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EXCLUSIVE: PremiAir at Manchester Airport is to reopen in the autumn

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PremiAir at Manchester Airport is potentially the most impressive aviation experience in the UK. The fact that you could have this experience for under £100 at times, pre covid, was even more astonishing.

After a four year pandemic break, PremiAir is coming back. The PremiAir website is still saying that the terminal is closed for the forseeable future, but Manchester Airports Group is advertising for a General Manager. MAG would be no more specific than ‘Autumn’ when I asked about a date.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, let’s go back to square one.

PremiAir is the ‘pay to use’ VIP terminal at Manchester Airport.

ANYONE can use PremiAir if they are flying on a participating airline.  It isn’t just for the super-rich either.  Fees started at just £50 when it opened in 2019, which many people will find a modest price to pay to escape the nightmare that is the main terminal complex at Manchester. The full service, including food and drink, was often under £100.

Where is PremiAir?

The good news, for those keen to see as little of the main airport as possible, is that PremiAir is nowhere near the main terminal.  It was built next to the Runway Visitor Park, on a piece of land which was originally given over to plane spotters. 

Here is a picture from my pre-covid visit:

Review PremiAir VIP terminal Manchester Airport

I was the only person booked in that day.  I had the entire terminal to myself for the 90 minutes I was there, which was certainly a novelty.

There isn’t much to explain.  The very friendly reception team checked you off and confirmed that your ID is in order and that there was no reason, eg customs declarations, why you might need to go back to the main terminal.

As the main lounge is literally on the edge of an active taxiway, you had aircraft passing within 100 feet of the windows every couple of minutes.

It is a long thin space dominated by floor to ceiling windows on one side.

Review PremiAir VIP terminal Manchester Airport

This was very much ‘stealth wealth’ territory.  If you were looking for Cristal on tap then you were very much in the wrong place. Apart from a selection of pastries and cookies which are out on display, all food was cooked to order from a menu.

The transfer to my plane

This was the cool bit.  When my British Airways flight back to London was ready for boarding, PremiAir staff came over and took me to a car.

You go through a door where there is passport control and security screening.  It was the first time in my life that I have been greeted by name by a security screener!

I hopped into the car and off we went:

Review PremiAir VIP terminal Manchester Airport

Terminal 3 was a long way from PremiAir, which was great because I got a full drive around the airfield.  It seems that not all aircraft gates have easy access for car passengers from the apron.  In my case, we parked up at Gate 49 which was the most convenient.  The two PremiAir staff and I went into the terminal, up to Departures, and then did the 45 second walk across to Gate 135 which BA was using that day.

I was Group 1 boarding anyway, but the PremiAir staff took me to the front of the line and told the agents at the gate to let me go first.

Review PremiAir VIP terminal Manchester Airport

What does PremiAir cost?

Back in 2019 there were two options:

  • Priority Departures – for hand baggage only passengers, you coulf pay £50 per person and check in at PremiAir.  You clear immigration and are immediately driven across the airport to your departure gate in a shared vehicle.  You only need to arrive 60 minutes before departure.
  • Premium Departures (what I did) – for passengers with luggage and/or who want a private lounge, you can pay £100.  You will check in and clear immigration, and then be able to use the lounge in the terminal before being driven across the airport directly to the steps of your aircraft in a private vehicle.

There was also an arrivals service (£125) as well as the ability to book a private suite for your party on arrival or departure.

Conclusion

I was very impressed by PremiAir back in 2019.  Given how painful the main terminal at Manchester Airport can be, I hope it can properly find its feet after it reopens.

At £50-£100 per person pre-covid – and almost certainly more now – it clearly isn’t aimed at the family market – although there are plenty of people in the airport catchment area who will be happy to pay.  The main market is going to be corporate travellers (for whom paying £100 is a bargain if they can get more work done than they could do in the terminal) and the airlines.

What PremiAir never managed was to secure a scheduled airline to use it for its long haul passengers. If Qatar Airways, for example, was willing to use it for full fare Business Class passengers it would be a real talking point.

We’ll keep you in the loop if we hear any more about the reopening date. This is very positive news for aviation in Manchester.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

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.

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

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) 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 (60)

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  • Len says:

    I used this in conjunction with Meet and Greet parking. You must book that directly with MAG and your car is collected from in front of Premiair and returned there for your return. The return service also collected your luggage from the aircraft and immigration/customs were dealt with in Premiair. It was worth every penny.

  • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

    If this allows one to escape the Gate 142/143 boarding process for BA then any price is worth it

  • Dannyrado says:

    I always wondered how parking from premair would work out… How? Where? It’s not as if any of the car parks are near premair, or the jet parks bus drops there.. 😂

    • NorthernLass says:

      If it’s a nice car they’ll probably put a few hundred miles on it driving round Manchester then dump it in a muddy field in Cheshire just before you get home.

    • Rob says:

      Explained on its website.

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

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