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.

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 ….

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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  1. I am due to fly 1st Class on Emirates soon, with a Qantas ticket. I do not have any status yet with oneworld. Which lounge can I use and which one is best? Can I get into the Cathay First Lounge?

    On a separate note, by the end of this trip I will have Qantas Gold status, when I fly economy in the future does this card allow me and my wife to access any oneworld lounge, irrespective of which airline I am flying?

    • guesswho2000 says:

      From London, it’ll be T3 and the EK First Lounge, which is nice or the QF lounge. QF ticket or not, I don’t think you can use the other Oneworld lounges on EK metal.

    • With Qantas gold in economy you can access oneworld business lounges when flying oneworld airlines. On Australian domestics (on QF) you can access the Qantas clubs but not the business lounges.

    • Re lounge access with Qantas Gold – this should be to any Oneworld lounge as long as you are flying on a Oneworld “ticketed and operated” flight. Qantas makes an exception flying Emirates on a Qantas ticket, but the other airline lounges don’t.

      It should be the same as access for BA Silver.

      Yes, you and your wife should both have access if you are travelling together in economy.

      I have only once had a problem with guest access. It was a few years ago using the almost empty Cathay business lounge in T3 before an American Airlines flight. They let my husband and I in, then told us upon leaving that it was actually a mistake, and I should not have been allowed to bring a guest.

    • Thank you everyone, much appreciated

  2. I think you are being too harsh. Plus points are the very fast wifi, lots of power points at the seats, excellent breakfast selection of pancakes or smashed avocado with smoked salmon and the champagne as you enter is properly cold and the staff usually come round and give you refills without asking. Also the staff are pleasant and even smile which is more tham the miserable lot in the BA lounge.

    • +1, plus it’s quiet…

    • Yes AA staff do smile and you do feel welcomed.

      10 years ago the idea of choosing AA would have had you committed.

    • +1 for the AA lounge. Yes -the Cathay 1st lounge is best. But if you are there just before a Hong Kong flight, it is heaving. Plus, if you want to do any work, the Cathay lounge does not have anywhere to sit down with a table – apart from the dining area – which I never feel comfortable doing. The AA staff are lovely. The Moet is always offered to me when I enter the lounge. The food also, is significantly better than BA. When I have 5 hour layovers [frequently] I’ll go to AA or BA lounges to do work, then Cathay afterwards for lunch and to relax. Then back to BA if Cathay gets full. Also: Cathay lounge does not open until 0730 on Sundays.

      • Go to the business section if you want tables (use the desktop computers at the very far end when it’s “heaving”)

        • Yes – but before a HK flight the business lounge is often heaving too. The tables you refer to are the dining area of the business lounge. The computers at the far end – yes – quiet place to work but, Qantas, AA and BA First better suited for working.

    • I’m happy enough with the AA lounge, the CX lounge is very nice, but honestly the reviews make you think it’s some sort of paradise, and it’s really not. AA very good for breakfast. As far ‘guarding’ the champagne, given some of the behaviour in lounges that’s not such a bad thing.

    • +1 on the friendly staff and unprompted top ups of Moet in both the dining area and the rest of the lounge

  3. I flew American Airlines a couple of weeks ago and I felt that I got asked more questions by the receptionist at the AA lounge than the immigration officer in New York

  4. I’m flying AA out of T3 next month so will be able to compare the lounge questions Vs whatever US immigration asks me 😉

    Planning on visiting all the lounges including the Qantas one that is normally closed when I’ve caught early Finnair flights.

    Nice to know to expect little although the wassabi crab cakes sound interesting should they still be on the menu.

  5. Stuart Evans says:

    Does anyone know when AA First Lounge at T3 will be refurbished/upgraded to a Flagshio Lounge?

  6. Rob – unless i’ve missed it wasn’t there due to be a 2nd part to the St Regis review?

  7. You don’t fly AA for its lounges where to be fair you spend just an hour or so. You fly AA for its outstanding business class seat. I am yet to have a bad flight with AA across the Atlantic even on the 777-200 with its backward facing J class seats and in the US domestic F is stellar compared to Club Europe. Food is good, simple yes, but tasty and well presented and the ice cream sundae, fantastic.

  8. Best to use AA lounge to download anything for your device of choice for the flight. WiFi is very good and the time saver is worth the short walk from the CX lounge. They also tend to have some sweets/chocolate on offer near the door. Other than that, I wouldn’t bother.

    • Jelly Belly beans is why I stop by at the AA lounge.

    • Can you use the wifi from outside the lounge if you loiter nearby – since it’s apparently so fast you won’t be loitering for too long? (Or maybe just loitering in the queue while people flying to the US get “interrogated”)

    • Lady London says:

      Having tried to get a phone signal from the Qantas lounge and pretty much failed, thank you for that information. Doesn’t the AA lounge also have some decent showers?

  9. Thomas Howard says:

    What are the lounge options when traveling BA business class from T5?

    • BA, BA and, in the B satellite, BA again.

      Plus Aspire if you have a Priority Pass (a joke) and Plaza Premium (very nice) if you have DragonPass or Amex Plat.

      • If you are travelling Business class from T5 can you get there early and use the lounges in T3 then head back to T5 for your flight?

        • Technically but no-one ever does it. The terminals are a mile apart remember.

        • Yes and some people do but remember you’d have to check-in at T5 (clear security) then go to T3 using the airside bus (including re clearing security) then back to T5 using the airside bus (again re clearing security)

  10. A few thoughts.

    Alcohol is free in US lounges. In first class or flagship it is pour your own. In business you get vouchers for free drinks if on an international flight.

    I was denied access a year or so ago with a BA Gold card, despite being on business on AA. YMMV.

    New York is great as a flagship lounge will be back there this year. Also visiting MIA and ORD flagship lounges.

    • I was at the LAX AA Lounge flying Economy but got in with my BA Silver and it was all free pour, great food and loads of space. Couldnt rate it highly enough.

    • As – tight as a duck’s *ss with alcohol. Recently spent $6K on round trip to USA. Out BA back AA. In AA lounge at PHL I was offered 2 vouchers for “premium drinks”. EO F*ck*ng vouchers??? Really? lounge was horrid and few power points. I left and went to BA GOLD.

  11. Yep, AA inflight product is excellent. Lounges at major US hubs much better now, this one is poor (only the BA T3 biz lounge was worse when I went on my 7-lounge T3 hop!).

    Agree re ludicrous work-related security questions, I couldn’t fathom how they were in any way able to verify the answers. Half of them didn’t even make sense unless you worked in an office!

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