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Newcastle: Aspire unveils high-end plans to expand into the old British Airways lounge

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If you have been through Newcastle Airport in recent weeks, you may have noticed some activity in the old British Airways lounge space which is now abandoned.

We had heard that Aspire was planning to copy what it did recently in Belfast – take an empty British Airways lounge and expand its own lounge into it – and this has now been confirmed.

We even have some pictures of how it will look.

New Aspire Lounge Newcastle Airport

The work is expected to cost £1.7 million and will be completed early next year.

The new lounge will have a capacity for 320 people, which is 100 more than the 220 that can use the existing Aspire and Aspire Plus lounges.

Intriguingly, the space will – for the first time in an Aspire lounge – have three different areas:

  • Aspire
  • Aspire Business
  • Aspire Premium

Aspire Business sounds as if it will have the standard lounge food and drink options whilst also giving access to private and shared work spaces.

Aspire Premium is more interesting. Aspire is promising a fully hosted ‘luxury’ table service which it claims will match the ambience of a ‘high-end restaurant’.

It’s not entirely clear who will get access to which areas. As the only lounge at Newcastle, Aspire has to juggle the needs of ‘pay as you go’ lounge visitors, holders of Priority Pass lounge club cards and passengers of scheduled airlines which are willing to pay for their elites to enter.

This includes Emirates, who I would expect to have exclusive use of one of the spaces for the 3-4 hours before their flights depart. First Class passengers would presumably get access to Aspire Premium.

New Aspire Lounge Newcastle Airport

Dean Ward, director of commercial at Newcastle International Airport said:

“This development is testament to our longstanding, and collaborative, partnership with Aspire and we are very much looking forward to passengers experiencing the final product. We are committed to providing the best possible passenger experience and this development forms an important part of a multi-million-pound investment in the security search area and departure lounge food and beverage facilities ahead of the Summer 2024 season.”

Those who commented on the story in the Newcastle Chronicle added their own insights:

[Money would] be better spent upgrading the toilets, they are shockingly dirty and lack in numbers.

The airport is generally dirty and very scruffy throughout. It is definitely spoiled by the drunks. It’s convenient but that’s the only thing in its favour.

[The lounge] needs to bring back a proper dress code. Some days it’s like being in a downtrodden Gateshead social club.

If you ever needed evidence that the North East has a very serious drink problem then go to Newcastle Airport. It’s really unpleasant and doesn’t reflect well on the North East at all.

Could spend some money on cleaning the toilets, they always stink to high heaven.

We will let you know when there is an opening date and try to squeeze in an early visit.

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How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (February 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 1,300 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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

Comments (29)

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

  • tony says:

    Fear not Rob, I think EK only run a two class plane out of NCL.

    There is however a question that needs to be answered when it comes to airports and alcohol. I found this article both funny and troubling in equal measure, specifically that the chap in question didn’t seem to think option (2) of just not having a pre-flight 5am pint even existed…

    • His Holyness says:

      Good idea. Met should routinely breathalyse pax at the jet bridge. Staff standby’s would all clear as half the J and F cabins are denied boarding.

      • MT says:

        Thankfully we do not live in such a nanny state, while no one who is drunk should be allowed onboard an aircraft, the breathalyzer test would not work as alcohol affects everyone differently so how do you set the level at which people fail! The bit about the article that troubles me is the hour stuck in a security queue, it could be suggested that after experiencing security at many UK airports you do indeed need a drink or two, to get over the experience!

      • tony says:

        I think it’s more of a qualitative than quantitative concern, to be fair. It reads as if this chap appeared to believe that checking in his suitcase, going through security and having at least one breakfast pint were all essential tasks to complete when it came to him actually being allowed to board the aircraft.

        Looking round many an airport early doors would tend to suggest he’s not alone in his beliefs.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Christ. Sir did you want some article with your ads?

      It looks like an ad agency lorry has crashed and jettisoned its cargo all over that webpage

      • daveinitalia says:

        Typical of a Reach (owners of the Mirror and Daily Express) local news site

    • Richard says:

      I can *easily* see people on here complaining that they only had 7 minutes to spend in the lounge and had to knock back their glass of complimentary champagne.

      It’s a silly headline, but people have their rituals to switch into holiday mode. I wouldn’t drink at breakfast time because I don’t enjoy it, but if I didn’t get my bacon butty I’d be irrationally upset.

  • S says:

    Mr Ward lauding a refit of a third party, paid entry lounge as delivering on customer experience feels almost duplicitous. Chron readers have it right. The whole airport is filthy and run down. It’s full of drunks because there is essentially no public seating outside of the bars. It’s been this bad for years and there appears to be zero interest in setting a basic standard.

    Credit where it’s due though, security is a model of efficiency.

