Review: the Plaza Premium airport lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 5
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This is my review of the new Plaza Premium departure lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 5.
This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK. You see all of the reviews here.
EDIT: There is a more up-to-date review of this lounge from 2021 which you can find here.
We have been a bit slow getting in here. The luck of the draw meant that neither Anika or myself had been in Terminal 5 since the lounge opened in November. The anticipated press launch event never took place. I finally got my chance yesterday on my way to Berlin for the massive ITB travel show.
The official website for the lounge is here.
The key thing you need to know about the Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 5 is this – you cannot get access with a Priority Pass or Lounge Club membership card.
The only realistic ways to get in – unless you have certain obscure Asian credit cards – is:
By showing an American Express Platinum charge card (Plaza Premium has a global deal with Amex, a guest is allowed for UK issued cards, foreign Platinum cards may vary)
By showing a DragonPass lounge club card, but these are rarely seen in the UK – Barclays is the main issuer
By paying cash ($49 for 2 hours booked online, $79 for 5 hours) via this website
I got in using the first method, flashing my Amex Platinum.
This is what the Plaza Premium website has to say about the lounge:
“In an ideal location overlooking the runway, Plaza Premium Lounge Terminal 5 Departures is the perfect setting for both business and leisure passengers.
The luxurious space is open to all travellers and features an abundance of comfortable seating away from the hustle and bustle of Terminal 5. The lounge boasts freshly prepared seasonal food, a fully serviced bar with a wide variety of drinks, unlimited high speed Wi-fi, shower facilities to refresh and reinvigorate before flying and international newspapers and magazines. Experience a new way to travel at Plaza Premium Lounge, Terminal 5 Departures.
Level 2, Terminal 5 Departures, London Heathrow Airport (Next to Gate A7)
05:00 – 22:00 daily”
Here’s the entrance:
If you’re struggling to think where Gate A7 is, it is in the mirror image position to the Aspire lounge which is by Gate A18 in Terminal 5. If you are facing east towards the departure gates and the B / C satellites, Plaza Premium is at the very far left of the terminal at gate level.
Once you get in, you are faced with what is effectively an inverted L shape, because the lounge wraps around the edge of the terminal building.
This means that it has exceptional levels of light – it also means that the exposure on some of these photos could be better.
As you come in, you have this to your left:
…. and this to your right. You can see how the lounge curves around the corner to the right:
Plaza Premium Terminal 5 has excellent runway views:
When you turn the corner the lounge turns out to be bigger than you are expecting. Here is a view looking all the way down:
There were not many people about. I counted about 20 at the peak. Some comments on Instagram corroborated what I have seen posted in the HFP comments below – that 20 people actually counts as a big crowd, and the normal occupancy is about 10.
Running along the back is a bar which was not manned at 8am but I got the impression they would have served on request:
I was more interested in the breakfast selection which was small but perfectly formed. You have a cereals, pastries and juice corner:
…. and a run of traditional hot breakfast items (scrambled egg, bacon, sausage etc):
…. and, not pictured, a cool area with fruit, yoghurts etc.
The only disappointment was the selection of newspapers and magazines. Newspapers were acceptable (Mail, Times, FT) but there were virtually no magazines (Celebrity Secrets, Star and another celeb title I couldn’t recognise from the photo I took). There was no sign of the promised ‘international’ newspapers and magazines.
In terms of seating to work there are two options. You have these private octagonal booths, which come with a light and a plug socket:
…. and these semi-private seats:
There is a shower available but it was in use when I tried to take a look. I don’t know if there is an extra charge or not.
Is Plaza Premium Terminal 5 better than the British Airways lounges?
This is a tricky question.
Most people will not have a choice, of course. You only have a choice if you have British Airways status or are flying First / Business and have an American Express Platinum card or DragonPass.
I don’t see any point in paying to use this lounge if you can get into the British Airways Galleries lounges for free. That would be silly.
The deciding factor is really people, or the lack of. Plaza Premium genuinely offers you peace and tranquility, because it is virtually empty most of the time. If you find the British Airways lounges too big or too noisy then Plaza Premium is the place for you. You can genuinely sit here in virtual silence with a decent food and drink selection, at least at breakfast.
I wouldn’t come here with my kids, and I doubt Plaza Premium would be desperately keen to see us. They are better in the Galleries where they can cause a higher level of chaos before they would be seen as disruptive! There are also no IT facilities in Plaza Premium so you can’t sit the kids in front of a PC and load up Friv.
I would come here again when travelling on my own. Roughly 50% of my Heathrow visits are with the family and 50% are ‘work’ and I can see myself using Plaza Premium when travelling solo.
All of this assumes, of course, that the lounge does not join Priority Pass. If it did, it would no longer be a hive of peace and quiet – the guy behind me as I came in tried to use a Priority Pass and as I left there was a woman trying to use one too.
I can see why Plaza Premium would be attracted by the chunk revenue stream from Priority Pass but, overnight, the lounge would turn into the overcrowded nightmare that is the Aspire lounge, with its 30 minute wait to get in most of the time. Of course, I would say that because I can get in via Amex ….
All in all, Plaza Premium has done an excellent job in Heathrow Terminal 5 with the limited space available to it. Purely from a design and layout perspective it is vastly more successful than the Aspire lounge which uses its space badly.
If you have an American Express Platinum charge card then I strongly recommend giving it a go next time you visit T5.
You can find out more about the Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal 5 lounge here.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (March 2023)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
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.
You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges. Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get four 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
A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review
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.