Aer Lingus Lounge Review

Split over two terminals, Dublin Airport is rapidly growing into one of Europe’s major hubs. The sleek, modern Terminal 2 is the home of Aer Lingus as well as other major transatlantic carriers.

Before my Dublin – Malaga flight, where I reviewed Aer Lingus’ Airbus A330, you can read that review here, I decided to head on down to the lounge to experience some award winning Irish hospitality for myself.

Entrance to the lounge in T2

Once you have cleared security and get airside, getting to the lounge is a simple case of following the clearly displayed signage, heading down a level in an elevator, turning a corner and hey presto you’ve arrived!

As soon as I stepped through the door, I was immediately greeted by Gloria, who was manning the welcome desk this morning. After a quick check of my boarding pass, I was given a card with the Wi-Fi details printed on it, and I was wished a very pleasant stay.

The firs thing I noticed when I walked through into the seating area was an unmistakable sense of peace and tranquillity. The lounge has TV sets mounted on the walls at various points throughout the lounge, all of which are set to mute to allow guests the opportunity to relax before their flight and to let them catch up on work. Giant floor to ceiling windows allow lots of natural light to flood into the lounge; they also give guests inside the lounge a view of the distinctive shamrock that is on the tail of every Aer Lingus aircraft.

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This mornings buffet consisted of a cold selection of cereals, pastries, yoghurt and fruit salad. There was some snacks such as biscuits and every airline’s favourite sour cream and chive pretzels. I had previously read about the disappointing array of food options available here at the lounge, and Its very clear that nothing has changed. All food is accompanied by fresh fruit juices, hot drinks and a selection of sodas from the fridge.

Split over two levels, the lounge offers an upstairs seating area that is designated as the quiet zone. Also on the top level are complimentary shower rooms that guests transiting through Dublin can use. My experience with airport lounge shower rooms is that they can become quite hot and humid very quickly, however without using Aer Lingus’, I can’t comment on them.

The upstairs seating area is designated as the quiet zone. There is also a giant Airbus A350 model that I really wanted to take home with me!

As the flight information display screens indicated that it was time for me to head to the gate so that I could board my flight to Malaga, I got the sense that the Aer Lingus lounge is ideal for an hour or so whilst you wait for your flight. In my honest opinion, If the access had not have been included in my fare, I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over it. The lounge is practical and modern, but not quite what I expected from a Skytrax 4* rated airline.

Virgin Atlantic: London Heathrow Clubhouse Review

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow is famous for showcasing the style of Virgin Atlantic and when I knew I was going to be visiting this lounge I decided to film a short video to show you inside as well as showing you the main features in this article! Enjoy!

Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse is positioned with the other airline lounges in Terminal 3. It is lounge H if you are following the signs and above the American Airlines lounge. I’m a big fan of T3 as security tends to be very quick and the lounges are all in one place which helps if you’re hopping between them with your priority pass through AMEX.

As soon as you enter the lounge you know it is special. The entrance area is staffed with friendly Virgin Atlantic faces who check your ticket, walk you in and even show you around if this is your first visit.

The view on entering the beautiful lounge

My first impression of the lounge was amazing. I was shocked by just how big it was. The high ceilings and large windows looking out to the airport improve the lighting and make it a really welcoming environment.

As soon as you take a seat in the lounge, one of the staff will attend you and ask what drink you would like. The length of the drinks menu was so long that I asked what they recommended and two minutes later, a glass of the ‘Virgin Redhead Cocktail’ turned up.

The flagship ‘Virgin Redhead’ cocktail

The drink was lovely and I opted for one more before heading to the Champagne. Virgin offers three champagnes: Lanson, Follador and Jenkyn. I opted for the Lanson and wasn’t disappointed.

My Lanson champagne

The bar area is nice and big which allows people to work but also sit and chat with friends over a drink. It was very well staffed and everyone was happy to help as much as they could.

The bar area!

Once your drink is finished, the staff come and ask if you would like something to eat from the ‘bar snacks’ area of the menu. All the options looked great but I opted for the baked chicken wings with hot sauce. The wings were very nice and left me with very dirty fingers. They gave me a knife and fork but who in their right mind eats chicken wings with cutlery?!

These chicken wings tasted unbelievable!

After I had eaten my bar snacks I went for a quick visit to the other food area. Just to the left of the entrance is an area where you can get salads, breads, meats, cheeses and fruits. There was a fantastic selection but I decided to save my appetite for the flight which turned out to fail as you’ll see later on!

A lovely food selection!

Another fantastic area in the lounge is the mezzanine which has a pool table, lots of TV screens showing the news and sports matches and a long sofa on which two people lay fast asleep (we can only hope they made their flight!).

Floor two. Pool anyone?

