Taking on average 10-15 flights a year over the past 10 years or so, I have never stepped foot in an airport lounge. ‘What?!’ I can hear many of you audibly gasp. Yep, I’ve made it to the ripe age of 33 without ever experiencing the luxury offered by them. I always considered it an unnecessary additional cost that, in reality, I didn’t want to pay for. That was, until last week when I had the pleasure of experiencing the Aspire Executive Lounge at Birmingham Airport before our flight to Madrid.
Checked in and with our Duty Free haul bought, we headed through to departures in the main area, where, at 11.30am on a Sunday morning, you couldn’t get a seat for love nor money. The noise was insane – people were literally shouting at each other to be heard, and the heat was close to being unbearable. Clutching a print-out of our reservation to the Aspire Lounge, I felt like I was Charlie Bucket with the golden winning ticket to Willy Wonkas Chocolate Factory. We were warmly welcomed, told to make ourselves at home, and even told what gate number we needed to head to 10-15 minutes before boarding was due. Guess what – seats galore, no-one shouting, and air-con! I grabbed a table as I sent Mr ESLT on a fact-finding mission – to hunt down what food and drink was available!
Not only did he come back with the information, but with two vodka & cokes too (good on you Mr ESLT). Even though it was not yet lunch time, it did not stop me enjoying the ice-cold delight – it was, after all, the start of our holiday! Plus, as a nervous flier, I always find a couple of shots of the hard stuff make the journey easier. With spirits, beers, wines and soft drinks aplenty, I’m sure anyone could find their tipple of choice here. Also, as it’s self-service, you can help yourselves to as many as you like – just remember to be sensible! Everyone likes a drink, but no-one likes a drunk, especially not on an airplane!
Our rumbling stomachs indicated it was lunch time, so we headed to see what food was available. We were pleasantly surprised to find not only cold options, including sandwiches, crisps, nuts and fruits, but also vegetable pasta, as well as warm scones and pastries. We helped ourselves to a big bowl of pasta each, which was lovely. It was too hard to resist going back for something else, although I did manage it for an hour before I went back for a couple of sandwiches. If you have no will power when it comes to food, be warned 🙂
I imagined everyone would be suited and booted in the lounge, but I was so wrong! Yes, there were business people there, smartly dressed and hacking away at their laptops in the quiet area, but there were also couples and groups of friends, dressed far more casually. There is a dress code which is simply no football shirts, so adhere to that rule and you’ll get in no problem.
I personally loved that there were power sockets dotted around, as my phone battery drains quicker than a kitchen sink! So being able to give it a boost of juice was very welcome – gotta keep an eye on Twitter at all times, after all!
You can spend 3 hours in the lounge eating, drinking and relaxing to your heart’s content, which makes the entrance fee unbelievable value for money. We had four drinks each, lots of yummy food, and 3 hours of uninterrupted peace. In fact, on more than one occasion I forgot I was actually in an airport. We totalled up how much we normally spend on food and drinks before a flight, and the difference was pennies. Yet in the lounge you don’t have to battle for a seat or wait in horrendous queues, panicking that the food you’ve ordered isn’t going to come in time for you to board your flight.
I loved the experience, and it’s one that I want to repeat very soon!
- Our experience on this occasion was complimentary. However, we would happily pay in the future, it was the perfect start to our trip!