    • Alastair says:

      Back in the early 2000s the terminal extension was specifically designed with no seating unless you were sitting inside a concession and had to pay for something (coffee, beer, a meal etc.) It’s the “dwell time” concept taken to extremes.
      Incidentally the executive that oversaw it went onto work on the retail offer at St Pancras International (which lacks seating in the same way) and then I believe HS2.

      • daveinitalia says:

        Growing up in the 80s the airport was a nice place to visit and got even better when the Metro was extended in the early 90s. There was a rooftop viewing area as well as the cafe/bar on the 1st floor located landside.

  • In says:

    BA have all but abandoned flights to Newcastle, prices are bonkers, they are overbooked and massively reduced. Been bumped off a couple of times recently or pushed on the next flightz

    • NorthernLass says:

      MAN is the same, northern revenue must really mean very little to IAG’s coffers!

      • James C says:

        I saw an old shuttle advert from c1998 the other day which heralded MAN- LHR 17 times a day….

        Think IAG are looking to EI to satisfy the MAN market heading West. They’re of zero interest to me however so I’ll keep connecting via LHR. I am regularly seeing keener pricing though with one way fares for £40-50. NCL less keenly priced and does seem badly timed for my purposes when I look at it. The Hotel Inidigo in the city centre I booked regularly for less than £80 a night end of last year/ start of this year though not looked at pricing recently.

        • Rhys says:

          This is it. Heathrow is slot constrained – much better for IAG to route transatlantic traffic via Ireland instead. It’s more geographically sensible, avoids clogging Heathrow up and it’s probably faster for passengers.

        • NorthernLass says:

          DT has bigger rooms, better restaurant and cheaper car park, far more generous with drinks tokens as well (we got 4 on a 2-night stay)!

        • daveinitalia says:

          17 times a day sounds crazy now but I bet in those days there was more point to point traffic as the WCML was slow compared to the ECML and security was less of a hassle in those days. Although the Heathrow Express only opened in 1998 so before that you had to take the tube or get a taxi

          • Mike says:

            The WCML is still slow, just less slow and it’s still a pain to get to Heathrow. To the best of my knowledge there’s not even a lift at Euston to the underground platform level just to the ticket hall.

      • Mike says:

        Yep, the MAN flights are packed like clown cars, more feeder flights from MAN-LHR are needed. I guess this comes down to LHR slot usage.

  • DrX says:

    I moved from LDN to to Newcastle but when travelling long haul I prefer to still return to Gatwick to fly emirates. Firstly the planes are newer and are a380, but mostly because of the airport and lounge. However departing from NCL literally can take 10-15 minutes from airplane to reaching outside which is lovely.

  • NorthernLass says:

    The airport sounds awful but I have to say that the Doubletree there is very good and stupendous value, often under £80 pn, if you don’t want to pay city prices but need somewhere decent to sleep and eat.

  • daveinitalia says:

    The airport were supposed to be building a new lounge but work on it was stopped during covid and doesn’t seem to have resumed.

    When BA had their own lounge it used to be a good experience flying through the airport. It may not have looked much but the lounge was well appreciated by the regulars

    It seems Aspire is taking a similar approach to LBA who had 3 categories of lounge (not sure if that’s still the case after covid as BA pulled out) the lower tier lounge was for Priority Pass and the cheapest paid entry, the mid tier lounge was used for status travellers of KLM and BA and there was a more expensive luxury lounge which you could pay for if you wanted something better. This worked well as it catered to the different needs of passengers. Let’s just hope BA uses the business section of this new lounge and doesn’t just put us in the cheapest bit.

  • Rich_A says:

    The old BA lounge was well-loved.

    Its odd location was down to domestic departures once being separate from international. The walk from curb to check-in to security to lounge to aircraft was pretty much a straight line, all of 30 metres.

    I think it makes a lot of sense to extend the Aspire lounge now, given BAs lack of interest

  • TeesTraveller says:

    I think some of the comments are a bit over-dramatic. Yes there are a few having a few pre-holiday pints at 6am but In over 100 flights out of NCL, I have never seen anyone in a drunken state. The place is pretty messy from mid afternoon though and the cleaners need to do some more work, especially in the area around Burger King.

    From a lounge perspective, the BA traveller has gone from having the best lounge on the network (the old BA Newcastle lounge) to one of the worst so investment is very welcome. The current Aspire lounge gets very busy at certain times of the day and people do get annoyed when they are struggling to find somewhere to sit and there are a large number of unoccupied tables reserved for Emirates passengers.

    Just to note that the current Aspire lounge is split into two sections (Aspire and Aspire plus). Not sure how you get into Aspire plus without paying (it does have a fancy whisky bar) but BA, KLM, Emirates and Lounge Club etc all use the standard Aspire section which has no windows.

    • daveinitalia says:

      I think Emirates use the plus section, but others including BA use the regular section. A little bit of the plus section is currently closed off due to the building work

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

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