The upstairs area then leads up some stairs to the third level which is the outside terrace. The terrace is amazing if you’re into aviation as you can sit outside on the sofas with a drink and watch the planes taxi infront of the famous LHR tower. Do note that it can get pretty noisy out there!

Time for some planespotting!

The area below mezzanine has more tables of which a few had a ‘reserved’ tag on them. I’m not 100% how you go about booking a table and if it costs much but this was cool to see and gave this area of the lounge a restaurant feel.

Can you spot me?;)

After I’d been outside I came in to do something I was very excited about – get a haircut. I’d seen many people do this and so was very excited to actually get a trim in an airline lounge! I headed up to the spa desk and inquired.  She said that there was a relatively long wait for the haircuts but that I was welcome to have one of their complimentary treatments instead. This was a shame but I was totally happy she mentioned the complimentary treatments as mine turned out to be absolute heaven.

I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures but here is a shot from my GoPro

The complimentary treatment I opted for was the ‘head and scalp massage’. The complimentary treatments may only last 15 minutes but once you’re in there you can relax into it amazingly and 15 minutes is plenty to relax before your flight. The woman at the desk asked me to listen to the loud speaker in the lounge as she would announce when it was my time to return to the spa and low and behold as I was sitting down with another glass of champagne I heard ‘Could Mr Stevenson please make his way to the Clubhouse spa for his treatment!’ so off I went!

The spa is located where I am standing, in the far right corner of the lounge

The spa area is kept cool by a fan and kept dark to help you relax during your treatments. You are asked to fill in a small form stating if you have any illnesses or diseases and once you’re done, you’re led into the spa and fully taken care of. After the treatment, you are offered a glass of water and led back into the lounge feeling fully refreshed. I have to say this was my absolute favourite part of the lounge experience.

After my spa treatment I still had about 30 minutes until boarding began so I treated myself to one of the meals on the menu. After deciding that I couldn’t be bothered to save my appetite for the plane, I opted for the ‘southern fried chicken burger’ – lots of chicken today, I know – and couldn’t have been happier that I did so.

What a burger…

The burger was packed full and served with chips (or fries as it said on the menu), BBQ sauce and pickle slaw, spicy mayonnaise and lettuce inside.

After (partially) destroying the burger and chips, I sat down to sweat off the huge meal I had just almost finished and before long my flight was called and I headed on the 20 minute walk to gate 21 where my Boeing 787 to JFK was boarding Upper Class passengers.

Conclusion

I still can’t decide whether this lounge is more of a hotel, bar, spa, viewing terrace or restaurant but one thing is clear, it has elements of them all.

Just look at those chairs!

The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse has to be one of the best lounges I have ever visited and almost certainly the best LHR lounge (I still haven’t visited the Concorde room but when I do it will be very interesting to compare).

I was very impressed with the level of service, the space, the whacky hanging chairs, the dine-on-demand service, the drinks and above all the ability to relax into a massage chair for 15 minutes while getting a relaxing head massage.

If this doesn’t do it for you, I’m not sure what will!

If flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class isn’t on your bucket list then you’re doing something wrong – flying Upper Class is an incredible experience in itself and being able to come to the Clubhouse beforehand makes it even more special.

Tip: Booking Upper Class

If you want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class then what are your options? Revenue fares can be quite high, especially at peak times of the year, so I advise to use miles and points. If travelling at peak times, Virgin will charge you £371 and 57,500 miles to book this flight. At off peak times, you can get it for as low as 47,500 miles and £371. However, those fuel surcharges are still very high.

The flight is also bookable through Delta SkyMiles who are an American Express partner with a 1:1 transfer ratio which can help to reduce the surcharge.

If however, you don’t have points to spend then revenue is what to go for. I would advise booking through SkyScanner as they have great prices.

Aer Lingus Flagship Dublin Lounge Review

After arriving in Dublin from Southend at around 16:00, I had around 2 hours before boarding began for my connecting flight to Manchester. Unfortunately, although my previous flight was operated by Stobart Air (which uses Terminal 2 under the ‘Aer Lingus Regional’ brand), this flight used the older Terminal 1. Prior to my flight, I had seen conflicting reviews about the terminal transit process in Dublin, but I found the whole experience very smooth.

To connect between terminals, you do have to pass through the Irish Border at passport control. After exiting into the Baggage Reclaim area, simply continue to walk through the hall, following signs for ‘flight connections’. At this point you will take a flight of stairs and arrive at a small passageway into the Terminal 2 Security area. This process seemed almost too simple, but you must have your onward boarding pass with you to use this system.

Whilst Terminal 1 at Dublin airport is claustrophobic, chaotic and in dire need of refurbishment, the relatively new Terminal 2 has a completely different feel. Terminal 2 is where you’ll find Aer Lingus, Etihad and most other long-haul carriers at Dublin – so it has a more premium and modern feel. To access the lounge from the connections security area, I simply turned left and followed a corridor down to the premium lounges at Dublin – these included the Etihad lounge, a generic Dublin Airport lounge (used by a variety of airlines) and the Aer Lingus flagship lounge.

