Review: Qantas First Class Lounge Los Angeles
Review: British Airways Business Class A380 Los Angeles To London
Review: The Park Tower Knightsbridge, London
Review: British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow
Review: British Airways Business Class 777 London To Los Angeles
I often bash Heathrow for being among the worst airports in the world, which I really do think it is. That’s largely for reasons outside of the airport’s control, as they’ve just kept expanding and expanding without additional real estate, which I imagine is really tough. This has led to one of the most convoluted terminal layouts I’ve ever seen.
While we’ve reviewed just about every aspect of Heathrow Terminal 5 (The Concorde Room, The Galleries First Lounge, The Galleries Lounge, etc.), I figured I’d write this installment since it was one of the few times I used Heathrow and didn’t find it to be actively unpleasant.
Our flight from London to Los Angeles was scheduled to depart at 10:25AM. We decided to leave the hotel nice and early to beat traffic. Even though it was a Sunday, I figured traffic would be a lot better at 6:45AM than at 8:30AM, for example.
We took an UberX to the airport at 6:45AM. It was a new C-Class Mercedes, and the flat rate pricing was 37GBP, which seemed extremely reasonable. The drive took just 25 minutes, so it saved a significant amount of time compared to taking the Underground.
The Terminal 5 check-in area is quite nice, though the premium check-in is located at the far end of the terminal, opposite of where we were dropped off (I had forgotten where premium check-in is, so that was my mistake).
Since I’m oneworld Emerald we could use the BA First check-in counter, where a friendly associate had us checked in within a couple of minutes.
The benefit of schlepping to the far end of the terminal was that it was near the south security checkpoint, which was apparently significantly less busy than the north security checkpoint.
There was a dedicated Fast Track security checkpoint. In other words, not only did you have a separate line if you were eligible for Fast Track, but the checkpoint was dedicated as well. As a result, the queue was extremely short, and we were through in less than five minutes. That’s probably a new personal best for me at Heathrow. Best of all, they weren’t ridiculous about liquids, as they often are.
Once past security we found ourselves in the center of Terminal 5, which is actually a pretty nice terminal, especially with the holiday-themed lights they had dangling from the ceiling.
We headed towards the Galleries First Lounge. Just past security there’s a door to The Concorde Room, though if you only have access to the other lounges you have to walk left towards the escalators, take them down a level, and then walk back in the opposite direction to take an escalator up to the lounges. Quite a roundabout way to go!
As a reminder, the Galleries First Class Lounge is for oneworld Emerald members, as well as oneworld first class passengers. Those traveling in British Airways first class have access to The Concorde Room, which is the airline’s real first class lounge.
The first stop was the Elemis Spa, which is located between the entrances to all the lounges. As a first class passenger you can book an appointment in advance, while as a business class passenger you can only book day of. Every other airline which offers spa treatments seems to be able to accommodate passengers within an hour or so, while I never find that to be the case at British Airways. We asked about the possibility of a treatment at 7:30AM, and were told the next available was at 10:30AM. Nevermind then!
Once inside the lounge we headed to the dining area, which is located past the entrance and to the left. I do love the horse lamps they have just past the reception desks. If I ever buy a home I’d kill to have one of those.
The dining area is decent enough for what essentially amounts to a lounge for elite members. There’s a buffet in the center of the room, and then a couple more drink and food stations along the wall.
The buffet had absolutely massive croissants, chocolate danishes, and rolls.
Then there was a typical hot British breakfast, which I’m not personally a fan of.
Next to it was fresh fruit, yogurt, muesli, etc.
Then there were some rolls with jam.
On the buffet by the wall they had cheese, cold cuts, cereal, and granola.
Then there was also a huge drink station with fresh juice, soda, water, beer, etc.
In addition to the buffet there was an a la carte menu, which read as follows:
After a quick breakfast we headed to my favorite part of the lounge, located at the other end. Specifically, the champagne bar.
They had three types of champagne on offer:
While not quite as nice as the Grand Siecle on offer at The Concorde Room, that’s a mighty fine selection for what essentially amounts to a oneworld Emerald lounge.
We didn’t actually have that much more time in the lounge, so I spent a few minutes walking around and snapping a few pictures of the lounge.
Right next to the champagne bar is the business center.
Then in the main area of the lounge closest to the champagne bar is an area with hardwood floors and plush chairs.
The rest of the lounge has slightly more comfortable couch-style seating, with partitions between seating areas to create more of a sense of privacy.
My other favorite area of the lounge is the terrace, which overlooks the terminal. The one issue is that there aren’t many outlets on the terrace, so it’s not ideal if you’re trying to charge your electronics.
The most offensive aspect of the lounge are the bathrooms, which could use a refresh, to put it mildly.
Our flight was scheduled to board at 9:45AM, so we decided to leave the lounge at 9:30AM. Our flight was departing from the C Pier, which meant we had to take the train two stops from the main concourse.
That required going down the escalator to the lower level.
I thought it was pretty hilarious that Emirates had a huge ad right above the escalator, in a terminal which is exclusively served by British Airways and Iberia. Sort of brilliant!
The train runs frequently, so within about five minutes we found ourselves in the C Pier.
There we had to take the escalator back up to the concourse level.
Our departure gate, C53, was just two gates from the escalator.
The views of planes from this concourse are quite nice. There was a British Airways A380 right as we got off the escalator. While I don’t love British Airways as an airline, their paint scheme is mighty sexy, in particular on the A380.
Then two planes over was a 777-300ER, which would be taking us to Los Angeles.
We seemed to arrive at exactly the right time, as boarding commenced just two minutes after we arrived at the gate.
Because of how the gate was situated we didn’t even have to battle our way through a huge crowd to get on the plane.
British Airways Galleries First Lounge bottom line
This was probably the most pleasant experience I’ve had at Heathrow. Security was efficient, the lounge was nice enough, and I got on the plane pretty quickly. As far as Heathrow and British Airways go, I think that’s about all you can ask for.
At the same time, it amazes me the degree to which Virgin Atlantic kicks British Airways’ ass. Keep in mind I was using first class check-in and what’s technically their first class lounge.
As a Virgin Atlantic Upper Class/business class passenger you can use the dedicated Upper Class check-in area, which has a private security checkpoint, and then their incredible Clubhouse at Heathrow. That lounge beats The Concorde Room, in my opinion, let alone any business class lounge offered by British Airways.