The new First Wing at Heathrow T5 reviewed

The new First Wing at Heathrow T5 opened on Tuesday and thanks to a reader we were able to publish the first pictures just an hour after it opened.

On Wednesday I did a press flight from Gatwick to Heathrow and got to experience the First Wing first hand.

First of all the First check in area hasn’t changed apart from the screening blocking it from the main terminal:

first wing check in heathrow

However as you turn right, you can see the entrance to the new security area.

This whole area used to accomodate staff offices and meeting rooms that have now been moved to the other end of the terminal.

first wing ticket check

There are two lanes, one metal detector and one full body scanner. We weren’t allowed to take any photos and the press pack also didn’t include any. The area where you can sort your tray and put your shoes back on looks impressive. This is one of the photos our reader sent us. As you can see you can sit down to put your shoes back on and your tray goes inside an opening in the middle.

Fw1

At the end of the security area is the corridor that leads to the Galleries First lounge.

first wing aisle to lounge

As you walk around the corner you find yourself right inside the lounge.

first wing to lounge

Full credit to British Airways here.  This is a massive improvement to the hassle of going to one end of the airport to check in and then running a third of the way down the other end to go through security just to head down an escalator, turn around, walk back through the terminal to the far end and then take the escalator up again to reach the Galleries First lounge!

Note that if you are ticketed in First Class, the ‘secret door’ at South Security into The Concorde Room is about to permanently close if it has not already done so.  First Class ticket holders will need to use the First Wing, exit the Galleries First lounge and walk down the corridor to The Concorde Room.

PS.  Rob tells me, from his visit on Tuesday with his family, that you can still check in at the First Wing if you are flying Club and have a Gold card but your party is too large to use the Galleries First lounge.  You just turn around afterwards and walk down to South Security as you previously did.

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Bits: last call for Nutmeg / Avios deal, £1000 Virgin Upper Class to Boston, new Norwegian routes
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Comments

  1. Alex W says:

    This is not enough to make it worth me chasing BA gold again. As i think others have said, Virgin have had something similar for years. The wife even only needs literally one BA sector to requalify for silver in the next month. We’ve​ decided it’s not worth the couple of hundred quid that would.cost.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      1 sector? Wouldn’t a day return within UK do that?

      I have to say as a oneworld flier, even with all the hate around here using BA and QR, silver has been well worth it. Fast track at Heathrow, Lounge, exit seats, extra baggage, upgrades etc

      • Alex W says:

        I will be silver for the next 2 years anyway, and we only ever travel together with no guests. A return trip anywhere for 2 of us in the next month just is not worth it, even at 4 x £29! (Plus hotel, parking etc).

    • Philip says:

      I would do it just to give myself options.

      My own wife was in a similar position vis-a-vis gold a few years ago, and we went to Jersey for a weekend to get the final points. We had never been before, and it certainly wasn’t high on our travel bucket list. But we had a fabulous time.

      So that little bit of serendipity got my wife to gold, and gave us a really great experience.

      • Guernsey’s better, but BA don’t fly there anymore 🙁
        Ps I am biased towards Crapauds! 😉

    • You should be able to get something for less than £200? I would do if it I were you, I think Silver is worth it.

      • Genghis says:

        Surely a £29 ticket to Rome would work too…

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Thought it was as rare as rocking horse poo but there are actually £29 flights to Malaga and Alicante from LGW, saw lots of dates for them last night, maybe he was letting slip on upcoming low fares.

    • David S says:

      It is definitely worth it if you use one world airlines worldwide since the perks are worth it. But only you will know if the perks are worth the extra cash you have to spend to get the tier points.
      I do the 4 sectors required in a year with BA in economy and use my status for perks when flying other One World carriers such as access to the excellent first class lounges in HKG and SYD.

    • Virgin has nothing of the sort. The Upper Class Wing is a dedicated drop off area and security section but it still takes you out by the shops in Terminal 3 – the Virgin Clubhouse is located above the AA lounges there’s no way they can provide direct entry to the lounge bypassing the shops.

      To be fair though, the VS lounge is certainly much better than the BA lounges (particularly if you compare like for like, i.e. business class lounges)

  2. We have booked Avios flights in First on the B789 from LHR to Narita next January (we’ve been to Japan 3 times before and love it) yet despite the chance to experience all of the above and more, I’m still swithering over cancelling in favour of the CX A359 from LGW to HKG and onto Vietnam (a place we’ve never visited), a move which in biz would blow our entire 400K balance!

