Lounge Review: British Airways Galleries Lounge – South

After walking off of our flight from DFW, we saw that there was no gate posted yet for our connecting flight to Madrid. From my experience most BA flights to destinations within Europe depart from the A gates, which is right next to central concessions area of Terminal 5. And so we went to the BA Galleries Lounge at the south end of the central terminal, right above our departing gate.

Introduction: Spring break in Spain
British Airways Club World DFW-LHR
British Airways T5 Galleries South Lounge @ Heathrow
The Westin Palace Madrid
Renfe Business Class Madrid-Seville
Hotel Alfonso XII Seville
Strolling in Seville
Sights and Sounds of Majestic Madrid
Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid Barajas
Iberia Business Class Madrid-Barcelona
The W Barcelona
Exploring Gaudi’s Barcelona
The Hilton London Heathrow Airport T5
American Airlines New Business Class LHR-DFW

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Security at London-Heathrow was surprisingly a breeze owing to our fast track boarding pass (Club World/First Class Passengers), and an even more astonishing lack of lines at the connecting flight check point. This seems to have held true for my last four times flying through Heathrow and is certainly a welcome improvement to what the experience was like 3 years ago.

The BA Galleries Lounge is located up a pair of escalators as soon as you make a right turn after clearing security and follow signs for the BA lounges. Upon presenting our boarding passes (from the DFW flight since the flight to Madrid didn’t have Business Class), we were promptly admitted at the check in desk.

Access is available to the following passengers:

  • BA Club World/Club Europe Passengers
  • Oneworld Sapphire Members
  • BA Gold/Silver Executive Club Members
  • Oneworld Business Class Passengers
  • Arriving Club World/First Passengers connecting on to BA or Oneworld flights (regardless of class of service)

One thing that struck me immediately about the BA lounge is that it felt bigger than it actually was. The area spreads quite extensively in both directions from where you enter. And though it was quite crowded at all times, I could easily find a place to sit.

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First there are restaurant style dining tables with benches across from where you enter.  And then there are the chaise lounge chairs arranged in rows facing each other:

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There are also library lounge chairs with side tables and outlets along the middle of these areas.

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Then there were areas with worn out couches and glass partitions, where a bunch of people were taking naps.

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There was also a business centre along one of the walls in the middle of the lounge with plenty of computers, and charging outlets. Unfortunately you will need your own travel adapter to plugin into many of these outlets, which is surprising considering that Heathrow is a major international connecting hub.

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There was also a “theatre area” in the lounge, which was just another seating area with couches facing a medium sized LCD tv. On their website they say: “at London Heathrow you can watch live sport or selected entertainment in our 20 seat cinema.” I found this laughable since this area was hardly cinema like given the light filled area, and lack of a true big screen TV. There was a man snoring obnoxiously loud here, enough to where the whole lounge could hear him 🙂

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Food and Beverages:

At the center of the lounge was the main food and beverage area. Along the wall was a huge number potato chip/crisp bags, and a few wines and champagnes in ice buckets.

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I wish I could be more helpful guys about what’s on offer, but I don’t know the good stuff from the cheap stuff. All I know is that there was no Krug or Dom Perignon on offer here.

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There was an island in the middle with a large number of water bottles including: sparkling, mineral, and drinking water.

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Further along that island was an area where there were a few buffet items, which included: two different kinds of toast, ham sandwiches, and warm rolls. I found it rather annoying that the meats were next to the toast since people can easily mix around the tongs and use one for the other. 
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There was also a few danish pastries, croissants, and cinnamon rolls on offer along the adjacent island.

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And of course there was some tomato juice, orange juice, and iced tea since it was breakfast time.

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There was also a make your own yogurt station, which didn’t look that appetizing given the presentation.

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There were two soups (both vegetarian) on offer in the lounge: creamy tomato, and a minestrone soup. I didn’t try them because I’m not a person to have soup for breakfast, but they certainly smelled nice enough.

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They also had some fruits and cereals, which included: muesli, corn flakes, and raisin bran.

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And of course they had all kinds of soft drinks on offer, which surprisingly included both Coca-Cola and Pepsi (didn’t realize they could coexist).

