American Airlines Moving To Heathrow Terminal 5

Filed Under: American

American Airlines will be changing terminals at London Heathrow, and that’s either good or bad news, depending on how you look at it.

American moving to LHR T5

It has today been formally announced that American Airlines will be moving to London Heathrow Terminal 5 as of July 7, 2020. This is British Airways’ primary terminal at Heathrow, and it means that American and British Airways will be co-located for transatlantic flights, given that they have a joint venture.

American Airlines is leaving Heathrow Terminal 3

I mentioned this in passing in a post earlier about British Airways reopening lounges, but what I wasn’t aware of at the time is that this is intended to be a permanent move.

Initially I was under the impression that this was temporary, given that American Airlines’ former Terminal 3 has temporarily closed. However, an American Airlines spokesperson has confirmed to me that the plan is for American and British Airways to be co-located long term.

As far as the Terminal 5 setup goes:

British Airways First Wing Heathrow Terminal 5

The only oneworld lounges in Terminal 5 are operated by British Airways, so American Airlines premium passengers, oneworld elite members, and Admirals Club members, will have access to these lounges.

The writing was on the wall for this move

While this was only officially announced today, I suspected that this would happen for quite a while, even pre-pandemic:

British Airways is moving to JFK Terminal 8

The big question all along has been how they’d find space for American at Terminal 5, though I guess the pandemic has helped with that:

  • British Airways, like all airlines, will be shrinking a bit in the coming years, given weaker demand
  • British Airways historically also operates flights out of Terminal 3, so I wonder if some of those will be maintained, or if everything will operate from Terminal 5
  • While there were rumors that British Airways will pull out of Gatwick Airport, that seems unlikely at this point

I’m kind of sad about this development

Objectively American Airlines moving to Terminal 5 is a positive development:

  • American and British Airways have a transatlantic joint venture, and this will create a better experience for most connecting passengers
  • Terminal 5 is no doubt prettier and considered to be nicer than Terminal 3

That being said, personally I’m not at all a fan of this move. As a oneworld Emerald member I loved flying American Airlines out of Terminal 3. Terminal 3 has both the exceptional Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge and the Qantas Lounge, both of which I have access to as a oneworld Emerald member.

Cathay Pacific First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Qantas Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Meanwhile the British Airways Galleries First Lounge (which is open to oneworld Emerald members) is… not amazing.

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 5

On top of that, while Terminal 5 might be prettier, Terminal 3 is significantly easier to use, in my opinion. I strongly dislike how you have to take a train to get to most gates, which isn’t the case in Terminal 3.

Bottom line

American Airlines is co-locating with British Airways at Heathrow Terminal 5. For most people this is probably good news, though I’m sure other oneworld elite members will share my frustration about the significant downgrade this represents for the lounge experience.

What do you make of American’s move to LHR T5 — are you happy about it, or not?

Comments
  1. This is really terrible news, BA lounges are beyond subpar and overcrowded, I frequently opt to fly AA on a return to LAX just for a visit to the Cathay lounge! 🙁

  2. Question on JFK: Does the original plan still stand where only additional gates and stands will be added in light of AS joining oneworld or will the terminal be completed from the proposed design?

    Back to the original topic: Is there space for AA? Will other oneworld partners move in long term?

  3. The BA lounges are indeed not amazing at all, anywhere across their system and notably at the mother ship that is T5. It is surprising AA never advanced a plan to improve its lounge offering at T3 pre pandemic of course. The Admiral’s Club there is basic at best, with a good amount of space, but the decor is decidedly 1997 retro and it certainly does not sparkle the way Flagship branded lounges do in the US airports where AA operates them. The move though does make some sense, given the role of LHR in the AA system and the BA JV. T3 has been improved upon a lot, but pre-pandemic, was it not slated for an eventual demolition and replacement?

  4. This presumably means that the BA Galleries Club lounges are going to be flooded with Admirals Club members (not F/J/Emerald/Sapphire, but the paying members) — which is a problem, because the Galleries Club lounges tended to be PACKED pre-pandemic. I understand that post-pandemic the airlines are shrinking, but I still can’t imagine this is going to be a positive experience for lounge users.

