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 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 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.