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We sent Vicky, our lovely (and luxury-minded) Brand & Campaign Manager, off to have a sneak peek at Manchester Airport’s shiny new private terminal, aether. A word of warning – it’s fancy, and you’ll want to book it.

An out of this world experience – literally

Aether, noun.

The ancient Greek personification of the clear upper air of the sky.

Taking the stress out of flying

We’re all used to going to the airport, and you know what they say the most stressful things in life are: moving house, getting married… and going to the airport.

Not anymore.

But first let me tell you a bit more about where that fancy-sounding name comes from – aether. It’s got suitably fancy origins: it’s what the Ancient Greeks used to refer to the clear, upper part of the sky. But it’s more than that – also known as the ‘fifth element’ or ‘quintessence’, it’s the material that fills the region of the universe beyond the terrestrial sphere. In Greek mythology, this stuff was the air that the gods themselves breathed. You catching our drift?

Back down on earth at Manchester Airport, aether’s private terminal is their attempt at capturing that feeling of moving seamlessly though bright, clear air. But what does that mean for us mere mortals going on their jollies? Well, it means taking all the hassle out of the airport experience, for one.This private terminal is a sanctuary. To start, you ain’t going anywhere near T1, 2 or 3. Instead, you’ll drive (or take a taxi) to aether’s very own exclusive airport entrance. And it’s so easy. I parked the car and wandered all of 30 seconds over to the beautiful little building that marks the start of the aether experience. It’s even got a lovely wooden slatted covered walkway so the English weather can throw what it wants at you and you’re covered (and it really did throw what it wanted – it was chucking it down when we visited!)

They have a Meet & Greet parking service, so after you’ve pulled up to the private terminal, one of their qualified drivers parks your car in their safe and secure facility. If you’re coming by public transport, you can hop in a taxi from the airport’s train or tram stations – it’ll take you about 10 mins and will cost you about a tenner.

Once inside, you’ll check-in for your flight. Skip the queues, stress and all the other sad Sally’s in the other terminals because check-in here is like an actual 5★ hotel experience. Just take a seat in one of their lovely leather chairs, and they’ll check your bags in for you (none of that self-check bag drop on a daft machine malarky here) and whisk it away without a word. You’ll pass though security later, and they’ll let you know when it’s time to go. If you’re flying with just a cabin bag and no checked luggage, then you’ll get through their private security screening when you arrive, which’ll take 2 ticks.

Bags sorted, you’re ready to really get a taste of this other-worldly experience.

Super swish interiors

The first thing that caught my eye – well, grabbed me by the you-know-what’s, it was that impressive – was the view! I’m talking floor to ceiling windows of airplane runway loveliness. Once I’d got over that, it was all about the interior (and I love me a bit of Grand Designs).

It’s got such a clean, designer influence with its woods, marbles, bouclé’s and leathers – I absolutely loved it. There’s plenty of seating choice, from leather armchairs to slick, minimalist lounge chairs. If you need to be a bit more upright, there’s bars (with integrated plug sockets) along those floor to ceiling windows, perfect for working from (when not being distracted by that A380 from Dubai just coming into land…)

The easiest decision you’ll have to make is where to sit, and that’s obvs going to be right by the window to take in those views. And I can tell you… even on a miserable day in Manchester (read: everyday), it’ll brighten your mood right up.

Feeling a bit peckish?

Once you’ve settled in, you’ll need refreshments – may I recommend the Champagne? There’s plenty on offer, either help yourself or someone will come and take your order, so you don’t have to lift a finger.

Feeling peckish? Take your pick from the a la carte menu designed by Adam Reid (of The French in Manchester) – he’s collaborated with aether to create an elevated dinging experience. These little dishes are perfect and packed with flavour. I had the Keralan curry, mushroom risotto, a bao bun, and a pud… oops.

From lounge to gate in luxury

You’ll notice that in the aether lounge there aren’t any departure boards. That’s because it’s all about a relaxed, seamless experience here, not checking the board every 2 minutes to see if our flight has been delayed (or worse.) One of the hosts will let you know when your flight is boarding, and this is where the proper luxury begins.

When you’re ready for take off, an aether host will come and guide you to your private security channel – this is worth the money alone! No stress, no shouting, just a serene passing through. They even have the new scanners, meaning you can keep hold of your bottle of water (and say goodbye to those liquids limitations), as well as keep your electronics in your bag without tangling your cables and kit. Sheer bliss.

Then, its straight out the door and into your chauffeur transfer across the tarmac to your gate for your onward flight. We’re talking private, sleek BMWs here (including the BMW XM and the all electric BMW i7 – swish). None of this legging it across the terminal. The transfer is even better if you choose to use aether on your return flight too, because you’ll hop in your ride straight off the plane, where everyone else can see you get whisked away (the best part, let’s be honest.)

Who can use aether?

They have several partner airlines, and if you’re travelling with them you can enjoy any aether service. These currently include Emirates, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, and more.

But if you’re travelling on another airline that they aren’t currently partnered with, you can only use aether’s services if you’re flying with just cabin bags, as they’ll be unable to check your luggage in for you. You’ll also have to be able to check-in for your flight online before you arrive – if you’re unable to do this you won’t be able to use it, I’m afraid. A full refund will be provided.

Oh! If you’re a duty free shopper (like me), don’t worry – you can use aether too! Instead of transferring you to your gate, they’ll give you a luxury transfer to the main terminal where you can shop to your heart’s content. You’ll then have to make your own way to the gate when it’s time to go.

When does aether open?

The lounge is scheduled to open in November 2024. Watch this space to find out when you can book aether with Netflights!

Final verdict?

What can I say? I’m smitten.

Stress? What stress? It’s the perfect start to your perfect holiday.

If the thought of airport security alone gets you down when going on holiday, this is worth it. It’s the closest thing to flying private you can get. Plus, that luxury ride to your plane? Major bragging points. But even if you just want to give your trip a bit of a perk, I say go for it. The average cost of a decent airline lounge is not much less than the Express package, and they don’t come with a ride to your plane, do they?

Want to try aether? Let’s get you a boarding pass

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