My review of the new British Airways lounges at Gatwick South (Part 2)

This part 2 of my review of the new British Airways lounges at Gatwick Airport.  Part 1 can be found here.

Inside the First Class lounge

The First lounge can be accessed by British Airways Gold members, and oneworld equivalent members, as well as ticketed First Class passengers.

To be honest, I wasn’t hugely impressed.  In fact, I wandered in by mistake and I thought I was still in the Business lounge.

(How did I wander in by mistake?  There is a doorway connecting the Business and First lounges.  During my stay it was permanently propped open so staff could carry trays in and out, so you could just wander in.  I am BA Gold so I would have been allowed in anyway, but we ended up in the Business lounge as they – correctly – would not allow my (Silver) wife and daughter in with me and my son.)

The furnishings are identical to the Business lounge.  The First area is also relatively small and I suspect, at certain times, it will be more crowded than the Business lounge.

What is different?  Well, you get the boardroom:

British Airways First Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You get champagne (but this is also available on request in the Business lounge, I believe):

British Airways First Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You get premium spirits (BA is still offering Johnnie Walker Blue):

British Airways First Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You get a cooked breakfast – scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon etc:

British Airways First Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You get a couple of Tracy Emin drawings:

British Airways First Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You get an equally good view of the airport:

British Airways First Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

And that’s it.  The seating is identical to the Business lounge:

At some point, ‘cooked to order’ food will be available as it is in Galleries First at Heathrow.  This is not yet available due to the on-going electrical issues.

Food and drink in the Business lounge 

The breakfast offering in the Business lounge will be very familiar to anyone who has used Galleries Club at Heathrow.

The selection is pretty much identical, as are the coffee machines and the equipment used to store the food.

You have bacon rolls and omelette rolls:

British Airways Business Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You have coffee:

British Airways Business Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You have pastries:

British Airways Business Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You have a wide selection of spirits:

British Airways Business Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

You have the usual wine selection:

British Airways Business Class lounge Gatwick Airport review

It was all perfectly fine.  However …. I have a bit of a problem with British Airways only offering a proper breakfast in the First lounge.  It wouldn’t be a major strain to also offer scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon in the Business lounge.  The First lounge would still have its ‘cooked to order’ menu as a differentiator and we’re not talking budget-busting costs here.

Now that cooked breakfasts in Eurotraveller are a thing of the past, adding such food back to the Business lounge menu would be welcome.

Conclusion

British Airways has done a good job with the new lounges in Gatwick South.  Whilst it isn’t the easiest place to find, it is a lovely space and the designers have done a good job in creating different style of seating to serve the varying needs of travellers.

The food and drink is on a par with Heathrow and, given that Gatwick tends to play second fiddle to Heathrow, that is as good as you could have expected.

The South Terminal experience as a whole is now much improved.  BA passengers no longer need to take the monorail from the train station, security seems more efficient than the North Terminal – with a proper premium security lane – and the lounges are impressive.

The only downside is the shopping, which is still more easyJet than British Airways.  I’d personally like to see ‘King of Trainers’ and the like replaced by something more upmarket, although there is a Harrods concession and a Hugo Boss to pass the time.  I imagine that the retail offer will mature as existing leases expire.

If you want to see more of the new lounges, here is a short video (Business side only):

If you cannot see the video, click here to visit our YouTube channel and watch it from there.  You can also subscribe to our channel from that page.

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My review of the new British Airways lounges at Gatwick South (Part 1)
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Comments

  1. I was in the business lounge at 10:20 yesterday and the only food was the pastries, yoghurts etc.

    Left and went and used my £15 at grain store instead

  2. BA has “done a good job” – surely a bit premature if the electrics aren’t working!

  3. Sandgrounder says:

    I have a shocking admission to make. When flying to holiday destinations such as those served by BA from Gatwick, I have been known to wear trainers. Once, I even bought a pair of sports sandals in KUL. Shocking, but true.

    • As do I. But I don’t buy them in ‘King of Trainers’, which looks like the sort of place that no-one over 20 would want to set foot in ……

      • The Urbanite says:

        Ironically the branded clothes they ply aren’t considered to be cheap (compared to Primark/Sports Direct and the like) by that demographic, unless already earning good money!

