EXCLUSIVE: Negotiations for Priority Pass lounge in Terminal 5 ‘well advanced’

When I wrote about the opening of the Plaza Premium arrivals lounge in Heathrow Terminal 2, I mentioned that the Plaza Premium CEO publicly stated that he was in discussions with Heathrow about opening an independent lounge in Terminal 5.

Things appear to be moving on.  According to sources who would definitely not want to be named, I understand that Heathrow Airport Ltd recently issued a tender for an operator to manage a new departure lounge in Terminal 5.  The tender includes the option of including a spa.

Plaza Premium Heathrow 2

Four companies are understood to have submitted proposals.  These are the three usual suspects (No 1 Traveller, Plaza Premium and Swissport / Servisair) plus a fourth one unknown to my source.  The photo above is from Plaza Premium in Terminal 2.

This should be excellent news for anyone unlikely to retain their British Airway status following the April 28th changes to the Executive Club.  The cost of buying a Priority Pass or taking out an American Express Platinum charge card (which comes with two Priority Pass cards, admitting four people in total) will be cheaper and certainly easier than a mileage run.  The Lounge Club passes issued with Amex Gold may or may not be accepted – Plaza Premium and Servisair work with Lounge Club but No 1 Traveller at Heathrow does not (it does at Gatwick and elsewhere).  You could also ‘pay as you go’ as well.

Even families with BA status will find this useful for holidays when the BA Galleries ‘one guest only’ rule means you can’t get in if only one parent has status.

I do not know what the timetable is for getting a new space open or where it will be located.  The nature of the Terminal 5 building means that it may well be a space without any natural light, as the British Airways lounges take up much of the ‘window space’ available on the north and south sides.

I doubt we will see anything open in the next 18 months.  Security reasons mean that the process of getting anything built airside at an airport takes far longer than usual.

PS.  As I said at the top, this article is pure gossip!  Feel free to email me at raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk if you have any hard information to add.

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Comments

  1. Excellent news. I think k No 1 do accept Lounge Club cards. Certainly they did at LGW last August.

  2. Alex Fisher says:

    Could the fourth applicant be BA themselves? It’s obvious that they need more lounge space.

    • Calchas says:

      BA are already in negotiations with HAA to extend their existing lounge premises.

      • Calchas says:

        To add to this, the information is available on the Heathrow Airport website buried somewhere in their annual reports and annual plans for building projects for the coming year. There is not much information aside from something like “Terminal 5 principal airline tenant requires additional lounge space in T5A: High priority. Budget: Unknown” and I suppose it could be wrong or out of date.

    • Not much point expanding the lounge space when the lounge lizards themselves are being culled.

      • This could however be a classic left-hand/right-hand issue. These latest BA enhancements smack of a lack of joined up thinking so I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to learn that one department was trying to expand lounge space whilst another was simultaneously trying to reduce access numbers.

        One think I’ve learnt in the past couple of decades at the sharp end is that businesses are nowhere near as smart as we might like to think they are.

  3. Farabi says:

    Just checked lounge club site and no1 traveller do accept lounge pass members. I’ve used this lounge at Gatwick quite a few times with my lounge club card from Amex gold. Only issue is that you need to book in advance which cost £5!

  4. In addition to Amex and direct PP subscription NatWest Private Banking accounts give a top level PP card. As I’ve just started travelling for work in Y again this has proved very useful.

  5. Dave H says:

    Slightly off topic but did a positioning flight with SAS from Man to Oslo (yep one of the cheap club world flights to Oz) tried to use my priory pass at the two lounges, one stated the PP card was not being accepted for the foreseeable and the other was ‘full’.

  6. Oh! Matron! says:

    To be honest, I find the Galleries lounge as appealing as a regular service air lounge. There’s nothing spectacular at all about it, especially that they still serve the gloop. Not only that, THERE’S NO DESSERT! Cookies do not a dessert make The plaza premium is a different story :-)

  7. Amex plat comes with 2 PP cards?

    • The supplementary plat gets one too. I suppose if you wanted more, it would be cheaper to pay the £170 fee for additional plat supplementary cards rather than buying more pp.

      One question, though: the article says that you can get 4 people in to a lounge with two pp. I know you can take a guest in each which I guess is what it means, but am I right in thinking there is a £15 fee for the guest?

      • Amex absorbs the first guest charge – the lounge charges PP which charges Amex which doesn’t charge you. Subsequent guests are charged at £15 which will appear on your Amex account.

        I queried a guest charge a few years ago with Amex which got swiftly removed – still feel guilty that I realised later I’d had two guests that visit (one usually had his own PP card) so charge was perfectly legit.

      • Brendan says:

        No, you are allowed 1 guest for free with each card

      • SimonSchus says:

        I thought I’d clarify something above based on something that was posted above given I had a conversation with AMEX a while ago.

        When I asked AMEX, I was told that I could indeed purchase a second Platinum-coloured supplementary card on my AMEX Platinum at a cost of £170 (i.e. I already had my main card, and already had a supplementary Platinum card for my partner – I was asking about getting a second supplementary card for my parents).

        However,they told me that the Priority Pass is only available to the main cardholder and the first supplementary cardholder. Even if I paid the £170, I would not receive a Priority Pass for my parents as the second supplementary cardholders.

