Review: British Airways First Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

Filed Under: Airport Lounge Reviews, British Airways

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British Airways’ primary Heathrow hub is at Terminal 5, though the airline also operates select flights from Terminal 3.

While Terminal 5 is supposed to be a more seamless experience when connecting (since no terminal change is required), I actually prefer flying out of Terminal 3. That’s because I find the lounges to be better.

In my opinion Terminal 3 is one of the best oneworld lounge terminals in the world. So far I’ve reviewed:

This time around I decided to review the British Airways First Lounge, which is open to oneworld first class passengers as well as oneworld Emerald members.

Note that this is different than the Concorde Room they have in Terminal 5, which is exclusively for British Airways first class passengers.

I arrived at Heathrow at around 5AM (way early for my 10:10AM flight to Nairobi). I got through security in no time, and most shops were still closed.

London Heathrow Terminal 3

Once past duty free you just turn left, and then all the lounges are along that main corridor.


London Heathrow Terminal 3


London Heathrow Terminal 3 lounge directory

The British Airways First Lounge is located in Zone F, and is open daily from 5AM until 10:30PM.


British Airways Lounge entrance Terminal 3

Zone F is also where the No1 Lounge Terminal 3 is located, which I’ve reviewed before. That’s located up a level.


British Airways Lounge entrance Terminal 3

The British Airways Lounge has both a first and business class section. The first class section is inside the entrance and to the left. The lounge is a good size, but then again, there are a lot of oneworld Emerald members flying out of Terminal 3, so it does sometimes get busy.

While British Airways has renovated some of their lounges, this one most definitely isn’t among them.

Just past the entrance is some seating along the wall.

British Airways First Lounge Terminal 3 seating

Then immediately ahead is the champagne bar, which is a signature feature in many British Airways lounges around the world.


British Airways First Lounge Terminal 3 champagne bar


British Airways First Lounge champagne

Inside the entrance and to the left is a bunch of seating.Some airlines put a lot of effort into their lounge interior design, though British Airways isn’t among them, at least when this lounge was created.


British Airways First Lounge Terminal 3 seating

There was more seating across from the above section, as well as a business center consisting of a high-top table with some PCs.


British Airways First Lounge Terminal 3 seating


British Airways First Lounge business center

This area also had a water bar, which was a huge display with still and sparkling water.


British Airways First Lounge water bar

Along the far wall was the liquor selection, along with some snacks.


British Airways First Lounge drink station


British Airways First Lounge liquor

In the opposite direction (past the entrance and to the right) was the wine selection, as well as a play area for kids.


British Airways First Lounge seating


British Airways First Lounge drink station


British Airways First Lounge wine selection


British Airways First Lounge play area for kids

Past that was even more seating.


British Airways First Lounge seating


British Airways First Lounge seating

What lovely, modern furniture. 😉


British Airways First Lounge seating

Then at the very far end of the lounge was a dining area.


British Airways First Lounge dining area


British Airways First Lounge dining area


British Airways First Lounge dining area

However, it wasn’t actually open, and based on looking at the menu, it seems that it’s only open for lunch and dinner. Here’s the menu, for what it’s worth:

As far as the food and drink selection goes, the main buffet was just outside the a la carte dining area.


British Airways First Lounge coffee station

Breakfast options included a few types of danishes and croissants, cereal, fresh fruit, cheese, yogurt, scrambled eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, tomatoes, sausage, bacon, etc.

British Airways First Lounge breakfast selection


British Airways First Lounge breakfast selection


British Airways First Lounge breakfast selection


British Airways First Lounge breakfast selection


British Airways First Lounge breakfast selection


British Airways First Lounge breakfast selection

There was also a soft drink display in this area.


British Airways First Lounge drink selection

Then there was a section with coffee, tea, and cookies.


British Airways First Lounge coffee station

Also by the entrance was a table with a variety of magazines and newspapers.


British Airways First Lounge magazines & newspapers

The first class section of the lounge has bathrooms. The good news is that they’re all individual rooms. The bad news is that they look like this…


British Airways First Lounge bathrooms

The lounge also has an Elemis Spa, which is located between the entrance to the first and business class sections of the lounge. It opened at 7AM, though I didn’t get a treatment.