  5. Selfishly, I am not a fan of this news. The BA lounges are already crowded without adding in AA passengers, any of whom can purchase access rather than having to earn status. For BA frequent flyers who get a Concorde Room card, this is also disappointing as more BA flights will likely be displaced to Terminal 3 upon reopening which has no Concorde Room, potentially significantly devaluing the perk that is given at 5000 tier points… I understand this doesn’t impact a huge number of people but is still of a concern and whilst other oneworld lounges in T3 are arguably better the exclusivity of the experience is reduced somewhat given all gold cards can enter those unlike the Concorde Room which is reserved for Gold Guest List.

  6. You can try and get an “invitation” from CX or QF lounge staff and they will let you transfer over from T5 to T3. I even managed to do that without by sweet talking my way through, but was told that normally an invitation is necessary. However, it will take forever to transfer between the two terminals, so I would only suggest it if you have a 4+ hour layover.

  7. Ben,
    Like you I see the logic but share your frustrations! I worry thatufBApull out of T3 I will nol longerget my T3 preflight lounge crawl. I wonder if one of the BA T5 loungesgetsconvertedintoan admiralsclub!

  8. Very much agreed. For exec plats this is at best a mixed blessing. Love the food in the Cathay business class lounge too, the noodles and rice.

  9. RIP, I’ll miss the CX lounge greatly — no more dim sum for me. Just no comparison between CX and the BA lounges.

  10. As a frequent flyer I thinks it’s a downgrade for 1 world and AA passengers . Far too much hype abt T5..BA lounges are crammed … rude agents ..horrendous food ..its like cheap cruise ship buffet too many BA gold guest list..their family and on the top Admirals club members its gonna be like an open market. Terminal 3 American agents always done great job .. their lounges looked old ..but they offered best breakfast at F class and best admirals club in the system with proper food . And American got dedicated Lounge staff they are so friendly and always go above and beyond irrespective of your status . It’s a downgrade . Nothing to happy abt

  11. Do you think CX and QF may move to Terminal 5 as well in the future and make T5 the oneworld terminal?

  12. Not good ..I bet American will operate from their B or C concourse…where you have to take train from T5 main terminal. Horrendous Q at the fast track . Only limited lounge facility..probably serving meat ball and pasta whole day at BA lounge. If you are trying to make last minute check in forget it you will never make it . In terminal 3 AA flagship check in staff great they always will make your flight possible. I love American concierge key staff there ..excellent personalised service.. The only agents in their system they remember and thank passengers for their buisness.. plus Good food and excellent shower at F class lounge. Hope they can give same standard service at Terminal 5 . Otherwise its gonna be the worst decesion ever . AA passengers will hate it .

  13. Does this mean I won’t have to go through security if connecting from AA to BA in terminal 5? I hate hate hate security at LHR!

  14. Oh crap! @Ejc pinpointed what i was going to say. The BA lounges are already very full. And if BA move to T8 JFK then BA pax will need to use AA lounge. No concorde lounge. 1st world i know but one is paying for the extras with tix prices. Not good. Or could BA improve the lounge at T5c

  15. We just had a layover in T3 and spent time in the CX and Quantas lounges. This is not positive news for planning my layovers in LHR now.

  16. That’s a shame . AA going to loose their identity at heathrow . As you mentioned before if this move is permanent I like to see a flagship lounge at terminal 5 . In UK american considered as top class airline . Its gonna damage their brand if they try to squeeze everyone in to BA terrible lounge.I am BA gold but I prefer AA special services at terminal 3 . Excellent agents at their clubs and check in .And even best boarding Experience. I have to say there are lots on negatives than positives in this transfer .

  17. @ Katie:
    No. Everybody connecting at T5 goes through security and it’s not particularly well designed.

    Re T5 AA/BA: A definite plus. Especially as Oneworld Emeralds can use the BA First Check-in wing and avoid the post-security obligatory schlep through the ghastly department store aka Terminal.

