Premiair Private Terminal Manchester Airport Review

Premiair Private Terminal Manchester Airport Review

Premiair, Manchester airport’s new private terminal bills itself as “the ultimate travel experience” but does it measure up? I tested it out.


The building is custom built and is located next to Manchester airport’s visitor park on the opposite side of the airfield to the main terminal. As you turn into the terminal you first approach a security barrier which gives an added sense of exclusivity with access only gained by our taxi driver after my name was checked against bookings. The road flows round until you get a glimpse of the Premiair building with a staff member waiting kerbside to welcome you and help with baggage.


Four staff were on hand to greet me with no other customers in the building at that time. There was one staff on reception, the lady who helped with bags from the car and another member of staff who helped with all the procedures and later would be my driver and also a member of security staff who assisted with the baggage. All staff presumably have different roles and some are obviously cross trained but what is nice is that all are smartly dressed in grey suits.


I was very interested how the baggage and check in process worked before visiting. Here’s some more details if you’re wondering the same thing! At the reception desk my passport was taken and I was asked if I had checked in online (a requirement). The baggage was then taken by the security guy just to the side of reception to be weighed. This is the last time you will see your bags until the baggage carousel at the end of your journey. When I booked Premiair I initially had visions that the baggage was simply transferred to the main terminal for processing but the system is way better than that. They have the ability to print baggage tags in the Premiair terminal itself and they also have their own hold baggage scanner. So once the baggage has been tagged and security checked they come into the lounge to show you the baggage tags attached to your luggage on photos on an ipad then ask you to sign a paper confirming the tag numbers. The bags are then loaded onto a Range Rover at the back of the building and are taken directly across to the aircraft all tagged and security checked! VIP service for your bags!

The Lounge

The lounge itself is modern and airy, they’ve put a lot of thought into design and it looks high quality. The best part though is that you’re practically sitting on top of the taxiway from the main runway so you’ll get VERY up close and personal with jets landing and taking off, it’s probably the best lounge in the world for plane spotters. As we sat there we are sure some of the passengers were looking enviously from the window of the taxiing planes!

There’s an a la carte menu with a variety of options including breakfast that can be ordered all day. I was there quite a bit early for my flight in the end so started slow with some yoghurt and then when lunch came around had the delicious turkey Christmas dinner. Reassuringly, everything was fresh and it took just the right amount of time for the kitchen to prepare my order rather than being microwaved and appearing 2 minutes later like in some lounges.

The same two ladies who had greeted me at reception and kerbside were in the lounge to server and answer my questions. Apart from the a la carte menu there were some pastries as it was breakfast/brunch time to help yourself and also a stocked bar. Interestingly they had some local Manchester gin which was excellent.


The star of the show is probably going to be the departure for most people. They try and time departure to coincide with the later stages of boarding so you aren’t stuck waiting in the main terminal but this is easier to do if you are flying long haul compared to short with faster turnarounds. The ladies gave me a ten minute warning before we were going to go through security and depart. When she had checked that security were ready for me, she escorted me from the lounge door to the room next door where there was a full security set up. It’s initially a bit “wow”. There were six staff all suited and booted waiting just for me, all smartly dressed in grey suits as the door swung open.

As in the regular terminal there was a lady and computer to scan the boarding pass then an X ray machine with the same level of security and also a new style full body scanner. I was so flustered by having everyone there just for me, I initially forgot about my usual routine of removing belt, wallet etc and did also manage to make the rookie mistake of leaving some coffee in my flask. As my bag was shuffled off to secondary search, I remembered and one of the staff kindly went and threw the coffee away and rinsed my tumbler and brought it back. All felt very relaxed, professional and friendly, don’t think I can ever go back to normal security!

After security was done, we went out through the back door after being offered still or sparkling water to the waiting BMW 7 series.

The Drive

The drive across to the terminal and gate was the best part of the experience. Two staff were in the car, the same security guy and one of the ladies who initially greeted me in the lounge. She gave a mini commentary as we drove across going past the fire station, the engine test bay and around the airfield letting me know to ask any questions was we went as they listened to ground ATC. We drove past some sadly grounded Thomas Cook aircraft and across the middle of the airfield to gate 204 where my Qatar aircraft was waiting. They found a parking spot at the next gate and after entering the gate from the apron escorted me up through the security doors and to gate 204 where they introduced me to the ground staff at the desk and waited until they did their checks before shaking my hand and I boarded.



Everyone needs a little VIP in their life if possible and this certainly ticked all the boxes. They’ve hit a very high standard and I hope it’s kept up as the service gets more popular. Cost was 100 GBP for the full departure service and I’d say this is about right per person. Everything was premium and it’s worth at least 50 pounds to bypass Manchester’s terrible (regular) security. The staff were excellent and seemed to be enjoying providing the new service. The only issue I had which was more of a suggestion I raised at the time was to arrange a better transfer method from the car rental village, though this would also apply from the station or terminal as right now it requires a taxi to reach there. If they can find a way to provide a BMW transfer from different parts of the airport then it will be truly seamless.

