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After a quick flight from Manchester to London, we had a 1hr40min connection at Heathrow. The good news is that we were arriving and departing from Terminal 5, so the connection was as convenient as it’ll get at Heathrow.
We could use the British Airways Galleries First Lounge thanks to my oneworld Emerald status. As a oneworld Emerald you get access to international first class lounges, including ones like Cathay Pacific’s The Wing in Hong Kong, the Qantas First Class Lounge in Sydney, the Japan Airlines First Class Lounge in Tokyo Narita, etc.
British Airways is a bit stingier, unfortunately. Their “real” first class lounge is The Concorde Room (not that it has ever impressed me). The catch is that it’s available exclusively for passengers traveling in British Airways first class — they exclude those flying first class on partner airlines, as well as oneworld Emerald members.
Instead they send those passengers to the Galleries First Lounge, which is basically a lounge for exactly that purpose — to accommodate oneworld Emerald members and those traveling in partner airline first class.
In this case we headed to British Airways’ South Lounges, located at the far end of Terminal 5.
We took the escalator up one level.
There you could find the entrance to the first class lounge on the left and the business class lounge to the right. The gentlemen checking us in, Bernard, couldn’t have possibly been any more adorably and stereotypically British.
“Let me just take a quick peek at your flight status… the BA780… it’s on-time… remarkable, really!” Nice to see he has such faith in British Airways’ operational performance. 😉 He continued “now you’re scheduled to depart from gate __, which I wrote on your boarding pass. But I placed a very large question mark next to that, since it’s subject to change… this is Heathrow, after all.”
Once admitted to the Galleries First Lounge we passed the two adorable horses with lamps in their heads, which I love. If/when I ever have a permanent residence, I’d kill for one of them!
The Galleries First Lounge is quite large, spacious, and modern.
There’s plenty of seating, and while it’s typically quite full, it’s rarely overcrowded, in my experience.
The back corner of the lounge, in particular, tends to stay quite empty.
Personally I like to set up shop near the champagne bar, which is located to the right of the entrance. There’s a long corridor with some seating, which leads to the champagne bar and business center (who said you can’t mix business and pleasure?). 😉
The business center is decent enough, though I do wish they had actual cubicles, rather than the circular tables.
But who needs work when you have a rather stylish champagne bar, anyway?
Equally impressive is the champagne selection — British Airways has both 2006 Taittinger and Taittinger Rose on offer. While that might not be exceptional for a first class lounge, for what ultimately amounts to an elite lounge, I’d say it’s pretty darn good.
The champagne bar also has a decent selection of wine.
There are several espresso machines throughout the lounge, which also have tea, biscuits, etc.
There are also self serve booze stations, with solid selections.
On the opposite end of the lounge of the champagne bar is the dining area, which consists of plenty of seating.
The buffet is at the very end, though you also have a separate drink station.
When we arrived they were still serving breakfast. In terms of cold options, the buffet had mixed fruit, yogurt, cold cuts, cheese, cereal, danishes, pastries, etc.
In terms of hot options, there was porridge and then a variety of not-so-tasty looking British delicacies, including every type of breakfast meat imaginable, mushrooms, baked beans, and scrambled eggs.
In addition to a large selection of soft drinks and juices, there were a variety of tea sandwiches.
At 12PM the buffet switched from breakfast to lunch, which seems like a rather late time for that switchover to occur (I would have assumed it would be in the range of 10:30AM-11AM).
The lunch buffet looked reasonably fresh, and consisted of salads, quiche, soup, curry, etc.
In addition to the buffet, British Airways also has an a la carte menu on offer. The lunch menu is available starting at 12PM, and read as follows:
Since we were connecting on short-haul flights in economy and wouldn’t be eating till later in the day, we decided to order some food. I had a pea soup to start, which was perfectly fine though unmemorable.
Then I had a salmon sandwich, which was really a thick piece of toast with cream cheese and flaked salmon.
Meanwhile Matt had the greek salad, which looked like the better of the two options.
Our fight to Stockholm ended up being delayed by a bit, though by around 12:40PM we left the lounge, as we had to take the train to one of the other Terminal 5 piers.
British Airways Galleries First Class Lounge bottom line
For what ultimately amounts to an elite lounge, I find the Galleries First Lounge to be decent. Can it compete with the true first class lounges, like those offered by Cathay Pacific and Qantas? Nope. But I don’t actually find the lounge to be much worse than The Concorde Room, which I realize others like more than I do.
Ultimately I’m a happy camper transiting Terminal 5 at Heathrow as a oneworld Emerald (well, at least other than the whole Heathrow part… hate that airport!).
What has been your experience with British Airways’ lounges at Heathrow?