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Who won ‘Best UK Airport Lounge (Airline)’ at the 2019 Head for Points Awards?

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Over Christmas and New Year, we are unveiling the winners of the inaugural Head for Points Travel & Loyalty Awards.  Today is Day 4, and we are moving into the more niche categories – which in many ways are more interesting.  Today we are looking at which is the best airline-run airport lounge in the UK?

The Head for Points Travel & Loyalty Awards 2019 are a great opportunity to recognise the cream of the crop when it comes to UK premium business and leisure travel. A lot of the areas we are covering, such as airport lounges and travel credit cards, are ignored by other awards because they are too niche – but for our readers, they are very important and appreciated.

Over 4,500 HFP readers voted over three weeks in November. There were 12 categories in total. As well as giving an award to each category winner, we are also giving out a number of ‘Editor’s Choice’ awards for products and services which we personally admire.

Each winner will receive a trophy which we will be presenting at a special dinner in January. You can catch up with all of the winners we have announced to date by clicking here.

What is the best UK Airport Lounge

Today we are announcing the winner of ‘best UK airport lounge run by an airline’. And the winner is….

Cathay Pacific

…… for their lounges in Heathrow Terminal 3.

Cathay Pacific’s Business and First Class lounges at Heathrow T3 narrowly beat the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and Qantas lounge, also both in T3, as well as the United Club in Terminal 2 and the Qatar Airways Premium lounge in Terminal 4. The only non-Heathrow lounge to make our original shortlist was the British Airways Business Class lounge in Gatwick South.  (The British Airways lounges at Heathrow did not make the shortlist, since we felt there were far better candidates.)

Some readers disagreed with our shortlist and submitted their own choices under the ‘Other’ category.  The various Emirates lounges were nominated multiple times, as was the Singapore Airlines lounge in Heathrow Terminal 2.  Surprisingly (to us at least), the BA lounge in Newcastle was also mentioned a lot.  The most popular ‘write in’ entry, however, was the British Airways Concorde Room in Heathrow Terminal 5, which is for ticketed First Class passengers only.

What is the best UK airport lounge?

If you have read HFP for a long time you may not be surprised that Cathay Pacific won this award.

We have always sung their praises, which is why there is no ‘Editor’s Choice’ award in this category.  I plugged the Cathay lounges in this article in the Daily Mail the other week, for example.

Frankly, it is just weird to look into the massively underwhelming British Airways lounge in Terminal 3 and see how busy it is.  What are these people doing?!  Their ignorance leads to our bliss, however ….. and of course if they all started using the Cathay Pacific lounges then they would rapidly head downhill!

What is the best UK airport lounge?

Cathay Pacific maintains an excellent reputation for its lounges which is helped by its exceptional ‘home’ lounges in Hong Kong – you can see a review of The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong here and of The Wing First Class Lounge here.

The Terminal 3 lounge reopened in late 2016 after a refurbishment led by designer Ilse Crawford.  The opening of the new Terminal 2 had freed up some space, allowing Cathay to expand into the old Singapore Airlines lounge.

Heathrow is the only airport outside Hong Kong where Cathay Pacific has a dedicated First Class section.  If you have a British Airways Executive Club Gold card you can use this area even if you’re flying to Barcelona on a £29 BA economy ticket!

Here you will find waitered a la carte dining. In the business class lounge you have access to an excellent noodle bar in addition to a small buffet.  The real feature, however, is the fantastic view you get of the apron and the Northern runway.

It includes a number of Cathay’s ‘Solo’ seats, such as the one in the image below, giving you an uninterrupted (in all senses of the word) view over the airport.

What is the best UK airport lounge?

You also have access to some very well appointed showers (eight, accessible by both Business and First Class lounge users) and bathrooms stocked with Aesop toiletries.

What you need to remember about the Cathay Pacific lounges is that they didn’t win your votes by being ‘flash’.  There isn’t free-pour Dom Perignon.  You can’t order caviar and blinis in the First Class restaurant.  What you DO get is a genuine commitment to quality and excellence across your entire lounge experience.

