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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 (August 2022)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of 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 and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two 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 two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

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

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.

  • Nick says:

    Rob, what are these obscure Asian credit cards you mention? Just in case I can manage to obtain one!

  • Hingeless says:

    I didn’t know I could get in with the amex plat card, i’ll try it on Saturday


    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Amex platinum cardholders can access Plaza Premium lounges globally, independently of Priority Pass.

  • IslandDweller says:

    Used it a few weeks ago (used amex platinum). As you say, a pleasant quiet place.
    One wonders how they’ll make it pay with such low foot fall.

  • Paul says:

    I used it on day one. It’s a great lounge and definitely a step up from galleries north or south. It’s on a par with the first class lounge but without the fast track. The oncorde room is still better…. though I have not been in since BA got that job lot of second hand furniture!

  • Mark says:

    Do they actually swipe the Amex or do you just flash it like for the Eurostar lounges?

    • Sean says:

      They swiped mine when I went, so a cancelled card would not have worked.

      • Rob says:

        They swiped mine too.

        • Mike says:

          They swiped mine the first few times I went there, but only took note of my details the last time I visited – which was 4 weeks ago – on a sheet of paper that had the details of a few other visitors jotted down. Which means their card reader was probably not working that day.

  • Nick says:

    Head for Points articles are normally well written but recently there has been a tendency to pepper articles by both Rob Burgess and Anika with comments on honesty. In the last few days we have seen “let’s be honest”, “to be honest” and now in the second paragraph of this article “I must be honest”!

    These colloquialisms are just about OK, albeit unnecessary, when used in speech but unfortunate in print as the clear inference is that the writer is not being honest in other areas.

    I think back to my school days when being taught about colloquialisms. The number one example of a colloquialism not to be used in print was “to be honest”.

    Looking forward to lots more excellent articles from Head for Points which is a “must read” every morning but, please, less unnessary comments on honesty.

    • Robin says:

      Were you also, by any chance, taught the difference between “less” and “fewer”?

      • Radiata says:

        Go easy Robin.

        Giving criticism in a constructive manner – and receiving the same graciously – always a challenge.

        Nick’s tone suggests sincere intent. Rob’s reply gracious.

        That said, whilst I have not paid attention in recent years, it would raise a smile (of sadness) that even behemoths such as Tesco would err in stipulating “less than 10 items” for express check outs rather than “fewer”.

        • Anon says:

          Criticise a person’s spelling and they will usually thank you for it.
          Criticise a person’s grammar and they will hate you forever.

    • Rob says:

      Noted 🙂

      Someone did moan about unnecessary commas a while back, since when there has been a decrease ….

      • Oli says:

        And while we’re at it… Can you please stop the annoying double-spacing? You’re not typing this on a typewriter anymore, and there’s absolutely no point using them with this typeface 🙂

    • Kevin says:

      It doesn’t bother me. I think HFP is well written – conversational without ever becoming too informal.

      The grammar of a blog is different to that of a printed report and what is acceptable changes over time.

    • Deji says:

      As long as you know where to go and what you get…who really cares about

    • mark2 says:

      and I think you probably mean implication rather than inference.

  • Tilly says:

    I’ll be visiting it end of May. Thanks for the review.

    • Tilly says:

      Forgot to ask, any idea what the food offering is like late afternoon/early evening in this lounge?

  • Rob says:

    I have removed the line in the article about Amex Plat getting a free guest because, having looked at the PP site again, that is not specifically mentioned.

    • Sam says:

      Do they unofficially allow it though?

      • Liam says:

        I’ve been allowed a free guest on both times I’ve tried. My routine is now GF then PP en route to the gate if departing from the domestic end, given the proximity to the gates.

      • ankomonkey says:

        We got in as 2 adults and 2 kids by showing 2 Plat cards (main and supplementary). The lounge was pleasant but nothing that special. It’s so small that allowing in Priority Pass would kill it.

    • Mark says:

      Partner and I visited 2 weeks ago and she was guested (had her own plat anyway, but wasn’t required to swipe it.)

    • Martin says:

      I was there a couple of weeks ago and noticed a piece of paper taped to the desk for the agents. From what i could see It indicated that there are different rules depending on where the Plat is issued. UK cards get a guest, as confirmed by my 17 year old daughter getting in with me without issue, but there were some that didn’t seem to get one. Unfortunately I don’t have a photographic memory (or 20/20 vision!) so can’t help with any more details!

    • fivebobbill says:

      Just for the record, I’ve gotten a guest in on 3 occasions by showing my UK Amex Plat, I just assumed this to be the norm, produced the card and never had an issue.. although gotta say there ain’t much chat outta them at that front desk… awfully serious business 😉

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

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