American Airlines Re-Opened Its London Heathrow International First Class Lounge

American Airlines has just re-opened its international first class lounge at London Heathrow, after closing at the start of the pandemic. And I’m not sure why.

This is not a Flagship lounge, since it never received its planned updates. The airline, though, says that while it was closed the kitchen received an update and the passenger area received “a cosmetic refresh.”

London Heathrow terminal 3 already has some of the best lounge options in the world.

  • Business class and oneworld sapphire passengers should use the Qantas lounge.

  • First class and oneworld emerald passengers should use the Cathay Pacific lounge. (By 2025 they promise to add a separate first class lounge as well.)

  • There’s also a British Airways Galleries First lounge, which passengers able to access the American Airlines International First Class lounge can use.

  • Terminal 3 at Heathrow is home to the American Express Centurion lounge, and many will prefer that. The No1 lounge is accessible via Priority Pass as well, and it’s probably one of the best Priority Pass lounges in the world.

I’m not sure what passenger is going to choose to use the American Airlines International First Class lounge. More operational lounge space is better, to control for crowding. On that level I’m glad so see the lounge re-open. I’m just not sure I can recommend anyone who would have access to this lounge to actually use it.

It’s been years since I’ve visited terminal 3, flying American Airlines from London. And I’m always disappointed to be using terminal 5 (indeed, I was sad that my upcoming trip on BA’s Austin flight was moved back to terminal 5). The lounge options in terminal 3 are very good. At some level I’m glad to see American re-opening its lounge. But they spend the pandemic making capital investments to convert their domestic fleet to a new dense configuration, I wish they’d made transformed this into the Flagship lounge they’ve been promising in London for the past seven years.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You can’t use the Qantas lounge without a Qantas ticket (issued by Qantas or a codeshare).

  2. No 1 lounge is nice, but not “one of the best PP lounges in the world”. Food would not survive the test of the market if a restaurant tried to survive with it in the outside world. 4S at Madrid puts it to shame.

  3. @L3: What makes you say that? I routinely use it when flying BA as a OW Emerald (AA CK) flyer.

  4. Agreed. I was just in the Cathay First Class Lounge as an AA EXP (OW Emerald) and there is no reason to visit an AA lounge there really.

  5. Likely some people won’t take the time to research and will just go to the operating carrier’s lounge by default. And as you point out, it’s always good to have extra capacity.

  6. @L3 ANY OneWorld Sapphire or Emerald status level cardholder can enter the Qantas T3 lounge regardless of travel class. You are factually incorrect. I, and literally tens of thousands of others, have done so since it opened and countless more do so on a daily basis.

    I think I’ve used the T3 Qantas lounge probably about 45 times. Do you know how many flights I’ve taken with Qantas or as a codeshare – zero.

    @Elliot That may be so but as the CCR is in T5 not T3 it’s irrelevant. The Bridge First is better than the Concorde Room but as it’s in HKG not LHR that would be a pointless argument if I tried to make it.

    Not to mention that having an international First class ticket for an AA flight wouldn’t get you access to the CCR. Access to the lounge is only for those flying BA First. Flying any OW Partner in F doesn’t qualify.

    Your only two other options to gain entry are to be a CCR Card( key) Holder OR Gold Guest List. Both of which are deemed semi/ unofficial status levels by design so that they can’t be assigned any OW Partner status level equivalent & can be more easily exempted from any alliance reciprocity agreement’s

  7. @garyleff “I’m just not sure I can recommend anyone who would have access to this lounge to actually use it.”

    Would you be more sure if you actually visited it?

  8. @Gary “First class and oneworld emerald passengers should use the Cathay Pacific lounge. (By 2025 they promise to add a separate first class lounge as well.)”
    There are already separate business and First lounges in the Cathay wing at LHR. Shared main entrance but different rooms. And the hawk-eyed lady on the desk ensures you enter the proper one 🙂

    And yes, the foot-dragging re-opening of the AA lounge is a disgrace. There was nothing wrong with the old Flagship Lounge IMO.

  9. L3: I was just there last month and was able to access the Qantas lounge with a BA ticket bought from AA. I am EP.

  10. It’s a bit of a longer walk to the Cathay lounge than the AA lounge for most AA flights. Usually I just want a bottle of water, a light snack, and to check my email for 10 minutes before boarding as there no reason to show up early for any of these lounges. Walking an extra 5 minutes to and from the Cathay lounge isn’t really worth it. The AA lounges are fine enough for my purposes most of the time.

  11. If we’re only talking about AA’s lounge and alternatives at T3, then it should be noted that the Concorde ROOM is in T5 as opposed to T3. If you ever have the opportunity to visit it, take it.

    As for T3 alternatives, Cathay Pacific already has a separate first class lounge and continues to be our choice. The BA lounges are nothing special. The Qantas lounge is in fact not limited to only Qantas passengers. For those with access to Amex lounges, this one might pleasantly surprise you.

  12. Surprised you didn’t note the biggest reason this lounge re-opening is pointless – AA is getting rid of international first class altogether by the end of next year.

  13. 02nz, you UNDERSTATE the stupidity. Currently, there are only three AA 777-300 flights from T3 each day. All other AA flights are 777-200s and 787s. Which means that there are 24 actual first class passengers per day at most. The rest are EP, PP, One World first class, or One World Emerald. And, it’s hard to imagine that the One World types would pick the AA lounge.

    By the way, construction on the Flagship Lounge in Philadelphia has halted. There’s a rumor that management has reassessed Philadelphia as a major European way point. Part of its “we’re a better domestic airline” strategy.

  14. L3, there’s always someone who doesn’t get the memo. Take the Qantas first class lounge at LAX. If a person is Emerald via a non-US loyalty program and is flying on any One World flight, even a non-transcon US domestic flight, the person will have access. And, the general rule is that if a person is Emerald via a US loyalty program, the person will only receive access if the person is flying on a One World itinerary that includes an international segment.

    However, Transcon Flagship flights are an exception to the no-US-domestic access rule. Those flights have the same standing as international flights for lounge access purposes. Of course, Emeralds of non-US loyalty programs would have access no matter what. And, Qantas LAX acknowledges that transcon Flagship First passengers receive access. But, when it comes to Emeralds of US loyalty programs (such as AA’s CKs, EPs, and PPs), Qantas LAX says no. And, that answer is incorrect.

  15. If you have a four hour layover, it is worthwhile to go from T3 from T5 for the better lounges?

  16. Hi Gary, flew BA to LHR from Austin twice in the last 2 months. I am not sure why they say it arrives at terminal 5 because it parks somewhere remote. And we had to be bussed to the terminal which took a long time. Also it took over 3 hours the first time and just under 3 hours the second time for the bags to arrive at bag reclaim. No explanation given not. I had no choice but to check my bag. But if you can, do not check bags.
    Also the food in Biz class was awful on both directions. Wonder what the food on coach was like.
    Just an FYI and good luck. Safe travels.

  17. Qantas Frequent Flyers with status can also access the Qantas lounge when flying Emirates.

  18. @Lee: There are FIVE 77W flights daily out of LHR at present. (2xJFK; 1xDFW; and 2xLAX)

    @Clayton: “Not to mention that having an international First class ticket for an AA flight wouldn’t get you access to the CCR.”

    Wrong. I did it when AA was flying out of T5.

    The hassle of the T5 to T3 transfer now would be rather off-putting.

  19. Was opening Monday March 20th, was told day before whilst there, only called by to get the golf cart to take us to the gate, spent time in the Quantas lounge as the AA lounge is truly dire & an awful advert for AA, back over in April, will check out new 1st for an hr. (one of 24 for the day, gotta laugh)

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