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Review: the American Airlines First Class lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3

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This is my review of the American Airlines First Class 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.

I started in British Airways Galleries First in Terminal 3 which I reviewed yesterday.  After an hour there, I decided to try the other Terminal 3 lounge I had never visited – the American Airlines First Class lounge.  I have been in the main Admirals Club business class lounge before which I reviewed here.

American Airlines is currently in the process of dramatically upgrading its main First Class lounges as Flagship Lounges as we wrote hereThe initial openings have had an excellent response and London Heathrow is on the list for refurbishment.  Frankly, it can’t come quickly enough.

If you travelling First Class on a oneworld carrier or have a British Airways Gold card, there is NO sensible reason to use any lounge except the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge.  It was only out of duty to HfP readers that I spent my afternoon in BA Galleries First and the AA First Class Lounge.  You don’t need to do this.

Getting in

As Anika also found when she flew Delta recently to Atlanta (review coming up) US airlines now impose an additional layer of security screening on their passengers.  You are required to have a face-to-face interview with an accredited agent before boarding.

As I was travelling without checked baggage and used online check-in, the first AA employee I encountered was the lounge receptionist.  It appears that she is accredited to do these interviews, which also explained the queue I found when I came into reception.

After an utterly pointless discussion where she checked that I knew my own name and asked me questions that she could never verify about my job, she put the required stamp on my boarding pass and let me in.  Had I not gone to the AA lounge, I would presumably have had to go through a similar process at the gate.

I’m not entirely sure of the entry requirements for the First Class lounge.  I am guessing, given how quiet it was, that you require either a First Class ticket or a British Airways Gold card or equivalent.  A Business Class ticket on its own is presumably not enough.

Inside the American Airlines First Class Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

All you need to know is that it looks like an old people’s home. I kept expecting someone to start a game of bingo.  But, no, it was apparently an exclusive airport lounge for AA’s top customers.

I mean ….

and

and

I also recommend close inspection of the artificial ceiling and lighting in the other pictures below.

I was intrigued by the magazine selection, which showed that AA was even less picky about what it displayed, as long as money was handed over, than BA.  I can think of no other reason why they feel there is a demand for ‘Creative Chemistry’ or the official magazine of the Rotary Club of Great Britain or the official magazine of Wynn Casinos.

It’s not all bad.  The drink selection was OK, albeit worse than in Galleries First.  The alcohol was also free which would not have been the case if this was a US lounge:

There was a man standing by the entrance – which was a long way from the bar – guarding two bottle of Moet champagne.  I am guessing that he would have poured me a glass if I’d asked but it was clear they didn’t want to take the risk of letting you pour your own.

The dining area, as you can see from the photo above, had not a single person eating.  They had probably all seen the menu and walked off as I did.  There were no appetisers, three mains – teriyaki pork belly, wasabi crab cake, butternut puree – and only one desert, pumpkin pie with buttermilk custard.  I decided to pass. I certainly wasn’t hungry enough to sit, on my own, in an empty restaurant in full view of everyone else in the lounge.

The buffet, on the other hand, was quite impressive with a good mix of salads, wraps and some hot items.  It was good to see something different from British Airways lounge food, which rarely changes from year to year:

…. plus the usual nutrition-free snacks you always find in US airline lounges:

There’s little else to add.  There is an uninspiring work area:

…. and a handful of PC’s:

….. but, frankly, nothing to detain to you for long.

If this was, say, the lounge at Doncaster Sheffield Airport (which we have actually reviewed) then I would have said it was above average.  As a First Class lounge of a major international carrier, it falls well short.  The refurbishment cannot come soon enough.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2021)

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points 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. The card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points which is a special offer running to 2nd November 2021.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 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 a special 30,000 points sign-up bonus until 9th November 2021.  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 (65)

  • Anna says:

    OT but lounge related – does anyone know what time the Concorde Room stops serving breakfast? Really, really want to have breakfast there as opposed to MAN (meh) on my birthday next year – our connecting flight is due to land at T5 around 9.45 am.

    • Ian says:

      They were still serving breakfast between 11:30am and noon when I was there in August.

  • Neil Donoghue says:

    Myself and the wife will be flying from T5 on the 21st of December (Ages Away Yet) but happy to guest two extra folks from here in to the CCR lounge from 8am – 1pm.

    • Shoestring says:

      Are you sure 5 hours is enough lounge time? 🙂

      • Neil Donoghue says:

        A spa treatment, 2 hours of office work running my own company and breakfast! 5 hours won’t be long enough…! Ha

  • Alex Sm says:

    «I certainly wasn’t hungry enough to sit, on my own, in an empty restaurant in full view of everyone else in the lounge» – quintessentially British!

  • Andy S says:

    Is this a 1980’s themed lounge?

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