EXCLUSIVE: New Heathrow T4 Priority Pass lounge opens as El Al throws in the towel

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Heathrow Terminal 4 has got a ‘new’ airport lounge, accessible with a Priority Pass.

El Al has decided that it no longer wants to run its own facility at Heathrow.  The impressive King David Lounge, which was managed by Plaza Premium, has been handed over to start-up lounge group ART & LOUNGE in the last few days.  El Al has experience of ART & LOUNGE as the airline uses their only other lounge at New York Newark.

The lounge only opened in May 2016, following El Al’s transfer to Terminal 4 after the closure of Terminal 1.  At 340 square metres, it featured business and first class zones, free wifi, charging points, and three kosher food counters.

The lounge is located by Gate 2.  It was only open from 3.5 hours before each El Al departure.

Strangely, there has been absolutely no publicity about the switch at all.  This article is the first time it has been mentioned anywhere in the travel press.  Not even a press release, yet alone a press launch.  The El Al website still claims that the King David Lounge is up and running.

Art & Lounge Heathrow Terminal 4 ex El Al King David lounge

Who is ‘ART & LOUNGE’?

According to its website:

“ART & LOUNGE is an international airport hospitality company. Our flagship lounge is located at Newark Liberty International Airport just outside of New York City. London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 4 is being added on July 1, 2019. Soon lounges will open in Paris and other major cities around the world. It is not a business lounge, it is not a gallery, it is a “bubble” allowing a high-end captive audience to experience an unconventional story, through art.

Every aspect of our hospitality is rooted in our commitment to you as a traveler. While we pamper you with the premium class experience you expect, we also aim to delight your mind and soul with thoughtfully displayed art throughout, inviting music and publications from around the world, adding a new dimension to your journey. All of our amenities are complimentary to our guests.

ART & LOUNGE, a uniquely designed VIP lounge takes travelers on an inspiring journey, long before they board their flights (and leaves an impression long after they’ve landed). An innovative concept that uses a somewhat “obvious” space more creatively, the new generation airport lounge by ART & LOUNGE.”

Art & Lounge Heathrow Terminal 4 ex El Al King David lounge

Will there be First and Business Class sections?

ART & LOUNGE has decided to retain the First Class zone from the El Al lounge.  It will offer:

“added comfort, upgrade food items and premium liquor, a quiet atmosphere for a limited number of guests.”

What does it cost to enter the lounge?

Standard entry is £25.  Access to the First Class area costs £35.

What are the opening hours?

Weirdly, it is sticking to the old El Al opening hours:

06:00 – 11:00

15:00 – 18:00

It is difficult to see how it is going to pick up much third party business with such restrictive timings.

Art & Lounge Heathrow Terminal 4 ex El Al King David lounge

Can I enter with my lounge club card?

Yes.  ART & LOUNGE accepts Priority Pass (free with American Express Platinum, or buy one here), Lounge Club (two free passes with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, which is free for a year), LoungeKey and DragonPass.

Is the lounge still kosher?

I don’t know.  I would imagine that El Al has signed a deal with ART & LOUNGE to send all of its premium and status customers to the lounge, in which case some or all of the food will remain kosher.  The New York Newark ART & LOUNGE lounge, used by El Al, has a large kosher offering.

Art & Lounge Heathrow Terminal 4 ex El Al King David lounge

Why has El Al walked away from running its own lounge?

We can only surmise …… but, as I have said before on HFP, Terminal 4 is probably the most ‘over lounged’ airport terminal in the world.

There are only around 50 flights per day, including a lot of short haul departures, yet you have:

These are ALL excellent facilities.  I would happily spend a couple of hours in any of them.  There simply are not enough premium passengers to go around, however.  You could easily close two of these spaces without causing major overcrowding elsewhere.

El Al is also about to come under strong pressure at Heathrow.  Virgin Atlantic is launching services to Tel Aviv and British Airways is introducing an A350 with Club Suite.  easyJet and Wizz Air already provide low cost competition out of Luton.

Etihad has already handed over its lounge to No 1 Lounges, under ‘The House’ brand.  At least one of the other airline lounges above is, I know, trying to attract additional airline tenants.

What are my Priority Pass options now in Terminal 4?

