Review: British Airways Galleries First Lounge, London Heathrow Terminal 5

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After clearing transit passport control and security, I had a 3 hour connection, and no gate was posted yet for my flight. I decided to head to the British Airways first class lounge on the south side of the airport.

Heading to the lounge means going down an escalator, walking through the shops, and back up an escalator.

I flew first class on the way to Paris, and could have used the Concorde Room if I had the time.

For the return I was flying business class (which I was more excited to try, in a way, as it’s been a few years since I had flown BA business). A Club World passenger would normally have access to the business class lounge, but as a oneworld emerald member (American Airlines Executive Platinum) I had first class lounge access.

oneworld is different from Star Alliance with lounge access. Mid-tier elites in oneworld get business class lounge access, and top tier elites get first class lounge access. That’s why as an American Airlines Executive Platinum I can use the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney (and elsewhere), Cathay Pacific’s first class side of the Wing and the Pier in Hong Kong, and other first class lounges.

But British Airways treats their lounges somewhat differently. They have business class, first class, and Concorde Room. The Concorde Room is their ‘real’ first class lounge which is open only to BA’s first class passengers (and a select few elites). Business class passengers use the business lounge. So the first class lounge is really a ‘top tier elite lounge’.

Whereas I consider the Concorde Room a very poor first class lounge, I think that the Galleries First lounge is quite good then for what it is. There’s good food and drink, plenty of comfortable seating, and overall it’s reasonably stylish.

Although the ‘business’ area is fairly sterile.

The style of the restroom was similar to that of the Concorde Room, and it was clean.

Although it was showing its wear:

The food options are self service and plentiful, though nothing was extraordinarily good at least at breakfast time while I was there.

Click to enlarge:

Perhaps what I like best about the lounge is the terrace area, the “outdoors” portion of the lounge (that is still inside the airport) which is very similar to the terrace attached to the Concorde Room — the primary difference is you don’t have wait staff that will come by to take orders for cooked to order (not very good) food.

I hung out on a couch out on the terrace until British Airways posted a gate for the Austin flight. I caught up on work, knowing I would be without internet for the next 10 hours or so. Then I made my way to the satellite concourse.

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. They are supposed to take food orders on the terrace – they’re just not very proactive (putting it mildly). Feel free to flag someone down. I have had to pop inside occasionally to do this, but they’ll deliver to the terrace. Sat there now, in fact (and just ordered myself).

  2. Yes, the BA Term 5 First lounge is a great lounge, but it can get very crowded. I think the restrooms are the weakest part. Institutional style individual restrooms. And at times you have to wait – even if all you want to do is number 1. They are clean since there is a cleaning person constantly cleaning them.

    The restroom décor looks more like some temporary trailer style restroom. They could really use a more traditional men’s room with urinals which would eliminate the wait time. I do like private toilet rooms with sinks – like what that have. But compared to the new UA club lounge restrooms these BA ones are 1970 style. And Term 5 is not that old.

  3. @johnny33 you’ve been writing nasty comments on this blog since at least 2014, thank you for your dedication! i’ve worried you might fill your empty life with something else, but glad to see you demonstrate it’s as pathetic as ever.

  4. I was there last Sunday for about 4 hours. Got to eat and drink plenty of champagne 🙂

  5. Actually this lounge looks “fresher” than the dark, dated, and stodgy CCR. I am heading to LHR in First soon and with a 6-hour layover I look forward to visiting this lounge.

  6. I am getting increasingly frustrated with BA. The lounge generally has variety but it isn’t replenished often enough. Crowded too as another post indicated. I am also miffed that BA can change my First seat assignment on a trans Atlantic flight and do not even have the decency to tell me!

  7. Gary – I really get a lot of great information from your blog and all your posts. The travel knowledge I’ve gained via your blog is priceless. Keep up the great work!

    For those of you who don’t, why don’t you go and “troll” somewhere else. Your degrading and simple-minded commentary is not humorous in the least.

  8. Last time we were there I ordered the poached Salmon for lunch. While not Michelin quality, it was quite decent for an airport lounge. Certainly better than anything I’ve had in a Centurion Lounge. And the 3 kinds of very nice Champagne, on self serve, was a wonderful accompaniment.

    The bathrooms however were another matter. I guess the cleaning person was on break, and they most resembled gas station bathrooms. Plus having just a few cubicles in such a crowded lounge more or less guaranteed a queue for them.

  9. Thanks for the pics and posting details. It’s definitely too crowded in the Galleries Lounge. I will stick with the Concorde Lounge as I can always find a table in the restaurant and obviously the champagne selection is better. Now if the Galleries Lounge could only offer a better version of the Elemis Spa, I would reconsider immediately.

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