Review: Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London Heathrow Airport

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific

Review: Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge London Heathrow Airport
Review: Qantas Lounge London Heathrow Airport

Yesterday I flew from London to Los Angeles on American, a flight that departed out of Heathrow Terminal 3. After Hong Kong, I’d say Heathrow Terminal 3 is probably the best terminal in the world when it comes to the quality and variety of oneworld lounges. Terminal 3 has lounges from American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. You’d be crazy to use the American or British Airways lounge when you could use the Cathay Pacific or Qantas lounge, so in this short series I wanted to look at the best Heathrow Terminal 3 lounges.  There are so many ways to gain airport lounge benefits, whether through airline status, premium tickets and credit cards.  Heathrow has a seemingly endless number of options.

The Cathay Pacific Lounge reopened after renovations in late 2016, while the Qantas Lounge opened in late November 2017, so these are both still fairly new lounges.

The Cathay Pacific Lounge is located in Zone C, which is through security and then slightly to the left. It’s only a few minutes walk from security.

Cathay Pacific Lounge Heathrow exterior

As you’ll see based on the signage, the Cathay Pacific Lounge Heathrow is open from 5:30AM until 10:30PM, except on Sundays, when it only opens at 7:30AM. While all oneworld first class, business class, Sapphire, and Emerald passengers can use Cathay Pacific’s lounge, it’s formally the lounge for Cathay Pacific and Finnair. This simply means that they only make boarding announcements for those two airlines in the lounge.

Cathay Pacific Lounge Heathrow signage

The lounge is one level up from the terminal, so there are two elevators that can take you up a level. Even the terminal level entryway is sleek-looking.

Cathay Pacific Lounge Heathrow elevators

At the entrance I was invited into the first class section of the lounge (that’s because I’m a oneworld Emerald). There’s a long hallway leading to the business class section of the lounge, while the entrance to the first class lounge is immediately to the right as you enter. The first class lounge isn’t huge, though is sufficient based on the number of passengers who seem to use it.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London hallway

The lounge consists of a couple of main seating areas, separated by floor-to-ceiling, translucent partitions. The first thing I noticed was that the lounge was clearly styled after Cathay Pacific’s incredible Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong, which is one of my favorite first class lounges in the world. This particular section had seating for just over a dozen people.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London seating

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London seating

Past the next partition was another similarly sized area, which featured roughly the same number of seats.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Heathrow seating

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Heathrow seating

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Heathrow seating

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Heathrow seating

Along the wall at the end of this area was a selection of reading materials, including magazines and newspapers.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London magazines & newspapers

Then along the entire length of the first class lounge were chairs facing the windows, most of which had ottomans.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Heathrow seating

This was a fantastic place to settle down and watch planes.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge Heathrow seating

This lounge has such spectacular views. In addition to great views of the apron immediately below, you also have a view of the runway, and in particular the point of the runway where many planes rotate. To see so many heavy aircraft taking off right in front of you is a treat, as an avgeek.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London view

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London view

At the end of the arrangement of seats facing the windows was a TV room, with a couch as well as a couple of chairs.

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London seating

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London seating

In terms of the food & drinks available in the lounge, this lounge has a pantry (as they call it), a self serve bar, and a dining room.

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London signage

The pantry is right as you enter the first class lounge and to the right. There’s a coffee machine, a selection of tea, a fountain with still and sparkling water, muffins, croissants, and danishes.

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London pantry

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London coffee machine & tea

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London snacks

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London snacks

Then there’s a fridge with yogurt, muesli, parfaits, cold cuts, mini-sandwiches, and juice.

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London snacks

Cathay Pacific First Lounge Heathrow snacks

Cathay Pacific First Lounge Heathrow snacks

Cathay Pacific First Lounge Heathrow snacks

Cathay Pacific First Lounge Heathrow snacks

Then at the end of the last room is a self serve bar, with a selection of water, soft drinks, liquor, wine, beer, and more.

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London self serve bar

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London drinks

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London wine & liquor selection

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London drink selection

Self serve Moet, yum!

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London wine selection

There’s also a cocktail list. The first class lounge doesn’t have a manned bar, so you can either make your own drink, go to the first class dining room, or go to the business class bar. This is in contrast to The Pier in Hong Kong, where there are servers roaming.

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London cocktail list

As a coffee lover I’d also note that in the business class lounge the bartender can freshly prepare you a cappuccino, rather than the machine-made one you get in the first class lounge (I’ll have more about the business class lounge in the next installment).

