Did BA agree to pay £1m every year to build a door in T5? – and why they are paying for another one

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The oft-repeated story of ‘the £1m per year door’ at Terminal 5 may or may not be an urban myth.

The door in question is the one on your right-hand side when you pass through South Security (the far end, by the First Class area) at Heathrow Terminal 5.  It allows First Class passenger to walk directly into The Concorde Room lounge.

Without this door, First Class passengers have to turn left, walk past the shops, go down the escalator, walk past another run of shops, go back up an escalator (so you end up a few feet from where you started) and enter the lounge.  This is what all other lounge users have to do.

Heathrow Airport loves its shops which First Class passengers would no longer be walking past them.  The story goes that BA pays the airport £1m per year in compensation for the lost retail revenue – although I should stress that the Heathrow Press Office denies this completely and there is no written proof of it.

Concorde Room door

Now, a new access route is to be added which will take you directly into Galleries First, the Gold Card lounge.  This will involve a new security channel being built behind the First Class check-in area which will lead into Galleries First roughly where the business centre is currently based.

The new channel will only be for the benefit of Gold Card holders and oneworld equivalents.  It is not clear if First Class passengers will also use it and then be funnelled into The Concorde Room by a new route.  (People who remember the days of Terminal 1 may remember ‘Zone R’ which was a little used private security area for premium passengers.)

At a private lunch last week for Gold Guest List cardholders, a senior BA staff member (there was one director level person per table) was telling guests how much the airport has agreed to pay Heathrow Airport per year in compensation to offset lost shopping revenue.  I know the number but there is no proof of it, and the BA staffer involved would not have wanted it repeated (and may have been guessing himself) I will not repeat it.   If true it represents a major investment in premium passengers and may – depending on how fast the security line moves – be a genuine reason to strive to keep hold of a BA Gold card.

There will be more British Airways news tomorrow, as a Head for Points reader was kind enough to send me all of the gossip from the exclusive Gold Guest List members lunch last week.

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  1. Lady London says:

    About time too!

    The ridiculous walk round back to where you came from and past a tacky range of shops has always been so transparently arranged it’s made my blood boil. How dare Heathrow Airport patronise us like this. I might even have taken a wander in some of the shops on the way, if it hadn’t been for being so insultingly obviously forced to trek backwards past them like sheep as the only way of accessing the lounge.

    On principle I’ve always made sure that if I wanted to visit a branch of those shops I’d do it somewhere else instead. I’ve also stopped choosing a couple of airports I used to fly to as when passengers have suddenly found the only route to their gate was re-routed through the middle of a chaotic crowded duty free shop.

  2. Please note that BAA doesn’t exist anymore. Heathrow is now it’s own company – LHR Airports Limited.

  3. Oh! Matron! says:

    Whilst the channel doesn’t go directly to the lounge, I still find Virgin’s private channel much more effective and exclusive at T3. Check in, in the lift, show boarding pass, through stuff on conveyor, and done with security, normally two minutes from checking in. Whilst I have to walk past the shops to get the Virgin’s lounge, I honestly don’t mind, given the major hassle is with security normally

  4. Ann Marie Bettonagli says:

    That is probably why they could not afford to compensate my husband when they lost his suitcase when he was going down to Italy to attend his Mother’s funerale nor did they ever and have still not replied despite various letters over the last 10 years

  5. Miles Down Under says:

    Interesting that British Airways are investing in this way.

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