This is my review of the SkyTeam lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4.
It is over four years since I last reviewed the SkyTeam lounge in Heathrow’s Terminal 4 so I thought it was time to go back.
Very surprisingly, despite being an ‘official’ airline lounge, the SkyTeam lounge is also part of Priority Pass. This is fantastic news for American Express Platinum card holders, as they now have free unlimited access for themselves and up to three guests (if you are travelling with your supplementary cardholder) to a high quality space.
As you will see, though, I would be tempted to choose the Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 4 instead, which I reviewed here. Plaza Premium is also your only option if you have a free Lounge Club pass via American Express Preferred Rewards Gold.
As you would expect from the flagship Heathrow lounge for the entire SkyTeam airline alliance, a serious amount of money has been spent here. Unfortunately, at least at 7am in the morning, you could almost see the tumbleweed blowing across the floor.
A few years ago Delta moved its flights from Terminal 4 to Terminal 3 to co-locate with its partner Virgin Atlantic. This seems to have sucked the life out of T4. It is now driven, in terms of passenger numbers, by Qatar Airways and Etihad. Whilst Qatar Airways sends its non-Business Class passengers with status to SkyTeam, the lounge is still virtually dead.
I looked at the departure board. Between 8am and 8pm, there were just 45 departures. A lot of these were short haul and many were non-SkyTeam flights. The lounge, at least during the morning, does not have the passenger numbers to fill it. It wasn’t very busy back in 2014 but now it is virtually deserted.
The first thing to note is that the lounge is very big, over two levels. At 7am on a Tuesday, the huge lower level had effectively been abandoned. Food was only available upstairs and the buffet area downstairs lay empty, as did the bar:
No food here …..
…. and no people either:
The key design feature here is plants. There is a lot of (real) greenery behind the seating which is slightly surreal but not ineffective:
The only areas of interest downstairs were the Clarins spa area:
…. and the decent newspaper selection.
There is also a small private area which I imagine is reserved for First Class passengers on long haul flights:
Back in 2014 there were some cabanas / day rooms and a yoga room. I didn’t see these on my latest visit – I’m not sure if I missed them or if they have been removed.
Here is part of the breakfast buffet upstairs:
Unfortunately it was a very weak selection. Think of the food you’d expect on the breakfast buffet at a Holiday Inn and you’ll get the picture.
Of course, when you only have this many customers to serve …..:
….. you can’t blame them for skimping.
When my inbox is continually filled with complaints from readers who cannot get into Priority Pass lounges in Gatwick, Luton and Stansted due to overcrowding, it is weird to visit a lounge at a major London terminal which is running at literally 5% of capacity during the morning peak.
At the very least, SkyTeam should open it up to Lounge Club members. I’m slightly surprised that the upstairs area has not been closed and handed back to the airport, or offered to another operator – Aspire does not have a Terminal 4 lounge, for example.
If you were travelling First Class on SkyTeam you would be unimpressed. For a Priority Pass lounge, it is worth a visit although you would have a better time in the newer Plaza Premium lounge at the other end of the terminal. This is a far smaller lounge – perhaps 20% of the size – but on my last visit the food was far better and it has a lot more life.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (April 2021)
As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:
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.
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 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
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.