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Why you should now be wary about visiting the Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 5

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Regular readers will know that I am very fond of the new Plaza Premium Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.   See my article here for example.

Even though I have British Airways status, I still pop in here if travelling through Terminal 5 on my own because it is less crowded than the BA Galleries and the food is better.  The only thing that is poor is the newspaper and magazine selection.

The reason the lounge has always been quiet – the record number of guests ever spotted by myself or any HfP reader was 20 – is that it did not accept Priority Pass or Lounge Club cards.  Look at the second photo below for an example of how busy it used to be.

Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal 5 overcrowding

The only way to get in is:

for cash (you can book direct here) or

by flashing an American Express Platinum Card or

by flashing a DragonPass lounge access card

Since DragonPass cards have historically been rare in the UK, they were not responsible for a lot of business.  That all changed a couple of weeks ago when NatWest / RBS Black switched from Priority Pass to DragonPass for its lounge access partnerI wrote about that here.

Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal 5

The big problem is that the covering letter sent out to NatWest and RBS account holders with their DragonPass specifically mentioned Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal 5 access.   It says:

“Unlimited access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide – this includes our flagship Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 which replaces the Aspire lounge currently available in this location”

Since then, according to many Head for Points reader reports, the place has become a bit of a scrum.  The ultimate insult came from a reader who said it was ‘nearly as bad as the Club Aspire lounge’ at the other end of Terminal 5.

So, be warned.  It looks I may end up back in Galleries First after all.

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Comments (53)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Gary D says:

    As a Natwest Black account holder I received my DragonPass card last week but haven’t been through T5 yet, I was really looking forward to not having to use the Aspire lounge when I do. Are there really that many Black account customers all flying at the same time that it makes a noticeable difference?

    I used the No 1 lounge at T3 on Weds however, had to queue for 5 mins to get in and the check in staff did say that they are seeing many more DragonPass cards, all of which are Natwest branded. It was rammed when I got in too of course although the hot chicken panang didn’t take too long to arrive and was really nice!

    OT, ironically, is there anywhere on this site where one can just ask a question? It seems to me that nearly every page has Off Topic comments, changing the subject in the absence of having a Forum or such like to do so.

    • Polly says:

      Usually people ask a ? In the bits article. But it will be answered by someone if it’s spotted in any of the topics articles…

    • Shoestring says:

      Ironically? I fail to see the irony.

      Any article with Bits in the title is fair game for O/Ts – as is any article, any day when there’s no Bits.

      There only seems to be a small number of people so anal that it bothers them in any case.

      • Peter K says:

        It’s ironic that they were asking a question about where to ask a question.

        • Shoestring says:

          I think they just meant ‘btw’ or ‘incidentally’ – they could (I suppose) have said something along the lines: ‘sorry to offend the rule of asking O/Ts only in the right place but here’s an O/T’ – that’s not irony by a long stretch.

          Tragic anal irony, perhaps 🙂

        • Peter K says:

          It was still ironic though Harry, it was still ironic.

  • Rivo says:

    Is there anyway of knowing if your flight is going to depart from Satellite B at T5?

    I’ve only been given the nod once at check in being told that the lounge is a lot more peaceful. Which of course it is.

    • Anna says:

      Most trans-Atlantic flights seem to go from B and C. If you google your flight number a couple of times before your travel date it will show which gate it left from so you can get a good idea.

    • Rob says:

      They do know when you check-in even though it isn’t displayed on the boards. If you ask they can tell you.

    • Richard G says:

      I always go to that lounge anyway. Doesn’t take a massive amount of time to get to A/C from there.

      • Mark says:

        +1, I always ask at check in and if departing from B or C head straight to the lounge in the B satellite

        • James says:

          Most widebodies operate with a minimum ground time of 90 minutes or thereabouts. More often it is longer.

          BA do all their own stand planning in Terminal 5. Therefore they know well in advance which gate it will be from and which tail number is operating the flight.

          The only caveat to that being a flight late off a stand or a tail switch due to a rotational issue.

          The reson they don’t announce the gate in advance is because it is a huge faff to try and get a plane full of people from the wrong gate to the right gate when that happens.

  • Andrew-a says:

    We are passing through Terminal 5 next week, flying CE to Athens using a 2 for 1. I have just received my RBS Dragon Pass and had considered using this lounge but noticed in a previous article that champagne is charged for. As we won’t be needing food we will probably stick to the BA lounge although find it a bit strange they hide the champagne away in the kitchen. I also read this in a previous article or wouldn’t have known to ask the last time I was in T5.

    • Anna says:

      I think they hope people won’t be bothered to ask for it the Champagne! Once a lovely lady staff member came over to our table and asked if we’d like a glass but all the other times we’ve had to find someone then endure the face-pulling that the request seems to engender (and I do always ask nicely!!)

  • Karen Briggs says:

    I was in here on Friday (4th October) from about 11.20am. Terminal 5 seemed to be busy but, the lounge was wonderfully quiet and almost empty at that time. I left a couple of hours later and there were a few more people there but, it certainly was nowhere near full

  • Alex Sm says:

    Perhaps, Aspire will get less busy as a result?

  • Mark says:

    For T5, BA will always know what gate each flight is departing each day. It’s on the system. The reason they do not tell you is that gates can change. If a flight gets delayed, for example from C52 for an hour, that means a gate change for another flight. It’s a finely balanced operation, even though we all have our tales of woe, and want to dispute that fact. If you are in T5 Pier C and it changes to Pier B, I understand the only way back to Pier B or Pier A is to try and re-enter through flight connections (low success rate) or exit landside and come back through security to airside. I’d never go to Pier C unless the gate is displayed on the board. Maybe someone has more inside track on the workings of T5 than I currently have…. I fly to Dublin every 6 weeks. The Heathrow gate should be A23, especially for incoming flights and the need not to go through immigration. Last week I was told A3 at check in. It changed to A11, and ended up back at A2. There is much more movement in the A gate flights.

    • Genghis says:

      B->A walk in the tunnel

      • Craig says:

        The tunnel is underused and can be quicker than the shuttle. It is also 2-way.

      • the_real_a says:

        Tunnel life is surreal. I have seen a jogger wearing tight swimwear, a millennial riding a unicycle and people saying hello as they pass one another…

    • Alan says:

      I’m also suspicious it’s part of an agreement with LHR to keep people in the main shopping terminal that is T5A 😉

      For US flights I always head to the quieter B lounge ASAP.

  • Tom says:

    I was there two weeks ago. It was very busy but the food was excellent. Had a quick bite to eat then moved onto the BA satellite lounge which was empty as always! So there you have it – get your grub in the Plaza Premium and your pre-flight beer in the BA lounge 🙂

  • Alan says:

    Nooooo. Visited Aspire T5 for the first time last week – walked back out again as not a seat in sight. Really liked Plaza as an alternative to Galleries Club North, was handy for domestic flights and quieter.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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