Review: British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow

Introduction
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After a quick flight from Manchester to London, we had a 1hr40min connection at Heathrow. The good news is that we were arriving and departing from Terminal 5, so the connection was as convenient as it’ll get at Heathrow.

We could use the British Airways Galleries First Lounge thanks to my oneworld Emerald status. As a oneworld Emerald you get access to international first class lounges, including ones like Cathay Pacific’s The Wing in Hong Kongthe Qantas First Class Lounge in Sydney, the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge in Tokyo Narita, etc.

British Airways is a bit stingier, unfortunately. Their “real” first class lounge is The Concorde Room (not that it has ever impressed me). The catch is that it’s available exclusively for passengers traveling in British Airways first class — they exclude those flying first class on partner airlines, as well as oneworld Emerald members.

Instead they send those passengers to the Galleries First Lounge, which is basically a lounge for exactly that purpose — to accommodate oneworld Emerald members and those traveling in partner airline first class.

In this case we headed to British Airways’ South Lounges, located at the far end of Terminal 5.

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British Airways Lounges Terminal 5

We took the escalator up one level.

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Escalator to British Airways Lounges Terminal 5

There you could find the entrance to the first class lounge on the left and the business class lounge to the right. The gentlemen checking us in, Bernard, couldn’t have possibly been any more adorably and stereotypically British.

“Let me just take a quick peek at your flight status… the BA780… it’s on-time… remarkable, really!” Nice to see he has such faith in British Airways’ operational performance. 😉 He continued “now you’re scheduled to depart from gate __, which I wrote on your boarding pass. But I placed a very large question mark next to that, since it’s subject to change… this is Heathrow, after all.”

Once admitted to the Galleries First Lounge we passed the two adorable horses with lamps in their heads, which I love. If/when I ever have a permanent residence, I’d kill for one of them!

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British Airways Galleries First Lounge entrance London Heathrow

The Galleries First Lounge is quite large, spacious, and modern.

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British Airways Galleries First Lounge seating London Heathrow

There’s plenty of seating, and while it’s typically quite full, it’s rarely overcrowded, in my experience.

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British Airways Galleries First Lounge seating London Heathrow

The back corner of the lounge, in particular, tends to stay quite empty.

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British Airways Galleries First Lounge seating London Heathrow

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British Airways Galleries First Lounge seating London Heathrow

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British Airways Galleries First Lounge seating London Heathrow

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British Airways Galleries First Lounge seating London Heathrow

Personally I like to set up shop near the champagne bar, which is located to the right of the entrance. There’s a long corridor with some seating, which leads to the champagne bar and business center (who said you can’t mix business and pleasure?). 😉

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British Airways First Class Lounge seating London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge seating London Heathrow

The business center is decent enough, though I do wish they had actual cubicles, rather than the circular tables.

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British Airways First Class Lounge business center London Heathrow

But who needs work when you have a rather stylish champagne bar, anyway?

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British Airways First Class Lounge champagne bar London Heathrow

Equally impressive is the champagne selection — British Airways has both 2006 Taittinger and Taittinger Rose on offer. While that might not be exceptional for a first class lounge, for what ultimately amounts to an elite lounge, I’d say it’s pretty darn good.

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British Airways First Class Lounge champagne selection London Heathrow

The champagne bar also has a decent selection of wine.

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British Airways First Class Lounge wine selection London Heathrow

There are several espresso machines throughout the lounge, which also have tea, biscuits, etc.

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British Airways First Class Lounge espresso machine London Heathrow

There are also self serve booze stations, with solid selections.

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British Airways First Class Lounge alcohol selection London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge snacks London Heathrow

On the opposite end of the lounge of the champagne bar is the dining area, which consists of plenty of seating.

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British Airways First Class Lounge dining area London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge dining area London Heathrow

The buffet is at the very end, though you also have a separate drink station.

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British Airways First Class Lounge dining area London Heathrow

When we arrived they were still serving breakfast. In terms of cold options, the buffet had mixed fruit, yogurt, cold cuts, cheese, cereal, danishes, pastries, etc.

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British Airways First Class Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

In terms of hot options, there was porridge and then a variety of not-so-tasty looking British delicacies, including every type of breakfast meat imaginable, mushrooms, baked beans, and scrambled eggs.

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British Airways First Class Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

In addition to a large selection of soft drinks and juices, there were a variety of tea sandwiches.

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British Airways First Class Lounge drink selection London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge sandwiches London Heathrow

At 12PM the buffet switched from breakfast to lunch, which seems like a rather late time for that switchover to occur (I would have assumed it would be in the range of 10:30AM-11AM).