You’re spoilt for choice between the SkyTeam lounge, Plaza Premium and ART & LOUNGE.

Lounge Club cardholders cannot access SkyTeam but can use the other two lounges.

Art & Lounge Heathrow Terminal 4 ex El Al King David lounge

Regular readers will know that I have been in EVERY departure lounge at Heathrow …. except one.  The El Al King David Lounge.  Now that ART & LOUNGE has taken it over, I can pop in and complete my collection.  (I don’t think I get any sort of prize!)

The Art & Lounge website is here if you want to find out more.

Getting airport lounge access via a UK credit card

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access – including the new ART & LOUNGE in Heathrow Terminal 4 – via a credit or charge card:

The Platinum Card from American Express

Two free Priority Pass cards (one for you, one for your supplementary Platinum cardholder, each admitting two – so a family of four gets in free) giving access to every lounge in the Priority Pass network – search it here.  You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

You get a Lounge Club card loaded with two free visits to any Lounge Club network lounge – see the list here.  The list is slightly shorter than the Priority Pass list, but not by much.  Additional visits are charged at £20 per person.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  No annual fee in Year 1.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

You get a free LoungeKey card allowing you access to any property in the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although regular travellers will find it cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card (adults only, of course).  The card has an annual 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.

Bits: Amex removing the Priority Pass restaurant benefit, tonight is HFP Summer Party night!
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Comments

  1. Lady London says:

    Will the lounge be better than the pretentious marketing blurb?

    Sounds like El Al just needed to get a contract off their books and found a friendly partner to do a leaseback/rental arrangement.

    They had better keep the kosher food though.

    • Aston says:

      That arty-farty pretentious description immediately puts me off the place.
      Do they think visitors will stand in front of the buffet with a far away thoughtful expression, rubbing their beards whilst whispering “hmmmm but what does it mean?”

      • Perhaps ‘art and lounge’ means funky looking but uncomfortable or/and impractical furniture?

  2. Froggitt says:

    Terminal 4 used to host pretty much all BA’s long haul business. Why is it now just 50 flights a day? Unless the plan is to make it a luxury terminal like Dubai, and get out of the bucket and spade/mass market business.

    • JamesLHR says:

      T5 is BA/Iberia
      T3 is oneworld designated
      T2 is Star Alliance designated
      T4 is Skyteam and unaligned “at risk” airlines

      Peppered about are a few quirks including DL in T3, MH/QR in T4 and MEA in T3.

      T4 is the least preferred terminal. Compared to the others, it doesn’t receive anywhere near the same invested from Heathrow. Additionally, operationally it has issues such as taxiing across a live runway to get to it etc.

      • Doug M says:

        Good informative post, thank you. If the expansion goes ahead, T4 will be even worse positioned right? Expansion North West, T4 South East, or is my geography skewed.

        • JamesLHR says:

          Lots of different aspects of expansion going on.

          Master plan is 3rd runway and “T6” which would sit between the new runway and existing northern runway.

          Smaller expansion plans exist to increase capacity of use in T3 and T5 for the current term.

          There is also the master plan expansion of T2A to encompass the majority of the footprint of T1. At this point T3 is demolished remote piers like T2B and T5B/C to be in its place.

          T4 is a grey question mark. In original plans it was to be demolished, but it’s life expectancy is being extended and extended.

          Personally at some point the hangers at the east (not all as some are listed) really should be moved across onto the T4 site and another pier built there would make good common sense, but then this is Heathrow!

      • Andrew says:

        I’m not sure I would agree that T3 is One World
        designated – major players including Emirates, Delta and Virgin fly out of T3.

      • James, do you know which lounge Kuwait Airlines uses at Heathrow? Cheers.

    • Lady London says:

      Basically it’s customary for the ‘home’ airline to be first into the newest terminal. When T4 was new then you are correct T4 was BA’s (though not as exclusively as T5 is now BA’s. At that time, broadly speaking T1 was BA shorthaul possibly with EI (I’ve forgotten) T2 non BA shorthaul and widely regarded as the worst terminal, and T 3 was primarily non BA longhaul.

      When T6 is built BA will be first in there I am sure.

  3. “there has been absolutely no publicity about the switch at all. This article is the first time it has been mentioned anywhere in the travel press”.

