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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.
Lounge Location and Opening Hours
The lounge is located on the 2nd floor of the arrivals section of Terminal 3.
Once you have cleared immigration and customs, follow the signs for the American Airlines arrivals lounge and take a lift to the 2nd floor. The lounge’s inconspicuous entrance is immediately in front of you as you exit the lift.
The lounge is open from 05:00 to 14:30 daily.
Lounge Access Criteria
This is where it becomes a little convoluted.
Arrivals lounges do not fall within normal Oneworld alliance reciprocal access rules. You can access the American Airlines lounge if:
You are arriving at Heathrow on the same day in business or first class on American Airlines, British Airways (Terminal 3 long-haul only), Cathay Pacific or Qantas marketed and operated flight.
You are arriving at Heathrow on the same day on an American Airlines operated (and marketed by either American or BA) flight and are an AAdvantage Executive Platinum, AAdvantage ConciergeKey, Oneworld Emerald or British Airways Premier cardholder.
You are arriving at Heathrow Terminal 3 on the same day on a British Airways long-haul flight (and marketed by either American or BA) and are a Oneworld Emerald or British Airways Premier card holder.
Unlike Oneworld departure lounges, guests cannot be invited into the lounge.
Lounge facilities include:
Self-service luggage storage area
Private shower suites and bathrooms
Valet pressing service
A la carte menus and a hot & cold buffet selection with catering provided by Rhubarb
A wide variety of seating, with many seats having at-seat power
Business centre with PCs
Newspapes, magazines, and two live TV screens
Thoughts on the lounge
Overall, this is a very good lounge. Admittedly, the welcome on arrival wasn’t the most enthusiastic we have received. But matters improved quickly.
The shower suites are very spacious and well-appointed with an ample selection of toiletries.
The dining area buffet offers a broad menu of continental and cooked breakfast options.
It was also noteworthy that at the time of our visit (post midday) a selection of lunch options were also available including pasta and meatballs as well as cold salads and sandwiches.
In addition, the lounge offers hot food options until closing whereas the BA arrivals lounge at Terminal 5 tends to offer only cold continental items after 12:30. The dining area was well looked after by three members of staff who kept themselves busy.
There is a menu of a la carte options to order which included Eggs Benedict; American Pancakes; Bacon or Sausage Butty; Smashed Avocado on Toast and Smoked Salmon Tartine.
There is also a self-service coffee station and a well-stocked fridge of soft drinks.
As is par the course for US airlines, the decor does veer a little towards the corporate and steers well clear of anything that could be seen as excessive or indulgent.
Unlike the BA arrivals lounge at Terminal 5, there are no dedicated facilities for First Class passengers. Nor is there a travel spa. However, this would not in our view be reason enough for BA First Class passengers to head over to Terminal 5 instead of using this lounge. Whilst the lounge is much smaller than BA’s lounge, there was more than enough room to accommodate its guests at the time of our visit.
Although arrivals lounges are ostensibly aimed at passengers who have to go to work immediately after their flight they are a good option for passengers who want to take things at a leisurely pace before leaving the airport. It’s also good to be able to enjoy an airport lounge without having to keep an eye on the departures board.
Alternative Options at Terminal 3
For passengers who are not eligible to access the lounge, Plaza Premium do offer a paid for lounge at Terminal 3. This is the arrivals lounge formerly occupied by Delta Air Lines. It is a much more modest affair, even compared to Plaza Premium’s own offerings in other Heathrow terminals, with relatively limited catering but it does the job if you are looking for a shower or somewhere to work on arrival.