The entrance to the lounge is extremely modest and understated for its size.

Entrance to the Aer Lingus Lounge at Dublin.

After a warm welcome into the lounge, I was met with a surprisingly spacious expanse, with a feature wall paying tribute to important Irish figures, such as the first female President – Mary Robinson. The lounge is full of natural light and, thus, has a fantastic view of the apron for us aviation enthusiasts. iMacs were available for guests’ use – along with a communal desk area –  and there was fast and quick Wi-Fi – something that I value greatly in a lounge. All showers to the lounge are located on the upper mezzanine level (one of the lounge attendants will guide you to an available room, should you want to access the facilities). Whilst I didn’t make use of the shower, this could well be a useful facility.

On the ground floor, the furnishings were tasteful – with a colour scheme of green and warming mahogany, which gave the lounge a homely feel – despite its size. There was a relaxing mezzanine level with an additional mini self-service bar and large seating area – which was completely unoccupied during my time here. The main self-service bar area offered scones, pastries and a selection of hot drinks – whereas the upstairs bar only had a limited offering. The evening’s hot food offering was Beef Goulash – which tasted superb – but I was rather disappointed with the lack of hot food available. I can only suggest that there is a more plentiful food offering at different times of the day.

What really impressed me about the lounge was the amount of power ports available and the positioning. Close to every seat, a power port was available, which is obviously an imperative feature for business travellers.

Although this lounge has big plusses (such as the tranquil and unpretentious atmosphere) and was an inherently positive experience, for a flagship lounge, I wish more food options could be available throughout the day.  Otherwise, I’d have no hesitations using the lounge facility again.


Featured photo courtesy of Aer Lingus

London Southend ‘SkyLife’ Lounge Review

London Southend Airport is one of the easiest airports to traverse in the country, with a promise of under 4 minutes to pass through security. All of this means you have more time to relax in the airport, and the Skylife lounge is the perfect place to do just that.

Whilst the rest of the airport is a relaxing experience to begin with, the Skylife lounge provides a more comfortable environment to wait for your flight. Located immediately after passing Security – on the mezzanine level – above the main departure lounge area, lounge access is not exclusive to business travellers or frequent flyer members. Any passengers flying through the airport are welcome to use the facility; I think that’s a huge selling point for less frequent flyers. You can pre-book entry to the lounge online for £17.95 or take advantage of the walk-in option, which costs £20.95. Special offers are available when combining lounge access with airport parking, and children under 14 enjoy a reduced rate of just £9.95.

My initial impressions of the lounge were very positive. Ambient blue mood lighting created a tranquil atmosphere – there was no lack of seating, with sofas, chairs and stools with desks all available.

The lounge had a distinctively modern feel.

The lounge itself is split into three sections; one by the entrance, which offered stools around one table – striking me as the perfect place for meetings and conferences ‘on the go’ for those travelling on Business. The other two sections were more relaxed, with lots of comfortable seating areas and easy access to the self-service bar. The lounge isn’t particularly spacious, but with the relatively small volume of passengers using the facility, rather than feeling claustrophobic, it felt homely and almost private.

There certainly wasn’t a lack of seating available.

There are lots of power points located around the lounge, in the arms of the chairs, which is essential for most travellers nowadays. In addition, in the seating area overlooking the main airport, adjustable tablet holders were available – perfect for using your iPad or tablet easily. Fast and free Wi-Fi, exclusive to those in the lounge, was also available.

The Skylife lounge provides a great view of the departure area.

Located on the main wall of the lounge, a walk-up self service bar was available. It offered a range of hot beverages, chilled alcoholic drinks, sandwiches, sweet treats and snacks. Unfortunately, it appeared that there was no hot food available in the lounge – so that’s something to bear in mind.

In conclusion, Southend Airport is a great place to be regardless, but the lounge offers more comfort, refreshments, snacks and an all round more relaxing aura. If you have a long layover or some time to spare, kicking back in the lounge and getting your journey off to a smooth and sophisticated start is a great option.


Porto Airport Lounge Review

There is only one lounge at Porto Airport. It is used by all airlines that offer lounge access as an option on their tickets.

I used the lounge on my trip home from Porto to London Gatwick with TAP Portugal. While the lounge may be small (like the airport) it is nicely laid out and cozy. There was no queue to check in so I came through in seconds.

As you enter the lounge you are met with a wide range of reading material to take in with you. Lots was in English which was nice to see.

The lounge is setup in two regions – an indoor and an outdoor. Don’t get too excited however, the outdoor region is only a balcony overlooking the airport terminal.