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Along that same wall there was also a nice display of some alcoholic beverages. Again, I don’t know much about what’s on offer, but it certainly looked a step up from what’s on offer at a United Club or Admiral’s Club.

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It may be noted that there is also a extensive beverage counter along the center of the seating area of the lounge facing the tarmac.

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Overall, I was decently impressed with the items on offer at the BA lounge. The spread is certainly a step up from those found in most lounges in the U.S. I never seem to be in the lounge during lunch time so I have no idea what it’s like at that time of day, but during breakfast you can definitely find something nice enough to eat.

As I finished taking pictures of the food/beverage area, I found this electronic feedback survey next to the blue lit newspaper stands. Being the good citizen that I am, I filled it out 😉

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More About My Time in the Lounge:

I took a seat in the back of the lounge overlooking the terminal. Having been to the lounge a number of times, I find this area to be the least crowded.

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As you can see, it gives a nice enough opportunity to people watch and catch some views of BA heavies taxing to the runway through the large windows.

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The other reason I like this area of the lounge is that it has a less trafficked hot beverage station with a nice assortment of cookies. I especially like the spicy, oat & ginger and black forest crunch cookies, and I may have had a few too many while I was in the lounge.

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There is also a fairly nice coffee or tea machine at this station where I decided to whip myself a cappuccino to help me stay awake and get some work done. I usually don’t coffee so I can’t really comment on it other than the fact that I had to dump a load of sugar to make it bearable. Next time I think I’ll stick to the hot chocolate 🙂

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Further along that area of the lounge is some more seating and yet another coffee/tea and cookie station. If you haven’t been to the lounge before, this is probably the area where you are mostly likely to find a seat during peak hours. 
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The Service:

Service and interaction with attendants in the lounge is almost nonexistent since most everything is self serve. However, I did find that the attendants were fairly good about clearing plates and cups. So luckily most areas were pretty clean in this rather busy lounge as you can see:

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The Showers and Restrooms:

There are restrooms in the lounge and they are located along the far wall behind the food and beverage area. The showers and toilets were arranged in stalls, and were extremely busy, which made it hard for the one attendant to keep up with cleaning. In my experience, Lufthansa business class lounges have showers which are leagues better than the showers in the British Airways lounges.

Wi-Fi Access and Working in the Lounge

After finishing my tour of the lounge, I sat down and tried to get some work done. The Wi-Fi password for the lounge can be found on the TV monitors in the lounge. And I say I “tried to work” because the Wi-Fi in the lounge was terribly slow, even slower than my speed throttled T-Mobile international roaming service. Even loading The New York Times took a good 5 minutes!  The speed did seem to be slightly better when I was there just a few weeks ago, but it is still nothing close to being high speed. I think I would just head over to one of BA’s work stations if I ever wanted to surf for a little while in the future.

Anyway upon seeing this, I just grabbed myself a newspaper and tried to drink some more coffee to keep myself going. By this time there was only an hour left before our scheduled departure time so by the time I nearly fell asleep, we were off again to catch our flight to Madrid. And as expected, the departure was indeed from one of the A gates which were close by.

This pretty much concludes my journey to Spain. I won’t bother writing about my Iberia flight to Madrid because it was uneventful and ordinary. It’s time to get to the crux of the trip report.

Bottom Line: 

Overall, the British Airways Galleries Lounge is definitely a notch above most United Clubs and Admirals Clubs, but is certainly well below the standard of Lufthansa lounges in Frankfurt and Munich. The good part about the lounge is that it offers tons of comfortable lounge chairs to dawdle around in during your time at Heathrow. And despite the lounge being crowded almost all the time, there is usually a quiet place to sit, nap, or maybe do some work if and when the Wi-Fi works properly. I was decently impressed with the drinks selection and food offered in the lounge during my recent visits, though I only got to see the breakfast selection. The rest of it was just acceptable at best with respect to the showers and other facilities. The lounge is by no means world class, but I suppose it does the job given that lounge areas near the gate are often much more crowded. Oh and there were some decent views of the tarmac, but watching BA heavies taxiing along all the time can get boring I suppose.

What are your thoughts about the BA Galleries Lounge?