Review: British Airways Arrivals Lounge Heathrow Airport

Filed Under: Airport Lounge Reviews, British Airways


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I had quite a long layover at Heathrow Airport, so my first order of business was to check out the British Airways Arrivals Lounge, which I had never visited before.

Arrivals lounges can be useful for early arrivals, and that’s probably true at Heathrow more than just about anywhere else, given the number of people who land and head straight to the office. So, how is British Airways’ facility? Let’s take a look.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge LHR Review

In this review I’ll look at the access requirements, hours, location, and amenities of the lounge, including the full breakfast, showers, and spa. This is by far the largest arrivals lounge I’ve ever been to, that’s for sure.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Access Requirements

The Galleries Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5 is open to those passengers arriving in British Airways first or business class, as well as British Airways Gold Card Holders arriving off a long haul flight in any cabin.

Other elite members, including oneworld Emerald members through other programs, don’t have access to this facility.

Note that American Airlines has an arrivals lounge at Terminal 3 (where all American flights arrive, and where select British Airways flights arrive). That has similar access requirements, and is also open to American first and business class passengers.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Hours

The T5 arrivals lounge is open daily from 5AM until 2PM, and offers a full breakfast until 12:30PM.

Of course British Airways has long haul arrivals after 2PM, though the purpose of these lounges is to give passengers a place to shower and freshen up before heading into the city, either to their hotel or their office. There’s less of a need for that in the afternoons and evenings.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Location

The arrivals lounge is located landside, after clearing customs and immigration in Terminal 5. Once you pass through immigration just turn left, and you’ll see elevators in a glass enclosure right there.

Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals area

Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals area

Take those up a floor, exit the elevator, and you’ll see the entrance to the Galleries Arrivals Lounge.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Heathrow exterior

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Seating

The arrivals lounge is quite large, though I’d say at least half of it is made up of showers, so the lounge is bigger than it looks. When you enter the lounge and go right, there’s a good amount of seating that looks a lot like British Airways’ departure lounges.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

Then right near the entrance are some communal dining tables and high-top seating, as this is near the breakfast buffet.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

Also in this area is the door to the Concorde Breakfast Room, where British Airways first class passengers can enjoy an a la carte breakfast.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

Then inside and to the left are more seats along a wall, near the Elemis Spa.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

On the very left of the lounge is a business center with some workstations, computers, and printers.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge business center

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Breakfast

The lounge serves a more substantial breakfast than you’ll find in most arrivals lounges, which makes sense since many people choose to get as much sleep as possible on some of the short transatlantic flights that British Airways operates.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge breakfast buffet

They had a full English Breakfast — I’ll let the pictures mostly speak for themselves.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge breakfast buffet

British Airways Arrivals Lounge breakfast buffet

British Airways Arrivals Lounge breakfast buffet

British Airways Arrivals Lounge breakfast buffet

British Airways Arrivals Lounge breakfast buffet

British Airways Arrivals Lounge breakfast

British Airways Arrivals Lounge snacks

There were also coffee, juice, and water stations.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge coffee station

British Airways Arrivals Lounge coffee station

British Airways Arrivals Lounge juice

British Airways Arrivals Lounge water

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Showers

The arrivals lounge has nearly 100 showers, which must be the most showers offered in any arrivals lounge. The desk for the showers is located inside the lounge and to the right.

There was a shower immediately available for me, and I wasn’t even given a key. I was just told to go to room “Green 18.”

British Airways Arrivals Lounge shower desk

The shower complex is massive.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge shower rooms

British Airways Arrivals Lounge shower rooms

British Airways Arrivals Lounge shower rooms

Along the exterior of this area were some daybeds and tables with chairs, which felt like a bizarre afterthought. They almost seemed to be lawn furniture, and with the bright lighting that doesn’t exactly seem like an ideal place to catch some shut-eye.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge relaxation area

British Airways Arrivals Lounge seating

The shower room as such was functional but not luxurious, very similar to the showers in the departure lounges. The shower room had a sink, toilet, and walk-in shower.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge shower suite

British Airways Arrivals Lounge shower suite

British Airways Arrivals Lounge shower suite

British Airways Arrivals Lounge shower suite

Toiletries were from Elemis.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Elemis toiletries

At around 8AM it was announced that there was no running water in the lounge. That kind of seems like a big problem for an arrivals lounge! I’m not sure if they got that fixed, because I left shortly thereafter.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Elemis Spa

The arrivals lounge has an Elemis Spa, just as British Airways’ departure lounge does.

