Review: Air India Lounge London Heathrow

Filed Under: Air India

While I had spent the night at the Hilton attached to Terminal 4, I still went to the airport early, since I wanted to check out a couple of lounges. I left the hotel at 5:15AM, and from there it was just a short five minute walk through the tunnel connector to Terminal 4.

I checked out the departures board, and saw that my Air India flight to Delhi was using check-in zone E.

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London Heathrow Terminal 4 departures board

The deserted check-in area was easy enough to spot, especially thanks to the Air India signage featuring the Maharaja.

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Air India check-in London Heathrow Airport

The first & business class queue was at the far left of the check-in area, where I was stopped and asked a few security questions before being allowed to proceed with check-in.

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Air India check-in signage London Heathrow Airport

The agent who checked me in was friendly. I handed her my passport:

“To Delhi, please.”
“Is Delhi your final destination?”
“No, I am connecting to San Francisco.”
“You are flying on Air India?”
“You are sure you’re not on our Star Alliance codeshare partner today?”
“Nope, I’m going the whole way on Air India.”

She sort of turned her head to the side for a moment and looked up. I think she was about to ask a follow up question, but then caught herself and proceeded with check-in. Hah, can’t say I blame her!

She printed my boarding pass within a couple of minutes, and with a smile informed me that I was the only passenger in first class as of now. While Air India has four flights a day to London, the others are operated by 787s without first class, so I guess that also gave me the distinct honor of being the airline’s only first class passenger out of London for the day. ūüėČ

She invited me to use the Air India Maharaja Lounge, located across from gate six. The lounge opened at 5:30AM, which was just a few minutes after I checked in.

I asked if she could also print my connecting boarding pass. She tried, but after about 10 minutes she said it wasn’t possible, and that I would have to get it in Delhi. No worries!

While not relevant since I was ticketed in first class, it’s worth noting that there was a sign indicating opportunities to buy up to first or business class, which Air India seems to be pretty aggressive about.

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Air India upgrade offer London Heathrow Airport

I loved the Air India boarding pass, especially how colorful it was. I also loved the first class cabin baggage tag I was given, which I’ll proudly put on my carry-on, as you don’t see too many of those around!

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Air India first class boarding pass and luggage tag

The Fast Track security queue was adjacent to the Air India check-in counter, and there was no queue there. I guess that’s an advantage of traveling at 5:30AM on a Saturday morning in January.

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London Heathrow Terminal 4 Fast Track lane

I was through security in a matter of minutes, and once in the terminal turned left to follow the signs towards Gates 1-6.

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London Heathrow Terminal 4 airside

As I saw the lounge signage I started to reminisce on all the cool trips I’ve taken out of this terminal over the years, having visited the¬†Etihad Airways Lounge, Malaysia Airlines Lounge, Gulf Air Lounge, and Qatar Airways Lounge (well, very briefly). London definitely has some of the best airline lounges that I’ve been to!

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London Heathrow Terminal 4 lounge signage

After walking for a couple of minutes I did indeed see the entrance to the Air India Lounge, which was shared with the Qatar Airways Lounge as well as the fairly new Plaza Premium Lounge.

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Air India Lounge entrance London Heathrow

The entrance led to a fairly long walkway.

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Air India Lounge entrance London Heathrow

On the ground floor was the Qatar Airways Lounge, while the Air India and Plaza Premium Lounges were located up a level.

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Air India Lounge elevator London Heathrow

The entrance to the Air India Lounge was across from the elevator, and had some festive decorations.

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Air India Lounge entrance London Heathrow

It was just a few minutes after the lounge’s 5:30AM opening time, and the two staff didn’t seem to be totally set up yet. So the agent at reception welcomed me and asked if she could hold onto my boarding pass¬†and bring it to me in a few minutes.

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Air India Lounge entrance London Heathrow

The iconic Maharaja statue was just to the side of the reception desk.

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Air India Lounge Maharaja London Heathrow

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this lounge, other than the fact that I’ve always been extremely impressed by the lounges in Terminal 4. For example, both the Malaysia Airlines and Gulf Air Lounges are beautiful in this terminal, even if they’re not nearly as nice as their hubs.

This lounge was a bit more traditional and bland, even though it was apparently renovated just a bit over a year ago.

As I entered the lounge there were nine chairs facing a TV, which seemed to be playing a London radio station.

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Air India Lounge London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge London Heathrow

I did like the decorations that had been placed on the wall, at least.

