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Review: the Aspire Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 1

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This is our review of the Aspire Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 1.

All of all our UK airport lounge reviews are here and there is a summary list on our ‘Favourites’ page. If you visiting a UK lounge we haven’t covered yet (Humberside anyone?) and would like to write a review in return for a small reward, please let us know.

Reader Sam kindly sent us a review of the Aspire Lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 1.   Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

“Visiting the Aspire lounge at Manchester Airport Terminal 1 was a new experience.  Having used Aspire lounges at other UK airports before, I knew what to expect, and had an idea in my head what to compare it to.

The lounge opens at 4 AM, and since I had an early Monday morning flight, I arrived at about 4:20 AM and left at about 5:40 AM.

As it turned out, the lounge was a little busier than I expected but not completely packed.

Getting to the lounge

The Aspire lounge can easily be found past security and the obligatory walk through the duty-free shops.

Along with all the other T1 lounges the Aspire lounge is on the second floor at the end of the corridor by Dixons. You can access the lounge using stairs or a lift.

Aspire Lounge T1 Manchester Airport Review 2

The lounge

Upon entering the lounge a collection of newspapers and magazines can be found on the left-hand side. They were not out yet when I arrived at 4:20 AM but they were made available about half an hour later.

Aspire Lounge T1 Manchester Airport Review 3

The lounge is quite spacious with a long rectangular shape. There is a full size glass front on one side which offers a great view onto the tarmac at Manchester airport – and the obligatory rain.

Aspire Lounge T1 Manchester Airport Review 4

The lounge was reasonably well provisioned with power outlets, including USB chargers, as well as some European two-prong power outlets.

Aspire Lounge T1 Manchester Airport Review 5

The Aspire lounge has plenty of comfortable seating in the lounge with several booths at the back and some nice bar style seating overlooking the tarmac.

Aspire Lounge T1 Manchester Airport Review 8

Surprisingly for the early hour, there were quite a few people in the lounge and it got progressively busier as time went by.

When entering the lounge, the first thing you encounter on the right is the staffed bar area, serving beers and spirits as well as self-service tea, coffee, various fruit juices, and soft drinks.

Aspire Lounge T1 Manchester Airport Review 6

The food area is on the left side in front of the bar. This early, the usual collection of breakfast items was on display, including various cereals, jams, and fruits. Next to the cereals were bread, croissant, butter, and the cutlery counter.

Aspire Lounge T1 Manchester Airport Review 7

There was also a hot food section with a selection of bacon and scrambled eggs.

Having left the hotel before the start of the breakfast service, I opted for a bacon sandwich, which overall was very nice, although the bacon was far thinner cut than I am used to!


The only real issue with the Aspire lounge at Manchester T1 is the lack of basic facilities: toilets. You have to exit the lounge to use the toilets that are directly opposite. The toilets are relatively small and can only accommodate 2-3 people at any one time. This is the case for both the male and female toilets as both myself and my wife found out. Having to leave and come back can be a pain, especially when the lounge entry is busy and you may have to check back into the lounge.

Although I visited the lounge soon after its opening early in the morning, it was already getting quite busy. When you consider that this lounge is a member of various lounge programmes – as well as being contracted to Lufthansa, Swiss, TAP Portugal, and being open to Star Alliance Gold Status holders – my guess is that it gets really packed at peak times.

Despite my early visit, the overall experience was pretty good. While it is not one of the best lounges in the UK, it is spacious, offers a good service, and the staff are very pleasant and professional. Thanks to fast internet speeds, it is a great place to catch up on some work for a couple of hours before taking your flight.”

Thanks Sam.  You can access the Aspire lounge using a Priority Pass (free with Amex Platinum or you can buy one here) or Lounge Club card (two free visits with Amex Gold) or LoungeKey if you are a MasterCard World Elite holder.

You can book for cash via the Lounge Pass website here.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (January 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 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes 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 (12)

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

  • Kingy says:

    Congratulations on getting Bacon…maybe your early visit explains that.
    I had several visits when on Lufthansa Business flights and there’s usually a queue of complaining guests who have paid for that dream start to their holidays and they can’t get any hot food.
    The Lounge is a good size but generally poor IMO.

  • GB74 says:

    Sort of on/off topic – I used the MAN T2 Aspire lounge 3 weeks ago – around 10am on the Friday morning with my wife and daughter on our way out to Bali. Both PP lounges had signs outside advising no walk ups with PP, Dragonpass, etc.

    Naturally ignored these and walked up anyway – Escape weren’t prepared to budge. Aspire proceeded to tell us that they were full (despite it clearly being four fifths empty), but relented and allowed us access. Apparently they presell reservations although these aren’t available to the usual card holders. We were in there a good hour (long enough for the 2 VS Orlando 747’s to have filled the lounge if they were going to) and it was no busier when we left than when we arrived. Needless to say had no issue using PP in SIN, DPS or HKG, and more surprisingly no issue using it in a far busier LHR T5 Aspire on Sunday at 7am.

