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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)

Opening Hours
05:00 – 22:00 daily”

Here’s the entrance:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

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:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

…. and this to your right.  You can see how the lounge curves around the corner to the right:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

Plaza Premium Terminal 5 has excellent runway views:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

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:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

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:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

I was more interested in the breakfast selection which was small but perfectly formed.  You have a cereals, pastries and juice corner:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

…. and a run of traditional hot breakfast items (scrambled egg, bacon, sausage etc):

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

…. 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:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

…. and these semi-private seats:

Review Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 5

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 ofPlaza 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.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

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.

Comments (98)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Smid says:

    Looks like a far better brekkie than T5 BA Club lounges. This will be my lounge of choice in the morning when I go from Gold to Silver next month.

  • The_real_a says:

    Showers are £20 when entering with the platinum card which i baulked at. You can of course shower at the arrivals lounge in t2 (priority pass) and then transfer to T5 for your flight (Amex play) for free.

  • Jason Hindle says:

    Looks nice. Does this lounge have showers?

  • Artem says:

    I wish the photos expanded on click. They’re tiny on a desktop.

    • fivebobbill says:

      Ctrl + on your keyboard to zoom…

    • Rob says:

      Sorry. I scrunched them to 400 wide so I can’t reverse it even if I wanted to. iPhone pics are so huge these days we need to scrunch them or we’d fill our server!

      • S says:

        Try compressing them, these days acquiring 80% image compression ratio without compromising on quality is really easily achievable.

        • Rob says:

          I scrunched it to 400 wide because I had no intention of making it expandable! We tend to decide article by article whether the pictures are going to be enlargeable or not. Our database size is huge for a blog – imagine how many images we have over 6200 articles.

  • Sue says:

    Regarding bringing guest in to plaza premium t5 using platinum card i found this after logging onto my account under ‘benefits’ and ‘find a lounge’

    Amex Card, boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel, and a government issued I.D.
    2 guests and children under 3 years are admitted free.

    Hope to enter as family of four with my card and supplementary card at Easter

    • KevMc says:

      It says 1 guest when I login and view it.

      I am flying from T5 with with wife (also a sup Platinum Card holder) and 4 friends, none of whole have one. Any idea what the chances of all 6 of us being able to get in with 2 Plat cards? Do they swipe a card or just glance at it like in the s Eurostar lounges? If the latter, I may be able to give two of my friends a couple of older, cancelled cards in order to get in.

      • Rob says:

        They swipe. And may quietly charge your Amex for the other two people.

        • KevMc says:

          Thanks Rob. Do you know if it is likely to be £15 per person as they do when it’s a PP extra guest, or is it likely to be the full price of entry?

          • Rob says:

            Full. The Priority Pass rules have nothing to do with this.

  • Craig Strickland says:

    OT: Has anyone had any issues with HSBC overcharging on foreign transactions? I put a Rupee through the MasterCard calculator and HSBC charged me about 8% more?

  • Geoff says:

    Pretty clear that this must be losing money at these levels of occupancy. The semi-deserted oasis of T5 calm cannot possibly last. Tick tock tick tock……

    • Rob says:

      It is possible that PPass is refusing to have them. PPass owns the Aspire lounge (well, half of it) so there is logic in keeping it rammed (banking the full fee from Amex etc) and not sending people to Plaza (where the PPass cut is probably £1).

  • Chris Palmer says:

    Off Topic: As a Platinum card holder, if I refer someone and they select the SPG Amex, do I receive 18k bonus? Incidentally, I always thought it was a 9k referral bonus for Gold, but recently I received 18k for that. Thanks.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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