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Air India Lounge seating London Heathrow

There was a semi-transparent partition between the TV area and the next seating area, which also had a table with some magazines and newspapers.

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Air India Lounge London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge magazines & newspapers London Heathrow

On the other side of that partition was a section with four seats and a table, which looked quite nice, except for the fact that the carpet was stained-as-could-be.

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Air India Lounge seating London Heathrow

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Stained carpet in the Air India Lounge

In the far corner of the lounge was a longer corridor with more seating. That area overlooked the tarmac, though it was dark the entire time I was there, so I didn’t get a good look at the views.

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Air India Lounge seating London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge seating London Heathrow

At the far end of the lounge, next to the TV area, was the dining and buffet area. There were five tables along with a booth, presumably intended for those who wanted to eat.

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Air India Lounge seating London Heathrow

There was also some high-top seating at the food service area itself.

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Air India Lounge buffet London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge buffet London Heathrow

I was just thrilled to see that the lounge had actual filtered coffee. Most lounges in Europe just seem to have espressos or americanos out of self serve machines (which are rarely good), which don’t hit the spot in the same way as filtered coffee for me.

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Air India Lounge coffee London Heathrow

There was also a self serve liquor selection as well as canned soda and bottled water.

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Air India Lounge liquor selection London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge drinks London Heathrow

Then there was some fresh(ish) fruit, cereal, croissants, etc.

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Air India Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

And then also some packaged cookies.

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Air India Lounge packaged cookies London Heathrow

I was thrilled when I saw the lounge attendant put out some proper Indian food. The presentation left a bit to be desired, as a couple of the items were just placed out in aluminum prep trays with foil on top.

The breakfast selection consisted of (I’m going off the labels here) spicy chicken wings, sheesh kabab, lamb shammi kebab, chicken tikka, hommus chat, paneer tikki, aloo chana chaat, and more.

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Air India Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

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Air India Lounge breakfast spread London Heathrow

I got some food as soon as it was placed out, and while it was tasty, it was lukewarm at best.

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Breakfast in the Air India Lounge

While the lounge doesn’t have shower facilities, it does have toilets, which seems to be a new feature since the renovation (at least according to Google):


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Air India Lounge hallway to toilets London Heathrow

There were two bathrooms for men…

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Air India Lounge toilets London Heathrow

…though one of them was inoperable.

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Air India Lounge inoperable toilet London Heathrow

After having breakfast I decided to pay a visit to the Plaza Premium Lounge right across the hallway from this lounge, since it’s a Priority Pass Lounge. In the next installment I’ll be writing about it, so stay tuned.

For the first 90 minutes in the Air India Lounge I was the only guest, and even as departure approached there were at most 10 people in the lounge. That’s perhaps a reflection of just how empty the flight was.

The boarding pass indicated that boarding would commence at 7:30AM for our 8:45AM departure, which seemed early. The agent said she would announce boarding, but I decided to leave the lounge at around 7:40AM, since I was getting bored and anxious for my flight.

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London Heathrow Terminal 4 airside seating

The Air India flight to Delhi was departing from gate 3, located at the far end of the terminal. As I arrived I saw the crew sitting in the gate area, so assumed we were still a ways from boarding commencing.

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Air India departure gate LHR

I know I’m probably the only person in the world who feels this way, but I sort of love the Air India livery. It’s not the most modern in the world, but it’s distinctive and I love the¬†window “accents.”

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Air India 777-200LR taking me to Delhi

Finally at 8AM boarding was called for all passengers at once, which was rather chaotic.

Air India Lounge London bottom line

Terminal 4 at Heathrow Airport is full of great lounges. Unfortunately of the ones I’ve visited, the Air India Lounge is the least impressive. While the food itself was fairly decent, the design was outdated and the lounge didn’t look especially clean, despite having recently been renovated.

As you’ll see in the next installment about the Plaza Premium Lounge, I’d actually much rather spend time there.

  1. pretty underwhelming. actually reminds me a lot of the EK lounge in T4 at JFK, which i’m no fan of.

    for some reason i love the look of the kitchen area, though!

  2. That has to be the best looking Air India lounge for international/domestic.

    As an Indian, the food looks delicious. I would love to eat that.

  3. That’s a huge lounge to be staffed by only 2 people,though considering the fact that Air India Business and first classes are mostly empty I think 2 are more than enough.

  4. @ Ben,

    I really admire your patience at being able to sit in a lounge. My wife is like that exactly – I on the other hand can’t sit still for a minute (in fact I am shaking my legs right now as I write this). But seriously, not a bad lounge (I think – although I have visited all of the best lounges on a recent post of yours and not spent more than 15 min plus a shower), but I am not one to really be able to judge a lounge. I would say the dirty carpet was the only off-putting thing on this review.

