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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:

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

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:

The main seating area was very quiet around noon:

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):

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:

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.

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:

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.

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

Conclusion

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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Comments (83)

  • IanMacK says:

    Agree with the comments regarding business areas.
    However, one issue that I have had twice at LHR (T5) is the ability to print a document, sign and then get a good scan copy for e-mailing.
    (Even T5 Concorde has no facility to do this)
    I take it that as the lounge is new / renovated there are plenty of power sockets ?

    • John says:

      The printers in the CX lounge are better quality though not sure if they scan

      The only downside of CX F dining area is that you can’t charge your devices there, unless I’ve been a massive idiot for the past few years

      • Someone Who Does Travel says:

        Rubbish. The 3x CX printers are 50 pound home standard inkjet. T3 BA First has a proper industrial class laser printer – identical to T5. I would also add a comment on why to visit T5 first: it actually has space to work. Cathay First does not have that – unless you clog up the dining area. Half of you on here have absolutely no clue at all.

    • Dave Winchester says:

      You can get an app for this Abbyy FineScanner is good. The camera on your phone these days is better quality and resolution than pretty much any scanner

    • Lady London says:

      Yes I think printing and scanning are needed plus, obviously, high speed wi-fi.
      Loaner headphones (for a deposit) might reduce the irritation of those facetimers who pace up and down loudly communicating with those at home without headphones. ditto any games played by children on phones.

      I’d even be prepared to pay in the lounge for scanning and printing if I need it. say, £2.50 plus 15p per page for black and white, 40p for color. (which is more than I pay elsewhere if I’m out and about and need to get quick prints done).

      Having said that, I agree with Rob that wild horses wouldn’t get me into any BA lounge if there is a CX or SQ lounge nearby. Even the AA lounge in T2 is better than this.

  • vindaloo says:

    You don’t mention the fact that as well as the buffet there’s a menu for ordering food that is brought to where you’re sitting, exactly as with the GF lounges in T5. For sure it’s not as good as the Cathay option but I do sometimes go there for the smoked salmon and scrambled egg at breakfast time. More often I spend most of the time in the Cathay lounge and then pop into GF to snaffle a couple of bags of Kettle Chips for the flight!

    Overall I prefer it to the GF lounges in T5, simply because it tends to be quieter.

    • Rob says:

      No menus brought to me in the hour I was there.

      • vindaloo says:

        They don’t bring you the menus or go out of their way to draw your attention to them, but some of the tables at the end of the lounge where the buffet is will have menus on them. You can order something from the menu and they bring it to you. Same menu as GF in T5. It’s hardly like the three-course sit-down meal option you get in the Cathay F lounge but it’s a cut above the buffet.

  • Paul says:

    I haven’t been in the Girst lounge for many years but did use it when my kids were small. The play area then was in decline and nothing ever worked. Indeed for that reason my kids never used the play areasvas that was typical in all the lounges. They always used the PCs including those in the Concorde Room.
    I also never liked the Billy no mates seating in the dining room with all those single seats staring out the window. It was unimaginative then and just farted now.

    • Paul says:

      That should read dated!!!!! Apple spell checker, sorry.

    • Bagoly says:

      I disagree – in most of the world single diners are always given the worst tables, so it is nice that in this case they get the best view.

  • Cat says:

    Victoria sponge and Champagne – the lunch of champions!

  • Frenzie says:

    I don’t know when was the last time you went to the Cathay Business lounge.
    I went there 2 weeks ago and the food selection has been “enhanced” (aka downgraded a lot).

    Not sure if the First lounge is affected.

    • Stu N says:

      Tried the Cathay F lounge on Friday and found it most satisfactory. Food was great, had three starters and a glass of burgundy. I then moved to the J lounge for an Old Fashioned.

      Due to delays got to try Qantas Lounge for a drink, though was late evening so very busy with their own passengers – they made a most pleasing Old Fashioned there too, though not quite as good as CX. I went back to Cathay F after that as the Qantas Lounge was tidying up and closing down (they shut at 2115 but basically they are in shut down mode after the Sydney flight is called).

      I’d have gone out my mind if I had 5 hours in T5 but actually managed ok in T3.

      The only other thing BA First is good for us groups who want to enjoy a few drinks – there’s not a lot of group seating in Cathay F and it’s pretty quiet.

      • Matt says:

        I can easily while away 5 hours in T5 CCR!

        • Stu N says:

          Really? Wow. I find 2 1/2 hours is about right for me. Time for a meal, a spa treatment and a couple of drinks before the flight.

    • Rob says:

      Not since opening due to my Gold card, I admit.

    • David says:

      What’s been downgraded?

  • ee says:

    BA First for the blue label, Jepper rose and afternoon tea, followed by American First for a bag of sweets, followed by Cathay First for preflight dining. That’s our routine. Never really get the vibe in Qantas but that may be the time we visit (typically mid afternoon)

    • Lumma says:

      +1 regarding the Qantas lounge. It’s always been dead when I’ve been in and I feel like I’m being an inconvenience to the staff asking for a drink. The downstairs dining hasn’t been open the last few times I’ve been in too

    • Cat says:

      Thanks ee, this will be my T3 itinerary in a few months!

      • ee says:

        I always find the ‘welcome’ at the American lounge a little cold. ‘You know there is a BA lounge’ or ‘it’s very busy here today’ are typical welcomes. But they’ve never not let us in thus far.

        None of that with Cathay – the staff are always very pleasant and you usually see the same faces.