Cathay Pacific Lounge London cappuccino

The other great amenity of the first class lounge is the dining room, which is at the far end of the lounge and to the left. The dining room has about a dozen tables.

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London dining

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London dining

Cathay Pacific First Lounge London restaurant

I got to the lounge at 5:30AM (I always try to be the first person so I can get pictures without disturbing others), so my original plan was to wait until lunch to eat, since lunch is almost always better than breakfast. However, later on I found out that they only start serving lunch at 11:40AM (which seems awfully late to me), so I wouldn’t have time for that before my flight. As a result, I ended up eating breakfast.

The breakfast menu read as follows:

Ford and I both had English breakfast tea to drink.

Cathay Pacific Lounge London breakfast — English breakfast tea

I ordered an omelet, while Ford ordered the eggs florentine. It took forever for the food to arrive, though in fairness, the dining room was full when we first sat down, so they were clearly busy. While Ford enjoyed his, my omelet was super bland, and I wasn’t a fan of the accompaniments either.

Cathay Pacific Lounge London breakfast — omelet

Cathay Pacific Lounge London breakfast — eggs florentine

The lunch menu read as follows, and looked significantly more appealing:

In terms of the lounge’s other features, the showers and bathrooms are located down the hall in the business class lounge, so I’ll get to that in the next installment.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge Heathrow hallway

Lastly I just wanted to briefly talk about crowding in the lounge. The lounge stayed empty in the morning, then filled up at around 9:30AM (ahead of the 11AM flight to Hong Kong), and then emptied out again. However, even when the lounge was “full,” only about half the seats were taken. The dining room did at one point fill up completely, but then it quickly emptied out again. Thank goodness most American Executive Platinum members don’t seem to know that they can use this lounge.

Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge London bottom line

Cathay Pacific’s London First Class Lounge has to be one of the world’s best outstation lounges. While it’s not as impressive as The Pier, I also wouldn’t expect it to be, given that London isn’t a hub for them. Cathay Pacific’s lounge has a beautiful design, a la carte dining, and great shower rooms and bathrooms. On top of that, you can supplement this lounge with the business class section of the lounge, where you can get freshly made coffee beverages, some noodle dishes from the noodle bar, etc. I’ll have more on that in the next installment.

If I had one piece of constructive criticism, it would be nice if they had a server roaming the first class lounge to offer drinks, like they do in Hong Kong, but I get why they don’t.

This visit reminded me what a treat it is to be a oneworld Emerald. I was only flying business class to Los Angeles, but thanks to my status could use this incredible lounge. That’s something you don’t get in Star Alliance or SkyTeam, as oneworld is the only alliance that lets top tier elite members access first class lounges (with some exceptions).

If you’ve visited the Cathay Pacific Lounge Heathrow, what was your experience like?

  1. They sometimes do have someone come around though, and I have been asked once whether I wanted a drink since I was just sitting at one of those window seats on my computer. And you can actually order things off the business class lounge menu; or if you order a coffee, they bring it from the shared kitchen

  2. During my stays I’ve been actively offered drinks and service in the lounge area, but only after the CX flight departs and the staff in the dining area get bored.

    Visited it last week on a 400€ transatlantic economy ticket. Oneword first lounge access for Emerald is a fantastic perk indeed and the reason for me to choose them. Access to this lounge and the Qantas first in LAX makes shuttling between Europe and LA infinitely better.

  3. Great report. I’m a big fan of the T3 lounge (both F and J are very nice). I’m very glad everyone else pretty much insists on packing into the Admiral Club and Galleries lounges.

  4. I truly enjoy the intimacy of this lounge. I love to sit in the last seat at the end in front of the window watching the planes! It is a true oasis from the chaos below.

  5. There’s a good reason to bring a (short) visit to the BA galleries first lounge in T3: they have self-service JW Blue Label!

  6. Lucky wrote: “In terms of the food & drinks available in the lounge, this lounge has a panty (as they call it)”

    In terms of panties, the photo of the sign clearly shows they call it a “pantry”, not a “panty”.

    “Paging Dr Freud…”

  7. Yeah, a “Pantry” as it says on the sign is a place to store food.

    Panty, well you must have been jetlagged 😉

  8. Great lounge but the lounge dragons can be fierce if you are within a couple of hours of a CX departure. They wouldn’t let me into F because they were afraid of crowding (even though the dining room was only half full). I insisted over and over, well beyond my comfort zone. They eventually relented.

