Review of the American Airlines First Class lounge, London Heathrow Terminal 3

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This is my review of the American Airlines First Class lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.

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 ….

American Airlines Flagship First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

and ….

American Airlines Flagship First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

and ….

American Airlines Flagship First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

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:

American Airlines Flagship First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

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:

American Airlines Flagship First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

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

American Airlines Flagship First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

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

…. and a handful of PC’s:

American Airlines Flagship First Class Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

….. 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.

I decided to head down to my American Airlines Boeing 777, board first and get some photographs of my business class seat.  That’s when things started to improve rapidly.

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Comments

  1. Does anyone know what BA is charged if we lounge hop? Like most on here and FT, CX F is the best. We visit AA F (for the sweets) quick visit and then onto CX for food, we also popped into Qantas last week for a look (don’t think this will feature in our future visits). It would just be interesting to know. Hopefully they are charged as they clearly need an incentive to improve their own lounges!

    • I’m not sure what the cross charging is, but I bet most BA passengers with lounge access don’t realise they can use the non-BA lounges. I remember my friend looking at me like I was crazy when I told him to visit the Cathay lounge instead of the BA one, he didn’t believe it was possible to do on a BA business ticket!

    • The FT response to this question has been that the carrier is billed by the first lounge you visit, so if you go to CX on a BA ticket CX bill BA. If you then go to AA it’s tough, no bill from AA. If you go to BA first, and then another OW airline lounge, I’m not sure if that results in any 3rd party charge. One factor to consider here is that in many ways this benefits the likes of CX, they get additional income that supports the lounge, and enables a bigger nice facility than perhaps would be justified for CX only passengers. In truth I’m not sure anyone knows the real details on this, but some in the know over on FT definitely thinks it’s lounge first entered that gets to charge for your visit.

      • Shoestring says:

        What about if you use PP to enter several different lounges/ Grain? Must be they all get c.£15 a pop I reckon

        • Amex pays, so PP doesn’t care. And I reckon Amex never sees a breakdown which shows one person entering numerous lounges per day.

      • With respect to FT, on most things they’re accurate but on this they’re talking absolute nonsense. The intra-airline billing system is nowhere near clever enough to put lounge visits sequentially, each and every entry gets charged individually. There’s a hierarchy of ‘reasons for entry’ to determine who pays – e.g. if you’re flying business, then the airline whose flight it is, but if you’re there because of FF status, then your ‘owning’ carrier pays.

        I do know the figures but do not wish to share them. Needless to say though that it would be much cheaper for BA just to give every customer on their flight a bag of jelly beans.

        Don’t forget though that it works both ways. BA receives a lot of revenue from other airlines’ customers travelling through T3, particularly when you consider the proportion of shorthaul flying they do there and consequently how those they’re claiming for will likely be in economy.

    • US$60 for CX J and US$80 for CX F, at least in HKG, not sure whether the LHR lounges bill in USD or GBP

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. «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!

  5. Is this a 1980’s themed lounge?

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