    This claim seems a little off, Ground Handling International magazine covered the move last month: http://magazine.groundhandling.com/news/art-lounge-opens-lounge-in-heathrow-airport-for-el-al/

  4. Harry says:

    El Al is a very poor airline that is struggling to find its place in the real world. It has long traded on a curious mix of “Jewish pride” and blackmail “we have the best security” to keep customers even though it is overpriced and very under serviced. Its staff are arrogant and unpleasant, yes a generalization there are of course a few “bad” apples who actually treat customers well, and its business offering is way below other European and Middle East airlines. This is obviously a cost-cutting measure. You write that “El Al is also about to come under strong pressure at Heathrow. Virgin Atlantic is launching services to Tel Aviv and British Airways is introducing an A350 with Club Suite. easyJet and Wizz Air already provide low cost competition out of Luton.” Surely that is exactly the time to look after your premium customers not toss them to the wind of a generic lounge. The BA product to Tel Aviv is far superior to El Al and that is even without the exciting looking new A350 Club Suite. The Virgin Upper Class product from New York to London is much better than the new LY Dreamliner Business seat and service. The BA lounges at Heathrow have kosher food offerings, as does the Virgin lounge and the quality of the Hermolis sourced Kosher meals in BA, Economy, Club and First are far superior to the EL Al kosher meals. As AA has shown, saving a few bucks is a simple thing to do but is often a very wrong way to go.

    • I don’t know if LY can be or wants to be compared to the other Middle East airlines.

      • Harry says:

        No, John LY relies on a niche spot to, as I said, trade on a curious mix of “Jewish pride” and blackmail “we have the best security”, to keep customers. Even though it is a slight hassle involving an extra flight, you would be surprised how many Jewish Israeli passengers use Royal Jordanian flying TLV-AMM and then on to London and New York. The service, including high-quality kosher meals, beats LY any day. LY might not want to be compared but it certainly is. The Hebrew welcome greeting invariably given to obviously Jewish Israeli passengers in the RJ lounge is always welcome!

  5. Shoestring says:

    Sounds like https://rewardflightfinder.com has got the BA peak/ off peak calendar as well 🙂

    Is HfP going to publish it?

  6. It’ll be interesting to see who the AMS & CDG to BHX slots will appeal to so definitely one to watch.

  7. Ophir says:

    The small Israeli airline Arkia (IZ) also flies regularly to STN using the first A321Neo to be delivered.

  8. Saw this is the PP app yesterday as I’ll be in T4 next week. Have to say it does not look great from the photos. I’ll either stick with the Plaza Premium lounge like last time or check out the SkyTeam lounge for a change.

  9. Holly says:

    I’m now flying out of T4 to get to Abu Dhabi tomorrow after BA cancelled their daily flights from 4-9th July and moved me to Etihad. I’m not flying in business so might use my lounge club card to pay a visit here tomorrow, or am I better sticking to plaza premium?

  10. Has anyone been to the Newark lounge? I’m there tomorrow and was wondering if it’s a good option vs the VA Clubhouse (for a change).

    • Harry says:

      Not a good option even for a change! The Virgin Clubhouse is far superior in every way. As I only eat Kosher, I have not tried the fine dining meal service, but it looks classy. The Kosher options are also good by the way with a choice of meals available, like in the AA T7 lounge. The food offerings in the Art&Lounge are meager and poor quality. The furniture is dated. Take a look at the Yelp ratings for more info about just why to avoid it. Stick to Virgin!

  11. Roger says:

    OT-

    I have some “free time”.
    How best to utilise this time as points and miles enthusiast?
    The goal would be to achieve OW status. home airport is LHR.
    Only available time is this week and next week though.

    Any pointers welcome

    • Virtually impossible at short notice, unfortunately, because you won’t get cheap flights at short notice with the schools breaking up this week (or last week in some cases). The usual thing to do would have been a few cheap trips to Europe to 160 tier point CE destinations.

      You MIGHT find that Qatar has some deals from Stockholm / Oslo etc to Asia which would get you 560 tier points in Business, although even those guys are unlikely to be offering great deals at short notice. They’d rather sell one ticket for £10k to a banker who has to go than 5 at £1.5k to short notice status runners.

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