Monday, March 1, 2010

The Lounge by FBO 2000, Antigua Airport

You could begin to feel a bit like James Bond doing this. After arriving at the mysterious Gate 10 somewhere at the rear of Antigua airport, we speed across the runway in the middle of the night, hazard lights flashing. We draw up next to a large private jet.

‘Will you go straight on board, sir?’

‘Er, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, given that it’s not our jet.’ I ponder where we might end up. Wichita? …El Salvador? …Afghanistan?

Instead we are taken into a white creole building to the side. It is the Lounge by FBO 2000. The company generally offers airport services (clearing private jets in and out, meet and greet for the smarter hotels etc), but as Antigua airport is due for a fair bit more renovation over the next few years, they have also decided to offer a lounge as a more comfortable alternative to the main departure hall.

It was a little empty when we were there, with just one other family, who, curiously lived just a few miles from us (fly 4000 miles to meet the neighbours…), but then you probably wouldn’t want it to be crowded. So we settled in (actually turned in, in the case of my two children, who spread themselves across two benches), ordered a drink and enjoyed the wait.

The Lounge has sitting areas, a snooze room, wireless coverage, internet access and magazines to keep you distracted, finger food, drinks on request and a couple of shower rooms. There is an outside deck surrounded by bananas if you wish to catch the evening warmth on your last day in the islands. There is even what they call a VVIP room if you want additional privacy, with a recliner and your own television.

It is certainly more comfortable than the regular terminal, which although it has improved a bit recently is still mayhem. And the Lounge would be particularly good if you had to transit in Antigua from one of the other islands, and therefore have five or six hours to kill before your trans-Atlantic flight home.

Our flight was delayed a little and so it was the dead of night by the time we were called to the plane. Our passports were returned and we were taken to the small departure area with its x-ray machine. And again, we loaded up into a 4x4 and, hazards on, we sped across the airfield.

Squawk. ‘Permission to cross Runway 7… Granted.’ We scooted off. The acid lights of the main terminal came into view and we drew up beneath the BA flight bound for London.

The Lounge by FBO 2000 costs US$95 per person (13 and up, children under 12 free). The Lounge is currently restricted to passengers flying on British Airways. Contact +1268 562 7056,

For more information about the island itself, please see The Definitive Caribbean Guide to Antigua.

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