Consumer champion Which? has revealed the best and worst airport lounges in the UK after researchers carried out secret inspections and awarded ratings between one and five stars.
Of the 20 lounges the watchdog visited, more than half scored only two and a half stars and below. To establish a star rating, reviewers took into account the facilities on offer, such as toilets and showers, whether the lounges offered a runway view, whether there were designated quiet areas and spaces for families, as well as the food and drink selection available.
No lounge that Which? researchers reviewed achieved higher than three stars out of five, which the organisation said suggests that in many cases, passengers may be better off saving their cash next time they pass through an airport.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Using an airport lounge was once synonymous with luxury, but now that’s rarely the case. At the very least, though, they should guarantee you a hassle-free start to your holiday, with a pleasant environment to enjoy a nice meal and some drinks while you wait for your flight, away from the crowds.“Too often our reviewers found lounges failed to deliver even on this basic premise, with many overcrowded, unkempt and unclean. The food offering was so poor at some lounges, reviewers went elsewhere to eat.”
The watchdog added that researchers found many of the benefits offered to passengers prior to the coronavirus pandemic had been cut back, with many lounges no longer offering spa facilities as well as having stopped made to order lunches or private sleeping pods in some cases.
Which? also found that prices have “risen steeply”. The Aspire Lounges it looked at were 40 per cent more expensive on average than when it last checked in 2020.
Prices at Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Heathrow and Luton Aspires ranged between £34 and £40, with most around £38. In 2020, the Aspires that Which? visited were between £21 and £35 – with most around £22.
The worst rated lounge was London Southend Airport’s SKYLIFE, which scored an overall rating of just one star. It was also the cheapest lounge reviewers visited, with an advance booking price of £28.
Gatwick North’s Plaza Premium, Manchester Terminal 1’s Escape and Birmingham’s No1 Lounge all achieved an overall rating of just one and a half stars. Meanwhile, Stansted’s Escape, Luton’s Aspire, Bristol’s Aspire, Bristol’s 1903, Birmingham’s Aspire and Glasgow’s Upper Deck were all rated two stars.
Many low-scoring lounges were found to be “dirty” and the tables unclean. But at the other end of the table, six lounges scored a three star rating, including Gatwick No1 North, Gatwick No1 South, Manchester Terminal 1 Aspire, Heathrow Plaza Premium Terminal 2, Inverness Aspire, Manchester Terminal 1 Aspire and Edinburgh Aspire.
All reviews were carried out between January and September, and Which? paid for entry to all lounges with reviews being carried out anonymously. Its full report can be read here.
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