This is my review of the British Airways temporary Speedbird Lounge in Gatwick Airport’s South terminal.
As I wrote in my companion article to this one, British Airways has not been allowed to open its new Gatwick South lounge complex on safety grounds. It isn’t clear if this problem will take days or weeks to resolve.
In the meantime, these are your options:
First and Gold passengers on all flights and premium ticketed passengers on the Bermuda, New York and Jersey services are using the Gatwick South No 1 Clubrooms which I reviewed here and discussed again in my article yesterday.
All other eligible passengers are using the old Virgin Atlantic lounge in Gatwick South which has been renamed Speedbird Lounge but otherwise is as Virgin left it last night!
There is also the very impressive new No 1 Lounge which Anika reviewed here and which, if you have a Priority Pass, may be a better bet
After I left the Clubrooms, I made the 30 second walk to the Speedbird Lounge.
You can tell from the elaborate entrance signage that BA has known for a while that the main lounges were not going to open on time. It takes a few days to arrange this sort of thing:
Inside, frankly, it was fine – which is what you would expect, given that BA moved in 8 hours after Virgin Atlantic had departed! All Virgin signage has gone although these clocks are a giveaway:
The Speedbird Lounge is a decent sized space. It was very busy when I arrived but quietened down. There are also lots of hidden corners where you should be able to find a quiet spot:
Food, when I was there in the morning, was limited. The ‘envelopes’ you see in the picture below contain three different types of bacon sandwich – plain, with ketchup and with brown sauce. That’s your lot! At least you can get a takeaway for the plane in order to avoid the ‘buy on board’ service.
There was also cereal, fruit, croissants etc along with numerous coffee machines and juice.
If you’ve got children, there is a decent sized kids room albeit with nothing in it except seating. I’m not sure if it had more in it in the Virgin days:
There is also a bar. I didn’t take any photos but it is in the video below. There is no self serve alcohol available.
All in all, this is a perfectly satisfactory – albeit not luxurious – lounge that will do the job until the official BA facilities open. There is certainly no need to arrive at Gatwick excessively early just to visit, however. I found it substantially poorer than the No 1 Lounge in Gatwick North which BA used as a temporary lounge during 2016, especially in terms of the food offering.
If you have a BA Gold card then you need to decide between here and the Clubrooms. The food, drink and ambiance is vastly superior in Clubrooms, but the space is small and dark. It is also designed for groups, so solo travellers will be expected to share a table.
To give you a better impression of what you can expect, here is a short YouTube video of the British Airways (temporary) Speedbird Lounge at Gatwick South. You can subscribe to our YouTube channel via this page – this is the same link to visit if the video does not automatically appear below.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (May 2022)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.