Review of BA’s (temporary) Speedbird Lounge at Gatwick South

This is my review of the British Airways temporary Speedbird Lounge in Gatwick’s South terminal.

As I wrote in my companion article to this one, British Airways has not been allowed to open its new Gatwick South lounge complex on safety grounds.  It isn’t clear if this problem will take days or weeks to resolve.

In the meantime, these are your options:

First and Gold passengers on all flights and premium ticketed passengers on the Bermuda, New York and Jersey services are using the Gatwick South No 1 Clubrooms which I reviewed here and discussed again in my article yesterday.

All other eligible passengers are using the old Virgin Atlantic lounge in Gatwick South which has been renamed Speedbird Lounge but otherwise is as Virgin left it last night!

There is also the very impressive new No 1 Lounge which Anika reviewed here and which, if you have a Priority Pass, may be a better bet

After I left the Clubrooms, I made the 30 second walk to the Speedbird Lounge.

You can tell from the elaborate entrance signage that BA has known for a while that the main lounges were not going to open on time.  It takes a few days to arrange this sort of thing:

Review British Airways Speedbird Lounge Gatwick South

Inside, frankly, it was fine – which is what you would expect, given that BA moved in 8 hours after Virgin Atlantic had departed!  All Virgin signage has gone although these clocks are a giveaway:

Review British Airways Speedbird Lounge Gatwick South

The Speedbird Lounge is a decent sized space.  It was very busy when I arrived but quietened down.  There are also lots of hidden corners where you should be able to find a quiet spot:

Review British Airways Speedbird Lounge Gatwick South

and

Review British Airways Speedbird Lounge Gatwick South

and

Review British Airways Speedbird Lounge Gatwick South

Food, when I was there in the morning, was limited.  The ‘envelopes’ you see in the picture below contain three different types of bacon sandwich – plain, with ketchup and with brown sauce.  That’s your lot!   At least you can get a takeaway for the plane in order to avoid the ‘buy on board’ service.

Review British Airways Speedbird Lounge Gatwick South

There was also cereal, fruit, croissants etc along with numerous coffee machines and juice.

Review British Airways Speedbird Lounge Gatwick South

If you’ve got children, there is a decent sized kids room albeit with nothing in it except seating.  I’m not sure if it had more in it in the Virgin days:

Review British Airways Speedbird Lounge Gatwick South

There is also a bar.  I didn’t take any photos but it is in the video below.  There is no self serve alcohol available.

All in all, this is a perfectly satisfactory – albeit not luxurious – lounge that will do the job until the official BA facilities open.  There is certainly no need to arrive at Gatwick excessively early just to visit, however.  I found it substantially poorer than the No 1 Lounge in Gatwick North which BA used as a temporary lounge during 2016, especially in terms of the food offering.

If you have a BA Gold card then you need to decide between here and the Clubrooms.  The food, drink and ambiance is vastly superior in Clubrooms, but the space is small and dark.  It is also designed for groups, so solo travellers will be expected to share a table.

To give you a better impression of what you can expect, here is a short YouTube video of the British Airways (temporary) Speedbird Lounge at Gatwick South.  You can subscribe to our YouTube channel via this page – this is the same link to visit if the video does not automatically appear below.

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Review of the Aspire Lounge at Birmingham Airport
Virgin offering £1,000 Upper Class flights from Manchester to Boston
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Comments

  1. Rather than “BA knowing the lounge wasn’t going to open”, I suspect the Virgin lounge was the contingency plan. And the signs and arrangements would have been put in place for that.

    It probably came down to a final decision on D minus 1.

  2. Given how many people don’t eat any meat, or red meat, or bacon… having only bacon sandwiches is pretty bad.

    • It was actually the most ‘British’ BA thing I’ve seen in years. How can a choice of bacon roll, bacon roll with brown sauce or bacon roll with ketchup – served in a paper bag – not be enough to satisfy every true red-blooded Englishman?! It is even white bread, not ‘that dodgy brown stuff’. Throw in a bowl of bran flakes and muesli ‘for the ladies’, as they have as the pictures show, and I think they believe they’ve covered all the bases. Serve with a side dish of your complimentary BA Daily Mail. When you’ve finished, dont forget to visit the ‘King of Trainers’ shop opposite ….

      • Haha I’m sure Farage would be delighted #BrexitAirways 😛

      • Hmnnn sorry but cereals left out in the open on display does not appeal. Also, putting condiments on another person’s food is in (and forgive the pun) bad taste.

