First look at Aether - the new ‘private terminal for all’ at Manchester Airport where you can swerve security and get driven to your plane in a BMW

No. More. Queues.

By Ben Arnold | 10 July 2024

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Time was that private airport lounges were for those who ‘turn left’. The first or club class folk who exist on a higher plane than the rest of us, where you’re trusted with metal cutlery, and your drinks come in actual glasses.

Where you can chill for a couple of hours and watch the planes land before sauntering to your aircraft, knocking back a glass of champagne and going to sleep in a seat that turns into an actual bed.

It sits in stark contrast to sitting bolt upright for hours on end, a fag paper between your knees and the seat in front, and paying an eye-watering sum for a can of tepid lager as the toddler behind metronomically kicks you in the back.


The prices of the flights that these rarified privileges come with, however, are enough to sober you up after three complimentary gin and tonics.

But now there’s another way. 

Aether is a ‘private lounge’ opening later this year at Manchester Airport, the first of its kind in the UK. The difference is that you can be flying on the most budget of budget airlines, or the most bargainous ticket there is, and still get some of that luxury before you fly and after you land.

OK, you might still get the toddler, but at least you’ll be a bit more relaxed about it.


“What sets Aether apart is its inclusivity,” says general manager Suzanne. “It’s accessible to all passengers, regardless of ticket class, and doesn’t require membership. This democratisation of premium airport services marks a significant shift in the industry, offering a reimagined airport experience to a much broader audience.”

All the stuff you dread about a trip to the airport can be gently syphoned away. Instead of negotiating the car parks, you drive up a secluded country lane, winding round to a smart, metal clad bunker, all sculptural wooden posts and landscaping.

From there, you can pass through the terminal’s own separate security – no tightly coiled  queues where you hear the same people complaining about the same things you’re complaining about, trying desperately to avoid eye contact, even though you’ve clocked each other 20 times.

Then it’s on to the lounge, with panoramic views of the runways and Eames lounge chairs. You’re so close to the action that you could hurl a warm, complimentary pastry into the turbine of a taxiing aircraft, though please for the sake of your own liberty, do not. We’re just illustrating proximity.


There will be no screens with revolving departures to ratchet up the anxiety. Staff will know what’s going on with your flights, and keep you informed accordingly.

Adam Reid, feted chef at Adam Reid at The French, The Midland Hotel’s celebrated restaurant, is working up a ‘dining experience’ for Aether patrons, which it would be unfair to weigh against a fridge cold meal deal sandwich from WH Smith.

When it’s time to go, you can then be ferried across the tarmac to your plane in one of a fleet of electric BMWs.

Of course, all this comes with a price attached. 


Entry level is £90 for the ‘Express’ – for those with just cabin bags, it provides access to go straight through the private terminal’s security – thus avoiding the queues, and get chauffeured straight to your plane. 

Then from £150 per person, you get all that plus inclusive alcoholic and soft drinks, and an a la carte menu and refreshments. For £170, it works for check-in bags too, which clear security and are then taken to your plane for you. You can also choose to book in for both legs of your journey.

They’re not inconsiderable figures. But it’s worth considering that access to private airport lounges prior to the advent of Aether only came with tickets costing several thousands of pounds. Not a £30 weekend break to Bologna.

Aether opens in November.

You can find out more here…

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