BA relaxes lounge access rules for summer holidays

Members of the Gold Guest List can take up to five guests into BA lounges from Saturday 14 July to Sunday 3 September 2018.

London Air Travel » Lounges

British Airways Lounge - London Gatwick South Terminal
British Airways Lounge – London Gatwick South Terminal (Credit: British Airways)

For as long as we can remember one of the biggest complaints about the BA Executive Club is the rule that allows Silver and Gold Executive Club members to bring only one guest into the lounges.

The biggest irritation is when an Executive Club member is travelling on their family holiday and cannot bring their whole family into the lounge.

BA has sought to address this in the past 12 months by allowing Gold cardholders to bring up to five guests into the Galleries Club lounges at Gatwick and Heathrow over Christmas and Easter.

BA has, once again, relaxed access lounge access rules from today, Saturday 14 July, to Sunday 2 September 2018.

However, there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that the rules appear to have been relaxed for all BA lounges.

The bad news is that rules have been relaxed only for members of the “Gold Guest List”.

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.

BA London Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge Review

BA’s London Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge has been open for over ten years. Is it now time for a redesign?

London Air Travel » Lounges

BA London Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge Breakfast Buffet Area (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
BA London Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge Breakfast Buffet Area (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

When London Heathrow Terminal 5 opened a little over ten years ago, one of the promised benefits for premium passengers was an improved arrivals lounge experience.

Readers may recall long queues for showers at the old Terminal 4 arrivals lounge and a long route to the departures area for the equivalent lounge in Terminal 1.

And on the opening day of Terminal 5, one of the few things to go right was the opening of a vastly improved arrivals lounge.

Designed by David Davies & Stuart Barron the bright, spacious lounge featured scores of shower rooms, an Elemis travel spa, and a wide selection of seating.

Of course, much has changed at Heathrow in ten years, so how does the lounge fare ten years on?

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

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

One a practical level, not only do you need a boarding pass to enter the lounge you also need to present your boarding pass at the luggage storage area and at the reception desk for the shower rooms.
Continue reading “BA London Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals Lounge Review”

BA Miami & New York temporary lounge changes

Here are details of temporary lounge closures and facility changes in Miami and New York JFK Terminal 7 in July 2018.

London Air Travel » Lounges

South Beach, Miami (Image Credit: London Air Travel)
South Beach, Miami (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

Here are details of two temporary lounge changes affecting BA passengers flying out of Miami and New York JFK in July 2018:

Miami

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.)

New York JFK Terminal 7

BA is also in the the process of refurbishing New York JFK Terminal 7.

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.

United reveals Newark Polaris Lounge

United has revealed details of its new Polaris lounge for premium international passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport which opens on Monday 4 June 2018.

London Air Travel » Lounges

United Polaris Lounge Entrance Newark Liberty International Airport (Image Credit: United Airlines)
United Polaris Lounge Entrance Newark Liberty International Airport (Image Credit: United Airlines)

United has today, Thursday 31 May 2018, released press images of its latest international lounge under the “Polaris” brand at Terminal C of Newark Liberty International Airport.

At 27,000 sq ft in size, the lounge features:

– A light installation in the entrance by Richard Clarkson

– 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.

More general information on the Polaris airport and in-flight experience is available at United.
Continue reading “United reveals Newark Polaris Lounge”

BA opens new Aberdeen lounge

British Airways has opened a new lounge in Aberdeen, the second lounge after Rome to showcase its new lounge concept.

London Air Travel » Lounges

British Airways lounge at Aberdeen International Airport (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)
British Airways lounge at Aberdeen International Airport (Image Credit: Nick Morrish/British Airways)

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.

The new lounge is part of a rolling worldwide lounge refurbishment programme at BA.

Passengers travelling in Club Europe and Executive Club Silver and Gold cardholders are eligible to use the lounge. BA flies from London Heathrow to Aberdeen up to eight times daily.
Continue reading “BA opens new Aberdeen lounge”

American Airlines London Heathrow Arrivals Lounge Review

Our review of the recently refurbished American Airlines Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3, which is also open to eligible passengers flying on British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

London Air Travel » Lounges

American Airlines Arrivals Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3 (Image Credit: London Air Travel)

One of the many unique things about London Heathrow is the sheer number of arrivals lounges.

Outside of London arrivals lounges are few and far between. The only lounges that immediately spring to mind are Cathay Pacific’s The Arrival in Hong Kong, Lufthansa’s Arrivals Lounge in Frankfurt and South African Airways’ Arrivals Lounge in Johannesburg.

At Heathrow, it’s a different story. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Star Alliance offer arrivals lounges at their respective hubs in Terminals 5, 3 and 2. Plaza Premium also offer paid-for arrivals lounges at Terminals 2, 3, and 4.

American Airlines has long had an arrivals lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 and this week we had our first visit since the lounge closed for refurbishment in 2016.
Continue reading “American Airlines London Heathrow Arrivals Lounge Review”

Qantas opens London Heathrow lounge

Qantas has opened its first dedicated lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.

London Air Travel » Lounges

Qantas London Heathrow Lounge (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Qantas has officially opened its new lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3. The lounge opens to passengers on Wednesday 29 November 2017.

