Eat your heart out, LAX – you may have a new private suite to pamper movie stars and studio execs, but you are not the only airport to offer exclusive check-in facilities far from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. Now Manchester Airport, Britain’s third busiest after Heathrow and Gatwick, has its own private terminal.
PremiAir is not the first VIP experience in Britain – there is a suite at Heathrow which vies with LA’s Private Suite – but it is the first truly affordable one, offering services from at little as £50. For that, assuming you only have carry-on bags, you can turn up landside at the private terminal right beside the runway an hour or less before your flight, nip straight into a just-for-you security area and be out the other side in minutes to be driven to your gate in a BMW 7 series limo. Introduced to the gate agent, you’ll have your documents given a final check and be shown straight onto your plane.
Of course, for most people a VIP airport experience means something on top of speed and convenience – comfortable seating, free food and drink and the satisfaction of being cosseted far from the pushing and shoving herd whose increasing numbers make airports these days a less than convivial space to negotiate. For those who fly Business or First Class the executive lounge some airlines offer as part of the ticket price offers breathing space far from the rest of the hoi-polloi, but even the Fast Track security which is part of that package can’t compete with dedicated private screening offered by PremiAir. Their Premium package adds a generous lounge experience and also checks and whisks away your hold baggage for a cool £100 pounds total.
What’s more impressive than, say, BA’s Business Class lounge, which these days serves a fairly limited selection of self-service items, is the level of catering. The Manchester Airport Group runs several lounges in the UK, at Stansted and East Midlands as well as a dozen in the US, and for this new top-tier entry, executive chef Andy Jackson has created an a la carte menu offering breakfast, lunch and dinner cooked from scratch. Expect unusual offerings like his fabulous pork belly bao as well as his grandma’s mac cheese, and the likes of smashed avocado with poached eggs on sourdough toast and eggs Benedict for breakfast. Veggies are catered for with wholesome bowl food, and there’s a full bar waving the regional flag with three varieties of Manchester gin among the spirit selection and several local craft beers.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the large, airy room is how it’s been designed for versatility, with soundproof, pull-down doors which can divide it into private suites for different kinds of users. There are the business travellers who may want to hold a meeting at the airport before flying, and the trip-of-a-lifetime holidaymakers wanting to kickstart their honeymoon or anniversary trip with friends and family in attendance to see them off over Champagne, although non-fliers also have to pay their way. Groups of up to 50 can be catered for; whole football teams have so far used the new terminal, suggesting well-behaved stags and hens could apply for admittance too. Applying being the watchword; although you don’t have to fly upper class to use this terminal, you do have to pre-book so the place doesn’t get overcrowded, and for the moment you need to be flying with one of 25 airlines who have partnered with Manchester Airport to offer passengers an online booking link.
One thing to consider if the extra hundred pounds or so seems worth it for the convenience and privacy is to bookend the experience with PremiAir’s round trip option. This costs £175 and gets you met off the plane on arrival, limo’d back to the terminal to meet your personal passport officer, and into the hospitality area, which houses private shower facilities off the dining lounge. A great freshening-up opportunity while colleagues are dealing with all the usual hassle of picking up your luggage and getting your car brought around, PremiAir’s arrivals-only package is pulling in standalone bookings for a not unreasonable £125.
How do I get to the PremiAir terminal
PremiAir Terminal, 2 Wilmslow Old Road Altrincham WA15 8XQ
Booking information: Manchester Airport