  9. AmEx Plat members can use this? Where is that stated? I’m flying through LHR in June and would love to give it a try.

  10. @Jim No, I think you’re getting American Express Platinum card (AmEx Plat) confused with American Airlines Executive platinum status (American Executive Plat). Only the latter have access to this lounge.

  11. Ben writes: “Thank goodness most American Executive Platinum members don’t seem to know that they can use this lounge.”

    I can’t find it on the Amex website in their lounge collection. Can I get into the F lounge with my plat Amex? For example, I’ll be on VA in a few weeks and in terminal 3….can I get in?

  12. While I’d generally agree with your assessment I think all 4 (Qantas is combined) of the first class lounges have something to offer. Cathay best overall, British best alcohol especially scotch and gin, AA best single recliner for a long nap (they only have two of them), and Qantas has the best decor and healthy food options.

  13. Always nice on 40£-ish BA hand-baggage only economy return fare

    My T3 OW ranking
    CX lounge:
    QF lounge:
    AA lounge:
    BA lounge:

  14. I now actively look for British Airways destinations that depart from T3 so I can use these lounges. It’s actually amazing how peaceful these lounges are, especially if there’s no Cathay Pacific or Qantas departures due and how busy the frankly disgraceful British Airways lounge is. Especially if you’re on a 4,000 avios redemption ticket

  15. Great timing! I have a long layover in Terminal 3 coming up and was planning on hopping between all the oneWorld lounges. This makes my day a lot easier! Thanks!

  16. @Ben I was there the first week of December and I can tell you one guy was having a Wonton Noodles soup and Steamed Pork Buns at breakfast, it was 9am but it was not full at all. I will asume you can order off the menu if the place is empty, and I was able to grab the same seat at the corner too.

  17. I was thinking the same thing @Federico
    As long as they’re not slammed with business I’ve often asked to order off the luncheon/dinner menu and have been obliged (in other lounges, to be precise). The items are prepped in the kitchen already so it’s really not that big of a deal.

    Having said that, the sausage and English bacon served with your omelet looked delicious on my eyes.

  18. @Patrick Ben is correct. American Executive Platinum is the top tier elite for American Airlines frequent flyers. So, with their One World Emerald Status, they have access. You are thinking of American Express Platinum, which is a charge card and these card holders do not have access to this loubgr using their cards. As others have stated, Ben finds it peculiar that those with AA executive platinum status (one world emerald) would want to use the American Airlines or British Airways lounges, when they clearly have access to the lounges of Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

  19. I almost had a heart attack when I read “After Hong Kong, I’d say Heathrow Terminal 3 is probably the best terminal in the world…” LHR T3 as the best in the world in *anything* is mind boggling. 😮 😛 Of course, the continuation cleared it all up: “…when it comes to the quality and variety of oneworld lounges.” 😀

    In terms of location, where are the BA, CX, and QF lounges? I’m assuming someone took over the spaces that the old UA, SQ, and AC/SK lounges occupied in T3.

  20. Easily my favourite lounge at Heathrow (as someone pretty much tied to one world).

    Assessment of how busy it gets holds for the evening as well. I’m normally there for JL44. There’s a CX flight about an hour before and the lounge is never more than half full.

  21. I had a bad experience here. Showed up at 11am and half an hour but it took WAY long to changeover from breakfast to lunch so no food for me. Messed up so bad

  22. You are right about those ottoman equipped seats being a great place to sit and watch the world (of planes) go by Lucky. I spent 5 hours there (in the same corner seat in your picture) just before Christmas. I was almost disappointed when my delayed flight was called.

    I’ve never had any problems with the Cathay Lounge Dragons and would agree 100% that the USP of OneWorld frequent flying is the First Class Lounge access.

    I’m looking forward to trying the new T3 Qantas lounge in a few week’s time.

  23. I didn’t realise until recently, the catering is actually subcontracted to Plaza Premium at the CX lounges. They supply all of the food and the waitstaff. I have seen some disgruntled customers in the first class restaurant at LHR – long service times, running out of food and only informing 20 minutes after taking the order. HK lounges are switching to use Sodexo. Curious to see how that changes HKG food offerings and if they decide to switch the LHR lounge (given it is trying to mirror HKG). My own experience at LHR – almost every visit staff and food have been great. And that corner seat you showed in the photos Ben – my favourite! Amazing avgeek chair.

