British Airways’ Galleries First lounge at London Heathrow is second only to the exclusive Concorde Room in Terminal 5. Reaching Gold status in the British Airways Executive Club means you can access this lounge whenever you fly. This is also the lounge accessible by oneworld Emerald frequent flyers. It has been eight years since the lounge made its debut and a long overdue light refresh was recently completed.
My visit to the lounge featured here was after arriving from Hong Kong. It was very early in the morning and the lounge had not long opened which was very advantageous for taking pictures. When you enter the lounge, you pass by the famous British Airways horse with a lamp on its head. In front of you is an example of the seating which feature foot stools or small tables.
When you turn right you pass by a corridor area which features a bank of coffee machines with the entrance to the toilets and showers opposite. Continuing on leads you to more seating. The lounges are called Galleries as the concept is that there is art throughout the space and some of the walls certainly feature striking pieces.
This area also features a bar area with self-service wine, sparkling water and still water. What is not shown in the pictures is the entire opposite wall which is floor to ceiling glass and looks out over the apron for quite an excellent view. When you turn around to head back to the other end of the lounge you can find the Champagne bar. The Champagne changes from time to time, is self-service and features decent quality but not outrageously expensive bottles.
A plethora of newspapers are available and you can find them in an interesting set of plastic pigeon holes with blue lighting. There is also much more seating and this end of the lounge features some business facilities.
For those people travelling with small children, they can be sequestered away from the general hubbub in their own room. Randomly, there are also the letters BA in silver sitting on the floor by the windows. What I did notice was a distinct lack of device charging points. This is where the lounge shows its age as it opened before the tablet and phone revolution of recent years. It is something that needs to be addressed in the airline’s flagship First lounge.
One of the most important parts of any lounge experience is the food on offer as many people choose to eat in the lounge before their flight. I would certainly be ten tonne Tessie if I flew more frequently than I already do as I like to eat in the lounge and on board! The seating is in table pairs or you can choose to sit at different tables and half booths around the walls.
Now to the goodies on offer. Being a British airline, there is a great selection of Twinings Tea and a variety of biscuits to go with them. As it was breakfast time, you could partake in some Porridge if you were so inclined.
Continuing with the breakfast theme there were four different kinds of cereal, milk and a variety of cheeses for the continental types.
The real deal is having a Full English Breakfast and you could go to town if this was what you were after. Literally every element was present – bread, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding, baked beans, scrambled egg, tomato and hash browns. There is no way you would go hungry!
It all looked quite well presented when I was there as the pigs had yet to arrive at the trough and mess it all up! For those on a healthy buzz there is also yoghurt and fruit salad.
Naturally there was also fresh fruit available if you wished. The Galleries First lounge offers all of that as the self-service option. Yes, there is also a menu so you can order food to be delivered to you. At breakfast, this comprises of Flax Seed Granola, Boiled Eggs and Soldiers, Eggs Benedict, Grilled Scottish Kippers, Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Egg or a Breakfast Sandwich.
I had been eating constantly since I stepped on board my flight so I chose the Flax Seed Granola. It comes in a petite portion which suited me just fine. It was tasty!
Since it was breakfast time I washed it down with a Mimosa. The toilets in the lounge are all separate cubicles that are fairly spacious. I never feel the air is particularly clean for some reason and I am not really that fond of them. What I do like is the fact they each feature a different vintage BOAC travel poster.
When I next visited the lounge it was the middle of the day and the menu had switched to the all day dining. This features choices such as the famous BA Burger, Kiln-Smoked Severn and Wye Salmon Bagel, Roasted Cauliflower Salad, Mozzarella and Basil Gnocci or Cape Malay Chicken Curry. My guest and I chose the burger and we were quite disappointed at the fact that Britain appears to be rationing chips. We each received five. I mean they are chunky, but really?
My sweet tooth made itself felt and I ordered vanilla ice cream for dessert.
The British Airways Galleries First lounge at London Heathrow is adequate for what it is. The furnishings come across as somewhat dated even though some have recently been refreshed. The food offering is okay but the portion sizes for the menu items are a trifle on the mean side. Wi-Fi speed is fine however the lack of device charging points at every seat means I have found myself having to gather my possessions and move when my battery has run down.
The lounge is usually quite busy with passengers and staff everywhere so it can be difficult to flag down serving staff to order off the menu. The lounge is lagging far behind the flagship offerings from other airlines such as Cathay Pacific. A report card from a teacher would probably say “could do better” and I believe British Airways can and should.