Review of British Airways Galleries Club lounge, Heathrow Terminal 3

This is my review of the British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.

This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK.  You see all of the reviews here.

I flew to Helsinki last week to test drive the new Airbus A350.  As Finnair fly from Heathrow Terminal 3, I had five lounge options:

I decided to visit them all!  Having started off with the two third-party lounges (No 1 Lounge – outstanding, Swissport – dreadful) I moved on to the oneworld options.

It is probably 3-4 years since I was last in the British Airways lounge in Terminal 3.  I am not even sure that I have used it since it was refurbished in the Galleries style.

This review only covers Galleries Club – I did not visit any of the First Class lounges available (this would be an 8 part series if I had!).  I also had no time to visit the Elemis Spa in the lounge – and it is very unlikely I would have been able to get an appointment anyway.

In general, I am positive about the Galleries lounges at Heathrow T5.  Many people dislike them, but I like the fantastic natural light, the views and the modern decor (which was originally quite a punt for BA I think).

Terminal 3 is more of the same, but less so.  The room has a low ceiling and there is only natural light in a small part of the space.  This saps a lot of the ambiance.

You will recognise many of the features from Terminal 5.  There is the wine ‘trough’ (no champagne in Club, potentially on request though) at the far end:

British Airways Galleries Club lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

The decor here is excellent – you can just see an impressive lighting fixture at the top of the image.

As you walk back towards the entrance, you pass another drinks area:

British Airways Galleries Club lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Whilst big, the scale of the lounge is broken down into manageable areas by the use of different types of seating and the bars.  This area does have an external view from one side although it was dark when I was there:

British Airways Galleries Club lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Opposite is a huge business centre – possible too large given the move to tablet and smartphone working in the last few years:

British Airways Galleries Club lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Now we hit trouble.  Here was the food offering at 5pm – nothing on this side:

British Airways Galleries Club lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

and, on the other side, a handful of truly pathetic sandwiches (made as thin as humanly possible to save on bread costs) plus an OK Victoria sponge, albeit made with very cheap jam:

British Airways Galleries Club lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Why don’t airlines (and BA is not the only culprit) ‘get’ lounge food?  If you are in an airport, the normal rules of eating do not apply!

A large percentage of the guests will be in transit and are not operating on UK time.  An even larger percentage in the Galleries lounge will be about to board an economy short-haul BA flight which essentially has no food on offer.  Perhaps they would like to eat something half-decent?

Upstairs, in No 1 Traveller, there was – an hour earlier at 4pm, so even more ‘off peak’ – a full hot and cold buffet available plus a wide range of ‘cooked to order’ dishes, the first of which is free (£4 thereafter).  The best that British Airways can offer is shown above, plus some soup which I didn’t photograph.

We also need to talk about magazines.  BA now appears to sees magazine provision in its lounges as a profit centre.  With one exception, all of the other magazines you can pick up look like they have paid to be there.  The British Airways lounges are now as bad as your typical American airport lounge.  You have companies creating ‘advertorial’ magazines with minimal content which exist only to be handed out in airport lounges – magazines which no-one reads because they are useless.

Admittedly, British Airways has not fallen as low as Singapore Airlines, which gives out “What Pool and Hot Tub?” in its Terminal 2 lounge, but it is surely only a matter of time.

Should you want a sandwich, there is another seating area (with no natural light) by the entrance:

British Airways Galleries Club lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

To conclude my review ….

This is not a bad lounge.  British Airways has done the best it can with the space and a lot of money was clearly spent on fitting it out.  As often happens with BA, though, it is happy to spend money on capital expenditure but hates spending money on day-to-day operating expenditure.

If they were willing to spend a few extra £££ per day on the food and reading material then it would be very good.  As it is, it is a perfectly pleasant place to sit and have a drink before your flight, or catch up on some work in the business centre.  If you have the choice, No 1 Traveller is still a better option overall.

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Comments

  1. I’m pretty sure this has always been a Galleries lounge. I can’t imagine BA having a lounge in T3 prior to T5 being built as most of their operations were from T1 and T4 prior to that.

  2. A better selection of food comes out just before 6pm. I think I was on the same Finnair flight as you, although 24 hours earlier. I was disappointed with the poor food choice also as I had planned to eat in the lounge. As I was leaving the lounge a much better selection of hot food was available.

    Agreed – Magazine selection wasn’t great at 5pm, but I have visited earlier in the day on recent visits and the selection is much better. Maybe the lounge staff are just not very good at ensuring an even distribution of quality magazines throughout the day.

    Newspaper selection for a UK based passenger is fantastic. I found just about every newspaper title in the lounge – including The Sun! The only ones missing were the Express & Daily Star. No loss there at all!

    • Sadly it was all part of BA’s ludicrous ‘appropriate to the time of day’ change to Galleries Club provision. In Galleries First (both T3 & T5) they’ve got all-day hot food.

  3. The most important news today should be AAdvantage devaluation. Received an email yesterday with their plan to change in 2016. Increased miles needed for almost all long haul flights.

    • Unfortunately that broke too late for me to fully get my head around it for today. Best to let the dust settle for 24 hours anyway. I did have to kill the article I had planned on the AA credit card as all the numbers were suddenly out of date!

  4. where2travel says:

    Gosh, that whole place looks depressing (maybe the pictures make it look a bit darker than it actually is) and the various offerings are worse than I imagined. On the whole I much prefer to fly from T3 than T5. Security seems a lot better, there seems to be less traipsing around and the F lounge in T3 is probably my favourite BA lounge at LHR. I’m sure if I was confined to Galleries Club there I may think different though.

    • It was dark, but it was 5pm so dark outside (albeit you would only get natural light in the top part anyway).

      What you can see from the pics is the low ceiling which does not improve the atmosphere.