      • Lady London says:

        Oooh soooo Gatwick …

        I’ll bet they think they’ve got the ex-Gatwick holiday market served perfectly :-)

  3. I’m in here now. It’s actually alright. Glass #3 of the Prosecco at 07.15am not bad going. Disappointed to not be trying the new facilities but have let my feelings be known when they text me asking for feedback

  4. Rob i find the lounge situation (or lack thereof) at gatwick so confusing. There either arent enough lounges, or the lounges arent big enough. Which is it?
    Is there just no room for more lounges or to expand current ones? Surely they could add another floor to a part of a terminal to provide a lot more space like most airports would do?

    It would be great if you could do a post summarising the lounges at gatwick and who (in summary) has access. Or if such a post exists, please update in light of current changes.

    • When this mess settles down, all you have is:

      No 1 – Priority Pass, Lounge Club, pay
      No 1 Clubrooms – cash only ( designed for family groups) or for those airlines who block out a room for their passengers
      BA Galleries

      It will be interesting to see if Aspire, Plaza Premium etc take over the old Virgin space once BA vacates.

      • But surely this isnt sufficient for an airport the size of gatwick? Ive been turned away from the No 1 lounge with PP at Gatwick multiple times, including 10am on a Tuesday in early December – if that isnt an off-peak time i dont know what is!
        What do EK, CX, TAP, TK and the other full service airlines at Gatwick use?

        • Emirates has a lounge. Most of the rest use No 1 / Clubrooms.

          • For Loungekey members it’s the No1 Lounge as well.
            In the North terminal there’s the choice of No1, Aspire and My Lounge so fewer options for now.

        • CX will probably continue to use No1 with BA as an additional option

          You can also use No1 with IB (Express) for now, but I expect they will force you to use BA once it opens

  5. Enjoying the tales of the BA lounge at LGW. Slightly OT, I’m BA silver so is my partner. Is there anyway our 4 year old daughter can accompany us through the Premium security channel?

    • No problem. I would even do it if I was travelling with 4-5 mates, to be honest, in the same way I would take them all to a Club check-in desk.

      • Thanks. The reason I asked though was I believe the premium channel at Gatwick is based on bar code recognition. I wondered if a jobsworth might turn us back ?!

    • I was travelling as a Gold through T5 with 3 other non status holders and was encouraged by staff to take the whole group to the fast lane.

  6. OT – The Heathrow Rewards /Etihad 2500 points offer is back

    enter promo code EGAPR17 before 31 December 2017. 2,500 points will be awarded when £150 or more of qualifying expenditure is made….
    http://www.etihadguest.com/en/earn-miles/leisure-and-lifestyle/heathrow-rewards/?cid=aff-affaffwin&awc=5326_1428169606_5b2ac26b7d38075ea3cc2bbddddb90e4

  7. When travelling from GLA or EDI to T5 you don’t need to go thru security again but always did with LGW North. Is it same with South terminal?

  8. rams1981 says:

    OT 2 for 1.
    Interestingly Jo’burg to London has availability even now 355 days out. First time that;s been the case since I’ve been checking. It’s a Monday flight which may be why.

  9. Can someone who’s been to the Speedbird lounge in the afternoon advise what food they have to offer?

  10. OT – 13,400 Avios bonus for subscribing to the Economist is back. This time it’s through Avios.com.

  11. Still chaotic here at South Terminal this afternoon. Clubrooms full so I was taken to the no1 lounge instead, via a rather strange back-door route. No 1 lounge busy and noisy, including in the supposedly quiet library where they put me. Apparently the BA first lounge will be open at the end of next week.

  12. OT – Has anyone ever merged two Avios.com accounts under the same name. I accidentally have two different accounts and one is linked to my Iberia account and the other to my BA Executive Club account.

    • “Linked to your Iberia account” – in what way linked? You mean the same email address? Is it not possible to transfer the points out via IB or BAEC then?
      If not, just give them a call.

    • I too accidentally acquired an additional account but have found it very useful.

    • Happens all the time due to the silly Avios.com process of trying to match addresses rather than membership number. Live chat on their website can easily merge them for you.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Contact support on live chat during the day and they will link them if you want

  13. Hopefully just trivial oversight, but the signs directing people to the temporary lounges don’t appear to mention OneWorld status members, only BAEC.

  14. the real harry1 says:

    the bacon sandwich offering just sounds like something you can buy in at a moment’s notice – I bet the kitchens are not properly operational for a decent hot spread

    someone @ Gatwick BA has probably done a good job of not turning a drama into a crisis

    if the real lounge opens in a few days, it will have been a perfect demonstration of quick thinking & flexibility – the signs presumably came out of storage/ destined for dump

  15. The Original Nick says:

    Slightly O:T, but lounge related. I will be flying in March at the back from LHR to AMS with BA, and connecting to a QR flight to DOH in J. Can I get Oneworld lounge access at LHR as I’m flying in J with QR that same day?