What is the best UK airport lounge?

If you are keen to give it a try, this article from September lists British Airways services flying from Heathrow Terminal 3.  You will need to have British Airways Silver or Gold status, or oneworld equivalent, or be flying in Club Europe, Club World or First Class, to access the Cathay Pacific lounges.  You can also access them if flying on Finnair, Qantas, American Airlines or – of course – Cathay Pacific itself, which we also recommend in Business and First Class.

Congratultions to Cathay Pacific.  Tomorrow we will look at your votes for the UK’s best independent airport lounge.

Comments (118)

  • Prune says:

    O/T
    Has anyone received more than one lot of bonus points for the club card shell bonus?

  • Tom says:

    Hmm, how can the BA Business lounge at LGW be better than the BA First lounge which is right next to it?

    And how can it be better than the Concorde Room at LHR T5?

    • Rob says:

      Because we judge things relative to what they COULD be and SHOULD be. Concorde Room is a joke compared to, say, Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal. The Gatwick F lounge is a rubbish space compared to the Business lounge, and the fact that there is better quality Johnnie Walker on the shelf does not change that.

    • Jamie says:

      I would choose business over first in Gatwick (I’m gold and can access both)

  • Daniel Evans says:

    Travelled BA Club World from T3 > San Diego last week. I decided to use the Cathay lounge as heard it was better than the BA lounge.

    I loved the noodle bar – if you like Asian food this is the lounge for you. The champagne was also excellent. I don’t know what it was but far superior to BA champagne.

    The lounge itself was almost empty – I assume everyone was packed into the BA lounge, but how would they know as it’s not widely advertised that you can use any OneWorld lounge. I’m a seasoned traveller and I didn’t know this until recently.

    Great views of the runway as you mention.

    My only criticism would be of the self-service buffet was small and uninspiring.

    Coming back from LA in First so looking forward to trying out the Quantas first class lounge which I hear is one of the best in the USA.

    • Lyn says:

      Hope you enjoy the Qantas First lounge in LA. I’ve only been able to try it once and, while I didn’t find it as good as their First lounge in Melbourne, it is indeed very good.

  • Daniel Evans says:

    The BA lounge at Gatwick is great – best thing is the self-service champage from breakfast onwards. No having to make a special request a la Heathrow. They clearly know their market – leisure lushes.

    • Peter K says:

      I read that story earlier and thought that if their economy tickets cost £1300 each then they need to read HfP 😁

  • Tom says:

    Part of what makes a lounge great is how few people there are in it.

    So I will always choose, say, the LGW BA First lounge over the LGW BA Business lounge even if, on some technical grounds you can argue the business lounge is bigger or has better facilities.

    That said I am aware the kitchen is shared between the two, so how different can the food be?

    Also, better quality drinks matter to me, whereas the business/work facilities do not. It’s very subjective.

    As to the Concorde Room the issue here isn’t whether Lufthansa or Air France has a better F lounge. The issue is whether a BA Terraces lounge is better than the Concorde Room, and it is not.

  • andrew young says:

    At first I was annoyed that our regular flights to MIA and LAS were moved from T5 to T3. But now there there is an abundance of lounge choices there I’m happy as Larry.

    • SilverInSix says:

      Trust me, after your first #T3LoungeRun you’ll find yourself annoyed about any flight departing T5!

      Tbh it’s the CX and QF lounges you want as the rest pail in comparison. It’s a constant arguement within our team. I’m QF for the F level service in a combined J/F lounge whereas my fellow traveller normally needs prying out of the CX lounge and can’t get enough Dan-Dan Noodles
      ——————————————————————-

      Personally i was glad to see the BA Club Lounge at LGW get a mention. Imho it’s miles above any of the LHR club offerings and beats them on any given metric as far as I’m concerned.

  • Robert says:

    Good to see Newcastle BA lounge get a mention in the awards. Not surprised, as having recently used it I would say it comes close to CP at T3, slightly ahead of the BA T5 lounges.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks for the confirmation – having never been I wasn’t sure if it was an elaborate joke or not 🙂