    Obviously their choice on how they run their business, but apparent that T2 at least is of the opinion that they can get far more for their seats from sources other than PP and Dragonpass – had the lounge been only three fifths empty presumably we wouldn’t have got in. Might be worth being aware of if you are planning to pay for one of these cards with the intention of flying regularly out of Manchester.

  • Alistair Todd says:

    The Aspire and Escape lounges at MAN in all terminals are fine if you’re there early, but most times I’ve been after about 10am they claim to be full and reject Priority Pass customers. Happens nearly every time.

    It should be called Low Priority Pass.

    PS the food, especially the breakfast sandwiches, in the Escape lounge is better.

  • czechoslovakia says:

    Gave up on Priority Pass here. Not once in the last 12 months (18 visits or so) could you get in. I usually arrive around 11am on Saturdays or Sundays. No problem with LH C ticket though.

  • Barry says:

    I’ve used this lounge weekly via an Institute of Directors card for an 8am EW flight and never had any problems with entry or getting food. The lack of toilets is an issue though. Staff are very friendly though (although maybe helps I’m a regular) and when entering for a 10am leisure flight on Monday was allowed in with the IOD card and a aspire loyalty card despite the signs saying it was full.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    I can’t remember if it was Escape or Aspire, but last time I visited both were full although one had an overflow room that I was directed to as a PP holder. Got a decent sausage sandwich brought to the table and a coffee. Had to leave for the toilet also, but better than nothing.

  • MikeS says:

    I was there on Wednesday and could not get in with PP due to pre-bookings, even though it didn’t look that busy to me so managed to get into the Escape lounge, food tends to be better in Escape – but Aspire have nicer and more comfortable seats. One thing that’s really irritating are the tiny plates they use in Aspire for food, plus the “Quiet zone” which is never quiet…. other than that not a bad lounge.
    I also tried to get into Aspire in T2 in June with 8 family members but they weren’t having it even though it was completely empty but we managed to get into the Escape fine although not the new Escape lounge, the older one – personally think they didnt want 4 kids running around the lounge!

  • Anna says:

    OT but lounge-related, I am going to Hamburg at the end of November and am wondering if the lounge there is worth using my 2 free Amex Gold passes for? Otherwise we’d use them while waiting for our connection at Heathrow T5, which would give the better experience?

    • Rob says:

      The Hamburg lounge is very average – it is open to the terminal, on the mezzanine. Half decent salad bar is about the extent of the food selection. Perfectly functionable but not exciting. That said, the Aspire lounge in T5 is poor.

      However ….. the Plaza Premium T5 lounge is opening in early October (they told me yesterday) so that is the wild card. Hopefully we can get to see it very early on.

      • Alan says:

        Just back from the Hamburg one this evening – used my 2xPP to sign in two colleagues. Both were actually quite impressed with it. Spacious and comfy seating, decent number of power points. Sunny with good views of the planes. Decent salad selection, also a machine with surprisingly tasty soup (option of tomato, mushroom and asparagus), sausages (naturally!) and a fridge full of fairly decent bottled beer along with spirits, soft drinks, coffee machines. Two areas open for food (one more extensive than the other). Table football table and some PCs too. WiFi speed OK.

        Overall we enjoyed it, not the best by any means but fairly solid. Terminal was rammed so it was a welcome relief.

        In AMS had yet another KB, from the Aspire this time. Tried 20 min later and got in. Nice decor, fair selection of hot/cold snacks and a Heineken tap to pour your own – helped having a slightly delayed flight!

    • HAM76 says:

      Depends on what you expect…. I’d say it’s comparable to the BA lounge in TXL, STR, SEA, or PHX, nicer than the Aspire Arrival lounge in T2… You have the usual set of spirits and alcoholic beverages, two coffee machines, a soda dispatcher… Food depends on the time of the day. There is a soup machine, and at starting at lunchtime the usual German lounge food (sausages, potato and noodle salat, pretzels). In the morning you get a small continental breakfast buffet. At all times the are little snacks such as fruit, sweets, nuts, cookies, etc. They have a fridge with two kind of beers. There are international newspapers, computers, wifi, showers, washrooms in the lounge…. You don’t get the hot food you have in most Aspire lounges or in the BA lounges in LHR. The selection of wines is severly limited (it’s white or red).

      If you don’t want to spend the time in the lounge…. the level below the lounge has a nice observation deck with lounge chairs and several self serving restaurants. If you seek good food that you don’t mind paying for and a bit of of time for yourself with a good view of the tarmac, that might be the better option. It’s usually empty there as most people either wait at the gate or are sitting in the lounges.

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