Is the lounge near my gate?
Or maybe the question should be "which gate does my flight go from?” In short – we’re sorry to say, we don’t know!
One Big Airport Car Park
Essentially, airports are just that. A place for planes to park up while they debark and embark passengers. Airlines pay the airport for the amount of time they are on the ground – a bit like a pay and display car park.
Airports know exactly how many aircraft can be handled at any one time – they know how many aircraft can land and take off. These are known as slots. What is more tricky to plan is how many aircraft can be "turned around” i.e the debark/embark, bags, fuel etc. as this massively depends on the size of the aircraft.
For example, a small twin propeller aircraft on a short domestic flight can be ‘turned around’ in about 20 minutes. There may only be 50 passengers to get off and 50 to get on, very little baggage, less fuel required, less cleaning to be done. Whereas a large jumbo like the Boeing 747 can take 3 hours! And that’s if everything goes to plan!
On occasions, things don’t go the way they should do. If that means the aircraft has to be on the ground for longer than anticipated, the next aircraft planned to use that gate has to find somewhere else to park up.
Aircraft size is a big factor when it comes to gates as not all aircraft can use all gates. For example, the Airbus A380.
Where will my aircraft park?
Because there are so many different factors that affect which gate you are departing from, Air Traffic Control will most likely make the decision about which gate to use as the aircraft is on approach.
This happens once Ground Control has assessed what space there will be once the aircraft lands.
Imagine you are parking your car at a large event and the ‘car park’ is a field with a chap in a hi-visibility jacket pointing you where to park. This, in very simplistic terms is "Ground Control”.
Get airport gate savvy - a simple guide:
Follow this handy guide and it should make things a little less stressful:
- Firstly, pre-book your airport lounge. Put your time of departure into the website and we’ll tell you what time you can check into the lounge
- On the day, make sure you give yourself plenty of time! Airports can be very busy places. As a rule of thumb, give yourself a good 3+ hrs before departure…Especially for travel outside the EU
- Go to the check in desk related to your airline – some airline booking forms detail where these desks are (as they rarely move), however when you arrive in the check in hall, there is often a display screen alerting you to the correct desk based on the airline you are travelling with. Failing that, more often than not, Airline logos and destinations will be displayed above the desk.
- Go through security (and Duty Free) and head to the Aspire lounge
- Once in the lounge, ask the friendly staff where the FIDS screens are or get yourself comfortable first. A FIDS screen is a flight Information Display System screen and details all the departures that are due at the terminal you are in.
- The FIDS screen is where your gate will eventually be communicated. The default message is normally ‘wait in lounge’, which is quite fitting really! We have a number dotted around our lounges in key locations, so get your bearings and seek out your nearest one.
- So that you can relax, maybe set yourself an alarm (for approx. 45 mins before your departure time) and check the board periodically to see if your aircraft has a gate.
- Usually, from 1hr ahead of departure time, aircrafts start to get allocated gates. Don’t worry if this isn’t the case but if you haven’t been given a gate 40/30 mins before departure, seek out a member of staff.
- Remember, we don’t call gate numbers in the lounge so you’ll need to keep an eye on the FIDS screen.
- Once your aircraft has a gate, the message will now display ‘Go to Gate’
- At this point, make your way there and have a great trip!
All our lounges are located after security, so all you have to worry about is the length of time it takes to get from the lounge to the gate – you have already done the time consuming bit of getting through check-in, bag-drop and passport control.
For now, just book your lounge place, safe in the knowledge that you can fully relax for an hour or two before jetting off!