This is a review of the ASPIRE Lounge Birmingham Airport. We had the pleasure of visiting this lounge for the first time in February 2018 before our flight to Thailand.
ASPIRE is one of the leading European airport lounge brands and works in conjunction with Swissport. We’ve previously reviewed the lounge at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.
There are two airport lounges within Birmingham Airport. They are; The No1 Lounge and ASPIRE Lounge. Both of these airport lounges are located in the centre of the departures lounge.
The ASPIRE lounge Birmingham Airport is located just off the centre circle (after the duty-free) by Gates 1 – 20. The lounge is well signposted and we had no issues finding it.
We originally tried to get into the No1 Birmingham Airport Lounge having done some research online this seemed like the better lounge of the two.
However, upon arriving (6.30 am on Wednesday) we were told that the lounge was fully booked.
So, we crossed our fingers and headed across the haul round to the ASPIRE lounge.
In contrast, this lounge was only at around 10% of capacity at our time of entering it did become full at around 9 am. The majority of this seemed to be a TUI cruise as once their gate was announced we were just about the only ones left.
We had no issues using our Priority Pass and gaining access to this particular Birmingham airport lounge.
You can also gain access to the lounge by arriving and paying on the door, we suggest to book ahead to save time, money and worrying about getting a place.
The ASPIRE Lounge Birmingham is separated into three sections. The section at the far hand side of the lounge is home to three booths with access to a small TV fixed to the wall.
From there you have a small selection of couples seats with a number of bar seats facing the wall. Ideal if you?re looking to get some work done.
Moving into the middle section of the ASPIRE Lounge Birmingham Airport you’ll find the bar and self-service food area on the left-hand side.
Adjacent you’ll find additional bar stools with roundtables on the right-hand side with a small view out onto a section of the runway.
The section of the lounge nearest to the reception and lounge entrance is split into two. There’s a slightly more secluded area.
This is cordoned off from the remainder of the lounge by glass and ideal for small business meetings or to take calls. Outside of the glassed area but also by the reception area there is a small handful of seats and tables designed for parties of 2 and 4.
The ASPIRE Lounge Birmingham benefits from having a direct view of the taxiway and part of the runway. However, in my opinion, this has not been utilised in the slightest.
There’s a restrictive film on the majority of the windows obscuring the view and the window is only a half window (I’ve since been informed by ASPIRE that this is to prevent sun glare)
Considering the departure lounge within Birmingham Airport has very little in the forms of views out onto the taxiway or runway of the airport until you are at your gate. I believe this could be heavily improved on and a great selling point to future guests of the lounge.
The seating within the ASPIRE Lounge Birmingham was relatively modern, clean and functional. Even when the lounge reached maximum capacity there was still some ability to move to one of the different seating arrangements should you wish to do so.
Food & Drink
As our flight was a morning flight we had access to the breakfast selection within the Birmingham Airport Lounge ASPIRE. Breakfast is served from 4.30 am until 11.00 am and is self-serve as is the rest of the bar.
The breakfast selection was made up of;
A small selection of major branded cereals
A number of small yoghurt pots
A couple of different pastries
Some mixed fruit
As well as a hot breakfast with; scrambled eggs, beans, bacon and sausages.
There were also bread buns if you wanted to make a breakfast sandwich
Something that did strike me was that there was no access to toast or a toaster. This simple addition could go a long way to providing more flexibility to the foods on offer.
The bar had a small selection of spirits, with beers and wines in the fridges below. There was also a small selection of soft drinks from the dispenser.
I was disappointed in this having previously received glass-bottled fizzy drinks in other airport lounges around the world.
There were little to no facilities within the ASPIRE Lounge Birmingham Airport. Even the toilets required you to leave the lounge and head over and down past the No1 Lounge. I found this to be highly inconvenient.
While the ASPIRE Lounge Birmingham boasts free WIFI it was painfully slow. On more than one occasion I found myself and others in the lounge tapping impatiently waiting for web pages to load.
Downloads, uploads or streaming of any kind was pretty much impossible. I did temporarily try and switch to the Birmingham Airport WIFI, however, I found that this was just as bad.
A small investment into faster internet here has the potential to go a long way in improving the ASPIRE lounge service.
Being a self-service lounge the interaction with the staff at the ASPIRE Lounge Birmingham Airport was minimal. However, on all occasions, the staff were friendly, polite and courteous.
From what I could see of the No1 Airport Lounge at Birmingham Airport while trying to access and while passing to visit the bathroom it looked more professional and modern.
Neither Helen nor I were happy enough with our experience at the ASPIRE lounge within Birmingham Airport to not try and visit the No1 lounge during our next visit.
In conclusion, small investments into infrastructure such as toilets, faster WIFI and bottled drinks would go a long way to bringing this particular airport lounge up to par with the others we’ve had the pleasure of visiting around the world.