  24. Used this lounge before my BA flight to MIA. It was just at the breakfast/lunch switch-over time. Had to wait for a while; but the ‘Fish and Chips’ were well worth that wait! Also checked out the Qantas lounge; which was totally empty. No servers, no restaurant service; only with a very limited buffet upstairs. Compared to Cathay’s; the decor of this lounge seemed to be clinical, with rather harsh lighting.

  25. My experience at T3:

    Best food: CX First
    Best drinks: CX First
    Best showers: Qantas, then CX
    Best service: AA flagship (very attentive staff)
    Best tea/scones: BA First
    Best spa: BA
    Best wifi: AA flagship
    Best decor: CX, then Qantas
    Best overall: CX

  26. @David O I don’t think BA operate any first class services (ie longhaul) from T3, so you won’t be able to get across from T5 just to use the CX lounge

  27. @David O Yes you do have access to the lounge flying BA First. I was there the first week of Dec. and was flying LHR to PHX in First (which operates out of T3). Highly recommend this lounge along with the Qantas lounge.

  28. Nice lounge and welcoming staff but I am sorry to say that when I was there in November the food was very very average. I ordered a pesto pasta and my partner ordered fish and chips. Both were well below the standard I would expect in an average restaurant let alone first class dinning.

  29. I like the residential, relaxed feel of some of the parts of this lounge, in particular the chairs w/footstools which overlook the airfield. So many of these lounges seem to be designed by people who’ve never flown multi-leg long-hauls before. I don’t want a space ship when I’m dead tired — I want a cozy, comfortable place to curl up and relax for awhile…or get some work done.

  30. @David – are you a douche tarde or just aspiring to be one?

    That ‘joke’ wasn’t even funny.

  31. Thanks for that little piece of info that OneWorld is the only alliance that allows their top elites into First Class lounges. Didn’t know the others don’t. Makes me glad to know I picked the right program to save my miles to and to fly on.

  32. Hi everyone – I am Oneworld Emerald and i’m flying on JFK -> LHR -> KUL. My flight into LHR will arrive at T5 and my connecting flight to KUL will depart out of T5. My layover is a whopping 11 hours. My question: Will I be allowed to go to T3 to use the CX First lounge? Or will i have to re-clear security and, as such, not be allowed to enter T3 (since my boarding pass will be for a flight from T5)?

  33. This will most likely not work at Heathrow since you are not allowed to go air side in a terminal you if don’t have a boarding pass for that terminal. The Heathrow system with switching land side and air side when transferring between terminals makes it kind of impossible.

    Can’t you use the BA First lounge at T5? In my opinion, the CX First lounge in T3 ain’t that special. Or hop into London using the Heathrow Express (25 mins to Paddington) and have some fun. I would not stay all the time in a lounge.

  34. Sorry I have a question, I am not a frequent flyer, however I shall be travelling BA First in November, will I have access to this lounge also?

  35. With a BA First ticket you can use any Oneworld lounge you like.

    Depending on the terminal(s) you will be using and the amount of time you have, (e.g. layover) my suggestion would be to go to the BA Concorde Room in T5. That is BA First only.

    Note that travelling between terminals at Heathrow is somewhat of a hassle and takes time.

  36. Hi Frank,

    Thanks for replying! Will it just be a case of showing my BA ticket at the other lounge?

    I am going from Terminal 3, and I really would not be confident hopping between terminals.


  37. Hi Dylan,

    In that case just go to T3 and you could check them all out. Just show your boarding pass. It acts like an Emerald tier status.

    From the oneworld website “Customers flying First or Business Class have access to the equivalent class of lounge regardless of their frequent flyer status.

    First Class passengers may invite one guest to join them in the lounge. The guest must also be travelling on a flight operated and marketed by a oneworld airline.”

  38. Thanks for the reply again Frank.

    Me and my partner are off to Vegas for 8 nights, so we will both go to this lounge, it looks great!

    Is it just me or is the cost or premium travel getting cheaper? I understand most people will use points etc, but for 2 of us with BA (maybe because it’s BA) it’s cost us £5000 to stay at the Bellagio 8 nights and travel First our and Business back.

    For me that’s a bargain!

  39. @Dylan. BA pricing can be weird, sometimes First is cheaper than Business, depending on the route (e.g. feed into a hub), departure time and/or time of booking. I always check this.

    Hotels in Vegas are often offered relatively cheap if they anticipate on you spending a lot in the casino…. So combinations can be very attractive.

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