Courtesy of Which? consumer group and magazine and their annual survey, conducted by their undercover inspectors across 21 airport lounges in the UK.

Pay-as-you-go lounges include providers such as Aspire, Plaza Premium, No.1 amongst others and the typical fees (which can be cheaper if booked in advance) vary by airport from £20 to £50 per person to access the facilities.

The facilities were scored along with other criteria such as toilets; runway view; spa facilities; made-to-order dishes; and whether it included fast track security access as part of the fee. The lounges were then scored out of 5.

The Which? score:

1 = A sub-standard lounge we think is well below average;

2 = An adequate lounge with room for improvement;

3 = A solid lounge that meets expectations;

4 = An excellent lounge, above average;

5 = An exceptional lounge – among the best.

Unfortunately the Skylife lounge at Southend Airport has been ranked the worst out of all 21 pay-as-you-go lounges surveyed in the UK for the 2nd year running, with a score of 1.

The best and worst are revealed on the table below for 2019. For the full list from Which? – click here for a link (may require subscription for full access).

In contrast to Southend Airport’s Skylife Lounge, the top spot for 2019 was shared between Manchester’s 1903 lounge (pictured below) and two of Heathrow’s offerings – Terminal 3’s No1 and The House at Terminal 4, all of them had a score of 4.

“Battling through security queues and duty-free can be such an ordeal – it’s no wonder that the promise of an oasis of calm in a pay-to-enter lounge is so appealing. But with lounges charging up to £50 for what might amount to little more than a seat on a stained sofa and a soggy pastry, passengers might be better off saving their cash to treat themselves once they reach their destination.” Which? Travel editor Rory Boland

Last year’s survey by Which? can be found by clicking here for the link.

This is how Which? describes the joint top winners:

“Joint winner No1 at Heathrow’s T3 (pictured below) impressed with its private sleep pods (from £20 extra per hour), cinema and spa. Plush showers also come equipped with towels, toiletries and hairdryers.

The 1903 at Manchester’s T3 was equally comfortable, with a good selection of wines – accompanied by tasting notes – and cheese plates courtesy of the world’s oldest cheddar makers.

Heathrow’s The House at T4, which was Etihad’s lounge until October last year, also left a positive impression – with its full waiter service and restaurant-quality a la carte dining. But entry starts at £40, making it one of the priciest lounges we visited.

It is part of the No1 group, which consistently outperformed rival Aspire – despite the latter undergoing some major refurbishments last year.”

How to save on airport lounge entry by Which?

If you are considering booking into an airport lounge, there is no reason to pay full price.

  1. Always book in advance. It costs £40 to enter No1 Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 if you pay on the door. It’s just £32 when booked online ahead of time.
  2. Shop around. Holiday sites such as Holiday Extras or Lounge Pass offer discounts. We saved 10% on entry to Gatwick’s Clubrooms by using a comparison website.
  3. Membership schemes, such as Priority Pass, can make access cheaper if you plan to use lounges a lot. Priority Pass offers entry to more than 1,000 lounges around the world, but at £259 annually you’ll need to use it more than once a month to make your money back.
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