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What I found at aether, Manchester Airport’s private terminal

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I was in Manchester on Wednesday night for a preview of aether, the private terminal at the airport. Previously known as PremiAir, it is reopening in November after a four year hiatus.

If you’ve never heard of PremiAir, have a read at our article here when the reopening was first announced.

We were asked not to take photographs because the interiors are still being tweaked, but here is the exterior, complete with torrential rain and the new aether signage:

aether private terminal manchester airport

Here’s some additional news I gleaned:

  • there was some discussion in our comments about remote stands. aether has got this sorted. You will be driven from the private terminal to the main terminal, where a gate agent will re-check your passport. You will NOT be shepherded onto the bus with other passengers. Instead, your aether agent will take you back down to the tarmac where you will jump back into your BMW and be driven directly to the steps of your parked aircraft.
  • whilst aether can seat 60 people, it plans to have no more than 12 in the terminal at any one time. It would only exceed this if there were groups who were happy to share a car to the aircraft. Unlike, say, the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, you will not share a car at aether with anyone who is not in your party. Passport control and security will also not be shared – only one family group will be allowed into the secure areas at a time.
  • there are no age restrictions. Children are welcome, high chairs and car seats are available and kid-friendly food can be rustled up.
  • number plate recognition cameras are being installed at the front entrance. If you arriving at aether in your own vehicle, the gates will open automatically when you arrive. Taxis etc will need to buzz reception to be allowed in.
  • you can book a private suite – by having part of the lounge fully partioned off for you – for an extra £50 per person, with a minimum charge of £250. It is possible to enter via a side entrance if your fame means that you want to avoid being mobbed in reception.
  • aether is full accessible. If necessary, the special assistance team from the terminal will come over in an adapted vehicle to drive you to your aircraft.
  • whilst the opening date is officially 4th November, this is the long-stop date driven by the installation of the new ‘liquids in’ security scanner. It is possible that it may open earlier if the work is completed quicker.

I have to say that it was lovely to be back in Manchester’s private terminal and to see the team again. There will be a formal media event nearer to opening so we will be back for that.

You can find out more on the aether website here. You can click ‘Join Waitlist’ to register for updates.

Further information is in our article from February here. Aether pricing starts at £90.

And in Bristol …..

As we’ve covered on HfP before, CAVU (the lounge operator owned by Manchester Airports Group, and which runs aether) recently took over the two lounges at Bristol Airport.

The premium lounge, previously Aspire Plus and rebranded as 1903, recently closed.

The good news is that plans are in place for major changes at Bristol, with new spaces due to increase capacity by more than 50%. I don’t want to say any more at this point but it sounds very promising and will happen sooner rather than later.


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

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

American Express Business Platinum

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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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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 (64)

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

  • Travel Strong says:

    I will be referring to it as Arthur

  • phantomchickenz says:

    Can’t see the pricing in the article from February. Can it be added to this piece?

  • TimM says:

    “aether”, rudely without even a capital letter, looks like the appalling use of marketing consultants – much like the end of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when we learn that we are not descended from cavemen but rather the throw-out group of useless people from another planet. When Arthur Dent shouts at the meeting of consultants, “You have not even invented the wheel yet!”, the reply is, “You tell us what colour it should be”.

    “aether” put me off using the facility, no matter how horrible the rest of Manchester airport is. How much of that (minimum) £90 is paying for meetings of consultants to decide on a stupid name?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Weirdest reason not to use a service.

    • executiveclubber says:

      Nothing wrong with the name, you need to get out more I reckon!

  • Damian says:

    Another piece on the top tier of HeadForPoints readership. Where’s your editorial control over variety of content?

    • Rob says:

      We just cover interesting new stuff, high end or low end, but clearly editorially this is interesting even if you never plan to use it. THere’s a Holiday Inn review to accompany this trip and I’m in Luton next week for the My Lounge opening event, neither of which are exactly high end luxury.

      That said, it cost us over £400 to attend this event (short notice train, hotel, taxis) so obviously we wouldn’t spend that sort of money for something which wasn’t going to interest a lot of people.

      Put another way, if you invite us to a luxury 5-star hotel in Cannes for a few days then we’ll spend £400 on flights etc. Invite us to a new ibis Budget and we won’t be spending £400 to visit it. This is before you get into the ‘why am I leaving my wife and kids for 3 days to do this’ debate.

      £90 to use aether isn’t exactly a fortune either.

    • NicktheGreek says:

      I’m sure many have trudged through Manchester airport at various stages and muttered to themselves “I’d pay £x to avoid this in the future”. And to those there’s now a solution.

      Considering lounge passes are nudging £50pp, this doesn’t jump out at all as ludicrous at £150pp for checked baggage. It’s certainly not for everyone, and probably not for most on every trip but I’m sure once word is out it’ll be in hot demand, particularly with the self imposed capacity constraints.

      • Rob says:

        1903 Lounge at Manchester is now £55, so they told me, so compared to £90 for this (admittedly £150 if you want a full meal and drinks) ….

    • Peter K says:

      Pieces like this interest me a great deal and I’m definitely not “top tier” HfP readership.
      It’s nice to see something more northern covered as well.
      It’s articles like this that keep me coming back for more to be honest.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        I’m surprised that having £90 of unassigned disposable income makes me “top tier”. Now I know this I shall look on the lower tiers of society with suitable disdain 🤣.