  18. Moderator: Sorry, feel free to consolidate with above.

    Re T5 AA/BA, also a bonanza as in T3, AA gates are usually good training material for a Marathon that one isn’t usually in the mood to run at 6 AM after a 7 hour flight.

  19. Ok so the lounge options won’t be so good but the T5->T3 transfer is utterly dreadful. Travelling BA MAN/LHR then AA LHR/LAX was not a good experience, overall I’m in favour of this change.

    > @Lucky: I strongly dislike how you have to take a train to get to most gates

    I’d highly recommend skipping the train, staying on the lift to a lower level and using the walkway, it’s quiet, a chance to stretch your legs and a calmer experience.

  20. Terminal 3 is on the way out anyway. It’s going to get demolished to turn Heathrow into an Atlanta style toast rack with the current terminals 2 and 5 as the main entrances.

    Sooner or later American had to move. I wonder if Finnair and JAL (other JV partners) will move as well.

  21. I still have some nightmares of Heathrow. A few years ago we landed at T5 from another country in Europe (either Belgium or Germany) and had to get to T4 for an AA flight back to Chicago. We took the shuttle and entered T4 only to get a message from our travel agent telling us due to flight delays and connections in Chicago that they put us on a BA flight instead.

    So you can’t exit and re catch the shuttle (it is a one way operation). The only options were flight connections and going through customs. Then the custom lady didn’t like the fact we had no luggage and we tried to explain what was going on and that we needed to get back to T5. Fortunately it wasn’t crowded and a more senior official overhead us and told her to let us in.

    We cleared customs had to go out and catch another shuttle, get to T5 and go through security and run to the flight. Thankfully we made it in time and had a great flight but I’m not into stressful stuff like that.

  22. @Katie, you will still have to go through security when connecting at LHR T5. I have done it countless times on a BA-BA connection. I prefer to clear customs and immigration (in the past I have been a paid member of IRIS and Registered Traveller; US passport holders can now use the E-gates which usually get you thru in 1-3 minutes unless you are unlucky) then go thru security at the First Wing (BA Gold Card Holder). If you have any OW elite status or are traveling in a premium cabin, you can use Fast Track security both for T5-T5 and T5-Landside transfers.

  23. Who is sad about the news had never to hop between T5 and T3. A lengthy and security ways annoying process. And what silly long walk arriving by bus at T3. And still a fifty fifty chance your luggage does not arrive at final destination. Did it last year and had a deja vu from my many travels I did in the 90s. Decided not to use LHR any more for US travel because of that setup.

  24. Fully agree with @GMan. Every business trip I take to and from Europe requires the arduous transfer between T3 and T5 both ways, sometimes with a worrisomely short connection. If avoiding that transfer and its concomitant anxiety on a short connection means sitting in a more basic lounge for a few hours, that’s a trade I’ll take any day.

  25. If AA F can use Concorde does this mean BA F can use FFD at jfk ? That will take away from the very private atmosphere since it’s just AA F (well and CX at that location)

  26. This is a shame. In addition to the loss of the CX and QF lounges it also means we are losing the excellent AA arrivals lounge at LHR T3, in exchange for the decidedly lackluster BA arrivals lounge at T5.

    On the T5 end, it also means the usually quiet B concourse Galleries club will become busy.

    * I’ve never understood the hate that the T3/T5 transfer process gets. It’s a mild inconvenience at worst. Most times it’s a short walk to a most empty bus.

  27. I love how everyone is complaining about this move. Not as if it matters right now, lol. Heck, at this point I am grateful for a flight to anywhere that does not involve anger, sickness, or being turned back at border patrol.

    Y’all are getting way ahead of yourselves!

  28. All this talk about how crowded the T5 lounges are and how much worse they will be with AA passengers as well…. What people seem to fail to take into account is that there will not be as many flights as there were pre-Covid, at least not for a few years to come. Were it not for the subsequent reduction in passengers and flights, the AA move would not be taking place at all as there would have been no space to accommodate them in T5. Had there been, there wouldn’t have been as many BA flights in T3 as there were a few months ago.
    The big question now is what will happen in the next couple of years if/when passenger volumes build up again and there is no further space in T5 – will AA be kicked out, or will BA revert to a split terminal operation…..