However, I find the spa in the departure lounge to be a bit of a joke:

  • As a first class passenger you can pre-reserve treatments, but even if you call a few days in advance they’re often already booked out
  • Business class passengers can get treatments on a first come first served basis, but I’ve never found there to be an appointment available within hours

Of course I wanted to be thorough with this review, so I checked out the Elemis Spa so I could see when the next appointment was. I was expecting to be told 1:45PM, or something.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Elemis Spa

For anyone curious, the treatment menu read as follows:

As you can see, there are six choices for complimentary treatments:

  • Muscle-ease power back massage
  • Sleep soothe neck & shoulder massage
  • Deep relax scalp massage
  • Hand & arm massage
  • Intelligent chair massage
  • Eye massage treatment

I asked about the back massage at around 6:40AM, and was gobsmacked when the front desk employee told me that the next available treatment was at 7:40AM. I almost felt like I had to clarify that she was talking about 7:40AM on the same day, and not the next day.

So I booked that without thinking twice, and decided it was also time to buy a lottery ticket.

The spa as such was quite nice. I had to fill out some paperwork, and then was brought to a room for a 15 minute massage.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Elemis Spa

The treatment was excellent, and the therapist was lovely.

British Airways Arrivals Lounge Elemis Spa

Galleries Arrivals Lounge Bottom Line

The BA Arrivals Lounge Heathrow is surprisingly excellent — it has a full breakfast spread, nearly 100 shower rooms, and spa treatments.

Is it the most elegantly appointed lounge in the world? No. But I would say it’s the best arrivals lounge I’ve been to, and is tough to beat whether you’re looking for a shower or breakfast. As a point of comparison, here are reviews of the Aer Lingus Arrivals Lounge Dublin and Air France Arrivals Lounge Paris.

If you’ve visited the BA Arrivals Lounge, what was your experience like?

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!
  1. It’s annoying that the lounge exterior has the Oneworld Priority symbol, which suggests Emeralds have access, when in fact they don’t. However, I think the AA Arrivals lounge *is* open to all oneworld Emeralds, but correct me if I’m wrong.

  2. You can also get your clothes pressed at this lounge. Did you notice the door within the door to the shower room? It’s to hang items you want pressed (pants, shirt, etc.).

  3. No running water is absurd. I would have demanded for them to arrange access to the AA T3 lounge at that point. British engineering at its finest.

  4. I always get access to this lounge as an AA exp, even when not traveling premium. I don’t think the information you wrote is correct. In fact, there is an emerald logo posted at the door.

  5. “Note that American Airlines has an arrivals lounge at Terminal 3 (where all American flights arrive, and where select British Airways flights arrive). That has similar access requirements, and is also open to American first and business class passengers.”

    Unless I’m not reading this right, it seems obvious to say in the last sentence that it is open to American first and business class passengers, as it’s an American lounge. Do you mean to say “BA first and business class passengers?”

    I believe it’s also the arrivals lounge for Cathay Pacific.

  6. This lounge is in many ways very Spartan and basic, but it’s better than any other arrivals lounge I’ve used and it’s so very welcome as you stumble off a red-eye.

    (Virgin’s LHR arrivals lounge, also used by Delta, looks like it was shoved together from leftover building materials they happened to find round the back. A stark contrast to the BA v. VS departures lounge smack-down).

    No water is pretty disastrous: in fairness, I have never encountered that issue over multiple uses over several years. Not living up to your name there, Lucky…

  7. BA Arr T5 : Access only for passengers arriving from long haul flights . You should land at Terminal 5 ! Emerald pax can access even if they are on basic economy long haul . Then ofcourse First and Buisness Class pax . No guest allowed

    Ex : BA Gold ( emerald ) pax landing from Brussels ( C or Y class ) have no access as its short haul flight.
    But pax landing from Dubai ( Emerald , F, C class ) Can access !