The lunch buffet looked reasonably fresh, and consisted of salads, quiche, soup, curry, etc.

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British Airways First Class Lounge lunch spread London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge lunch spread London Heathrow

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British Airways First Class Lounge lunch spread London Heathrow

In addition to the buffet, British Airways also has an a la carte menu on offer. The lunch menu is available starting at 12PM, and read as follows:

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Since we were connecting on shorthaul flights in economy and wouldn’t be eating till later in the day, we decided to order some food. I had a pea soup to start, which was perfectly fine though unmemorable.

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British Airways First Class Lounge lunch — pea soup

Then I had a salmon sandwich, which was really a thick piece of toast with cream cheese and flaked salmon.

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British Airways First Class Lounge lunch — Kiln roasted salmon sandwich

Meanwhile Matt had the greek salad, which looked like the better of the two options.

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British Airways First Class Lounge lunch — greek salad

Our fight to Stockholm ended up being delayed by a bit, though by around 12:40PM we left the lounge, as we had to take the train to one of the other Terminal 5 piers.

British Airways Galleries First Class Lounge bottom line

For what ultimately amounts to an elite lounge, I find the Galleries First Lounge to be decent. Can it compete with the true first class lounges, like those offered by Cathay Pacific and Qantas? Nope. But I don’t actually find the lounge to be much worse than The Concorde Room, which I realize others like more than I do.

Ultimately I’m a happy camper transiting Terminal 5 at Heathrow as a oneworld Emerald (well, at least other than the whole Heathrow part… hate that airport!).

What has been your experience with British Airways’ lounges at Heathrow?

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Comments

  1. QR seems to be stingy with lounge access as well. If I’m correct, they send oneworld passengers who aren’t on QR metal to the Oryx lounge.

  2. For those of you who fly all the time it must be frustrating to be exposed to these types of places. I have been in UK on several occasions and the British absolutely fail at exceptional service. I suppose you should be grateful the lounge didn’t burst into flames.Good report Ben

  3. Transited Heathrow in July and was in the Concorde Room – you are 100% correct in your estimation that it is unimpressive. Went over to the Galleries First Lounge and found very little differentiation between the two.

  4. Helpful report, as always…Even Lunch at 12 noon would be early in British terms, so 10.30 is still very much Breakfast!

  5. My “home” airport these days. Didn’t see it in your photos but I really like the terrace area at the far end, through the glass doors, with the big couches and fireplaces overlooking the Tarmac. Sitting there, JW Blue in hand, great space to chill out.

  6. Interesting review and I personally enjoyed the Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle prior to our F trip to Beijing very recently, using Avios and a 2-4-1 but I find it interesting that you compare the T5 lounges to Cathay and Qantas. Can you please compare it to the American Lounges? Any American lounges, on any American international carrier? That might provide a balance viewpoint.

  7. Might be a bit biased with this being my ‘home’ lounge, but it definitely beats all AA Clubs in the US. And you can access it with a cheapest LHR-MAN/GLA ticket…

    As John said, terrace is pretty good and I think you could’ve had the BA Burger [more gourmet style than fast food].

    Also, there is a breakfast menu with egg benedicts ect, didn’t have to go for buffet only.

  8. I think BA gets beat up quite a bit for their F experience, and it’s not all completely warranted. I think it’s all about expectations. I have to say that I had a pleasant experience in the CCR at LHR. It’s quite a busy lounge, given BAs large F inventory, and individual service does suffer a bit because of that. I did not come in with expectations of visiting the LH FCT, and found the service to be unmemorable, but adequate. Interestingly I liked this Galleries F lounge with its buffet, as it felt like I could get what I wanted without bothering a server and having to wait. The CCR at JFK was more memorable (as opposed to the utterly forgettable Galleries F lounge at JFK).

  9. This review pretty well matches my experiences, although I’ve heard a number of recent reports that the BA Galleries First lounges in both T5 and T3 have become quite dirty and tattered. I know the T5 one does get very crowded at certain times or during delays.

  10. Hey Ben, I arrive into T3 on Qantas First then connect onto BA club Europe to Istanbul T5. Can I access the lounge?

  11. @Dave,

    Flying in on Qantas in First doesn’t give you access to the BA first class lounge on your connection, but if you are a OneWorld Emerald, then you can access it based on status. In any case, you will have to first take the inter-terminal transfer bus from T3 to T5, then reclear security, and then you can access a lounge. If you are not OneWorld Emerald you should have access to the BA Galleries business class lounge.

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