  • AlanC says:

    A choice of lounges! Wish I had that at EDI on Friday night.
    6.40pm and NO FOOD. Only thing to eat was Water Biscuits or Crisps. No soup, no rolls, No Panini’s or sandwiches.
    This was a no BA status family heading to London in Club Europe for a nice weekend break using points. Very disappointed.
    But there again the excuse was they had been busy!!

    • Alan says:

      Yes, BA EDI has nice layout and good staff but pretty uninspiring buffet. I normally go to Aspire or No 1 (using PP) for food then BA to wait for flight.

      • Stu N says:

        Sorry to hear you’ve had a poor experience. The catering at EDI was much worse than normal on Friday, I was there early afternoon and there were very slim pickings so I wonder if they had a supply issue?

        There is usually sandwiches, soup and occasionally toasties or panini. Fine for a snack but not a meal. The staff are fine with you bringing in something from outside. There’s a Bar Burrito next door that does takeaway.

      • sunguy says:

        And there is STILL no bacon rolls in the mornings……meh!

        • Stu N says:

          Aspire next door has a good breakfast buffet, never had an issue getting in on Priority Pass. I’ve not quite had the brass neck to get a takeaway breakfast from Aspire and take it into BA Lounge.

    • Matt says:

      Sorry to hear that I can imagine your disappointment. I highly recommend travelling LNER First between Edinburgh and London. It’s got to be a much more pleasant and civilised option than flying?

      • Andrew says:

        LNER First is Great… I use it regularly on a Sunday from Perthshire. It’s so good to be welcomed on board by name and before I’ve had a chance to sit down, one of the staff is pouring me a coffee.

        However, the equivalent LNER service for someone arriving in the lounge at 18:40 on a Friday night would be the 19:36 “all stations” service to Kings Cross. This takes 5h27m and arrives at 01:03. I’m grateful it runs, I’ve used it on a number of occasions when BA have cancelled all domestics – but it’s not ideal.

        So in reality, if you are taking the family to London after work, the only real option is to fly and put up with the awful security hall and lack of seating in the main hall (if you don’t have or choose not to pay for lounge access).

        • David says:

          Timing of the 19:36 sounds horrid. I’d be looking at the Caley Sleeper in preference to that, and am keen to try the new cars once they get going.

        • sunguy says:

          Id rather fly for half the price in business than take the Caley Sleeper – have you SEEN the prices ???? Serco doubled pretty much the fare since they took it over….

        • David says:

          Perhaps, but it would save a night in a London hotel.

        • John says:

          If you’re taking “the family”, a family and friends railcard would lower the price of the Caley significantly (though would also give the same discount on LNER).

          If you can arrive in the EDI lounge at 1840, wouldn’t you have left Edinburgh in time to get the 1730 train? (Obviously not everyone is coming from the centre of Edinburgh and also depends on where you’re going in London – and from EDI you can also arrive into LCY unlike most other BA domestics…)

        • Lumma says:

          A few weeks back I got on the 1.03 arrival into Kings Cross from Newcastle which departs at 21.15 and it’s not recommended. 1st class lounge shit at 20.30 and was only offered crisps and cake to eat, despite the menus still being on the table. They weren’t shy with the booze tho and it is dirt cheap compared to other departures

        • David says:

          What’s the first class lounge like for the rest of the day though, apart from at 20:30? 🙂

        • Cat says:

          David – a year and a half ago, my boyfriend and I took the Caley sleeper up to Fort William. They decided to depart an hour earlier without making any attempt to phone or email us. We had arrived an hour early as we wanted to stake out a table in the restaurant carriage, realised quickly that the train was about to leave, legged it and only just made it on time. Obviously we didn’t get a table in the restaurant.

          There were many other people who hadn’t been informed of the change to the departure time (and even a few who hadn’t been told that it was departing from Euston, rather than Kings Cross, as it was when they booked their tickets). They ended up in taxis, chasing the train to board at one of the stops.

          The one thing they had managed to email us about, a week in advance, was that the train would be stopping at Oban, and we would be bussed on from there. Yet, for some reason that I don’t understand, they told us to get off the train in Tulloch, then (after making us wait outside in the cold February air for 15 minutes), told us to get back on, then told us to get off in Oban. Sadly, despite having a week’s notice that they would need a bus, they didn’t manage to make one appear for over an hour, after leaving us out in cold, windy coastal weather again.

          When I emailed repeatedly to complain (politely) about their inability to arrange a p*ss up in a brewery, they didn’t reply.

          I can’t comment as to whether they’ve improved their service since then, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend the Caley sleeper, unless your only alternative is walking.

  • David says:

    There’s a chance of a spa treatment in BA though, I think, and not in the other options. Does nobody go for a pre-flight neck and shoulder rub any more?

    • Mark2 says:

      My wife and I have booked in at T5 Elemis on 5/10. This is the first time that we have flown when they are open.

      • Genghis says:

        @Mark2. Flying F? What time? My wife and I would appreciate being guested into the CCR before our 12.35pm flight. 🙂

    • Lady London says:

      A minor contributing reason why I didn’t bother to leave enough of my flights with British Airways to keep qualifying for Gold was that after attempting to get one before many flights even with lots of notice ahead, it was never actually possible to book a spa treatment . It felt like “bait and switch” on the part of British Airways to say spa treatments are part of the package but to be so undermanned as never to make them available for the very great majority of passengers who tried to book. So far as I could tell..

      The only British Airways lounge I liked was the Arrivals Lounge at T5 which did a very good job of patching you up after an overnight flight so you could be more or less productive all day.

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