  4. No power sockets.

    Unbelievable.

    • Apparently they hired a bunch of German electricians who had just been released at short notice from the job in Berlin they were working on ……

      • Lol! German engineering at its finest…….

      • So why aren’t there at least a bunch of two pin European sockets available for the time being?

      • RussellH says:

        And how many German electricians are familiar with BS 1363 (13 A ring main) wiring?

        A few Schuko and US (110 V) and USB sockets would not go amiss if they are going to do a thorough rewire.

  5. Loving the 80’s ‘wipes’ and music on the vid!

    • Which is ironic as the person who edited that wasn’t born until the late 80’s and the person who did the music wasn’t born until the 90’s!

  6. In fairness I imagine as the customer demographic changes, king of trainers won’t be any more pleased to be at the wrong place than you are to see them there!

    • This is Gatwick and BA are competing with easyJet and their role-model Norwegian, as the signage at BAs check-in counters shows it’s really aiming at the bucket and spade market. Therefore I think there’s still a market for lower end shops. These shops may be useful for the average traveller who’s realised they’ve forgotten something they may need when travelling.

      Although I’m no expert, whether it’s Sports Direct or Harrod’s I’m unlikely to be shopping at the airport.

  7. Thanks for the review. Disappointing to see the Flounge still not that different, sounds like a very similar situation to the old LGW Club/First lounge setup.

    Are there showers?

  8. the real harry1 says:

    I do like to see the different ways contemporary artists can extract a painfully large amount of money out of gullible rich people or organisations – Tracy Emin (cf http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/tracey-emin-my-bed_n_5406267.html ) , Damien Hirst etc – though they are following in a fine tradition – Picasso was running a veritable factory in his later years & also became immensely rich effectively by repeating the same ideas time & time again, at least they are more pleasing on the eye.

  9. Hot breakfasts in Euro Traveller? Not for many years except Anglo-Scottish/NI UK Domestic flights and possibly band 4 (not sure on band 4).

    So even pre-enhancements most shorthaul passengers did not have a decent breakfast to choose from.

    • I got a full English flying from LCY to Malaga a couple of years ago. Was actually my first short haul BA flight as I’d not long moved to London. Other than that it was always just some awful sandwich or the terrible bacon croissant.

      • OK, I was thinking LHR and LGW. Catering on BA Cityflyer (LCY) has always been better than BA mainline in Y. Hopefully they’ll reconsider introducing BoB on these services (it’s due to be launched sometime over the summer).

        • 26 March (start of summer schedule) according to ba.com, if you search for avios flights.

          Paid flights just say “charges may apply”

  10. Aeronaut says:

    I’m genuinely curious as to what HfP-ers attitude is towards airport shopping?

    I’m one of those people for whom it doesn’t hold much interest. I kind of regard buying something in an airport shop as an admission of failure in packing properly, apart from say sunscreen. Sure, I’ll buy a bottle of water, a Private Eye, an Economist or a paper, and just possibly some pulp fiction (though haven’t done that for ages), but the rest of the retail emporium that is your average terminal (whether up or downmarket) doesn’t hold much interest.

    Obviously – blindingly obviously – others have a different stance. So, what am I missing?

    • Very positive about Heathrow shopping. It has the same high-end shops I usually frequent, but often with a) different stock or b) the same stock but differently displayed so I notice it this time as well as c) no ‘attitude’ from the staff or doormen, d) lower prices and e) all the shops next door to each other in one place. That said, I rarely buy at the airport because I don’t like dragging new purchases along on a trip or messing about with the ‘collect on return’ service.

    • I agree entirely, although I did once buy a pair of Bally shoes at Heathrow since they were not available in deepest Wiltshire. I particularly avoid the most expensive chocolate in the world in the ‘duty free’ shop.

    • I don’t tend to do any airport shopping, unless you class a few pints of beer when travelling without lounge access shopping.

      I sometimes browse the spirits selection, but it comes across as being more expensive than what you would pay in a supermarket for anything half decent (you might get a litre of some nasty flavoured vodka for a good price)

      What I’ve never got is the super expensive £10000+ bottles of whisky and brandy, even if you had that sort of cash, why would you buy it at the airport and not just send your Butler out to get it for you?