  29. @ GMan – I love the T5 walkways. Quiet and cool, and I always find the estimated walking time way too pessimistic. I know some people who are anxious about using them, but the BA Flyer Talk has an excellent Step-by-step guide to using them.

    And while frequent AA flyers out of T3 may mourn the loss of the T3 OW lounges, I’m sure CX and QF flyers are in a good mood tonight as they can look forward to quieter lounges.

  30. This is bad. Firstly I’d just like to say that I love uniformity and the fact that T5 was almost exclusively BA was perfect to me. So to see that being lost is upsetting to me but I get it I’m a mad perfectionist, not everyone has these problems. Now for less subjective things. Pre Rona T5 was rammed almost all the time. Granted demand is almost non existent right now but when it eventually recovers what happens then. There isn’t room at T5 for an extra daily flight let alone for all of American’s. The only way this can work in the long term is if a lot of new gates are constructed. There could also potentially be a third satellite concourse (D Gates) for American Airlines but unless BA and AA are expecting demand to remain low for many years then T5 will become quickly overcrowded. Without a concrete expansion plan this idea will create chaos at Heathrow and be an overwhelming negative for Terminal 5.

  31. Most Americans will not be going to the UK for a considerable period of time until both the USA and the UK get their covid 19 act together.

  32. Oh great, now more people using T5 BA First Wing check in area… at least AA/ Emerald pax won’t be able to use Concorde Lounge.

  33. I am bummed at this too – loved CX F and the chairs by the window. Way better than any BA lounge that is usually over 80 degrees F. I fly to BCN 1x/year at least so I will still get to experience from time to time unless they move that to 5 also as noted by Lucky

    I wonder where AA will station the agents to ask all the in-depth questions if transferring to the US since you won’t go downstairs at T5 anymore to catch bus to 3.

    Finally – totally agree with poster above – e-gates to BA F check in wing will be the way to go for Emeralds

  34. I understand the clubs may not be what you want, but people still don’t seem to understand the entire world has changed and nothing will be the same. This is about both airlines co-depending on each other for survival. Easier connections throughout all of Europe will allow American to get people anywhere they want to go as they backtrack from international. For at least the next 5 years, you’re going to see Alliances intertwine like never before to allow seemless connections without having to invest a lot. Look at Seattle….AA and Alaska utilizing each other. Business travel isn’t going to be the lucrative market it once was.l..getting people point A to B as seemless as possible is the near future of flying.

  35. I must confess that my immediate thoughts were similar – that this development would mean that I would have less chance to visit the CX or (to a lesser extent) QF lounge in the future (especially if BA never returns to T3, which I also suspect is inevitable)!

    However, from a business point of view, I find it challenging to complain about this move mainly due to my decreased ability to visit the lounges of airlines that I am not flying with or a direct member of (albeit Oneworld).

    I hope this move will only encourage BA to further improve the lounge experience at T5 (which I rather enjoy). This might even mean the opening of the rumoured satellite lounge in 5C. For those complaining about crowded lounges, I have never seen the BA lounge in 5B overly busy.

    Also, as other readers point out, this must make sense logistically, especially for the many passengers who need to transfer between BA and AA at Heathrow due to the joint venture. While I am also a London-based reader who rarely needs to make this connection, I do however more often need to transfer between JFK Terminal 7 and 8, and can’t wait for the BA move (except that I really like BA’s new JFK lounge!)

  36. I’ll miss AA’s Arrival Lounge. So nice to grab a shower after an overnight flight. I also liked the shopping at Terminal 3. Terminal 5 doesn’t look as good in that respect. I am not a happy camper.

  37. Further to that, in any normal industry you’d have a lot of consolidation. A sensible move would be for IAG, JAL and AA to combine and buy Finnair and Alaska. (And for Lufthansa and united to combine and delta/AF/KLM). That can’t happen so expect more immunised joint ventures and more consolidation of facilities to wring out efficiencies.