    From a ‘redemption value per Avios’ point of view, the Japan trip wins hands down.

    We’re really not sure what to do …. thought please?!

    • I’ve done the CX a350 from LGW. It’s nothing to write home about really. Best bit was the lounges in HKG – and to be fair the new lounge at LGW. I’d like to try Vietnam though.

      • Having travelled quite extensively in that part of the world, I would rate Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos above Vietnam which has become too tourist infested and commercial. Good value redemptions to these countries on Cathay Dragon after BA 241 to HKG.

    • Genghis says:

      I lived in Japan and think it’s a great place. If you’ve been three times already, perhaps best to try another country. Or are there areas of Japan you’ve not been before that you’d like to visit?

      Mrs G and I spent our 3 week honeymoon in Vietnam in early 2015 and thought it was fantastic. Went to HCMC, Hoi An, Hue (got a driver in between for Hai Van pass, beaches and Danang), Hanoi, Halong Bay (splash out here – we got a small premium boat with only a few other ppl for a great experience) , Mai Chau, Can Tho (Mekong river markets and back waters) and then a week on Phu Quoc (5 nights in Peppercorn Beach resort and 2 nights in Salinda).

      There aren’t that many sights. Vietnam is mostly about ‘experiences’ and the food is absolutely fantastic.

      • Genghis says:

        To add, you should firstly try to holiday where you want to actually go, not necessarily where provides the best ppa ‘value’

    • Don’t blow 400k of Avios on CX J. Maybe if it was F. Could you not try to get BA F to somewhere nearer Vietnam like HKG or KUL and then take a short flight? Went to Vietnam in November and it was brilliant.

      • +1 to all those comments!

        Was in Vietnam in January, in Nha Trang and Saigon and loved it, regretted not going sooner as the developments are closing in. Thing i didn’t realise was the strong French colonial influence which remains. Fresh baguette and noodles for breakfast, great, and rocket fuel coffee.

        Try and use Vietnam Airlines, certainly for the regional flights, great old fashioned service airline.

        • + another 1!

          Went to Vietnam and Cambodia last year. Not so keen on Saigon, seems to be getting very commercialised. Loved Hanoi, Hue Halong Bay etc. Cambodia is less developed, really liked Siem Reap.

          Used a 241 for the long haul – into Shanghai and out of HK as BA don’t fly anywhere very near Vietnam.

          Also agree with the comments on Vietnam Airlines – I had ~200k Flying Blue miles, and booked all the internal/connecting flights with them, business for the longer ones. Availalility was wide open, got all the flights I wanted with no problem. Taxes on the internal flights were €3 🙂

    • Who cares about what the “redemption value per Avios” is?

      Just assign a value to your avios, 0.5p, 0.75p, 1p, whatever works for you. Then calculate the price of the redemptions in £. If you are happy to pay that then go.

      If I want to go to Vietnam and the most suitable option costs £2000, I either pay it or don’t go, it doesn’t matter whether flights to Japan cost £1000 or a flight to Rome costs £29, since I don’t want to go there.

    • David S says:

      Echo the thoughts of Genghis. Choose what you want and where to go before deciding on the flights etc. We did something similar to Genghis but in 2 weeks including 3 days in Cambodia (Phnom Pen and Angor Wat-thoroughly recommended). Have done Japan before but enjoyed Vietnam and Cambodia but they are completely different holidays and can’t compare.
      Internal flights in Vietnam and to and from Cambodia are cheap.

  3. Genghis says:

    Look forward to trying the Wing next week. It looks like a breeze to get through.

  4. Lovely unless you’re on a through ticket from Manchester! Millionaires’ Door was the only ‘perk’ after flying economy to Heathrow even though you hold a first class ticket. Please Rob – start asking them some questions about the provinces.

    • Barry cutters says:

      This really is a bad attitude to have . Ba can’t do anything right in some people’s eyes . It is a big improvement . If you decide to transfer through London to get to your final destination then it’s your choice . And unfortunately you will now have to add an extra 2 or 3 mins to your transfer experience. Get over it or if it’s so much trouble then move to London.