  5. I think I got diarrhea just looking at that food. What a complete embarrassment and dump–why even have a lounge if it looks like that. Wow. My vote is for worse lounge of the year thus far…

  6. It looks better than the Air India JFK lounge! I just visited Plaza Premium lounge at SIN T1, if the Heathrow one is anything like that, I’m sure it was quite nice! I was very impressed by it, among the best of priority pass lounges that I’ve visited.

  7. Not bad actually. I was expecting worse from all the teasers you sent out. This can’t compare to the best first class lounges but it is not trying to. The food doesn’t look bad either. Was it healthy? Tasty? Presentation could be better. The lounge people are probably lazy bums who couldn’t be bothered to do anymore than required to save their jobs.

  8. Aren’t lounges maintained by local contractor. Definitely AI should have a chat with them and find new vendor, if they plan to keep F which seems to be chopping block based on latest news.

    I think AI looking into removing all F. Why pay millions to sloppy lounge contractors.

    Here is a comparison F,J and Y of AI 77L (DEL-SFO)

    Cabin space
    1 row of F(4 seats) = 1.5 row of J (~6 seats) = 3 rows of Y (27 seats)

    Food carts
    F: 9.5 for 4 (1.188/pax), J: 16 for 18(0.457/pax), Y: 29 for 195(0.149/pax)

    So if AI replaces F with more Y seats, its revenue will increase and fuel burn will decrease. It needs 5 less carts to provide same level of service or carry more food for paying revenue Y pax.

  9. T2 is apparently at capacity at present (it should be increased at some point), plus T2 is more expensive for airlines to fly out of. AI should move at some point but not that soon I believe.

  10. @me

    Then, why do all your posts make you appear like an ignorant, short-sighted, and illiterate juvenile?

  11. @Ben

    Ben, admit it. “me” and “Loz” are your alternative names to bring us all down-to-earth (rock bottom by the sounds of it) and create some controversy… I mean their comments are seriously daft..

  12. As an Indian I can say that the lounge is underwhelming. It looks like an apartment instead of an actual lounge. At least it was semi-decent, though. They should have presented the food better and used fancy lightning, but it looks okay for the most part.

  13. Oh, look. Betty Turner – oops I mean Samantha – mentioned me a minute before I made my comment. That’s cute, but I aint no Ben. I am me. I know you love coming up with conspiracy theories all the time but chill…

  14. “I was just thrilled to see that the lounge had actual filtered coffee.” Oh, Murka. Reminds me of my Italian friend’s saying: “Americans! The only people who think beer needs to be fresh but coffee doesn’t.” ūüėČ

  15. It’s not the best lounge in the world but it’s hardly a dump. I get the impression that some folks here are jumping at any chance to be on the “Air India is crap” bandwagon.

  16. The presentation of the food does look a bit like AI ordered in some takeaway. However given the proximity of Southall, home to some of the UK’s best Indian restaurants, they could have done a lot better.

    Anyone with a long layover at LHR could do a lot worse than take the bus to the Broadway and sample some of the anazing food up there.

  17. @Josh – what does coffee being filtered have to do with its freshness? You can use old nasty beans for espresso just as easily as you can for drip. They’re completely different criteria.

  18. It really seems that AI just bought food from an Indian takeaway shop a night before and put it here. Why can’t staff present the food in a proper manner, I mean remove foil and and other packaging. At AI no one cares about presentation, this culture is from top to bottom because AI runs on public money and hence all they need to worry is monthly salary. I decided long time ago that I am not going to fly with AI on an international sector because as compare to other airlines they don’t offer value for money for anything and plus plane interiors are always kept in shoddy conditions. I have seen seat numbers written on duct tape behind the seat as AI can’t afford proper badges.

  19. you think that london heathrow lounge is bad!!!! Try using India’s any major airports Air india lounge. you’ll never travel by air india in your life. Ahmedabad SVP intl airport- AI lounge is disgusting in everyway-sitting-sofas torn,sticky,dirty, food-cold,beverages none,coffee no milk, service-disgustingly half asleep serving you while yawning!! you name it!!!. They just don’t care about any thing. will never travel again in Air india again
    Inflight, even though pre arranged food 10 days in advance, still did not get it and every time you ask for something, the air hostess made you feel like its a chore for them. My advice-Never travel by Air India!!

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