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See inside the new British Airways lounge at Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport

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British Airways has re-opened its airport lounge in Johannesburg with a new look.

In May we announced that the British Airways lounges at Johannesburg were closing for complete refurbishment. It is one of the first international lounges to get the new lounge concept BA first revealed in 2018 and which, in all fairness, is really very classy.

The refurbishment follows the same vein as the recent re-fits in Aberdeen, Rome and San Francisco. It’s best not to mention the sterile new JFK lounges which re-opened over the Summer and, unfortunately, do not follow the same design concept.

The Johannesburg lounge covers 880 square meters, making it a little larger than the recently re-opened San Francisco lounge. There is space for 247 passengers in a range of ‘zoned areas’. It features the now-standard bar that is in all of the new lounges:

British Airways flies two A380s to Johannesburg every day, with each one carrying up to 111 Club World and First passengers with lounge entitlement before you factor in those travelling with BA Gold or Silver status, or oneworld equivalent, in other classes. Luckily the flights are offset by two hours so hopefully it is not too crowded unless one flight is delayed!

British Airways Johannesburg Lounge


British Airways Johannesburg Lounge

Instead of having separate First and Club lounges, British Airways appears to be moving to a single-lounge concept in which facilities are shared with the exception of a ’boutique dining area’ that is exclusively for those travelling in First. Gold card holders do not get access.

British Airways Johannesburg Lounge first dining

This is probably not a bad idea given the size of the First cabins, although it depends on the execution. If the lounge as a whole is more first than business it is clearly an upgrade. If it is more business than first then it is clearly a downgrade for Gold card holders.

Those not travelling in First get access to the usual buffet:

British Airways Johannesburg Lounge buffet

This is (I think) the first time the press office has released an image of the bathrooms in a new lounge, which look good:

British Airways Johannesburg Lounge bathrooms


The photos make it hard to get a sense of the space – it feels like the lounge is several quite separate ‘rooms’ that all connect. If so, this may have the effect of breaking up the space and giving it a cosier feel.

Regardless, the new lounge concept is very good and often a genuine step up from what was offered before.  Johannesburg is lucky to be one of the first to see it.

The next lounge to have a makeover will be Geneva which is scheduled to re-open before year end. I expect we will see more lounges undergo refurbishment in 2020, although it is not clear if and when the Heathrow Terminal 5 facilities will feature the new concept.

British Airways BA Amex American Express

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As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards. Both have increased sign-up bonuses until 2nd November 2021:

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You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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Comments (30)

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    Lounge related question if I may? We are flying ex T3 LHR on a Saturday morning in a few weeks. I’d prefer the Aspire full English but we can pre book the Number 1 with our PP for a fiver each. Not flown ex T3 using Priority Pass before so wondering if we’d likely be turned away without prebooking?

    • Shoestring says:

      Saturday morning – definitely book No1 ahead and preferably more than a few days ahead

      Club Aspire has also turned me away, they’re both generally full up/ pre-booked at even moderately busy times

      Have a look yourself by putting in a few dummy bookings for No1 for next weekend – which reminds me, must book our Xmas No1s!

  • TravelBunny says:

    I was at the new lounge in Johannesburg on Friday. It is indeed quite plush with a good bar and the food on offer was superb – imaginative salad platters, hot food, cold cuts not the usual BA Galleries canteen fare. The bathrooms are lovely. My only criticism is that it was extremely busy so I hope they can keep up with the inevitable wear and tear. Also the lounge areas feel a bit oppressive due to the low ceilings and no windows. Staff very efficient and helpful.

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