      • I’m minded to agree with sue on this too. For many such as myself, I suspect there isn’t really much “choice” but to transfer somewhere when flying LH. I live about 25 mins from Manchester Airport, and certainly wouldn’t consider the hassle of a train to Euston, underground, then HEX to LHR over one short hop from MAN.

        When you start to tot up the small things “regional” passengers have lost over the last few years (no free connection on SH etc) along with he general decline of the BA product experienced by all, in struggling to stay loyal to them atm.

        • Totally agree re how (even more) London-focused BA have become, but I still don’t quite get the logic of using the CCR door when connecting from domestic.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Surely the extra walk is a nice chance to stretch your legs on the way to the lounge before a long haul flights?

          Personally I’d love a connecting flight as I’m 20 mins from BHX, door to door, but LHR takes minimum 2 hours on public transport.

          Would welcome more european BA flights direct from BHX ofcourse, I know theres a few starting.

        • But there’s basically no difference in distance going along through shops to South and into CCR vs up to security level and along to CCR door, that’s why I couldn’t understand what was being lost.

        • Nate1309 says:

          I agree with TGLoyality would be nice if BA connected through more UK regional airports. I live 10 mins away from CWL and there are even BA planes there for maintenance all the time, surely they could bring passengers with them to and fro! I’m sure the real harry would enjoy BA flights from NQY too, what with a saved 5 hour drive and no APD.

      • If you’re going international > domestic though, and return landside instead of going via airside connections, using the First channel will more than likely save time from arriving gate to champagne in hand – if you’re a quick walker!

        • joelyp says:

          Exactly what I just did, and was very quick!

        • I don’t have status. Can I use the Wing when connecting from a F flight into Heathrow onto domestic CE? Happy to go landslide.

    • The new ‘Wing’ is no use to me connecting off a regional flight, but its still an easy walk to the lounge, probably easier than for people starting in London. I never used millionaires door, there was no need.

      We all go on about how great other airlines are, but with CX as an example they don’t have anything to match the First Wing, i don’t even recall them having fast track security, that said the CX lounges (First and Business) are excellent.

      • HKG doesn’t need fast track security (if you can be bothered to trek to T2, it is always speedy there but may be faster to just wait in the T1 queues), although it’s a shame that the lounges are so far away from the airside entry point, but they do try to get gates close to the lounges (and you always know where your gate will be hours in advance)

    • But surely if flying in you just did a domestic connection and popped straight up into the shopping area anyway and walked along to Galleries South?

      • Exactly, connecting from domestic to a T5 departure is a breeze. Quick scan of boarding pass out into departures under Galleries North. Don’t think I have ever come in the high numbered A gates.

      • Yes, that’s my point, no need for millionaires door.

  5. Paul F says:

    I used first wing on Thursday and I thought it was fantastic – a simply brillliant enhancement. Personally, I am a bit bored with the constant sledging of BA on HFP. A bit more balance would be good. Overall, I am a big fan but change is always difficult in a competitive world.

    • Barry cutters says:

      Exactly.
      They have the best FF program going for ‘most’ people in the UK.
      they fly from most regional airports to their hub in London. -which makes sense.
      From Heathrow/Gatwick/city you can fly to hundreds of destinations in 4 different classes .

      You earn a generous amount of avios points on all flights and the status gives you excellent lounge facilities in the UK and access to OK lounges at international destinations. Free additional bags, free seats, and upgrades.

      OK a gin and tonic now costs you £6 or something and a bacon roll is £3.50.- but for me this is honestly a big improvement , you also have the option to buy food in the airport and eat on board.

      For me id rather take a direct flight, saving hours , than change in the middle east. Therefore club world, although not as good as qatars offering is a perfectly acceptable compromise for getting to my destination quicker. Its not terrible, its just not as good as some others. You can still drink nice champagne, eat decent food, and sleep on a lie flat 180degree bed.

      Before we get the comments about how BA has a monopoly. please don’t forget so does KLM @ Schipol, AF @ CDG, and many others. please also do not forget the subsidies received by the middle east carriers. -it is not a level playing field.

      • Genghis says:

        Fully agree there Cutters

      • Common sense comment.

      • Peter K says:

        +1
        A big reason we read this blog is because BA seems to have the best FF programme (i.e. collecting Avios) that we can get. We don’t collect Qatar or Emirates or Etihad miles with the same gusto because they are not as good in many ways. So BA is behind in some ways, they are well ahead in this way. They deserve some credit for what they do right as well!