  38. LOL.. Some of these comments are a testament to the fact that people will never be happy with anything 😛

  39. Lounge is not everything. For a majority of the passengers who do not visit any aforementioned lounges, the elimination of T3-T5 transfer is a big plus. I always have to be careful about the two flights connecting at LHR to make sure they are both BA to minimize the trouble although AA may have a newer plane on the same route.

  40. Lucky, off-topic, but FYI, now non-citizens who criticize the Chinese government anywhere in the world are at risk of going to jail if they even set foot in the city, even if they are just transiting through the airport. China is not playing these days…

  41. For years, the aspiration at LHR as to consolidate into three terminals, each “owned” by an airline alliance. T5 was to be the oneworld terminal not, as it’s turned out, primarily the BA terminal.

    T5 was always meant to be extendable, by adding more satellites (someone above referred to this — the “toast-rack” concept of a line of identical satellites all connected by that dreadful train). But, as is usual in the UK, what was actually done was based on what would make the most money for the various privatised interests.

    Change is usually also opportunity and, after years of being marginalised (especially by JVs), the current situation offers the 3 alliances a chance to increase their importance. But this consolidation of BA/AA at both JFK and LHR clearly shows that the alliances have work to do.

  42. You don’t have to get a train to “most gates” at Terminal 5, the majority are A gates reached directly from the main terminal building. It’s just that long haul overwhelmingly departs from the satellite buildings, so it may seem that way if you are only using LHR for intercontinental flights.

  43. Checked Finnair flights for around August/September time and they are going from T5, not T2 as currently. Maybe a sign things for OneWorld are consolidating in T5 in the future.

  44. Could AA not make space for a lounge on one of the T5 satellites and operate at those gates?

  45. For my own selfish reason, this is a good move. As a CX Gold = OW Sapphire, the CX lounge will be less crowed, and quieter. I don’t mind to have reciprocal agreements for lounge access between airlines, but AA lounge quality is very sub standard, compare with other OW member airlines like CX, QF, QR.

  46. I believe there’s space in the C gates for a new lounge. If AA could mainly fly from there, an admiral’s club might work.

  47. Deep down, I am pleased about the move. I always hated the T3 to T5 connections bus. T5 is a great terminal with a Fortnum and Masons outlet airside!!
    I will miss the AA Lounge at T3. The staff were always superb with me and the breakfast offerings much superior to the BA T5 Lounge.

  48. Reading these comments reminds me of why I refuse to make connections in London. I’ve found Frankfurt and Munich, despite their drawbacks, to have better connections to the rest of Europe.

  49. I think the only OW Arrivals Lounge in T3 is AA, so I wonder what CX will do now for an arrivals lounge?

  50. This is connected to the fact that US border clearance will be done at T5 for both AA and BA.

    But I agree the First lounge is far too busy already.

    But I suspect several flights to Europe will move to T3

  51. If the OW airlines indeed were consolidating one terminal, this would be great. But I doubt the capacity, even if traffic will be less for quite some time …

  52. @ Lee these terminal moves have nothing to do with pre clearance.

    IF and it is still a mega huge IF LHR ever gets pre clearance it will be for all airlines at LHR and not just BA and AA.

    The necessary legislation has yet to be laid (if it ever will as LHR was on a list published by the DHS in May 2015 and nothing has been done in the past 5 years to permit it) before the UK Parliament (and probbably not before the US House and Senate either) to enable it to happen let alone any required facilities to be build and staffed.

