Review: British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow

Introduction
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
Hilton 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.

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London Heathrow terminal five train system

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.

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London Heathrow terminal five “Fast Track”

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.

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London Heathrow terminal five

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London Heathrow terminal five

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London Heathrow terminal five

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London Heathrow terminal five

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.

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow

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).

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow terrace

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow terrace

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow terrace

There’s one of the famous lounge “horses” on the terrace as well.

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow terrace horse

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow terrace view

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.

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow dining

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow dining

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:

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And the wine list read as follows:

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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.

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow dining

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow dining

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!

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British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow dining

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.

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London Heathrow terminal five

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London Heathrow terminal five escalator to train

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London Heathrow terminal five escalator to terminal

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London Heathrow terminal five “C” pier

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London Heathrow terminal five “C” pier

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British Airways 747

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.

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London Heathrow terminal five departure gate

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London Heathrow terminal five Virgin Atlantic ads

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.

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Gate C62

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British Airways A380

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

Comments

  1. Justin says

    “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”

    The difference is Asian airports tend to be adequately staffed in my experience. I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes for any reason at SIN or HKG, for example.

  2. FlyingTigerSC says

    That’s disappointing to hear– I’m dumping some AA miles on my folks to send them to Ireland via LHR (with a week in UK/France VIA Eurostar) for their anniversary and have them flying BA First. Sounds like compared to Lufthansa, there really is no comparison. Damn you US Div. Miles availability!!

    Surprised to hear the Air France product is that nice… wouldn’t have thought that.

  3. Joey says

    That is one looooooong jetbridge! Did people get confused where the gate was? I’d imagine people would think the gate closest to where they see the A380 is the BA A380 gate.

  4. says

    @ Joey — Hah, the signage was pretty clear, so people didn’t seem too confused, though there were a lot of people complaining as they walked down the jet bridge.

  5. Yarki says

    Lucky, Lucky – how can you say it must be the world’s longest airbridge when you can clearly see in the photo that that honor must go to the gate next to you, where the oneworld 747 was? ;)

    Otherwise I absolutely agree with you about Heathrow and BA ground product. BA have this ridiculously quaint (and very British) notion that their product is one of understated luxury rather than over-the-top flashiness. While that can be appreciated to some extent, their idea of understated luxury is clearly pitched to a lower standard than mine.

  6. Levy Flight says

    The jet bridge is symbolic of Heathrow generally. It is common to see signs :25 mins walk to gate., and thst is after getting to waiting area.

  7. says

    @ Yarki — Hah, I could be mistaken, but I believe the 747 in the background actually has a gate much closer to the plane so the jet bridge isn’t quite as long. I could be wrong, though.

  8. greg says

    I love this post as it is so spot on. London Heathrow has to be one of the most disappointing airports in the world. I love it (as a oneworl emerald you get lounge perks and I redeem for business or first awards if available) but you also have to hate LHR for all your points
    – ridiculous engineering making a same terminal transfer take over an hour
    – idiotic bus system and route between terminals
    – very poor staffing levels so always a wait
    -lounges that feel grubby
    – far too much traffic for 2 runways huge delays to land or take off which is also so environmentally unfriendly
    Personally I don’t see the British quaint in this airport. But as a oneworld flyer where else do you choose to connect to Europe? Madrid or Berlin????

  9. Tyler says

    I’m sorry, but your posts are getting so repetitive. How many times can you sit in first class?

    I really wish you would do something generous with some of your miles like TPG just did ( donated 1 million miles) instead of spending them on trips you’ve done a million times. I’ve read your blog for a few years now and have yet to see one charitable action.

  10. John Galbraith says

    As I British reader of your blog, can I just say a very warm Lucky to the UK. Hope you enjoy Scotland!

  11. Alan says

    Agree LHR security can be a nightmare. Don’t know if you’re leaving Edinburgh on BA, but if so the new BA lounge there looks superb! (photos are on FT). Do get in touch if you’re free on the 2nd.

  12. Jorge says

    Two things you don’t get right in England, hot food and Heathrow. But some of the desserts I am quite fond of.

    Mince Meat pie is one I really love around this time of the year!

  13. Trevor says

    Lucky, the Virgin Atlantic Ads may be similar to BA being denied putting the Concorde in the circle in front of T5. Apparently BAA re-designed the circle putting a tunnel or something underneath such that the space could bear the weight of the Concorde on it. I think BAA and BA have a very interesting relationship.

  14. The Gaffer says

    I agree totally with this post. BA Concorde Lounge is a huge disappointment. I prefer the First Class lounge across the landing from it, especially if it isn’t crowded. There’s always a quiet corner somewhere. Not so with the Concorde Lounge. The one in JFK is much better. And Terminal 5 is a massive disappointment. Basically, it’s at capacity already. Heathrow was built piecemeal over 60 years and it shows: no cohesive design or flow.

  15. Lex says

    Ha I also had the sticky pudding the last time I visited BA first lounge. Loved it. Eton Mess, Chelsea bun, banoffee pie, and of course trifle yum yum

  16. Nom de Plumme says

    Excellent report, and endorse what the author says about The Concorde Room. Twice I have felt let down badly by BA raising expectations to a First Class threshold but delivering it on the cheap, below as others have said other (Asian and Gulf) airlines’ business offering on and off the ground. There is a disorganised, under resourced, fragmented series of outsourced partners working in the lounges. None have much interest in their job or their customers.

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