Belfast International Airport lounge ranked joint third worst in the UK
The passenger lounge at Belfast International Airport has been named the joint third worst out of 21 pay-as-you-go facilities in the UK.
Inspectors from Which?, the brand name used by the Consumers' Association, ranked the Causeway Lounge at the Belfast International poorly because of its lack of shower facilities, made-to-order dishes, sparkling wine or champagne, spa facilities and fast-track premium security.
Passengers pay £27.50 to use the lounge at the airport.
The airport has also received sustained criticism over security delays. The airport is to increase the number of security lanes from six to eight by Easter.
Belfast International Airport has been approached for comment on the ranking of its lounge.
A Which? Inspector was less than impressed with what the airport's lounge had to offer.
"We were particularly looking forward to the 'sumptuous buffet', imagining all sorts of treats that might be available," the Inspector said.
"What we found was that the buffet's ‘hot selection’ was just a single soup: sweet potato and butternut that was bland. This was accompanied by a pair of poor quality wraps. Sparkling wine and champagne wasn't included and there was a drinks limit.
"The wifi was the standard free wifi for the airport, rather than a dedicated or faster service for lounge guests."
The experience was not all bad for the Inspector.
"Staff were friendly and the lounge was spacious and a welcome break from a very hectic airport but very expensive for what you actually get," the Inpsector said.
"I’d expect the fee to contribute to a much higher quality of food. You could get the same at Pret for a quarter of the price."
Belfast International was ranked jointly with London Luton's Aspire- which offered "congealed eggs" and "stale bread rolls" and London Heathrow Terminal 5 Aspire.
London Southend Airport's Skylife lounge had no hot food, no runway view and no sparkling wine, earning the facility just one star out of five.
Reviews described the lounge as having "stained carpets" which were "dusted with crumbs", while the food offering was a "sad-looking buffet" of "unripe bananas" and "pastries cut into halves".
Access to the lounge costs nearly £20 when booked in advance or £24 for those paying on the day.
The airport's website claims the lounge is "smart and sophisticated", urging passengers to "start your journey in real style".
Edinburgh's Aspire lounge received the second worst score with just one-and-a-half stars.
Although the facility did include a hot food menu, an inspector described a salad as having "a past-its-best tang" while a pasta dish "looked like cat food".
Complimentary sparkling wines and a la carte dishes helped London Heathrow Terminal 3 No 1 lounge share first place.
It was described by inspectors as the best-equipped facility, boasting a cinema, free showers, private sleep pods and hot food options made to order.
Also sharing the top spot were the Manchester Terminal 3 1903 and London Heathrow Terminal 4 The House lounges.
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: "Battling through security queues and the maze that has become 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? reviewed 21 pay-as-you-go lounges at nine UK airports between September and December 2018.
Belfast Telegraph Digital