The outdoor area

As it was dinner time I jumped straight in and went to get something to eat. The selection was an impressive range of hot snacks, cold sandwiches, salads and nibbles such as peanuts and of course – the famous portugese custard tart!

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The drinks selection was also impressive. The drinks on offer included juices, soft drinks, beers, wine and spirits. There was also a coffee machine available to use.

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The lounge has a computer area with a few desktops, a printer and a phone charging area in the corner.

I sat in the outdoor region which had a nice comfy feel and allowed you to have a good view of the airport from where you were sat.

The inside area looks basic but has a nice feel and good comfort

A huge downside of this lounge is that there are no toilets… Yes, no toilets!! To use the loo you have to leave the lounge and use the ones on the opposite side of the corridor. I found that very strange. In all fairness, the toilets were only a minute or so walk but it seemed weird to leave the lounge then have to recheck your boarding pass to head back in.

Overall, Porto Airport’s only lounge is small and pretty quiet. The food and drink on offer are not disappointing and the comfort is good. I had a great experience in this lounge and would recommend it if you are flying TAP as it costs as little as £22.50 to add on!

BA Club Lounge Review – London Gatwick

In January, BA moved from Gatwick’s North Terminal and unveiled a new, hugely updated Club lounge.

This way to check out the new lounge!

The new lounge boasts 40% more floor space than the previous lounge and has huge windows overlooking the airport. I went to check the lounge out on my way to EDI as I was traveling on a Club Europe ticket.

My first impression of the lounge were the colours that instantly met my eyes. The lounge is covered in bright pinks, greys and reds which (somehow) all fit amazingly together. The walls are lavished with artwork which make the lounge feel very homely.

The modern lamps and artwork make the lounge feel very homely

The lounges seating is impressive. Club passengers can sit on sofas, recliner chairs or at tables overlooking the airport. Almost every seat is near a charging port which I thought was a massive bonus for business fliers. Talking of business fliers, the lounge has a computer room equipped with printer and a dozen or so monitors.

The lounge is laid out with an upstairs and a downstairs region. The downstairs area is much larger but also a lot busier. I sat in the upstairs region and loved the peace and quiet I got. The area has access to a private coffee machine, bottled water and a tray of fruit.

The upstairs fruit selection

The middle area of the lounge is where the food and drink are laid out. I was told that I arrived just too late for sandwiches but that salad service was just beginning. This was a shame as I quite fancied something chunky to eat. Oh well, I ate the salads which were nice but nothing to brag about with the quiche that was on offer. I also took full advantage of the cake and crisps on offer.

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In terms of drink the selection included soft drinks, water, beer, wine, spirits, tea and coffee. The usual.

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The lounge has a wide range of reading material and a kids area fitted with table football for the fun children, toys for the younger children and games consoles for the modern children!

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The toilets were neat and clean and equipped with showers.

Overall, I was really impressed with BA’s new Gatwick Lounge and I really look forward to using it more in the future. Well done BA.

You can read my review of the Business Class flight here.

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Alitalia Lounge Review – New York JFK

When you fly on a Norwegian Premium ticket, lounge access at selected airports is included in the fare. Norwegian used to make use of Korean Air’s lounge in JFK’s Terminal One but switched to Alitalia’s lounge quite recently.

 

 

The lounges layout is basic and when looked at through a critical eye – boring. The lounge is filled with lines of sofas and coffee tables with one small work area in the corner of the room. While the layout may be a little poor, the view onto the taxiways and runways is great, especially during sunset! The decoration inside the lounge was, however, quite disappointing. One of the largest annoyances was the television. For the duration of my visit, it was booming an Italian cartoon show. Even after about 10 minutes this became extremely annoying.

The food offering was very disappointing with no hot food on offer and only a small selection of salads and sandwiches to choose from in the fridge alongside a tray of small cheese.The sandwiches tasted very dry and I ended up going to buy some hot food from the Terminal shops to kill my hunger. The snack option was a little more appetizing and there was a wide range of bread sticks, crisps and biscuits to nibble on.

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While the food offering wasn’t very impressive, the drinks on offer almost made up for it. There was a range of beer, self-service spirits, sparkling wines and champagne. The soft drinks included Coke, Perrier and all of the other fizzy drinks you’d expect to find. Alongside this was a coffee machine.

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The WiFi in the lounge was terrible. I could barely load an Instagram story and struggled ti do any work as most of my writing was web-based. This was a massive shame as you had to purchase the airport’s WiFi which seemed to work a lot faster.

The toilets were clean and smart but there were no showers available.

 

Overall, the Alitalia lounge at JFK’s Terminal One is nothing they should be proud of. With a very boring design and lack of food to keep the passengers full, Alitalia look to have fallen pray to paying for a contract lounge. This is very disappointing seeing as New York is probably one of Alitalia’s biggest business routes.