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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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Comments (44)

  • Hingeless says:

    Any idea when it will be open?

  • Alan says:

    Interesting. When connecting onto domestic flights it might make it worthwhile going landside if it’s a lot faster! On the downside I’ve always found the business centre end of the Flounge lovely and quiet, looks like this won’t last for long!

    • Cheshire Pete says:

      I go landslide anyway when connecting back into domestic! Not because of security delays but since Fast Track thru passport control was stopped its now faster to exit the airport using e passport queues than the flight connection queue, which typically has only 1 immigration officer on duty.

  • Paul C says:

    I wonder if the proposal for this, discussion or sign-off of it last November is what triggered an unusual tweet from a senior exec, which I posted about in FlyerTalk?

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/1629891-t5-magic-door-now-open-all.html
    (Thread now closed as it was assumed at the time that the exec’s Twitter account had been hacked.)

    Whilst not precisely the same details (GCH/Emerald is not “all users”) perhaps it could go some way to explain what was happening behind the scenes?

  • Sam wardill says:

    The fact that this is an issue makes me disgusted with BAA. What other company would deliberately add 10 minutes on to customers’ journeys unnecessarily so they have to walk by lots of shops then charge £1m + to avoid the unnecessary inconvenience?

  • Andrew says:

    For a terminal built for BA, it shocks me how truly awful its design actual is. Even the check in desks are at the wrong end of the terminal from where you arrive.

    • Rob says:

      Depends how you arrive!

      • Aspirational Flyer says:

        If you are arriving on London Underground (which many people do) the layout of T5A is actually very good: it is more or less a straight line to the first bank of check-in desks, or, if just travelling with hand baggage, Security South including the fast track lane.

  • The Lady says:

    Has construction begun, and is there a timeline for completion?
    We shouldn’t begrudge the shops at Heathrow too much; they have created a high quality, broad range retail environment which helps amuse those without lounge access while – because of the “single till” policy – offsetting what would otherwise be even higher passenger fees for using the airport.

    • Sam wardill says:

      I don’t begrudge the shops at all for the reasons you describe. However I do begrudge being forced to walk 10 minutes extra to go past them every time I travel

  • Phillip says:

    The removal of a Zone R style facility at T5 made T5 a huge downgrade for me when it first opened. BA struggles to compete with other major airlines on ground services, particularly for premium passengers at its main hub, and not providing such a facility from day one always baffled me!

    • Hingeless says:

      Virgin Australia have this facility at Sydney and Melbourne for domestic flights ( direct lounge access from curb side through private security), and the Etihad gold card gives you access which you can status match very easily

      • Paul says:

        Has anyone had the Etihad gold card match offered recently.
        It stated they would email within two weeks.

        • Gavin says:

          I applied 26 Deb and heard nothing. I followed this up
          Today and got an auto-reply saying status match has now closed…. I have them emailed [email protected] which is their std contact to see if I can get any info

          • Waribai says:

            Yes, I applied about a week after Raffle’s initial post first for myself and then a couple of days later for my wife. She received the confirmation email about 3 weeks ago and I received it a week a go saying that you have been upgraded to Gold etc, etc. I think the exact wording was “earned” 🙂 Haven’t received the actual card though yet but apparently if you have a print out of the confirmation email it’s good enough for lounge access

          • Rob says:

            I got a match last year and never got a card!

  • Kenneth Tan says:

    Finally a decent reason to maintain Gold status!