19 May 2011 by Luke McCormick
Each week Luke McCormick, Wexas Channel Editor, provides an inside look at the latest headlines and gives his independent, expert comment.
This week: Lounging around
No1 Traveller this week opened a new lounge in Gatwick's North Terminal, the fourth in a growing portfolio and a reflection of the interest in pay-per-entry lounges.
Located in the former British Airways first floor lounge in the north terminal (the flag carrier maintains the second floor), the almost 10,000 ft2 space has been refitted in clean, contemporary style.
The main floor area resembles a modern cafe overlooking the apron and runway. It's tucked away from the bustle of the airside waiting area and it would be easy to forget you were even in an airport, were it not for the assortment of jets circulating before your eyes.
The lounge also features a spa, hair salon, cinema room (complete with popcorn), pool table, games room and a business centre with private meeting rooms. No 1 Traveller's Gatwick North launch customer is Delta Airlines. The second Gatwick lounge was opened after the success of the company's No1 Traveller Gatwick South venture.
The company also has a two lounges at Stansted and plans to open at Heathrow Terminal 3 in August 2011. That lounge is expected to become the group's flagship outlet, featuring a main lounge, bedrooms and travel spa.
The launch comes as Gatwick has made clear its intention to become London's favourite airport, aiming to poach passengers, and even staff, from Heathrow. Since Heathrow's owner BAA was forced to sell Gatwick in 2009, the now fully privatised enterprise has embarked on a self-improvement program to ‘transform the airport' and is investing £1 billion in upgrade work.
Works include a £45m terminal-shuttle upgrade, £53m for upgrades to the train station and surrounding rail track, improvements to the South Terminal departure lounge, entrance forecourts, immigration hall, baggage systems and the North Terminal interchange.
Gatwick's chief executive officer, Stewart Wingate, told The Sunday Times: "Now that Gatwick is under separate ownership, we are free to compete to become London's airport of choice."
"Average security queue times were less than two minutes in 2010, and passengers are welcomed by staff who know the importance of good customer service."
Gatwick, the world's busiest single runway airport, is currently the UK's second busiest airport after Heathrow, handling roughly 34m passengers a year.
80 airlines already serve more than 200 destinations from Gatwick and an increasing number of carriers are moving there. British Airways is adding more direct services, such as Mauritius and Malaga flights, Easyjet as launched 18 new routes and Norwegian Air Shuttle has moved its entire operation from Stansted.
Wexas members can access No1 Traveller lounges at Gatwick, Stansted, and from August, Heathrow when making a booking.*
If you're not yet a member, take advantge of a free three-month trial membership.
*Terms & conditions apply.