OneWorld First Class Lounge Los Angeles
OneWorld Business Class Lounge Los Angeles
New Tom Bradley International Terminal Los Angeles Airport
Air France A380 First Class Los Angeles to Paris
Air France First Class Lounge Paris
Air France Business Class Paris to Frankfurt
Frankfurt Christmas Markets
Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge Frankfurt
British Airways Club Europe Frankfurt to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways A380 First Class London Heathrow to Los Angeles
SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort
I was scheduled to have a 3hr5min layover, but due to the delay on the inbound flight that turned into a less than 2hr30min connection, which still should be plenty of time. My flights were both arriving and departing from terminal five, so you’d think it would be a fairly easy transfer, but Heathrow always has a way of proving me wrong. We landed at the “C” pier of terminal five, so I took the train to the “A” pier, which took maybe 10 minutes.
Then I had to queue in the Fast Track lane, which is consistently longer than the non-Fast Track lane. That took forever. It really puzzles me that British Airways has a single lane for all premium passengers, whether they’re Executive Club Silver members traveling domestically or international first class passengers.
Then there’s not actually a premium security lane, but rather being in the Fast Track lane just theoretically gets you into the actual security lane faster than the others. Once in the security lane I had to queue for another 20 minutes.
Then I had to go over to the other side of terminal five to access the Concorde Room. There’s a side entrance they have, and an agent standing there guarding it that waves people in. It’s an international first class lounge, you’d think they’d be friendly and welcoming, but when I showed my boarding pass she simply gestured for me to enter Carol Beer style (at least she didn’t make me answer three questions).
Physically the lounge is nice, though certainly doesn’t have any “wow” factor, in my opinion. The lounge isn’t huge and tends to get crowded during peak times, though I do appreciate that all the seating areas are partitioned off a bit so it’s not just one, big crowded room. Fortunately it wasn’t very busy when I was there, since it was after the morning rush to the US and before the evening rush to the Middle East, South America, Asia, etc.
My favorite part of the lounge is the terrace, which looks out over the terminal and is “open air” (well, open air within the terminal).
There’s one of the famous lounge “horses” on the terrace as well.
I briefly stopped by the Elemis Spa to see if they had any treatments available. Their next available treatment was at 7PM, and next available chair massage was at 3PM. Yes, British Airways does let you book them in advance, but frankly based on how short the treatments are and the quality of them I didn’t bother. In the end I guess it worked out since I wouldn’t have made my appointment anyway due to the delay.
At this point it was 1:40PM and I decided to take a seat in the Concorde Room Dining section. This was my first time in the Concorde Room since it got a poor hygiene rating a few months back, so I couldn’t not eat there (kind of like how I made a point of eating at Amy’s Baking Company… because all her food is fresh and delicious *crazy eyes*). And frankly after my last visit when I was fairly certain I was being cussed out (as it turns out when Brits yell “fork, fork, fork,” it sounds a lot like…), I was kinda curious to see what kind of service shenanigans there would be this time.
When I got to the Concorde Dining area the host gestured for me to wait as he ran around, so I had to wait about five minutes before being seated. I was rather puzzled because there were at most a handful of passengers in the dining area.
He presented me with a wine list and menu, and I started by ordering a glass of champagne and Diet Coke (a classy combo, I know!). British Airways does deserve a lot of credit for serving Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle in the lounge, which is the same they serve onboard in first class — that’s a hell of a champagne!
The menu read as follows:
And the wine list read as follows:
After browsing the menu I decided to order the salmon fish cake for lunch, which I think I ordered clearly and simply, since I didn’t order anything else. Several minutes later the server returned and said “sorry, what did you say you wanted?” I reminded him I wanted the salmon fish cake. Then two minutes later he came back and said “you wanted the salmon fish cake, right?” I confirmed I did, and a minute later he returned with the dish lukewarm.
The presentation was fairly nice, though in terms of quality it was kind of tasteless and mushy. The “plum tomato salsa” wasn’t doing the dish any favors, either. Admittedly the Concorde Room was at an unfair disadvantage since I had just eaten in the Alain Ducasse restaurant in the Air France first class lounge a couple of days prior, where the food was beyond restaurant quality.
For dessert I ordered the sticky toffee pudding, which was a typically delicious British dessert. While the Brits aren’t known for their food, I am a huge fan of their desserts!
About an hour before departure I left the lounge, because I once again had to take the train from the “A” pier to the “C” pier, where the A380 leaves from.
Eventually I arrived at gate C62, where my flight was leaving from. I found it rather interesting that Virgin Atlantic has huge ads in a terminal served exclusively by British Airways. Kinda surprised British Airways wasn’t able to squash them in their “home” terminal.
At around 3:15PM they began Fast Track boarding, though as usual that’s half the plane, since it includes all first and business class passengers as well as elite members.
I proceeded aboard via what must be the world’s longest jet bridge.
Anyway, Heathrow is an airport best avoided, and I think British Airways’ ground services at Heathrow leave a lot to be desired. This visit to the Concorde Room was less bad than my previous visit earlier this year, though still not amazing. For what it’s worth I’m convinced that Virgin Atlantic provides a better ground experience for their Upper Class (business class) passengers than British Airways does for their first class passengers in just about every way. And for that matter the three other major European airlines with a first class product — Air France, Lufthansa, and Swiss — all provide superior ground services for first class passengers at their hubs.
Still, looking at it globally British Airways probably has average ground services, as there are plenty of top Asian airlines without much of a ground experience to speak of