British Airways Terminal 3 Lounge Elemis Spa & showers

This is also where the lounge’s showers were.


British Airways Terminal 3 Lounge Elemis Spa

The showers had the same “decor” as the other bathrooms.


British Airways Terminal 3 Lounge shower room


British Airways Terminal 3 Lounge shower room

After spending a bit of time in this lounge I ended up heading to the Cathay Pacific Lounge. My flight was departing at 10:10AM, so at around 9:20AM I headed to my departure gate, which was gate 32.

Boarding was scheduled to start at 9:40AM, but actually started 10 minutes before that, with oneworld Emeralds and first class passengers being invited to board first.

Departure gate to Nairobi

British Airways First Lounge T3 bottom line

While the British Airways First Lounge isn’t awful, it’s in need of a refresh. On the plus side, it has a solid drink selection, and the food selection was alright.

However, I think much bigger picture there’s ZERO reason to use this lounge. If you have access to this lounge you also have access to the Cathay Pacific First Lounge, which is significantly better.

Heck, I’d argue the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge and Qantas Lounge are both even better than this lounge.

The reality is that a vast majority of people don’t realize you can use a different lounge than that of the airline you’re flying, and I guess that’s a blessing, or else the other lounges would be much busier…

Does anyone choose to use the British Airways T3 Lounge over the Cathay Pacific and Qantas options?

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Comments
  1. I believe the reality is not as simple as that. Yes, most people don’t realise they can use the other OW lounges, however, if everyone was using them, they would soon be imposing restrictions and limiting passengers without status to stick to their own airlines’ designated lounge.

    Beyond this though, I believe that the people who fly BA regularly, would still choose the BA lounges! For the same reasons they choose to fly BA!

  2. @Lucky, there is also a made to order breakfast menu. I have had eggs benedict in the lounge before. Not the best I have had, but quite decent.

  3. Ever going to review the AA lounge there? 🙂 Know it’s the bottom option but your reviewers would be curious.

  4. I visited the T3 BA First a few times last year in the afternoon and evening. I thought the buffet was severely lacking in both quality and variety. If you are stuck there and have some time, I recommend the table service. You will have to find a menu and track down a server…don’t wait for them to come to you. Have your meal brought to the sit-down dining area on the far right (although you can eat a la carte anywhere). Nice and quiet over there with good views from the tables facing the window. Great place to get some work done too.

  5. @Lucky, are you saying with all the flying you’ve done, you’ve never be in the Virgin Clubhouse at T3? Wow!

  6. Heck, even the AA first class lounge is better than the BA first lounge.

    The only reason to go to the BA lounge is if you are flying BA and there’s some sort of IROPS situation that requires rebooking.

  7. It looks as if they collected used furniture from random places and put them all together.
    The champagne bar looks nice ( compared to the rest).
    I always wanted to know how much money per day a lounge makes or lose.

  8. I’ve noticed that many of the lounges that you have visited have kids play areas. How often do you even see kids in lounges?

  9. @Bob – can’t believe you prefer the AA first lounge to the BA one – it’s like an old folks home!

    @Lucky – as noted above there is a waiter-service menu for breakfast as well as for the rest of the day. Unfortunately one of the problems that BA has with its lounge caterers (who specialise in industrial standard catering rather than Qantas and CX lounges were they generally have a better standard of operator) is that the staff hide the menus (especially at T5 – my experience at T3 has generally been less bad). They also sometimes refuse to bring something on the menu to you if something similar can be found on the buffet – for example, my friend asked for toast to go with his poached eggs yesterday in T5 and was told to get it himself from the buffet. (They’re not meant to do that).

    The dining area in the T3 BA First lounge was originally meant to be for BA first class passengers and not just BA Golds/OWEs so they can have pre-flight dining. I think they discontinued that when Qantas cancelled the BA/QF JV a few years ago. I’ve had breakfast served in there off the menu on many occasions. Not sure what happens at lunchtime/evening now though.

  10. Face facts, for most people a comfortable place to wait, reasonable food and drink and above all very clean bathrooms are the most important features. I personally do not care if the toilet looks like it came out of a 1955 Good Housekeeping magazine as long as I do not feel that I will catch something by using it!

  11. I generally use the lounge of the airline I am flying as flights are announced and there are airline staff there to fix problems. Plus they can contact you if needed. And often closer to the gate you want.

