For our flight home from London, we booked a non-stop on Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick Airport to Orlando. After taking the Thameslink train from St. Pancras station, we arrived at the Gatwick South Terminal. Since we were departing from the North Terminal, we had to take the train between the two terminals, which only took a few extra minutes.
After checking in at the Virgin Atlantic Premium class desk, we went through security and entered the main North terminal area. I did a quick search and found that with Priority Pass we had access to three lounges in the Gatwick North Terminal. The No1 Lounge looked nice so we headed there. Since all the lounges are in the same area, we could have left and headed to a different one if it wasn’t nice or if it was full. We arrived at the lounge at 11:15 AM and our flight was leaving at 1PM so we wouldn’t have a ton of time to sit around anyway.
The No1 Lounge is the contract lounge for premium passengers for many airlines departing from the North Terminal. It’s a member of Priority Pass, as well as many other lounge networks. If you want to buy entry, you can do so from £32 online or £40 at the door.
The No1 Lounge is located at the end of the hall past the MyLounge (which is also a Priority Pass member). The check-in desk is to the right.
There was no problem getting in at 11:15 on a Friday morning but I’m told this club often blocks Priority Pass members due to overcrowding. However, you can now pay a £5 fee in advance to guarantee access to the club.
We were directed to the left down a long hallway:
Which led directly to the bar:
Drinks from the bar were complimentary, which included a Brut and rose sparkling wine. Champagne is available for an additional charge.
As you can see, the club wasn’t crowded but by no means was it empty. We soon discovered that the club was pretty massive in size, consisting of many different rooms. Directly behind the bar area was the food spread and when we arrived, breakfast was being served. There were items for a British breakfast in the warming trays next to the multiple coffee machines. We thought the food looked OK but we only grabbed a danish, as we were saving room to eat our meals on the plane.
I didn’t realize the dining area behind the buffet included a sit-down menu, as I thought it was just a place to eat your self serve meals.
We made ourselves comfortable in a back room, which was a bit quieter than the bustle of the main area, but still felt open due to the large windows that stretched the entire length of the club.
It was right about then when my phone started to get notifications from TripIt. First it was a one hour delay, followed in twenty minutes by an additional hour delay. The two-hour delay went back to a one hour delay around the same time I received a notification that the plane we were to be on had landed. I pulled up FlightAware and saw a very interesting route for Virgin Atlantic.
By this time, every source was showing a different departure time so I wanted to know when we were leaving. I used one of my tricks and headed to the airline lounge to ask one of the representatives. Not our lounge, which wouldn’t know anything, but the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse located one level up from where we were. I took the lift and entered the Clubhouse, which looks amazing. I politely asked her that even though I was only flying in Premium and had no lounge access, if she would explain when we would be leaving. I was told that our original plane had suffered a bird strike upon landing and was delayed but they flew in a replacement plane for us and we’d be leaving with only the hour delay. We should continue to look at the airport board to see when the plane will begin boarding. I thanked her and caught one last glimpse of the Virgin lounge before heading back downstairs.
Since we were now spending more time at the lounge than planned, we got to see breakfast removed and replaced with lunch items, which people descended upon before they could put down the plates. The lounge was also starting to get a bit more crowded.
When we saw our flight get a gate listed, we headed from the lounge and walked across the North Terminal to gate 571, which took at least 10 minutes when walking at a leisurely pace. As we arrived, boarding hadn’t begun but it was only a few minutes before Upper Class, Premium Class and those who needed to preboard were offered to get on the plane.
I remember the last time we used an airport lounge at Gatwick, several years ago. Our experience consisted of us walking down a dimly lit hallway and entering a crowded room with no windows and a few couches and chairs. We were able to order one breakfast item, which was my first try of a bacon butty (Silly me, I was expecting something different from ham on a roll). For this reason, I wasn’t expecting much from the Gatwick lounges and I was pleasantly surprised with the No1 Lounge, particularly when you compare it to our experience at the JFK Wingtips lounge on our departing flight.
I’m still not going to plan to get to the airport extra early so I can go to a lounge. However, since we’re usually extra early anyway out of a fear of being late, having access to a nice lounge like this one makes the waiting, or extra waiting in this case, more tolerable, or even enjoyable.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary