Review of the British Airways Galleries First lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3

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This is my review of the British Airways Galleries First lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.

This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK. You see all of the reviews here.

Weirdly, I had never been in this lounge until last week.  Given that I have been flying BA for, well, ever, this is a bit odd.

There are three reasons.  The first is that I rarely fly out of Terminal 3.  The second is that you need to be flying British Airways First Class or have a Gold card to access Galleries First.  The third is that you would have to be out of your mind to use this lounge when the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is just a few feet away.

To be honest, even the new Qantas lounge is probably preferable to Galleries First.  Where you really want to be, however, is in the private First Class dining room of the Cathay lounge, enjoying an excellent waiter service meal before having a couple of glasses of wine in the main area.  We reviewed the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge here.

My review of the main British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Terminal 3, for Club World and Silver / oneworld Sapphire cardholders, is here.

Inside British Airways Galleries First at Heathrow Terminal 3

However, for the benefit of our readers, I decided to visit Galleries First instead.

To be fair, it isn’t a terrible lounge.  It would be a perfectly adequate business class lounge if it wasn’t for the fact that it is very dark.  It is not, in any way, exclusive in the way that the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is.

It is a long and relatively narrow lounge.  It looks lighter in these pictures than it actually was.

Turn left as you enter and you end up in this bar area.  The fixtures and fittings will be familiar from other BA lounges, which is not a criticism as they look good:

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

The spirits display was well done.  Apart from Johnnie Walker Blue Label, there was nothing that I would classify as super premium:

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

As usual, British Airways provides a large selection of reading material although it appears that many were chosen based on their ability to write a cheque than via editorial quality:

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

The main seating area was very quiet around noon:

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Behind this is an underused business area.  I think there is a case for drastically reducing the size of these in British Airways lounges as they are under-used now that most travellers have ultra-light laptops (I say this as someone who did use these areas heavily five years ago):

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

What DID impress me was the kids area.  There was also a PS4 and another games machine out of shot.  The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is not really aimed at little ones and if you are travelling with children I think Galleries First may suit you better:

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

At the other end of the lounge you come to another seating area and another bar.  There is a large wine selection here which is displayed beautifully.  Note how dark it looks even though this was early afternoon on a clear day.

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

There is a private dining area which gets more sun.  I’m not sure when this is in use, presumably it opens in the early evenings for pre-flight dining:

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Here is the lunchtime buffet.  It was not over-inspiring and I decided to stick to Victoria Sponge (BA lounges do excellent Victoria Sponge cake!) and champagne.

Hot options included pork meatballs, pasta, Italian beef meatballs, steamed sugar snap peas, fish and chip bites, pea and mozzarella arancini balls, rice and herb roaster parmentier potatoes.  It would have made a decent spread in a business class lounge but this was Galleries First.

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Earlier in the morning when I first arrived they only had the usual finger sandwiches and salad:

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3


Unless you have small children – in which case the presence of a decent kids play room may swing it – I don’t see any reason why First Class or Gold Executive Club members should visit the British Airways Galleries First lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.

It isn’t terrible, by any means.  It’s just that Cathay Pacific offers a more refined experience.

I didn’t head across to Cathay though.  Instead, I decided to visit another Terminal 3 lounge I had never visited before – the American Airlines First Class lounge.  That review will follow.

Here are my other Heathrow Terminal 3 lounge reviews:

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  1. I avoided the BA First lounge until last month, Bank Holiday Monday, flying with the wife, we had spa treatments booked so thought we’d give it a go.

    At the entry desk we were reminded that we could bring in extra guests (text had been sent a few days prior) and the lounge was very sparsely populated, around 20 people max. As it was breakfast time, we opted for the buffet, I remember making a joke about the ‘sausage mountain’.

    By the time we were descending into Nairobi 10 or so hours later, I was suffering from tummy trouble and wife started throwing up. I can’t prove it, but we both think the lounge food was to blame.

    I’m not sure who operates the catering in T3 BA lounges, but it was nothing like T5 where the smaller trays of food in the buffet are replenished regularly to cope with the demand. In T3, it seemed that they’d piled up a whole morning worth of sausages in one go.

    Suffice to say that last week, I went back to the CX lounge and ordered off the menu. I know that there is an order off the menu option in BA lounge too after holding an overflowing sick bag in the queue for immigration, we won’t be going back to BA.

    • Matty – you might need to read up about cause, consequence and correlation…

      • Yup, “post hoc ergo propter hoc” was pretty much Wakefield’s entire MMR vaccine argument. It doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
        Exposure to a nasty virus in an airport is just as likely as food poisoning (which is one possibility), but it sounds pretty horrible either way, and not what you want on a long haul plane.

  2. The lounges in T3 all have their strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t think one has to be “out of one’s mind” to use the BA one.

    In the Cathay lounge the food is spread across three places: the J noodle bar, the F restaurant, and the little buffet with limited range in the middle of the F lounge. If you want to graze, eat a mixture of things, or just poke at stuff rather than ordering off of the Cathay menu, then BA or Qantas are better.

    If you want personal space, again, BA and Qantas are better; the Cathay F lounge always seems crowded when I am there whereas the other two are empty.

    The one and only reason I’d go straight to the Cathay lounge is that they have good showers. Qantas has terrible showers: no hair dryers and terrible air conditioning; during a recent heatwave it was an awful experience and I ended up going to Cathay just to use a hair dryer then went back to Qantas. BA’s are ok but not great, but not as impractical as the Qantas ones.

    So, the BA lounge is a perfectly good compromise for me: decent range of food, nothing too fancy but at least it’s all in one place; good drink selection; peace and quiet; and acceptable bathroom and shower facilities even if they’re not fabulous.

    • CX showers = Aesop products 🙂

    • The Cathay hair dryers are kind of weak, but better than nothing.

      CX F is crowded 2-3 hours before each CX flight, so the best time to be there if not flying CX is 1030-1430

  3. Totally agree…Cathay is by far the best lounge in T3. Flew F to Denver 3 weeks ago. Went to Gslleties…dark, not much if a view , didn’t fancy the menu. Surly chap on reception. Decanted to Qantas, lovely welcome, looked around, nice decor, but couldn’t find seats where we could charge gadgets and it seemed a bit lacking in atmosphere. Off to Cathay….quiet, nice view of planes. HKG flight had just left. Lovely meal in dining room . It just was comfortable , clean, welcoming.
    Now back in Galleries T5 flew in 747 upper deck from Denver today. Toilet out of action, filthy storage lockers and my footstool had an enormous revolting stain on it. No way we’re my feet going on that. Took pics… wondering who I should send to. Cabin crew apologetic.
    Galleries is crowded , debris everywhere, coffee station needs a good clean and clear up.
    Moan over…I’ll blame it on tiredness, and the bloke in front of me with the loudest, most irritating and unpredictable cough, that prevented any sort of nap .

    • Shoestring says:

      File a complaint. BA have recently been giving extremely generous compo for people in your situation. A few people getting 100K

  4. The private dining area in the picture is open to everyone until a certain time in the evening (might be 6pm) and after that only first class ticket holders. But the food is the same as for those sitting elsewhere in the lounge. If you don’t find a menu then ask the staff for one (they have them in a pile near the entry to the private dining area). They will serve food from the menu anywhere in the lounge or you can take from the buffet.
    Certainly last night at 5pm we (Y ticket on AY) sat in the private dining area and ordered from the menu. The food (menu or buffet) is rubbish compared to the CX lounge though. I put the BA first lounge food on par with Asda cafe

  5. MY own view is that the BA First lounge in T3 is a disgrace – desperately in need of a major revamp. Head straight to Cathay. Even the new-ish Qantas lounge is better.

  6. Flying first for the first lime LHR to JFK soon.
    Want to make the most of the experience. I take it from posts here, that you can use non-BA lounges even if you’re flying BA. Is that true.
    Any responses appreciated.

    • Premier01 says:

      Yes you can use any of the One Worl lounges mentioned in this article/replies.

      Was at T3 on Thursday and had a few hours lounge hopping (not a £ 50 LUX cheapo but admittedly CE Avios flight for well earned holiday!l

      I am sure that lots of people don’t realise you can use the other lounges on a BA ticket, perhaps even moderately frequent travellers-not advertised outsode the lounges at al.

      We thought Cathay and Quantas far better than AA and BA.. though no access to F lounges.

      AA was calm but rubbish drinks/hot food. A

      Good for av geeks with plane views, plus amazing rocky road and take out sweets which Mrs. Premier01 appreciated!

      BA Galleries J was a joke….dirty and rammed like a Wetherspoons. Server was massively disgruntled when troubled for 2 glasses of bubbly and took 10 mins.

      Spirit selection good and again plane views impressive.

      Qantas- not much love amongst here it seems but loved it- great gin bar, the Sparkiling Aus wine is enjoyable and the Moroccan Lamb hot dish was excellent.

      Cathay- Moet et Chandon beats the BA stuff but open kitchen disappointing. Excellent showers..certainly premium experience.

    • You will be flying from T5 and will be able to use the Concorde Lounge. It’s not my favourite lounge in the world but most people would say it’s the best option in T5. The champagne is Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle. It retail at over £100 a bottle and it’s very nice.

      • Premier01 says:

        Missed the bit that the flight was to JFK and so T5 options.

        While not practical to use T3 lounges say on a BA LHR-JFK flight, would it be really allowed?

        What would the T3 check-in agent say?

        Would the security boarding pass scanners work?

        If you were had no checked baggage and a boarding pass, got through security what would the lounge dragons say and what would be an acceptable response?

  7. whats the general policy on kids in lounges. If you are gold and have 2 young kids…?

    • Shoestring says:

      Under 2s get in free, blind eye often turned (they don’t drink much in the way of Champers)

  8. I go to the BA First Lounge purely to have a pretty decent fry up.

  9. Flying to CHQ a week on Saturday with BA from T3 in Club.
    I’m gold, husband is silver. Can we both get into CX First, or just me? I can never remember if I’m allowed a guest in other lounges.

    • You can bring a guest for sure – I’ve bought members with no status into the Cathay lounge before 🙂

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