      • I have read that those v. expensive bottles are aimed at Japanese businessmen who take them back as presents for customers/colleagues.

      • Lots of the Whisk(e)y is only available at airports, I collect as one of my hobbies, and I often find ‘Traveller Exclusives’ which you wouldn’t find in the standard supermarkets or even specialists.

    • I always assume that airports will be milking the traveler to pay for the higher cost of the retail space.

      When there are special offers advertised online, I may take a look, but then buying online is generally a better deal all round.

      • RussellH says:

        Many years ago at Edinburgh Airport I picked up a small business gift in a landside shop.

        Saw the same shop airside and was annoyed with myself for not thinking about the VAT saving I should have got airside; then looked at the price – it was significantly more expensive airside.

    • I tend to only shop at the airport for things that I’ve decided on beforehand and I know will be cheaper in the duty free; purses, handbags, sunglasses etc. I choose online, check the prices and then buy at Heathrow. Plus I do stock up on gin occaisionally!

      • Lady London says:

        Shops at Heathrow might take pre-orders two weeks before your travel date that you collect when you fly out. I know Dixon’s used to and some of the shops in T3 used to but with varying conditions as to how far ahead you could order etc. If you know exactly what you want you might save a bit of money and especially time if you phone the shop in the terminal you’re flying out of.

    • I remember or record the prices for things I (or my wife) want, and buy them wherever they are cheapest.

      Sometimes this happens to be LHR.

      It’s a bit tricky since predicting future exchange rates and (in)convenience / liquid restrictions when travelling HBO must also be factored into the decisions.

    • I have no interest in airport shopping whatsoever. I can only remember buying one thing in one in my adult life, and that’s a pair of swimming shorts as I couldn’t find mine when packing the night before (I know, I know) – so I ended up, I believe, in King of Trainers. Wouldn’t dream of going in one in a shopping centre!

      Depending on the trip I’ll just want to buy a sandwich and sit down, go for a pint in a pub or head for a lounge.

    • I’m not familiar with Gatwick’s South terminal as I tend to fly out of MAN or LHR, but I’m flying with BA later this year out to POS in F (using Avios).

      In terms of shopping for a new TAG watch at tax free prices, are there any options? If I was going out from LHR T5 I’d know exactly where to go, but just not sure if LGW S has anywhere selling TAG watches. The last time I passed through LHR in October the watch I wanted was £400 cheaper tax free, versus U.K. high street. No such shopping opportunities at MAN, so hopping LGW has a solution. Your replies are welcomed :-)

    • Almost never use it unless there’s a good deal on at Dixons Travel (helped by them price-matching online stores – last time in EDI I just did a quick Google, found a cheaper price and they matched it). Also sometimes use duty-free if buying a present for a friend I’m going to stay with.

      Not in the slightest interested in any of the Harrods, Gucci, Michael Kors, etc. so normally I’m straight to the lounge after security!

  11. OT I’m afraid, but does anyone have any suggestions for a replacement for Worldmate? I’ve used it for a few years to keep track of flights, hotels, car hire etc (and to check I’ve not booked the wrong dates for anything!) but now I see it’s closing down. What alternatives would anyone recommend?

    • Awardwallet tracks all of your points as well as trips (flights/hotels, car hire etc) associated with your accounts.

      Free upgrade coupon for first time users : free-dphoei

    • My vote to start with would be switch to Tripit for organization. Given i think travel is a bit more than that just the planning (there is also the doing) to make life easier on the go I use 3 apps travel day to day; Tripit, AppInTheAir and MyFLightsApp.

      Appintheair and TripIT both do a similar job in slightly different ways; you can email both itineraries or key them in. I personally prefer how tripit shows plans (and that it is on the web not just on my phone) Both very good. Both have premium options which may also be of use to you (appintheair is considerably cheaper for a years gate notification than tripit which is why i use it.) Neither of them do bookings if you used that in world mate; something like Kayak would fill that void.

