With airports becoming busier, more crowded and often stressful places, the VIP lounge is a welcome escape for the frequent business flyers trying collect their thoughts before that crucial meeting, or the happy-go-lucky holiday maker wishing to start a vacation in style.

Upon realising the impact of these spaces on passenger experience and loyalty, airports have begun to wage tacit “lounge wars” between each other – battling over who can offer customers the most memorable, luxurious and warm welcome before their flight. As with all luxury services and products, the competitive edge lies in the details – details that make the customer feel exclusive, delighted and looked after.

The VIP lounge allows airports to demonstrate exceptional quality and distinguish themselves from others. As industry expert Jason Rabinowitz explains: airports and airlines “are renewing their focus on this product, and are creating unique and ultra-luxurious experiences, which often match and reinforce the overall brand message”

Manchester Airport’s plans for its flagship 1903 lounge (named after the year of the Wright Brother’s first flight) took these matters into close consideration, with a high-specification brief attending to every minute detail. With quality being paramount, Jacobs Ltd, one of the world’s largest providers of technical, professional and construction services, approached Dextra Lighting on behalf of Manchester Airport Group (M.A.G), to co-design, manufacture and deliver a lighting solution that would help create a stylish and elegant atmosphere for passengers to unwind before their journey.

Founded in 2001, M.A.G is currently the UK’s largest airline operator, owns three major UK airports including Manchester and London Stansted, and has a combined passenger traffic of approximately 50 million a year.

THE BRIEF

Lighting has the power to instantly set the scene – to inject ambience with the flick of a switch. Airport lounges rely heavily on lighting to make passengers feel welcome and relaxed the minute they walk in. But their role is also to entice; helping project a sense of exclusivity and luxury. To achieve this Dextra Lighting’s team handpicked products with specific optical designs and architectural qualities – ensuring that all lighting produced the desired effect and that the luminaires themselves integrated seamlessly with the interior’s architecture, elegant style and branding scheme.

The new lighting was to serve different purposes and cover various locations such as the reception, bar, self-service counters, work stations and general seating and dining areas. Superior light quality, comfort and efficiency were the project’s main objectives.

Beyond the aesthetic and architectural requirements, the lighting design was to follow CIBSE and BSEN guidelines for airport spaces, and comply to all emergency and safety regulations.

The new luminaires would offer the energy-efficiency and low-maintenance benefits of LED – allowing the airport to satisfy its commitment to the environment whilst minimising its overheads in the process. Dextra Lighting’s LED products are manufactured with the latest LM80-verified Lumileds LEDs offering 90% lumen maintenance for the first 60,000 hours operation. This means that in addition to consuming an average of 70% less energy than fluorescent or HID alternatives, these future-proof products will minimise maintenance by eliminating the cost and disruption of frequent lamp changes.

THE SOLUTION

Protec LED / Comtec LED Downlights – General Lighting

The Protec LED and Comtec LED have been firm favourites across multiple sectors but have enjoyed particular success in the world of high-end retail, illuminating boutiques and luxury showrooms around the country. Their popularity is owed to the their exceptional versatility – a crucial attribute for designers trying to create a truly memorable experience for each customer.

Lighting, in these scenarios, is used to help make a unique aesthetic statement to attract the customer, build trust and loyalty, and make the brand stand out from the competition. To achieve this, however, quality, performance and consistency are key.

With a wide range of customisable options, these luminaires can be tailored to suit the décor, architecture and corporate theme of any interior. The Protec LED, for example, is available in a selection of output packages, colour temperatures and CRI (Colour Rendering Index), interchangeable reflectors and coloured attachments, covers and custom bezels.

The luminaire easily clamps into the ceiling using four re-tractive sprung steel brackets – making installation fast and cost-effective into a variety of ceiling types in thicknesses of between 7mm and 42mm. Available in specular and semi-specular finishes with narrow, medium or open area distributions (Protec SLM in OptiSat only), reflectors can be simply removed and replaced post-installation with a practical quarter turn lock mechanism. This will give the airport the flexibility to update the lounge with changes in layout or colour branding schemes whenever required and with minimal effort.

Multiple versions of the Protec LED were utilised in the 1903 design. For general lighting purposes in the seating and reception areas, the luminaire was supplied in a BSEN 12464 glare compliant 1100lm output version, to achieve optimal lux levels with a controlled and diffused light ideal for reading and using laptops. The installation provided a visually comfortable “cool-white” 4000k (C84) colour temperature throughout the premises, for a fresh, relaxing and bright ambience.

“Elliptical Scoop” versions, which allow for the beam angle to be subtly adjusted, were supplied with IP44-rated glass covers and specular reflectors, to provide a narrow, directional light onto the self-service counters, clearly highlighting the food on display and offer additional protection. From a range of coloured accessories, luminaires were provided with white rings and bezels to match the shaped plasterboard ceiling and alcoves.

In terms of performance, the Protec LED combines highly efficient anodised aluminium reflectors with the latest 3535 Lumileds LEDs to offer an impressive Light Output Ratio of 90% and high uniformity. The 1100lm version used operates at a power load only 8.9W – a fraction of fluorescent alternatives without compromising on performance or light quality.

Thanks to its flexible installation, the Comtec Surface LED was mounted onto a decorative wheel hovering above the self-service bar island at the centre of the lounge and on a continuous line of trunking leading to the exit. The luminaires were supplied in a 1100lm output package, serving to bring focus to the circular bar, making it a stand-out feature in the room. The Comtec LED shares many of the performance specifications and options to the Protec LED. For aesthetic purposes, the luminaire can be provided in either white or black housings, opal or clear glass covers and a white decorative ring.

With its anodised aluminium reflector and extruded aluminium heat sink, the Comtec LED Surface also makes the most of its high-quality Lumileds LED source, offering an LOR of over 90% with outstanding thermal management. The luminaire operates at an impressive luminaire efficiency of 110Llm/w, which compared to fluorescent downlights, delivers a typical reduction of 70% whilst offering improved light quality, longevity and performance.

Both the Comtec LED and Protec LED are compatible with a range of dimming options. Luminaires were therefore provided with the latest DALI dimmable Philips drivers which allowed the entire network of luminaries to be connected and accurately controlled via a user-friendly digital interface.
To comply with stringent airport safety regulations, luminaires were supplied with LSF (Low Smoke and Fume) cabling which have a lower PVC content. This reduces toxicity and the production of black smoke during a fire which can severely impair visibility for occupants seeking escape routes.