        This is what they told me, although I have no idea if this varies in experience as I decided that £170 would be worth it. I’d love to be wrong but this is what they told me about 3 months ago.

        Simon!

  8. Sorry for adding to this going of topic but I was hoping i may be able to ask for a bit of guidance from more experienced travellers.

    I am flying out of Gatwick in the early hours of the morning and thought that it might be worthwhile to access a lounge to make the wait a bit nicer.

    I have a Lounge Club card that I recieved with my AMEX Gold card and as I understand it, I have two Lounge entrances for free and can then buy more with it for £15? (can’t remember the exact figures) what I am not sure about is how I actually go about it as I have never been in a lounge before. There are actually three of us going (Including a child but I have checked the website and it says that children are allowed as long as they are with parents and stay in family areas.) Can I just turn up and hand over my Lounge Card and all three of us can get in? or do I have to book in advance saying that I am using the Lounge Club Card? Is there a maximum amount of people I can pay for on a Lounge Club card?

    Thanks for any advice you can give.

    • Normally, you just turn up and handover the lounge card and they’ll deduct the no. of free passes remaining from your card. Then off you go :)

    • Hand over your Lounge Club card. A £15 fee for the 3rd person will be charged to your Amex if the lounge charges for kids. The lounge will not see that you are paying (or indeed that the first two are free) – all they see do is swipe your Lounge Club card and enter ‘3’ (or ‘2’ if kids are free) as the number of visitors.

      Note that No 1 Traveller at Gatwick is often full and you may be turned away – although that is unlikely at the crack of dawn.

      • Thanks for the advice,

        i am hoping they will have space as I am going to arrive about 04:30 which will hopefully be before too many people are up and about.

  9. The_Real_A says:

    Hopefully it will :

    1) Make galleries less crowded as people chose to lounge elsewhere

    2) Force galleries to improve their offering – incidently on making some comments via the SMS survery on a recent flight i was pulled aside at boarding by a BA manager and explained that a £1m refit to the lounge is being planned in the short term. Nice to see the feedback is actually read!

    As an un-offical survery around my office – most have priority pass – and all say that lounge access is critical to their choice of airline (work policy is Economy Full Stop) :

    1) Those without Oneworld status would now consider BA
    2) Those who struggle to attain Silver would consider ditching BA and flying whoever suits.

  10. Lady London says:

    I would like to see a lounge just for families. Perhaps open April through to August or so.

    Er…. that’s not as altruistic as it sounds :-)

  11. DeltaCharlie says:

    Following the recent devaluations and HBO changes, if this happens there will be no point in holding a Silver Card. However, I feel that this is what BA are looking to achieve anyhow!

  12. There have been those speculating that the next move for HBO fares is that status holders on these tickets would be denied lounge access. This announcement could be seen as the first step towards that given the changes yesterday to HBO fares. Or am I conflating two completely separate things?

    • Similar to this, i did listen in the the 2 delightful check in staff at the T5 North lounge discuss between themselves why status holders on domestic only flights shouldn’t be allowed in.

      If something were to change it would have to take into account the oneworld alliance lounge access rules. I think with the recent changes in earning status the number of lounge users will eventually reduce. It reminds of Emirates a few years ago when their lounges were full and unless top tier status they wouldnt give priority boarding, they then made it much more difficult to earn status and the lounges became a little less crowded.

      • Calchas says:

        BA is not interested in what oneworld thinks.
        For one thing, Willie Walsh is the chairman of the oneworld alliance.

        • Within Oneworld they already have exceptions too – eg no domestic lounge access for AA members (as is common to all USA programmes) – however I couldn’t see BA going down that route as it would suddenly drastically reduce the appeal of BA status!

    • If true, you would want to do it all at once. No point making one change now and then doing another a couple of months later. It would also be VERY odd to remove lounge access when the ticket you have bought counts for status towards getting lounge access! (Although, of course, you could say the same about seat selection.)

  13. I flew from T5 on Saturday and left negative feedback, i received a call a few minutes later from an apologetic lounge manager. She advised me that the current BA lounges would be refurbished and not extended and that a new lounge would be opening up in T5C , i assumed she meant a BA lounge, however would an independent operator set up in 5C?

  14. Wonder if the fourth company could be American Express themselves, surely an ideal location for a Centurion Lounge :)

    • It’s not impossible, but as Amex Plat gives out a Priority Pass, they get the same benefit (ie Platinum becomes more attractive when there is a T5 lounge) whether they or anyone else runs the lounge, so why bother? It would be a marketing coup though.

  15. If I am flying BA economy from T5, which lounges (if any) can I access with my Marco Polo Gold Card?

  16. Cathay Gold is OneWorld Sapphire so you get access to business class lounges, in T5 this will the Galleries Club.

    From the OneWorld Guidelines
    Sapphire tier frequent flyers are welcome in Business Class* or frequent flyer lounges. (*does not include Qantas Domestic Business Lounges)

    From the BA Website
    Galleries Club lounge Terminal 5A (North and South) and Terminal 5B
    Terminal 5A: 05:00 – 22:30

    Terminal 5B: 05:30 – 22:30
    Customers travelling in First, Club World, Club Europe or Business UK
    Executive Club Gold and Silver Members (plus one guest)
    oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members (plus one guest)