    • Yes you can, the QR sector is the international long haul sector so you can get access providing the QR flight is on the same day. You just need your boarding pass/proof of onward travel.

      Note that if on 2 separate bookings BA may not check your bags to your final destination if you have checked luggage.

    • Lady London says:

      Just don’t try it with the nasty staff LAN subcontract to at AKL when you’re in Y to Oz on the early flight then in J from SYD all the way back to Europe on QR on the same day Asking LAN checkin taff for access to the lounge in AKL then daring to politely ask them if the One world rule might apply when they refused got me a 2 and a half hour hell of intensive baggage checking weighing and repacking, every rule being applied minutely such as tiny hand luggage (that was not being applied to multiplrpeople checking in next to me )while this was going on. It was clearly retaliation. I was surprised they did not find an excuse to strip-search me.

      I’ve decided to shelve some flights I had wanted to do with them even though the onboard staff were very kind. Pretty sure the ground staff who were so nasty were subcontracted from Air New Zealand.

  16. rams1981 says:

    OT my wife referred me from her gold card for platinum. The card has arrived but no bonus points. Oh oh, looks like they have caught on.

  17. Had a notice pop up on a an upcoming BA booking to Amsterdam. Something to consider if you are doing back to backs


    British Airways flights from Amsterdam now close 1 hour before departure
    23 January 2017

    The Dutch Military Police recently introduced new measures around the capturing of data from European passports, where 1 in 10 or passports were scanned. This has since changed so that all passports are scanned. The Schengen and Non-Schengen sections of the airport mean that the Non-Schengen part of the terminal effectively becomes a Dutch Border, meaning passengers leaving the Netherlands are recorded when departing as well as when entering. This has increased the queues at the passport control desks, which in turn is causing delays at the Airport Security search. To ensure that passengers have enough time to reach the gate, check-in for all British Airways flights from Amsterdam now close 1 hour before departure. Please ensure you allow plenty of time to reach the gate.

  18. Chris, thought you could sneakily stay airside! Many have done that in the past…or am l,opening a can of worms here!

    • I’ve found LGW quite bad for that – one time the bus brought us in to the baggage hall and there was no obvious way out apart from main exit and re-entering (I believe there might be some well-hidden corridor that lets you do it but I’m not sure where it is!). For my more recent time you stay airside but then mix with other connecting passengers from non-UK flights and thus have to go through security all over again! As we had a massive connection we just went out through UK Border at that point (having only flown from Edinburgh!) and after a couple of hours went back in through the usual route. Definitely not a particularly well-designed system in my experience!

      • Alan, l was thinking AMS, actually! In uk def have to go through again, actually. Used to be able to do at dub too! Just hop back on same plane. Staff mildly surprised to me on the return leg

        • Oops yes, sorry replied the email re your reply but forgot the context of Chris’ comment! B2B would be doable in Edinburgh normally, although occasionally they surprise you and bring you in by bus to a landside area!

  19. I’m in speedbird now. Staff on the entrance said they are getting in the new lounge ‘next week’, but weren’t sure which day exactly. Hopefully on the way back from my two week trip I can see it.

  20. Image
    Please find below your personal assistance reply from British Airways.

    If you have any questions after reading our message, don’t hesitate to reply to this email – or if your query is urgent you can telephone our Customer Support team:
    http://www.ba.com/contact

    Subject : Could you indicate when the new lounge for club europe passengers will be openin… [Incident: 170128-001362]

    Response By Email (Muthuganesh) (29/01/2017 02.56 AM (GMT))
    Dear Mrs

    Thank you for writing to the Club about your lounge query.

    I would like to inform you that in South Terminal, our fabulous new lounges will be opening in the coming weeks. Until then we would like to invite you to make use of the following lounges:

    We would like to invite customers travelling in our First cabin and Gold card holders to use the No1 Clubrooms lounge as identified on the map overleaf. In addition, all customers eligible for lounge access travelling to New York, Bermuda and Jersey are invited to make use of this lounge.

    We would like to invite all other customers travelling in our Club cabins and Silver card holders to use the Speedbird lounge, a temporary lounge set up for the dedicated use of British Airways customers.

    Please let us know if we can help you with anything else.

    I hope this information is useful to you.

    Kind regards
    Muthuganesh
    British Airways Executive Club