Premiair Website


Plaza Premium First Lounge – Hong Kong

Plaza Premium First Lounge – Hong Kong

Plaza Premium First lounge was opened in 2018 at Hong Kong International Airport so is a relatively new addition to the lounge choices in Hong Kong. I received access with Qatar flying in business class but paid access is available at a rate of HK$880 for 3 hours.

Entrance & Layout

The lounge itself is visually impressing. It features curated art by Beijing Poly Art company and has some truly interesting pieces scattered around the lounge that give it an added air of sophistication. When I visited the queue for the regular Plaza Premium lounge was quite literally out the door and around the corrner so it was a nice relief to walk in here and see plenty of space.

Revelation Sculpture by Fan Xiaoyan
The lounge itself is tastfully furnished and is similar to the regular lounge in that it features a central bar with seating to the left then the dining area at the back with an open kitchen but that’s where the similarities end.

It’s quiet!
It’s nice to be in a lounge where the staff are welcoming and you don’t have to hunt for a place to sit. This was the case here, with plenty of seating, both lounge chairs and tables to work at with plenty of power points. At the back of the lounge there are some recliner chairs to get some rest but the area isn’t really darkly lit or would be much quieter than the main part of the lounge if busy

The Bar

The AeroBar has the biggest whisky collection in the airport apparently and it did look like a lot of booze! I’m a gin tonc drinker so was delighted to see Moneky 47 as a choice but unfortunately this is a paid option, the one downside I found in the lounge. I can see where they are coming from that they want to offer more premium spirits than a regular first class lounge but if you’re paying for it the admittance isn’t cheap and charging extra for some drinks would grate.

They have TWG tea and Lavazza coffee and a nice selection of mini cakes at the bar.

Food – Primo

The lounge has an a la carte restaurant called Primo at the back. I was warmly welcome when I entered and shown a table then presented with the menus. I was asked what I would like to drink and was brought a drink from the main bar. Overall I found the menu pretty well thought out for a lounge with breakfast options all day, so if you’re jet lagged and fancy eggs benedict this is the place!

I had the hummus to start which was served with warm bread and delicious followed by the Beyond Meat Burger. I have to admit to being a beyond meat virgin but I was blown away by how much it tasted like beef. In terms of how it was presented they served it with sweet potato fries which were OK, not so many and a bit too fatty with the burger coming with pineapple and cheese and a warm bun, very nicely done!

Other Facilties

They also offer a ten minute head and shoulder massage complimentary which I didn’t take advantage of and have shower facilties.

Overall this is a good addition to the airport and if you’re trying to decide when flying Qatar whether to use your invitation here or visit a OneWorld lounge I would say definitely here. Comparing Plaza First to Cathay or Qantas business lounges in Hong Kong it’s quieter by far with table service and a decent menu to suit most tastes. If you prefer self service though then it will need to be another lounge as the only food is table service.


Shenzhen Visa on Arrival

Shenzhen Visa on Arrival

If you’re living in Hong Kong or simply a tourist and want to visit Shenzhen the closest Chinese city directly across the border from Hong Kong, then you can get a 5 day Shenzhen only visa at the border. I did this to be able to take a flight out of Shenzhen to Europe which was particularly good value and fitted in with my travel plans.

Note: This is for Shenzhen only and you aren’t allowed to travel anywhere else. It also can’t be extended or converted. The 5 days starts from midnight after the arrival day.

Eligible Countries: Most European and developed countries are eligible for the visa on arrival including US, UK, Canada, French, Australia, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The following countries are currently ineligible: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, and Yemen

This list is subject to frequent updates so check with the Chinese embassy before travel.

Available at: Luohu (Lo Wu) Port, Shenzhen Airport, Huanggang Port, Shekou Port and Fuyong Port.

Exiting Hong Kong at Lo Wu

First take an MTR or other public transport to the Lo Wu station and border crossing. Exiting Hong Kong is much like when you exit through the airport; use your ID card or visit a manned immigration point to exit HK and then you will be in no man’s land before Chinese immigration. Interestingly there are a few shops in the no man’s land between HK and China so not sure what country they are actually trading in!

Exiting Hong Kong at Shenzhen

Note: When I was waiting (for a long time) I saw two people being sent back to HK immigration which is quite a walk for an exit piece of paper. I have a HK ID Card and didn’t get asked for this so I am presuming it’s required if you are a visitor and possibly used the automatic machines which don’t give you a receipt. Best plan is to use a regular immigration officer if you don’t have an ID Card

After walking through no man’s land you’ll arrive at some big signs:

Straight Ahead – Chinese national immigration

Basement – Foreigners immigration

1st Floor – Apply for VOA

Getting the VOA

If it’s busy which it probably will be, then I advise you to ignore the instructions to fill in the form and take your photo first as these only take a few minutes and take a numbered ticket from the machine to the left of the door first.

