On Tuesday, the Plaza Premium Arrivals lounge in Heathrow T3 joined the Priority Pass lounge card program.
You can see the lounge on the Priority Pass website here, although oddly it is not marked as an arrivals lounge. The giveaway is that the location is given as ‘by Bus Stop 17 and 18’!
This is very good news because options for freshening up after a long flight are limited at Terminal 3:
Virgin Atlantic and Delta have their Revivals Lounge
American Airlines has its Arrivals facility in the terminal but even this has slightly convoluted access rules – it is not open to oneworld Sapphire / British Airways Executive Club Silver members who are travelling in Economy. Qantas First and Business Class passengers are also banned.
The only other option at Heathrow Terminal 3, and the only ‘pay to enter’ lounge, is the Plaza Premium arrivals lounge. Even Emirates, with its six daily A380s to Heathrow, doesn’t have a proper arrivals lounge with showers.
Where is the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge in Terminal 3?
Anika reviewed the lounge when it first opened in 2017. It is situated landside, opposite the bus stop (you need to walk out of the terminal). It is open from 05:30 to 14:00 daily, the peak arrivals time at Terminal 3.
This used to be the Delta arrivals lounge which became surplus to requirements when Delta began to share facililities with Virgin Atlantic.
The lounge itself is fairly small, although it does have a variety of seating areas and amenities, such as magazines and a continental breakfast buffet. Plaza Premium decided to keep the layout and some of the decorative features after it took it over from Delta, which is why it does not have the look or, frankly, style of the other Plaza Premium lounges at Heathrow.
The key selling point is clearly the 11 showers:
We have never been in this lounge at peak time so it is hard to comment how busy the lounge is. The decision to join Priority Pass suggests that it has historically been under-utilised.
How much does it cost?
The Plaza Premium Arrivals lounge doesn’t come cheap if you pay cash. A 30 minute shower sets you back £21, whilst a two hour lounge visit is £42.
You can book cash visits on this page of the Plaza Premium website.
Until now, the best work around has been with an American Express Platinum Card. The Platinum Card gets you free access into all of Plaza Premium’s Heathrow lounges, and indeed all Plaza Premium lounge globally. This is a separate benefit to your Priority Pass lounge benefit, and indeed some Plaza Premium lounges – including Heathrow Terminal 5 – are not in Priority Pass.
The new partnership with Priority Pass (you can buy one here) lets you access the lounge for free. The easiest way to get a free Priority Pass is with American Express Platinum. A cardholder gets TWO Priority Pass cards, each of which admits a free guest, so a family of four is covered. The maximum stay time in Plaza Premium T3 is three hours, which if you were paying out of pocket for would set you back some £50!
The lounge can also be accessed with the free Lounge Club passes given out with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. Amex Gold is free for the first year and you receive two airport lounge passes for signing up, with another two each year when you renew.
The only downside is that using your Priority Pass or Lounge Club card only gets you access to the lounge and not the showers.
As of last week, Plaza Premium is not offering shower facilities to any Priority Pass cardholders at Heathrow. You now need to pay a cash supplement for this.
Our main review article on the Priority Pass lounge club card is here if you don’t know anything about it.
Anyone arriving in Heathrow T3 with a Priority Pass now has a decent option to freshen up with the addition of the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge. Whilst the additional fee to use the showers is not ideal, there is at least an option now.
It isn’t clear yet if you will be asked to provide a boarding pass on entry. The Plaza Premium Arrivals lounge in Terminal 2 does this at peak times to stop people waiting for arriving passengers getting in. I have never had such an issue at the Terminal 4 Arrivals lounge, however, which is up on the mezzanine level. The Terminal 3 Arrivals lounge is equally tucked away – you need to walk out of the terminal to get to it – so they may not be too concerned.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (January 2023)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit 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.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get 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.