    That said, if I have more than 2 hours I will use 2 lounges just for a change. For 4 hours, I’d use 2 lounges. and so on.

  12. @John Bucher. – Thank you! Unfortunately we live in an era of all of “this” sooooooo.

    ****

    BA gets the job done!. It has to funnel an insane amount of premium traffic through a slot restricted airport. It’s a business carrier, whereas EK, QR are luxury carriers catering to business and wealthy travelers. CX is a business carrier, but its ASIAN and Asians have standards!!…culturally you cannot be crap at that level.

    BA also has to report to the city-state of London City (yes you read correctly), in a way other carriers in their respective countries do not have to, so they must squeeze out every penny as per the books before a penny is spent.

    There is a lot more going on than people realize. There is more than ONE world at play (and if you dont know that) you DON’T know that!. Everything strange has an answer.

  13. The T3 first (and for that matter the business) lounge is a travesty. I honestly think it’s one of the very worst lounges in the BA system. Virtually no natural light, just horrid track lighting that makes the place feel like a morgue, and the furniture is ancient and threadbare.

    I haven’t stopped through there in ages as my default is CX F or recently Quantas for a change, but I am constantly amazed that with over 20% of their traffic departing from T3, BA hasn’t done a serious remodel, especially given how many Oneworld lounges are available as alternatives while they do the work. Clearly they must be aware this is a glaring hole in their Heathrow experience, that doesn’t match what they’ve been doing improving their onboard soft product and their JFK lounges etc, so I wonder what their plan is.

    The one advantage is the wine and champagne selection there is usually better than even in CX F lounge.

  14. Actually, the CX J lounge may get overcrowded sometimes by students with Marco Polo Silver status, as Cathay Pacific allows lounge access for MP Silver members that are flying on Cathay Pacific flights. I would actually suggest taking the QF lounge when traveling at the afternoon as they often stay empty during that period.

  15. I’ve spent a lot of time in the BA T3 F Lounge (or I did until BA f’ed me up by moving the WAW flights to T5). I certainly prefer the ambiance in the CX F or QF lounges, but, for eating, I prefer the offering in the BA lounge. I don’t want sit down meals or heavy food items – I’m a sandwich guy and the BA lounge’s ham and egg salad sandwiches are exactly what I want. Throw in the JW Blue and I’m perfectly content with the BA F Lounge.

  16. Shouldn’t there be ice in that champagne cooler? Was that champagne actually chilled to a decent temperature? I hate when champagne and white wines are served half warm.

  17. I’ve never flown First Class, but this lounge does not look “First Class” to me. As others have mentioned, there are business class lounges which look better!

  18. Mind you – looking back at this thread – the T3 Flounge isn’t bad; the Gatwick Flounge is actually really great; but the T5 one is really not good – and getting worse. Sitting in it just now. The toilets are disgusting – not just wear and tear, but also unclean. (If you want to see what I mean have a look at the video I’ve just posted on Instagram (I’m “Seat1C”). The staff don’t clean the place – always loads of dirty glasses and dishes lying around – and they are surly when you interact with them. (And that’s even before you get into the hiding the menus stuff).

    As I see it there are two huge issues –

    1. There is a real lack of hospitality training; and
    2. Whilst the catering company has a manager on site (presumably with the aim of keeping costs down…), there never seems to be a BA manager going about looking at stuff.

    If I’d outsourced stuff to a catering company (especially one that runs canteens in offices as its main business, rather than QF or CX who regularly deal with Sofitel or Peninsula) then I think I’d have at least one staff member on duty to make sure the standards were being met.

    The toilets are dirty and smell – though some of that may also be due to the lack of refurbishment….

    I fly BA regularly and will always choose BA/Oneworld in preference to others, but this lounge is becoming a joke. No wonder I normally choose to fly via LGW (especially given the fares are normally so much lower going to/from there)!

  19. I am often in this lounge as I go to Vienna a lot. All the VIE flights on BA fly in and out of T3. I have always liked the amount of space in this lounge and especially the food options and you’re right, it does need a bit of updating.

    It never occurred to me that I could use the Cathay Lounges. Since I am BA Gold, it seems that I can use their First Lounge.

    Thanks for the tip, Lucky!

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