUC (LH) Zurich and Geneva (LX), Vienna (OS) etc., there will still be anomalies in the system, such as the LH lounge at Athens (even after the Aegean revamp of their own lounges), or the AF lounge at FRA. Also, with the shift to third-party, airports where there is a considerable presence of alliance airlines might lead to more alliance based lounges. I’m thinking Star at the Schengen side at AMS, for example, or at CDG. Star have definitely embraced the alliance wide lounge more than Oneworld or SkyTeam have. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t one of the first Star lounges back in T1 at LHR – it looked a bit like a big cylinder when you entered it? That would have been a good 15 years or more ago, at least.

  • E4 Traveller says:

    I use the BHD Aspire every month and have never been impressed with the food. The sausages used at breakfast time are cheap and awful. Plus the catering for the rest of the day is mediocre, when there is any. I concur that the coffee from the machine tastes terrible. The renovated lounge looks good but more needs to be done about the food and drink.

    • His Holyness says:

      Good sausages are expensive, far beyond their budget I would expect it will be the type thinned out with bread crumbs. Perhaps they’re just a banger (less than 42% meat)?

  • Kevin says:

    I’m shocked at the amount of negativity with these comments.
    Yes, BHD Aspire was one of the worst lounges in the country, we know.
    It’s now been done up. Happy days.
    It’s not exactly a place where people spend a lot of time. Being a city airport with only a few A320 family aircraft, the others being ATR-72 and LCY E190s, there aren’t exactly 100s of people trying to pass through security at any one time. It’s mainly the London flights that has customers using the lounge anyway, and they are generally spaced out well. Apart from first thing each morning but I’ve never been denied entry in 10 years due to capacity. EZY fly an A319/A320 to Gatwick but averages only 5% of their passengers using the lounge.

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