  5. “If they were willing to spend a few extra £££ per day on the food…”

    But then that would ruin the stereotype of British food being so awful!

  6. I believe the Elemis spa in T3 closed a year ago. The old signage still remains.

    • Oh. It is still listed on ba.com as I checked!

    • Nick Burch says:

      I believe it has re-opened with the move of F flights back into T3?

      However, I don’t think Raffles would’ve had access to it, as I think it’s Club World, First, and Gold on Long Haul only. No short haul access

  7. In the early evening (5-7pm) I would recommend the American Airlines lounge next door if you want peace and quiet. All the long haul AA flights have left so about 90% of the seats are empty. By comparison the BA lounge is packed at this time of night and you have to wander around to find a seat. Once the hot food is put out in the BA club lounge (6pm last Sunday) then the food there is better but that is the only advantage of either BA T3 lounge (first or club) over the AA lounge.

  8. whiskerxx says:

    What’s the obsession you have with magazines?

    Isn’t print media a bit old fashioned?

    • When BA gets wi-fi onboard I may change my tune …..

      • Shame they don’t offer the same setup as Qantas. From when check-in opens you’re free to click through from their mobile app to a special version of PressReader that let’s you download as many magazines and newspapers as you like. Lots of very decent subscription British magazines amongst their offerings and they’re yours to keep on your device after your flight!

    • It’s nice to try and keep people in jobs in the printing trade so well as other trades.

  9. Interesting review Raffles, but how was the Airbus A350….?

  10. No, I will update it before next Summer though. The last article is linked on the ‘Favourites’ page – http://www.headforpoints.com/2015/07/07/heathrow-car-parking-discounts-savings-rewards-avios/ although I need to add JustPark.

  11. TigerTanaka says:

    For those interested, “What Pool and Hot Tub?” is also available in the Durham Tees Valley lounge.

  12. The grouting on those tiles at the food service points need a good scrub.

    What pool and hot tub? Words actually fail me.

  13. The couches at the back where absolutly disgusting, little fabric left in between the stains etc., this was 6 weeks ago, it can only have gotten worse since…

  14. BA lounges have deteriorated badly and the furnishings and floor coverings are awful. My last trip to Galleries North was disgusting in every respect and the First lounge about a month ago was shabby and the food cold and congealed.

    My last trip to T3 was January and we left the lounge as it was packed grotty and full of JAL customer service staff dealing with their customers. Even the AA lounge in T3 is a better option now.

  15. MrHandBaggageOnly says:

    Having read this review makes me pleased we’d saved up Flying Club miles for an Upper Class redemption last weekend rather than Avios. I know it’s been said before many times, but the Clubhouse in T3 just makes other lounges (especially in Heathrow) look like total rubbish. MrsHBO doesn’t mind the BA lounges in T5 (we haven’t used the one in T3), but I believe their only decent feature to be having London Pride readily available, but I agree the view/natural light is good too. But the Clubhouse has all sorts of lighting preferences covered (outside space, natural light, dark areas) so still beats BA. The (cooked to order) food was amazing, the cocktails decent AND they have started stocking Brewdog’s Punk IPA! :) (Sadly it’s not available on the planes.) Not to mention the fact that the Clubhouse has a high number of staff, all of whom seem to be delighted to help you!

    On our return from IAD the Clubhouse was being refurbished, so we were diverted to the Ethiad lounge that, whilst not being the largest or most exciting lounge in the world, had excellent service and again a very good selection of food. I had a freshly prepared salmon dish that was of top class restaurant quality.

    These two lounges proved to me that BA could do so much more in this area. MrsHBO has expressed an interest in trying the Concord Room so she can compare it to the Clubhouse. I’ve told her there’s about 0.01% of that ever happening, so if anyone can do a comparison for me I’d be interested to hear it.

    • For concord room prepare yourself for utter disappointment. Booked BA F last year for my holidays, on avios of course, as £13,500 did seem a tad expensive for a cash price. Concord room at t5 was very poor, appalling customer service by disinterested staff, pretty filthy too with trodden in food in the carpet, limited seating availability and the food was embarrassingly bad: inedible beef and the worst cheese board I have seen. Not been to virgin but only hear good things

      • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

        Thanks for the feedback Mike. Clearly I don’t want to build up the Clubhouse for you too much, but it is certainly worth a trip if you ever have the chance. Two hours there can go very quickly! :)

  16. Lady London says:

    I thought the alcohol selection was quite good, some interesting whiskies.

    Other than that I’d prefer either the AA lounge or more probably the Cathay Pacific one next door.

  17. TBH, I find the criticism of magazines a tad unfair. Based on my most recent experiences (T5 Galleries Club South, T5 Galleries First, LGW First), there have all been a healthy selection of magazines, including:
    – Vogue
    – GQ
    – T3
    – Business Traveller
    – Conde Naste Traveller
    – Grazia
    – Newsweek
    – Time
    – Porter
    – Esquire

    All the above I’d consider fairly “mainstream” periodicals (maybe excepting BT magazine). I often personally find the T5 Galleries Club to have better magazines than T5 Galleries First.

    • The magazine selection is very hit and miss (both here and in T5 galleries lounges).

      Last week I was in T3 galleries lounge I managed to pick up about four good magazines – the previous month, none.

  18. I am surprised that there is such a difference between the BA lounges in T5 and T3. I have never been in the T3 lounge but I am a fairly frequent visitor to all the lounges in T5 at all different times of the day. I have always been impressed by both the food selection, especially in T5 South, and the selection of newspapers and magazines. The T5 First Class lounge is a veritable haven of civilization with excellent staff as well as food and reading material. Based on my observations it is clear that BA can get it together. The question is why they don’t bother with T3. Do they regard T3 as something of a step-child they don’t need to show quite as much affection for?