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The mysterious mystery of Gatwick North’s new Flight Lounge

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Something is stirring on the first floor (two levels below the concourse) of Gatwick North’s lounge pavilion – and it isn’t clear what.

To be more precise, what’s happening is clear but who is behind it and how it will work isn’t.

But let’s step back.

Flight Lounge Gatwick North airport

Back in October 2021, the Club Aspire lounge in the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport closed for good – click for our story.

For a lounge that only opened in 2018 following an expensive refurbishment, and in a terminal that was always likely to get back to its pre-covid capacity pretty quickly due to its focus on leisure travel, this was unexpected.

There was a reason, of course.

Club Aspire lounges – as opposed to standard Aspire lounges – are owned by a joint venture between Swissport and Priority Pass-owner Collinson.

The same two partners had recently acquired No1 Lounges, which includes the flagship site in Gatwick North. In fact, it came with three sites in Gatwick North – No1 Lounge, Clubrooms and My Lounge (now the easyJet ‘The Gateway’ lounge, reviewed here).

You can see how four lounges could be seen as overkill and Club Aspire had a poor geographic position. It occupied the bottom level of the Gatwick lounge pavilion.  This was unfortunate, as it meant it was two floors below concourse level and had poor views.

The decision was taken to close the Club Aspire lounge. In Summer 2022, it became the pop-up O2 Roam Freely Lounge. Anyone with an O2 mobile phone could enter for free, which was a pretty good deal – especially as the lounge facilities were decent. The pop-up closed on 9th October.

Enter ‘Flight Lounge’

The Club Aspire space, which we thought may end up being taken over by Global Airlines, has a new owner.

As you can see from the signage in the top photograph, it is a pay-to-use lounge called ‘Flight Lounge’.

So far, so normal – except that it isn’t actually open. Here’s the entrance which anyone who used the O2 or Club Aspire lounge may recognise:

Flight Lounge London Gatwick Airport North Terminal

The furnishings look a bit …. uninspired, but of course it may not be finished yet:

Flight Lounge London Gatwick Airport North Terminal

Things get a bit weirder when you start digging into Flight Lounge Group, the operators.

Take a look at their website here.

To say this is not the most professional website I’ve ever seen is putting it mildly. All of the links in the menu bar, and at the bottom of the page, even ‘Booking’, are broken.

It talks about opening on 1st July, but the booking widget says 27th July. And it’s now 7th August ….

Who is behind Flight Lounge?

Opening an airport lounge is a massive undertaking. As well as dealing with a multitude of airport restrictions, you need to staff the space for up to 18 hour per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. You need a bit of corporate muscle behind you to make it work.

I pulled up Flight Lounge Group Ltd at Companies House. It was incorporated last October. The three directors appear to be a parent (age 74) and one child and their spouse – Jonathan and Kayleigh Boot-Handford, both 38. Jonathan is the sole shareholder.

I can’t find any record of Jonathan or the company on LinkedIn. This is unusual because, given the size of my direct LinkedIn base, most people in the UK business travel industry are second or third level connections to me even if I don’t know them.

What we seem to have is a family which has decided to get into the airport lounge business, taking advantage of the money that Club Aspire spent on the initial fit out of the space.

Let’s see how it works out. There is no mention of joining Priority Pass or DragonPass on the Flight Lounge website or on the lounge card sites, but it is still early days.

We will pop down to take a look as soon as we can, and wish them well.

You can book access to Flight Lounge on the Gatwick Airport website here.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (July 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 (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel 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 – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes 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 (56)

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

  • T says:

    Hi Rob and team
    Did you try to make contact with this person, to find out his side of this story?I was wondering, since you named him in your article? Did you dig deeper then a quick check on company house at all? The article says in short” there is a person behind this possible to be open soon business” well yes, most businesses do! Would have been great if some effort was made to get an actual interview with this person. Or at least to read that after multiple attempts to contact this person, you were not able to get any comment.

    • Novice says:

      I think Rob likes intrigue and suspense 😂

      It made everyone look at their website and company records etc. Also has generated a lot of comments so I think the article has succeeded in its purpose.

      🤣

  • Swifty says:

    I’m not sure what I was supposed to have taken away from this article. Good luck to people starting a new business, and hope it has thought about the planet and is green. As much as it can be on on the ground serving airline passengers, but hey, every little helps. Hope people on here like it, everyone seems to hate BA’s with extremely discerning tastes.

  • Jess says:

    Hi Rob,

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. I’ll hopefully be able to clear a few things up. You’re absolutely right that this is a brand new venture – The Flight Lounge Group have taken over this space. At the point you took your photos and saw a closed door and dimly lit space, we were not open to the public. As with all things new, it takes time to get things right and we are seeking continual improvement until we get to that point. What is it they say? Rome wasn’t built in a day! However, we are a new space and we’re not un-wise to the fact that our space location, size and other factors make it very difficult to compete with the already established big players at LGW. So quite simply, we won’t be! We’ve changed our direction so that essentially, we provide a lounge to some travellers that are looking for something a little different and are focused in providing a space for families and for those that are looking for more casual over smart casual. We’re even looking at a project to provide a safe space for those with extra needs. We know that our direction differs from the “norm” of the high class lounge experience, but believe that an experience should be available to all and so hope we can start making a dent in that. After all, there’s thousands of passengers coming through the airport. So asides from a few teething problems as with any start up, and some quick (and continual) learning, we are now open! And we look forward to being given the chance to succeed. I’ll add you on LinkedIn, and maybe with your plethora of contacts, you can play a part in our success too! Thanks all! – Jess @ The Flight Lounge Group

    • Chris says:

      What a refreshing response! I wasn’t too impressed with the way this article was worded. Felt like it was almost an attempt to damage? Maybe because the new people hadn’t reached out to Rob in the first instance and so he didn’t like it? After all, he made it very clear he knows everyone in the industry!… but asides from that, as someone with a family, I wouldn’t normally go for a lounge because of their almost pretentious nature so I do think this is hitting a gap in the market. It might not be for everyone and that’s fine, but I’ll certainly be taking a look!

      • Rob says:

        Wasn’t an attempt to damage at all. It was more bemusement, given that we are the only place in the UK where airport lounges are discussed and reviewed in detail and that we work at the highest levels with Plaza Premium (see our CEO interview this year), with the Evans brothers who own Priority Pass and half-own Club Aspire, with the UK DragonPass team in Cheshire, with the Club Aspire / No1 senior team and with the CAVU / MAG team. I think there was someone from each of these groups at our summer party.

        We could have done a series of articles for them looking at how they were getting the lounge ready, what the issues are with running a lounge (all interesting stuff and never really written about) and then done a big HfP promo to get people down there on Day 1. Up to them, of course, but assuming they don’t join Priority Pass or DragonPass there aren’t many other games in town.

        • Jess says:

          Hi Rob,

          Agree this could be really interesting and I still see an opportunity. I’ve sent you a message on LinkedIn and hope to connect. For info we have started make contact with those that you mention, but I would be very grateful for your input.

          Hope to speak soon.
          Jess – Flight Lounge Group

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

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