    American at T 3
    My favourite – Excellent food choice, faster internet , good shower Excellent Staff from AA even though they are super strict with their entrance and guest policy .

    Managed by AA crew

    Concierge Key – Yes ( No guest)
    EP – Yes ( No guest )
    BA Gold – Yes ( No Guest)
    Cathay Pacific Emerald – Yes( No guest)
    First – Buisness pax from AA , CX , BA, Qantaz landing from long haul flights at Terminal ONLY can access that lounge.
    Qantas Emerald – strictly No access
    Jal Emerlad – No access
    Fin air Emerald – no access


    If you are a JAL – Emerald pax landing from Narita at T3 dont have access because Jal currently dont have an agreement.

    But if you are JAL Emerald landing on Ba flight from Accra you can access even if you are on Y class ticket .

    Remember- Arrivals lounges are working under special agreement eventhough it’s own by one world airlines . American is bit complicated but staff very good in explaining it. They really appreciate premium pax irrespective whether you are Cathay or British Airways passenger.. I have used it several times .

  8. @Will M mediocre at best. Although the shower rooms are nicer than the BA ones, there are only 5 or 6 available (and are “shared” with the hotel rooms), so you may have trouble getting one on early arrivals. Add to the equation the hostile associate working there and that’s a no-go for me.

  9. On my last visit I found those shower compartments to be pretty gross…..whole place is in need of an update…..

  10. I laughed when I read about the “no water” situation for the showers. I had the same experience there after arriving on a BA flight from JFK. The announcement came as I was packing up my stuff in the shower room to leave. I heard a few yells from nearby visitors who presumably were stuck with shampoo in their hair or all soaped up with nothing to do but try to towel off. I sat in the dining area for breakfast wondering whether the water situation would be resolved shortly. An hour later, the water was still off, and the dishes were piling up as they couldn’t run any of the dishwashers either.

  11. Hello… in fact from London this week. @Lucky: You’re usually quite correct, so I’m sorry to differ; but as Emerald (AA/EXP) I use both the BA/T5 and AA/T3 Arrivals Lounges (depending solely on who I flew in with), and that’s also after flying in Premium from the shorter points (NYC, BOS, etc.). Each lounge has its high (and occasionally low) points, so the choice is more that of the arrival terminal more than anything. Yet for the Spa services, if one has the time, obviously the T5 lounge is the option to go with… except for the absurd wait times more often than not. Cheers to everyone!

  12. I second the comment about the hidden compartment within the door. These showers are designed with function in mind so that you can get to the office quickly and the pressing service using the hidden compartment is excellent.

  13. Lucky,

    In terms of the location of this lounge, I think you meant to provide directions for your readers after they exit the baggage hall and customs hall, rather than the immigration hall.

    Last week, I experienced the Arrivals Lounge in T5 for the first time after 25 years of flying BA (of course T5 hasn’t been around that long). I had low expectations and was impressed by my experience. Everything worked in terms of being assigned the shower room immediately on asking for one, the shower pressure was better than I had expected, breakfast selection was good, although I only had a banana as I was not hungry.

    Think that I will definitely use the Arrivals Lounge in T5 again.

  14. I am not sure BA highlights the arrivals lounge very well. I typically take the A380 out of LAX which arrives after it closes but on the off chance I take the 747 rarely do they mention that it is available. Almost like they want to limit use. Maybe just my experience though.

    I have never set foot in it but it actually looks decent for an early arrival (something that doesn’t happen coming from LAX).

  15. Can arriving passengers from a BA F flight at T5 who are connecting to BA CE at T5 (when CE is highest class available on the connecting flight) access the CCR? I’ve seen different feedback on various blogs.

  16. @ Matt

    The BA arrivals lounge is approximately 1,000 times better than Virgin’s. It’s a complete reversal of the rankings for departure lounges.

  17. With a 5 hour wait between two flights in First, is it worth going through customs/security to do the arrivals lounge…or just go straight to the CCR?
    (In theory I guess someone could get a free Elemis treatment in the arrivals lounge and another one in the departures lounge.)

  18. I’m glad to read other comments saying AA EXP does indeed get access, because I have used the lounge a number of times as an AA EXP/CK and read Lucky’s “access rules” starting to either think I was crazy or the rules had changed since I was last there.

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