  53. Who on earth cares about the lounge experience. Having two one world partner AA and BA in one area will be great! Rather than flying in on AA and then having to transfer to another terminal to catch ones BA onward flight. Absurd. Now it will be a pleasure when I fly to Riyadh not having to go from terminal 3 to terminal 5……it’s a pain in the arse. Convenience is best, not the elitist loungers! Besides, the U.K. doesn’t want us either so we’re not going anywhere for a long long time! At least until there’s a vaccine

  54. It’s for the better for sure. That transfer bus between terminals is awful at best. It would be easier and less painful if you could walk, but that is not an option. Taking that horrid bus involves standing up, holding on for dear life with all the twists, sharp turns, curves, stops, take offs from the bus. It forces you to have to hold on to the rails, which nowadays is unfashionable to touch anything (icky!) (I’ve always had that mentality mind you.). That bus is really terrible at best. Not only is the ride terrible, but it goes through the nastiest ugliest part of the airport. I mean, if it were next to beautiful planes that might make it easier, but it’s through the nastiest area which looks like sewage. If it were a straight shot it wouldn’t be so bad. But the jerking back and forth, stopping, sharp turns basically knocking everyone in to each other is really a terrible experience.

    Of course, BA has some flights out of T3 as well, or at least they did so, I guess that unfortunate experience will not totally be gone.

  55. I will miss the CX lounge but I wonder if this means AA will be building a Flagship lounge in T5. That would be a nice improvement in that terminal.

  56. Well… Considering that I haven’t gone out of my home in Miami for well over three months already, it’s so much fun to moan and groan about lounges that will be (sincerely) very missed! But on the same hand it is true that we will miss the truly delicious noodles, green tea and other joys and elegance of CX… but most of all the rather delightful AA Agent team in the T3 lounge when departing, as well as especially the wonderful eggs benedict there along with the other really nice goodies in the T3 Arrivals Lounge. But my friends… to simply travel again will (eventually) be sooo nice, and I look forward to that immensely! Stay well everyone!!

  57. Reports of the new menu/QR code menu service in the LHR Flounge are good. CCR is temporarily the CCR Terrace in the Flounge. LPGS is flowing. AA international first and CK, AFAIK now get CCR. Which is an upgrade at LHR for CK. T5 First Wing is 10000x better #PaxEx in comparison to the flow through security and to the lounge at LHR. Much better experience than T3. Remember, now there are limited flights a day, and T5 lounges have a lot less traffic than the past. This is shortly post-Covid. And I note many of the comments above barely take this into account.

  58. Just out of curiosity, since I see many commentators hating the T3 to T5 (or reverse) transfer by bus (which I have sworn years ago not do ever do again due to crowded “Transfer” areas and the uncomfortable waits):

    Has anybody used “my” way, i.e. enter the UK through the automated gates or Fast Track” lanes, then taken the Heathrow Express wich is free between terminals ?

    I have never done enything else in the past 5 years or more, and that probably 10 times per year.

    I shall actually miss sthis in the future as it was a good way to break the journey and stretch my legs.

  59. I’ve done the T3-T5 shuffle enough times to say – this is a welcomed change. Yes, some lounges will be missed and others more crowded. I hope that the BA Arrivals Lounge in T5 will allow some One World access, the downside of which is it may lend to a bit more of a crowd there in the end. But logistically, not having to do the terminal shuffle when connecting? Yeah, happy with that.

  60. It’s impossible AA would operate 23 or more flights from T5 when everything is back to normal. As far as I know, as T3 is closed they were currently operating from T2 which is a mostly Star Alliance terminal.

  61. I know everyone on this thread is all about the lounges, but honestly T5 is a much better place for food and shopping options compared to T3, plus it feels much more like an airport terminal should with wide open spaces compared to T3 which barely has a window if any. Sometimes pax need to get out of the lounges and look around a bit.

  62. T3 was overcrowded. Besides, DL and VS are jockeying for dominance at T3 instead of co-locating to T4 where most of the SkyTeam carriers operate.

    It would make more sense to group all StarAlliance carriers to T2, SkyTeam carriers to T3, non-alliance carriers to T1 and give T5 to AA/BA. Other leftover oneWorld carriers should use T4 since passengers will most logically connect from USA to Asia/Africa using AA/BA combination instead of connecting onward using a third oneWorld carrier based in Asia or Africa.

  63. Does this mean transfer times improve from AA to BA and vice versa? This would be a great improvement if you can stay in one terminal (albeit wit satellites) as I’d rather get to my destination than subject myself to the BA lounges.

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