        • callum says:

          If your life is already so fulfilled that you cannot think of anything you’d rather spend that £90 on than an almost-private waiting room at Manchester Airport, I think you’re probably “higher tier” than you seem to imagine you are!

          A lot of people consider themselves to be just an “average working guy” despite being in the “top tier”. You only need to earn £60k a year to be in the top 10% of the UK. Perhaps that’s why so many seem indifferent to the plight of low-earners – “well I can’t be earning much more than them and my life is great”?

          • Rob says:

            Manchester served 25m passengers last year. aether is aiming for 12 at a time, so assuming an average stay of 1.5 hours that 8 people per hour or 160 per day. That’s 58,000 per year or 0.2% of passengers using the airport.

            You need to earn £650k to be in the top 0.1% and £236k to be in top 0.5% in the UK.

            The maths may work on this basis.

          • Lady London says:

            So 1 in every 200 people in the UK is earning a at least 236,000 GBP ? So taking a flying leap… guessing at family composition… at least 1 in every 70 families is on that kind of wage level.

            I’d say that makes us a wealthy country.

            And yet I think it was far less than 1 in every 200 not very long ago at all, even taking account of inflation.

            So why do so many people (other than HfP readers?) tell us they’re feeling so poor? I am not getting this.

            And 1 in 10,000 is earning 650,000 ? Also not bad.

            Btw it’s not looking as though currnet pricing of Premiair, I mean Aether, will say as low for long.

          • Lady London says:

            *correction 1 in 1,000 is earning 650,000. so with same flying leap guess at family composition, 1 in 300 families. Not bad.

        • Harry T says:

          Yeah, who cares about £90 lol

    • ChrisBCN says:

      I earn nothing like Rob’s numbers, but still plan to try this out on the way back from my once a year trip to Manchester. I couldn’t justify it if I was flying from there more frequently, but once a year is OK.

  • Novice says:

    Can’t wait to use Aether. Name is weird though.

    • NorthernLass says:

      Not really, it’s an invisible element, a bit like the customer service at MAN.

      • TimM says:

        There is a customer service desk at Manchester. I was directed to it to complain about our appalling treatment. “We don’t accept complaints here, you have to email us”, passing me a card. I studied it while there and pointed out that there was no email address on the card. That is Manchester Airport.

        • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

          Two savage comments, both right on the money. I still find myself suffering PTSD about airports from having used MAN as my local for 12 years. I have to actively remind myself things are different now I use LHR.

          • Navara says:

            I must be living in a parallel universe never had an issue at Manchester @T1 on numerous flights with Emirates on the morning flight

        • Lady London says:

          Brilliant. Just sums up some other experiences in Manchester too.

      • Novice says:

        Northern Lass, actually thinking about it that way. You are right. I knew the meaning but just didn’t understand how that would be linked to a lounge.

  • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

    The eqiovocation over the sharing of a car with others is a deal breaker for me. Most of my travelling is solo – for work or to go home to visit family. I’m not paying for a maybe-private service that in some instances might see me shoved into a car with a half-cut toxic (age difference) relationship couple – of which I have observed many in the lounges of airports and pointy ends of planes.

    • TooPoorToBeHere says:

      Then, sir, the queue at gate 141 awaits you!

    • Novice says:

      Blair waldorf salad (in future I am calling you BWS), you sound so much like me 😂

      I think the same. I travel solo a lot because I am trying to tour as many countries as I can within 2 decades and I wouldn’t have minded maybe one other person getting shoved in the car if they were solo and we were heading to the same plane but I would never accept it nor wait if they are selling it as a private car service.

      All the commenters who are saying that it is just a few minutes or I would have to wait etc; would you be fine if for a small hop Man to Lhr a crew member decides that “would you mind switching your business class seat for this person’s economy class seat because they can’t fit in the seat due to weight problems?”…

      Honestly nothing against ppl with weight problems. I am just pointing out that a person generally wants a product/service that they paid for.

      • John says:

        That is not an equivalent scenario.

        If they only have two cars, but have accepted bookings from 3 separate passengers, then the options are for 2 people to share a car or 1 person to wait until the other 2 have been driven solo.

        The equivalent would thus be if BA had overbooked their J cabin. Your options are to travel in Y + compensation, or wait until the next J flight. But downgrade compensation is enshrined in law.

        I haven’t looked at the advertising for AETHER but I’d agree that a partial (or potentially full) refund would be warranted if it explicitly stated you would be driven to the plane privately, but they could just say that you will be driven to the plane.

        • Novice says:

          I said this in page 1. As long as they gave partial refund I would be happy to share because the only reason I would complain is because they are advertising that no person has to ever share unless with their own group/couple.

  • @mkcol says:

    Are the transfer vehicles used EVs?

  • cin4 says:

    Christ. If I’m paying for a private terminal, knowing there might be children there ruins any pretense that it’s a luxury experience and is a massive dealbreaker.

    • John says:

      Then book out the whole terminal

      • Novice says:

        You seem to have a problem with people who just want the service that has been advertised. We aren’t the service providers. We are the service users. We don’t make the ads.

        Having said that, one can’t stop children using these services if their parents have paid unless the service is advertised as no children allowed.

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