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

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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.

Comments (40)

  • 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.

  • 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 🙂

  • 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!

  • Scott says:

    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?

    • CV3V says:

      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.

        • Alan says:

          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!

    • Rob says:

      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.)

  • neil says:

    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?

  • Adam says:

    Wonder if the fourth company could be American Express themselves, surely an ideal location for a Centurion Lounge 🙂

    • Rob says:

      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.

  • nick says:

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

  • Scott says:

    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)