Designed by Woods Bagot the lounge is split over two levels and features:

– An at seat dining area with a la carte menus
– Hot and cold buffet food
– A marble cocktail bar, overlooked by a brass chandelier
– A separate gin bar
– An all day barista coffee service
– A “Quench” hydration station with tisane, fruit infused water, sparkling water
– Six shower suites

As you can see from the pictures and video below wood and marble feature extensively throughout. Whilst Qantas lounges outside of Australia are relatively few and far between this is a typically high quality addition.

The lounge is open from 8am to 8.30pm daily. Passengers flying business and first class on Oneworld airlines are eligible to enter the lounge as are Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald cardholders. Qantas Club members and Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold customers are also eligible.

Qantas London Heathrow Lounge (Image Credit: Qantas Airways)

Continue reading “Qantas opens London Heathrow lounge”

BA “refreshes” its London Heathrow Concorde Room

BA has “refreshed” its Concorde Room First Class lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5.

London Air Travel » Lounges

British Airways’ Concorde Room at Terminal 5, London Heathrow on 07 November 2017 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

BA has undertaken, to use its lexicon, a “refresh” of its Concorde Room at London Heathrow Terminal 5.

There are no structural changes to the lounge as such. The basic layout and services in the lounge remain the same. The main changes are the reulphostering of furniture and changes to the layout of the terrace area with the addition of new sofas, day loungers and cabanas. And duck feet lamps.

A set of press images and video is below.

To quote those well known Australian cultural commentators Kath & Kim: “It’s nice. It’s different. It’s unusual.”

On related news, London Heathrow Terminal 5 has gained its second paid-for access lounge with the opening of a Plaza Premium lounge.The lounge is next to Gate A7 in the main terminal. The lounge is open from 05:00 to 22:00 daily. It promises views of the runway, showers, and a full bar and fresh food. No press pictures are available but Plaza Premium has built up a highly regarded portfolio of lounges at London Heathrow so it should impress.
Continue reading “BA “refreshes” its London Heathrow Concorde Room”

BA’s lounge plans for Heathrow, the UK, Europe, USA & South Africa

BA is to refurbish lounges at Heathrow, Aberdeen, Manchester, Geneva, Rome, San Francisco, Chicago, Miami & Johannesburg airports.

London Air Travel » Lounges

British Airways Lounge - London Gatwick South Terminal
British Airways Lounge – London Gatwick South Terminal (Credit: British Airways)

BA held a press event yesterday for a select number of travel journalists and bloggers (though someone at The Daily Telegraph clearly did not get an invitation).

Under the curious title of “#BAInvesting4U” journalists were ferried from London Gatwick to London Heathrow via a three and a half four flight on a brand new Boeing 787-900.

The whole event was something of a rearguard action in response to negative press coverage and a narrative of cut backs and service failures.

In truth much of what was announced today is known already: BA has opened new lounges at Gatwick, a new security channel for First Class passengers and BA Executive Club Gold Cardholders at London Heathrow, it’s adding WiFi and revamping its Club World service with a new seat to come with the Airbus A350 in 2019.

You can read BA’s take on yesterday’s announcements at ba.com

One point that did catch our attention is BA’s new lounge refurbishment programme.

Continue reading “BA’s lounge plans for Heathrow, the UK, Europe, USA & South Africa”

The delayed BA lounges at Gatwick are now open

London Air Travel » Lounges

British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)

There has been a lot of interest in the planned new British Airways lounges at London Gatwick’s South Terminal which, from today, is BA’s new home at Gatwick.

The lounges were planned to open today, Wednesday 25 January 2017. However, this has been delayed.

It is understood that construction work is complete and the official line from BA is that it is hoped that the lounges will open “soon”.

In the interim, passengers travelling in First Class on any flight and Gold Executive Club cardholders can use the third party operated No 1 Clubrooms.

In addition, all passengers travelling to Jersey, New York JFK and Bermuda who are eligible for lounge access can use this lounge.  However, this will be subject to capacity constraints.

All other passengers who are eligible to access lounges (e.g. Club Europe, Club World and Silver Executive Club cardholders) can use a temporary “Speedbird” lounge operated by BA.

If you are flying BA from Gatwick you should be handed a letter at check-in explaining these options.

It is obviously disappointing that the new lounges are not open today. However, the problems associated with its opening do not seem insurmountable.

Update 7 February 2017

It is understood that the new lounges have undergone a “soft” opening ahead of a formal launch.  However, not all facilities may be available at all times.

The new Club lounge is open from 05:15 until the last flight has departed.  Passengers travelling in Club World on any long-haul flight and Club Europe to Jersey, and all British Airways Executive Club Silver cardholders travelling on long-haul flights or to Jersey are eligible to use the lounge.

The new First lounge is open from 07:00 until 20:00 and all passengers travelling in First Class and all British Airways Executive Club Gold cardholders are eligible to use the lounge.  If there capacity constraints passengers will be invited to use the No 1 Club rooms.

All other passengers, e.g. those travelling in Club Europe to other than Jersey and on Business U.K. tickets and British Airways Executive Club Silver cardholders travelling on short-haul flights other than Jersey will be invited to use the temporary Speedbird lounge.

Update 20 February 2017

It is understood that the new lounges are now fully operational and all other temporary lounge arrangements have been withdrawn.

British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)
British Airways Lounge, South Terminal, London Gatwick (Image Credit: British Airways)