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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.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks Rob. I’ll give this a try. I just wish I’d known about it earlier. I used the Aspire lounge on Tuesday afternoon. It was a very poor experience. Absolutely packed, nowhere to sit and a limited food offering. I would not go back.

    Chris

    PS I like your writing style!

  • Ben says:

    OT but lounge related.
    I am travelling BA in J soon from Terminal 3 – I thought I read on the comments some time ago that I would be able to access other lounges (other than the BA one) Can anyone confirm where I would be able to visit?

    • FlightDoctor says:

      Used the T5 PP lounge flying to the US in December when the airport was hit with snow cancellations. The BA First Lounge was like a refugee camp and it was such a pleasure to escape the crowded terminal for the peace and solitude of the new lounge. Great views but food selection not as extensive.

      I haven’t really used it much since then as I find the convenience of the the First Wing dropping me into the First lounge far less hassle than trekking to the far side of the terminal…..although would probably use if flying domestic for sure.

      • Ben says:

        Smashing. Thanks Colin JE. So with Silver I can access all 3 lounges. Might have to get there a little early to visit all 3. 😉

    • Kinkell says:

      Cathay and Quantas

    • Rob says:

      Qantas, Cathay, American

      • Ben says:

        Thanks guys, my plan is to head to BA first (book a spa treatment) then head to Cathay for some food then onto Qantas for the bar.
        Very happy with that as a Friday evening before a 9.30pm flight

        • Genghis says:

          CPT?

        • Ben says:

          Yes Genghis. CPT

        • Andrew* says:

          Ben – are you doing that this Friday or just soon?

        • Andrew* says:

          (as I will be in T3 tomorrow and happy to chat travel over a Qantas beverage; likewise for any other HFP readers)

        • Ben says:

          Unfortunately not, I am flying out on the 6th April at 2140

        • Genghis says:

          We had a great time in the Qantas lounge before our flight to CPT last month – decent starters and main and nice cakes. Sampled quite a few of the gins. Service was fantastic. Chef offered to knock us up a trifle but we were stuffed by that point. A thing that made me chuckle was the waitress saying something like “We like to give great service to those that fly Qantas”. “Erm… I’m not flying Qantas…”.

    • Stu N says:

      AA, Cathay and Qantas (or all 3 if you have time!)

    • Lady London says:

      Hi Ben, before I saw your question I’d placed some comments on my visits yesterday to the Terminal 3 lounge of Qantas and Cathay Pacific above.

      • Ben says:

        Hi Lady London, I just saw those, thanks for that.
        I think im going to have the same view (in all honesty only going BA to try and get a treatment) but CX is somewhere I have never been before to looking forward to it!

  • Colin JE says:

    Thanks Rob for a very helpful review. I’m on my way to BA silver but have a trip before then when the Plaza Premium will be perfect for a long wait. This must be a first too, when my Barclays Dragon Pass card is accepted but not PP!
    I’ve also got a trip in June, post Silver status when I’m travelling on a BA charter from T5. Does anyone have experience of being able to use the BA lounge with status on a charter? (If my wife and I get turned away it’s a long schlep from BA lounge to Plaza Premium which I’d like to avoid)

  • Dusty Hare says:

    Any thoughts on whether an Amex Platinum card from a closed account would work to get in?

    • Colin JE says:

      Sorry to say that given others’ comments that their cards were swiped, it seems unlikely.

  • Andrew Wilde says:

    I believe one could get into it with a HSBC Premier Elite credit card that has Lounge Key – it says so on their app anyway!

  • Ricky green says:

    I used the plaza premium a few weeks ago . There Was only 6 or 7 people using it .. service was great … seats comfortable but how long can this stay as it is , with 5 or 6 staff .. the bean counters will soon seen this as a target for extra capacity …

  • Clive says:

    Many thanks for the tip about Plat card giving access – will try this next week 🙂

  • Tilly says:

    OT but lounge related – currently sitting in the lounge at Valencia airport. It’s a bit lame. Every sarnie has cheese in it. No good for someone who is lactose intolerant. Good job I had a substantial breakfast and will get a little food onboard as long as they load my special meal.

    • Kevin says:

      My wife cab’t eat cheese. Loads of European lounges are incapable of making a sandwich that doesn’t have cheese in it.

      • Tilly says:

        I know. I even asked on Sunday for a bacon sandwich to be made specially for me in the BA lounge at LGW as the rolls on the buffet have milk in them. Thankfully as they were quiet the staff were more than willing to help. Grateful for a decent low lactose meal on the flight back today.

    • Mr Dee says:

      Oh they didn’t have the Chorizo ones then…

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

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