After you’ve done that, grab one of the application forms which is pretty simple and then have your photo taken at one of the free digital machines next to the application forms. Keep the receipt the machine will give you.

Next: WAIT then wait some more then probably some more

Don’t plan on this taking any less than two to three hours, if it does take less you are lucky. When I was there there were maybe 40 people waiting and only one officer actually processing visa applications. There were several immigration staff walking around or occasionally taking money, so make of that efficiency what you will.

Once the number is called hand over your application form, passport and the photo receipt. I was only asked where I was going, no proof was required of exit plans or hotel stay.

Once the application has been accepted you wait for your number to be called for payment and then it’s only about 10-15 minutes wait for your passport to have the visa stuck in.

Money – They used to only take cash but now take credit cards for the visa, so you don’t need to get RMB just to cross the border.

Entering China

Once you have the visa go back down two floors to the basement and proceed through Chinese immigration. There’s arrival/departure forms on the left as you come down.

Tip: They may encourage you to register your fingerprints on machines to the left before queuing up for immigration. Don’t bother. They are full fingerprint scanners of every finger and they are horrible at recognizing your prints. I had to press so hard I thought the glass would break. Once you get to a person they will still scan some of your fingers anyway despite registering them (well done bureaucracy) and the machines are newer i.e more reliable.

Once you are passed immigration you’re almost in China! Walk through customs then after a few meters more you’ll see the signs for the metro. Be prepared to have your bags X-rayed before entering the metro and for an enormous amount of security cameras and personnel.

Cost of Visa: The cost is the same as a regular visa in most cases i.e RMB 168 but for some countries that charge Chinese more i.e the UK the cost is RMB 304. In any case credit cards are accepted now.

Hong Kong Airlines Economy Seating on 33T (Ex-Emirates Aircraft)

Hong Kong Airlines Economy Seating on 33T (Ex-Emirates Aircraft)

Hong Kong Airlines has a variety of aircraft including what they refer to as the 33T in the booking engine which is an ex-Emirates aircraft. The airframe itself is pretty old but the interior seating and entertainment systems is new. 

Firstly the good. The seats are clean and relatively new and the entertainment system is one of the best we’ve seen on an aircraft. It’s responsive, even maybe too responsive and the screen is clear, sharp and bright. Hong Kong Airlines doesn’t update their entertainment as often as they used to (budget cuts?) but there’s a good selection of movies and TV and the screen is a pleasure to watch. Legroom is also pretty good, I’m 6’2″ and as you can see from the photos I still had knee space to spare. 

Unfortunately this is where the good stuff ends. The seats are probably some of the most uncomfortable we’ve ever sat on, they’re as hard as a rock. Even on a short flight to Bangkok of two hours they had us squirming in our seats. They are just about bearable for a short flight but I wouldn’t want to be in one of these to Tokyo for example at 4-5 hours. The padding is either minimal or old through use and time. Also of note is that the overhead bins are a smaller and older variety on this aircraft so if it’s busy it could be an issue with space but it is generally unlikely on an A330. 

Finally if you want an exit row plus window be aware that 31H and K have only a partial window view with the seat aligned somewhat in the middle of the window. 

Cathay Pacific Lounge Bangkok

Cathay Pacific Lounge Bangkok

The Cathay Pacific lounge in Bangkok was re-opened in June 2015 and follows the newer format of CX lounges like those in Manilla. It’s taken the space previously occupied by the BA lounge and created one new combined First and Business lounge and seats 140 people. If you’re flying on a One World airline this lounge is now one of the few choices for you in Bangkok. There’s still a Jal lounge which isn’t as good as CX but the Qantas lounge has closed now with passengers redirected to the inferior Louis CIP Tavern lounges.

Design is a combination of soft lighting, leather armchairs and wood panelling. Overall it’s has a nice homely feel to it, especially if it’s not too busy. I particularly liked the leather armchairs and footstools with a view over the runway, great to sip a gin and tonic and watch the apron traffic and take offs and landings. Power sockets are cunningly hidden in the side table in a drawer.

As in Manila, there’s a noodle bar with freshly cooked to order noodles and mostly Asian food. One thing we don’t like is that the fresh food seems to be very heavily balanced towards Asian dishes. Personally I love a lot of Asian foods but sometimes if you travel a lot you want something simple and closer to home. The noodle bar is a firm favourite in Hong Kong and they’re now using this format in the new lounges, however in Hong Kong there are plenty of other hot Western choices but not in the lounge outposts. That being said the food is very good and I took it as a last chance to sample some Thai food with a quite excellent Pad Thai and a steamed Chinese pork bun served in its own bamboo steamer. Delicious!

There are some cold Western options available normally a choice of two sandwiches and a small salad bar, it does feel an afterthought when compared to the noodle bar menu. It would be good to see a Western choice or two on the menu if you’ve had your fill of noodles!

All in all though it’s a good redesign with plenty of space, good bar and great good if you want Asian choices and OK food if it’s Western you want.