British Airways has once again relaxed its lounge access rules for the Christmas and New Year period.
One of the biggest irritations for Executive Club members when travelling with their family on holiday is that cannot bring their whole family as guests into the lounges.
BA has sought to address last Christmas by allowing Gold cardholders to bring up to five guests into the Galleries Club lounges at Gatwick and Heathrow. It has now become a regular occurrence over Easter and the summer holidays.
BA has, once again, relaxed access lounge access rules for all BA lounges from Friday 14 December 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019.
However, unlike last Christmas, the rules appear to have been relaxed for selected members on an invitation only basis. This is most likely for Gold cardholders with a very high number of annual tier points.
If you are a Gold member of the Executive Club it’s worth checking your e-mails to see whether this applies to you.
Unfortunately, if you have not received an invitation, then normal lounge guesting rules will apply.
A gentle reminder that it is not within the control of the lounge staff to flex the rules. Please do not pressure staff into doing so.
Qantas has announced it is to open a new First Class lounge at Singapore Changi airport.
The airline has operated a joint business and First Class lounge at the airport since 2013. It used to operate separate business and First Class lounges jointly with BA, before the airlines decided to operate separate lounges.
It is to begin work a new First Class lounge in April 2019 and the new lounge is expected to open in late 2019. The new lounge will have seating for 240 customers.
Lounge features will include a cocktail bar, a la carte pre-flight dining and shower rooms. Qantas will work with its long standing chef Neil Perry and designer David Caon to design the lounge.
Qantas will also expand its existing business lounge to increase overall lounge capacity for 800 customers.
This does reverse a trend for Qantas to open joint business and First Class lounges, where it has also done at Hong Kong and London Heathrow Terminal 3.
This news does highlight the importance of Singapore to Qantas. It has this year reinstated flights from London Heathrow to Sydney via Singapore. It has also reinstated a former codeshare with Air France from Singapore to Paris and recently announced a new codeshare with KLM to Amsterdam.
Etihad business, First Class and The Residence passengers continue to have access to the lounge. As do Gold and Platinum members of the Etihad Guest frequent flyer programme. Etihad economy passengers can also purchase access to the lounge.
No1 Lounges is now selling access to passengers of all airlines departing from Terminal 4 on its website for £45 per person.
This move has been expected for some time. Etihad has had well documented financial problems of late. It had already been selling lounge access to economy passengers. A radical reshaping of its route network and fleet has been expected. However, the effective handing over of its lounge at London Heathrow is a significant move. It shows that nothing is off the table.
Whilst Etihad is at pains to emphasise that facilities will be reconfigured in the coming year, it is a simple fact that the lounge will be busier.
Having experienced third party lounges operated for both airlines and on a pay-per-access basis, it can be problematic. When the schedules of participating airlines and periods of peak passenger demand collide, they can become extremely crowded. Even simple things, like not having to queue to get in, cannot be taken for granted.
The House is open from 06:00 to 21:00 daily. Passengers must be over the age of 12 to access the lounge.
Lounge facilities include a tendered bar, a dining room with table service and a la carte morning breakfast and all day menus, and shower suites.
The lounge is located in the departures area, near the SkyTeam lounge, opposite Gate 10.
It follows the design aesthetic of BA’s recently refurbished Aberdeen and Rome which a minimalist Scandinavian feel.
The lounge has been enlarged. It is described by BA as having an “opulent” First bar, a new “boutique” pre-flight dining area and a quiet work area.
One genuinely new feature is a dedicated wine room with a wide range of wines available to taste. This could well make its way over to Heathrow when BA refurbishes its lounges there in the coming years.
Passengers travelling on British Airways from New York JFK Terminal 7 who are BA Executive Club Gold cardholders and Oneworld Emerald equivalents are eligible to use the lounge. Passengers ticketed in First Class can use the Concorde Room which is not being fully refurbished.
The lounge is also available to First Class passengers of ANA when flying on ANA from New York.
The next lounge to be refurbished is the expansive Galleries Club lounge which is now underway, leaving parts of the lounge partially closed. This is expected to be complete in 2019.
Despite its name, ticketed First Class passengers have access to the Concorde Room. This means this lounge is effectively for British Airways Executive Club Gold Cardholders and Oneworld Emerald equivalents, of which there are a very substantial number on this route.
It is fair to say that for a lounge branded as First Class it did underwhelm a little. However, given the length of the refurbishment the new lounge should be a big improvement.
Unfortunately, no press images are available at the moment. It is understood that BA’s regular press photographer is flying out to New York this weekend so hopefully a full set will be available next week.
The lounge has been enlarged and it is described by BA as having new zones including a dedicated wine room, an “opulent” First bar, and a quiet work area. There is also a new pre-flight dining area.
The Gold Guest List is an Executive Club tier above Gold introduced a little over ten years ago. It is not that widely publicised. You have to earn 5,000 tier points in one year to become a member and 3,000 tier points in consecutive years to retain membership. Its benefits include access to a dedicated customer service telephone line, additional Avios redemption benefits, additional lounge guests, and a Hilton Honors Diamond membership.
Given the change of policy for the summer it’s not certain how this will be applied over Christmas.