      The nice thing is Appinthe air and MyFlights app both sync data out of tripit so I only need to maintain the plan in one place and my alerts be they gate (appintheair) or general flight changes (myflightsapp) handle the rest.

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      I use Kayak – just forward your emails and it builds your trip into one journey. Very neat.

  12. I use tripcase – run by SABRE.
    Once you have set up an account, you just forward airline bookings, car hire and hotel confirmations to trips@tripcase.com from your registered email, and it all appears in the app.
    You can then merge them together to form an end-to-end ‘trip’

  13. And there is an iPhone app for it – I assume an android one too

  14. Bacon rolls are a newish thing at Gatwick.. only warm option used to be porridge or toast

  15. It’s the occasional comment like “the only downside is the shopping, which is still more easyJet than British Airways” that remind me I really don’t belong on this site!

    • Lady London says:

      Plenty of people who were (and still are) Easyjet have become millionaires Callum. In fact I find a significant contingent of my fellow travellers on Easyjet and even – heaven forbid – Ryanair are clearly rather well off and keeping a low profile if you pay attention.

      • I think I’m missing your point? It’s the attitude I don’t like, not the bank balance.

  16. I think King of trainers is more akin to the budget offerings of BA now days. It’s not like they’re a premium carrier anymore. They might like to think they are but they’re not. Far from it in fact!

  17. Not sure if Jo Malone have a shop in the South but I will be a bit fed up if there is no hand/arm massage and the opportunity to buy JM tax free any more. Arriving transatlantic early morning to have a pleasant massage made the wait for connecting flight more bearable.

  18. “The only downside is the shopping, which is still more easyJet than British Airways” A comment that shows this site is now a little behind the times.

    • There’s always been a vaguely snobby undertone in this hobby, I can’t see BA going downmarket affecting that.

      • Fundamentally, if you had no interest in any of the trappings of business or first class travel you wouldn’t be reading it …..

        • There’s a difference between having no interest in premium travel and not liking snobby remarks about stores being for the “EasyJet crowd” and having to hide non-premier credit cards from dates or others in the supermarket queue out of embarrassment… As I said before, it’s an attitude problem not an objection to wealth.

          I always assumed they were just trivial off-the-cuff remarks, seems I may be wrong.

          Not that I’m demanding change of course – your readership no doubt love that attitude.

          • These are pure factual statements. Gatwick had already started kicking out a lot of shops and restaurants from South over the last year. Frankie & Benny’s is being replaced by a funky new upmarket restaurant, for example. We all know what sort of shops were in North (50% BA, 50% Easy passengers). As South is – factual statement – more downmarket than North was, you have to assume that it will improve to at least the level of North. Whether it surpasses the level of North is a different question but one we will know the answer to within a year.

          • Those are not “pure factual statements” – they’re loaded with judgement. A pure factual statement would be along the lines of “changing to stores targeting a more wealthy clientele”. I’m sure if you applied the same concept to an individual instead of a group, you’d see just how judgemental it is.

            I fully accept I have a chip on my shoulder with regards to this so perhaps seem unreasonable though!

    • I suggest you are out of touch with the BA demographic (as is BA …..) Not met a single person in our ludicrously expensive ski hotel this week who flew anything except BA despite the myriad of options.

      PS. Hi to the woman who recognised me :-)

      • Unless you fly from EDI of course, hardly anyone with skis/boots heading to BA – everyone on Jet2 and easyJet to GVA! The RFS devaluation and hassle of LHR transfers has pushed most folk onto the direct carriers.

        I enjoyed the irony of No 1 Lounge being mobbed given it is located in the former BA EDI Lounge 😉

  19. Gold member and Weekly commuter for the last 2 years on gatwick-schipol , I agree with the description in the article. Not impressed with the first lounge, very similar to business. I actually had to start in the business lounge as the first only opens at 7am and I have always been arriving at 6.30am to have my cooked breakfast in the lounge…. I had to go with a bacon roll! And then checked out the first lounge for 10mins before going to the gate . Only positive would be more power sockets.
    Apparently lots of complaints for the opening time, even the staff was complaining and hope the decision will change… according to them , the rule is the first lounge opens 3h before the first flight that has first class…
    I already regret the club room and its very good service…