      • Good point about the subsidies that the ME3 get.

        Ideally, I’d love to feel loyal to a brand that’s covers the whole of the UK and is paying taxes for its UK based employees and future pensioners.. For that to happen I think I’d need;

        1) a sincere apology and compensation for the poor treatment I received
        2) a guarantee regarding the policy on 241’s
        3) real encouragement that future level of service will improve
        4) customer relations is likely to genuinely be better when dealing with complaints

        However, now time for some balanced comments

        1) I heard yesterday INV traffic was up 25% this last year, partly due to BA restarting a vital link to LHR.
        2) As Rob educated me recently, with UK/EU based carriers you’re covered by EU261/2004 on inbound delays to the UK/EU from long haul destinations. This means with the ME3 you wouldn’t be covered for a lengthy inbound delay.

  6. I am wondering if when flying into LHR in First and connecting onto a domestic, would the First Wing be quicker than going through the security connections, which with about 20 people in the queue can take about 45 mins to get through. For those of us in the provinces, thoughts/experiences?

    • I would say that it is often quicker to go landside even if there was no F wing

    • Yes, I posted about this in the previous Wing thread I think – going out through ePassport gates then up and around to the Wing is likely to be a quicker and easier experience, only thing to watch out for is conformance.

  7. For those flying ‘from’ the regions (on a F ticket as described above), you’ve just had a major improvement in that you now get CE, free food and champagne on board! And as you don’t have to reclear security the walk to the lounge (which is the same as before…) isn’t exactly a horrendous one.

    For those going the other way (longhaul to the regions), the answer to whether it’s quicker depends entirely on the queue at FCC. If it’s long then yes it’ll be easier to go landside, if it’s shortish then the old route will be better.

    • I thought i read comments on here that for the domestic CE sector the fess/taxes had gone up? Also, prior to CE implementation, fees were substantially higher than a direct flight out of London.

      LHR domestic connections – the length of the queue has absolutley no relevance to the time queueing given that its one queue for ALL passports – UK, EU, non EU, so it can take a long time while 2 immigration officers deal with a group of people who can’t speak english and don’t know have the evidence to hand of where they are staying/studying/visiting. Thats why its good to have peoples actual experience (not an opinion) as to the best method – its one of the best resources on HfP.

      • Two officers is a luxury – often only one 🙁

        My impression is generally higher taxes and fees even though no extra Avios. Obviously on a cash ticket more TP available.

  8. Overall looks nice, although it will be interesting to see how the staffing levels are once we move away from the initial opening. The North Fast Track lane has been surprisingly decent the last few times I’ve used it – it also has the benefit of being next to the HEX/Tube arrival point into T5. The Wing saves you a down then up escalator airside, plus it is quicker to walk along landside than through the shopping areas, but it’s probably a bigger benefit to anyone arriving by taxi that gets dropped off at the South end of the terminal than those arriving via HEX/Tube (which is how I always arrive after meetings in London). Not sure where car parking arrives?

  9. barnaby100 says:

    Not an improvement for those connecting in who currently use the white door.

    And no changes to the disgusting CCR toilets. But hey the grubby sofas are being changed.

  10. Dave R says:

    My daugter and I used the FW yesterday on our way to BOS. I have to agree that it is a big improvement. The 2 min walk through the F Lounge is a small price to pay. Also had an outstanding crew on the flight so feeling quite positive about BA.

  11. Kathy H says:

    The “million dollar door” at South security was still operational on Friday 7th April.

  12. Ruth4325 says:

    OT slightly. I tweeted the live Twitter feed they did of this opening asking if there was any truth to the rumours about downgrading 241 pax. I was interested as I’m planning to book a round trip former d the OH to Boston next year in F with a 241. Of course they said no and that they had a very strict but fair process for downgrades. When I asked if they could let me know the detail of the process, they replied to say there is “no specific process”. Clear as mud!?

    • Barry cutters says:

      We need to be realistic about this and put it in some kind of context .

      A handful of people have been downgraded. Hundreds of these vouchers are used every week.
      Its not happening to everyone.

      • the real harry1 says:

        yep

        there might even be rogue ‘down-graders’ ie BA officers @ gate thinking they’re doing BA finances a favour