This is one of a number of measures BA has introduced for families including “status hold” for new parents. If you’ve travelled through Terminal 5 recently you may have noticed a new family check-in area at the North side of the terminal. Certainly from anecdotal experience, even for the most frequent flyers, it is the experience when travelling with their own family that has the greatest influence on their perception of the airline.
Let’s take a look. But first, a quick primer on the lounge:
Lounge Location and Access Eligibility
The lounge is located on the first floor of the arrivals area of Terminal 5.
When you have collected your luggage and cleared customs, look for the signs to the lounge and take a lift to the first floor and then follow the signs.
The lounge is open from 05:00 to 14:00 daily.
Passengers arriving from a BA long-haul flight in Club World or First Class are eligible to access the lounge, as well as Gold Executive Club cardholders if arriving from a long-haul flight. (I understand American Airlines Advantage Executive Platinum cardholders should also be able to access the lounge if travelling on a flight covered by the American Airlines & BA transatlantic joint-venture.)
The lounge does not fall within Oneworld alliance lounge access rules and no guests can be brought into the lounge.
Note if you are arriving on a BA long-haul flight at Terminal 3 you can use the American Airlines arrivals lounge.
If you’re not eligible to access either lounges, Plaza Premium also offer paid-for arrivals lounges at Terminals 2, 3, and 4 (though I’d skip the lounge at Terminal 3).
Lounge facilities include:
– Staffed luggage storage area
– Breakfast buffet offering a Full English and continental breakfast
– A wide range of seating at tables and benches, and armchairs.
– Private shower rooms with Elemis toiletries
– Elemis Travel Spa
– Business centre with PCs, printer and photocopier
– Concorde Breakfast Room with table service for First Class passengers
Here are details of two temporary lounge changes affecting BA passengers flying out of Miami and New York JFK in July 2018:
BA’s designated lounge at Miami airport is the Premium Lounge which it shares with other Oneworld alliance members such as Iberia, Finnair and Qatar Airways.
This is located on the fifth floor of Concourse E in the Central Terminal. This lounge is temporarily closed for repairs from Monday 2 July 2018 for approximately five weeks.
If you’ve ever visited the lounge you would know that whilst it is certainly spacious, the decor does scream “1980s office lobby”. I was told well over a year ago by a member of staff that the lounge was due to be refurbished, but there seems to be no sign of this happening yet.
Whilst the lounge is closed, BA passengers can use the American Airlines Flagship® lounge near Gate 30 of Concourse D in the North Terminal.
This is a relatively new lounge. By any measure, it will be a significant improvement with much more modern decor and a better choice of food and beverage more suited to pre-departure on an international flight. Like the Premium Lounge, it does have showers. Under Oneworld alliance lounge access rules, eligible BA passengers have access to this lounge in any event.
Whilst Concourses D and E are interlinked, it will be much longer walk from the lounge to the BA departure gates. Note that if the BA flight is departing from Gates E20-E33 there is a train to these gates on level four of Concourse E, as per this official map.
(From experience of flying into and out of Miami many times over the years, the only thing that can be said with any certainty is that each time it’s different so the best advice is just be prepared for it not to be the same as before.)
As part of this, the Elemis travel spa and showers in the Galleries Club lounge are closed from Saturday 7 July 2018 to Monday 30 July 2018 for refurbishment, so there will be no pre-flight showers available.
The Galleries First lounge appears to be still closed for refurbishment and there are no showers in the remaining BA lounge at JFK Terminal 7, the Concorde Room, which is for First Class passengers and Concorde Room cardholders only.
– Seating for 455 passengers across 15 different types of seats including the Polaris seat which features a privacy divider, an integrated table and personal lamp
– No less than 570 power outlets and 450 USB ports
– 10 private day beds with Saks Fifth Avenue bedding
– 10 shower suites with Cowshed bath & body products
– A private dining area with table service for 48 guests
– Self-service buffet
– A staffed bar with a dedicated cocktail menu
The lounge officially opens to passengers on Monday 4 June 2018. It follows a recent Polaris lounge opening in San Francisco. New Polaris lounges are due to open in Houston and Los Angeles later this year. United will open a new Polaris lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 2 in the next couple of years.
Under United lounge access rules passengers must be travelling in business or first class on an international flight on United Airlines or a Star Alliance member airline to be eligible to access the lounge.
The lounge does make United a much stronger competitor on the London – New York route. It is relatively weak in terms of frequency with 5 flights a day versus 16 joint American Airlines & BA flights, and 9 joint Delta & Virgin Atlantic flights.
It certainly raises the bar for BA at New York JFK Terminal 7, where it is due to open new lounges later this year. Many readers may recall United once had a lounge at JFK Terminal 7 which was dimly lit with terrible coffee.
British Airways has this week opened its new lounge in Aberdeen.
It follows a similar design aesthetic to its recently opened Rome Fiumicino airport. As with Rome there is a distinctly Scandinavian feel. It is a sharp contrast to the rest of BA’s lounge portfolio.
At 380 m2 in size, the lounge features a wide variety of seating options, with views of the runway. The centrepiece of the lounge is a self-pour granite topped bar. BA also promises food appropriate to the time of day.
The lounge also includes posters and art work from the airline’s collection and “The Long Winding Shores” by artist Maddie Rose Hills.
As is clear from the images below, there is no shortage of powerpoint throughout the lounge.