Welcoming everybody from international business class passengers through to Qantas frequent flyers, credit card holders, members of independent lounge programs like Priority Pass, paying guests and even selected Gatwick Express rail customers, the No1 Lounge at London Gatwick's South Terminal is a 'one size fits all' approach to the pre-flight experience.
Australian Business Traveller stopped by before a recent flight from Gatwick to bring you this review.
Location & Impressions
Located after security, the No1 Lounge at Gatwick South Terminal can be found on the upper level of the main departure concourse: look for a corridor near Dixons and JD Sports if you can't spot the entrance.
After being scanned in, you'll turn right – not left, where there's a separate Clubrooms lounge operated by the same company which shares the same entrance – and once inside the No1 Lounge, you'll find a mostly rectangular space with tarmac-facing windows and airport views:
The lounge opens from 4am until 10pm daily.
The following passengers can access this lounge when departing from Gatwick Airport's South Terminal on domestic and international flights:
- Priority Pass, Dragonpass, Lounge Club and Lounge Key members when travelling with any airline, in line with their normal membership plan.
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members flying with Oneworld member Iberia.
- First class and business class passengers, plus eligible frequent flyers, when travelling with an airline that uses this as its 'home' lounge, including SkyTeam member China Airlines; Star Alliance members Croatia Airlines, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal and Turkish Airlines; Oneworld member Iberia; and also Aer Lingus, among others.
- Diners Club cardholders flying with any airline, including Australian cardholders with the Qantas or Diners Club Rewards-earning cards issued directly by Diners Club, but excluding the new Citibank Linked Diners Club Card.
- Gatwick Express first class rail passengers who have purchased a return first class train ticket between Gatwick Airport and Victoria stations via the Gatwick Express website (confirmation email required for entry: excludes Day Return, Group Return and Carnet first class fares; passengers travelling on two one-way first class tickets; and passengers who buy tickets in person or use Oyster/contactless).
- Institute of Directors members based in the UK or EU, flying with any airline.
- All other passengers travelling with any airline from Gatwick's South Terminal at a cost of £32 (A$57.95) for travellers aged 12 and over when pre-booked online (discounted to £18 for kids aged 2-11), or £40 (A$72.50) when paid at the door for adults and children 12+ years (£20 for kids 2-11, infants are free).
Under Oneworld rules, business class passengers and Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire cardholders travelling with Iberia also have the option of the British Airways lounges in this terminal, including the first class lounge for Oneworld Emerald (Qantas Platinum) members.
However, the No1 lounge can get particularly busy at times, so when it's nearing capacity, priority is given to passengers of the airlines (first and business class travellers and elite frequent flyers) and those who have paid the lounge for access, rather than members of independent lounge programs.
For this reason, Priority Pass cardholders are given the option of securing their place for a fee of £5 per person, paid online directly to the lounge operator, in addition to any access charges incurred through their Priority Pass membership – that's not ideal, but if you choose not to pay and find the lounge full, your Priority Pass card can instead be used at Grain Store Cafe & Bar in the same terminal, where one 'lounge visit' provides £15 off the dining bill.
Priority Pass advises that the lounge is typically busiest between 6:30am and 10:30am, where you're the most likely to be denied entry if you don't have a pre-booking.
Finally, keep in mind that if you're flying from North Terminal at Gatwick, you won't be able to access this particular lounge, although there's a separate No1 Lounge in North Terminal which adopts similar access rules.
Regardless of how you enter the lounge, you'll receive a menu at reception, because here, there's à la carte dining – yes, even if you're just stopping by before a short European flight with your Priority Pass card!
Sounds too good to be true? Here's the catch – each passenger can only order one dish from the menu during their visit, and that menu is collected when the order is placed, so the staff know which travellers have already eaten.
I stopped by around dinnertime before a mid-evening China Airlines flight from London Gatwick to Taipei, so opted for the fish finger wrap. It tasted fine but was on the smaller side, so I was done in a just few bites.
If you'd like to order another dish, you'll need to pay £4 (A$7.25) – although a guest near me was making only a quick visit, decided they weren't eating and kindly passed their unwanted menu to me, so I took the chance to try the cheese plate also.
The "seasonal fruit chutney" promised on the menu was absent on the plate, replaced by an unwanted portion of butter, and while it was a nice light dessert that still left room for an evening meal on the 14-hour flight ahead, I'd not award any extra marks for presentation:
Although the lounge was quite busy, it was easy to find a spare table in the central dining area...
... and there's a small buffet zone nearby if you want anything else – but beyond a little soup, salad....
... fruit and nibbles, there's nothing else here, so choose your main course wisely!
Things are less grim on the beverage front, with self-serve tea and machine-made espresso coffee...
... along with a tended bar where most drinks are complimentary and 'unlimited', within reason, except for Champagne which is chargeable:
I went for a simple Baileys on the rocks, and recognising that Irish cream liqueur is around half as strong as a typical spirit like Vodka, was pleased that the bartender poured liberally rather than measuring out a mere 30mL serve (equating to just half a 'standard drink'), as is unfortunately common in many Australian venues.
Staff here were friendly despite being under the pump, and although the bar was busy as food orders are placed here also, service was prompt.
While you can easily open a laptop anywhere in the lounge, there are a couple of places better-suited to more intense work, such as these desks over by the windows which afford some nice views...
... or for a little more peace and quiet, see if you can snag this solo desk nearby:
Closer to the lounge entrance, you'll also find a couple of computers...
... with WiFi available throughout the space – my tests measured average download speeds of 21Mbps and average uploads of 34Mbps, which is sufficient for most tasks.
There are certainly some power points located throughout the lounge (UK-style, so keep your adaptor handy), but they're not accessible from every seat: and given how full the lounge can be, it'd be great to see more of these, particularly for travellers who may have no choice but to sit where power isn't available.
Being one of the world's busiest single-runway airports, it's a good thing that boarding calls aren't made here, making it easier to relax until it's time to head to your gate – just allow plenty of time, as some gates can be a 10-minute walk.
A range of comfy seats line the windows...
... but there's plenty to choose from, including booths away from the main dining area for a little extra space and privacy, while still enjoying a snack...
... along with seating closer to the bar, split across an upper and lower tier.
If you wanted to watch the comings and goings from Gatwick, this is where you'd sit to face the runway – in fact, when an Emirates A380 came in to land, almost the entire lounge came to a brief stop while everybody looked up, because the views are quite good and the most other aircraft flying through here are smaller jets serving Europe, so the A380 is a rarer sight.
Nestled away from all the action is a separate quiet area...
... with seating catering for individual travellers wanting to unwind before their flight in solitude:
Showers are not available here – generally not a problem if you're only taking a short flight within Europe, but before longer overnight journeys such as China Airlines' Airbus A350 service to Taiwan, you do notice their absence.
Overall, the best word to describe the No1 Lounge at Gatwick's South Terminal is "fine", as it's not "great", but not "bad" either.
While à la carte dining is a rarity in lounges available to Priority Pass members, for business class passengers using the space, that same arrangement does feel a little stingy – putting the hand out for an extra £4 for a few bits of cheese feels very 'low-cost', particularly when the buffet doesn't give much to graze on.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of China Airlines.