British Airways to re-open three Heathrow business class lounges on Saturday

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British Airways has announced it is re-opening its lounges from Saturday 4th July.

This has been enabled by the easing of lockdown, which allows restaurants, pubs and cafes to re-open from providing they take measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

The first lounge to re-open will be the Galleries First and Galleries Club lounges at the southern end of Heathrow Terminal 5.  These are the lounges on the First Wing side of the building – ie. to the right as you walk in.

(EDIT: The initial BA press release said that only Galleries First would open and that all ticket holders would share this lounge.   During Friday, BA had a change of heart – perhaps prompted by the relaxed quarantine rules – and decided to open Galleries South too during the mornings, closing at 12.30.  We have updated this article to reflect the change.)

British Airways to re-open three Heathrow lounges on Saturday

It’s lounging, Jim, but not as we know it

As you might expect, British Airways is introducing some changes to how the lounges will operate.

Only the Galleries First, Galleries Club South and Arrivals lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5 will open on Saturday.  Galleries Club South is only open during the morning – from 12.30, all departing passengers will use Galleries First.

Automatic contactless lounge entry barriers will be installed from mid-July, reducing contact between customers and staff

You will be given a card to place on your seat when you leave, which will indicate to staff that cleaning is required. Seating areas and bathrooms will be sanitised after each use, and there will be a variety of sanitiser stations and distance markers around.

Food and drink, including alcohol, will be available via a new online ordering service called ‘Your Menu’. It works by scanning a QR code at your seat (single use paper menus are also available for those who cannot do so).  It will offer “separate morning and afternoon menus with a choice of hot and cold food or drinks which will be delivered directly to you.”

Showers will be available in the Arrivals lounge and will be cleaned after every use

The Elemis Spa will be closed

All newspapers and magazines have been removed

If you have a Gold card or are travelling in First, you will be pleased to know that the First Wing will also be open, to funnel you directly into the Galleries First lounge:

British Airways to re-open three Heathrow lounges on Saturday

What about the Concorde Room?

A separate area will be available for those travelling in First or with a Concorde Room card (which comes with the top sub-tier of Gold Guest List status). This will be situated on the terrace area of the First lounge, which will now be called the ‘Concorde Terrace’.

Conclusion

This announcement is roughly in line with what we expected when the government announced that restaurants, pubs and cafes could re-open from Saturday.

This seems to be a measured and sensible approach to the situation, striking a compromise between offering a premium experience and passenger safety. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some changes – such as the new online table service and automatic barriers – to remain after social distancing measures are lifted.

You can read the comprehensive FAQ about the lounges re-opening on the British Airways website here.

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Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    With so few toilets in the lounges are the best of times, I worry what the queue will be like if they are needing to clean between each use. And the card on the seat when you leave thing – presumably you kind of need to pick a seat and stay there for your entire stay rather than move around depending on your mood or if you’re working, then drinking, then eating. But it’s better than nothing and let’s hope all this isn’t in place for too many years.

    • Stoneman says:

      It is not exactly too onerous to expect you to stick to one seat.

  2. stevenhp1987 says:

    “Automatic contactless lounge entry barriers will be installed from mid-July” – If they’re using tickets to verify this, I wonder how this will work with guests?

    My wife is Gold and I’m a lowly Bronze…

    • Paul74 says:

      Yes I can’t see it working very smoothly!

    • marcw says:

      I believe the automatic barriers are meant to be, mainly, for single travellers.

    • riku2 says:

      it can be done. The SK lounge at ARN has automatic barriers and it handles guests too.

  3. Graeme2 says:

    Excellent news! Hopefully the First Wing will also open soon…

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      With most flights out of T5, this will make the two main Galleries lounges even worse than before.

      • Not true, there are far fewer flights operating.

        • Andrew says:

          And far fewer people on the ones that are going.

          • marcw says:

            And far far far far far less Business travellers… so less Silver/Gold around.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Good point, it’s just they are usually awful but agree also less Business passengers flying will make them better.

  4. I expect this lounge to have had a slight refurb. This would’ve been the perfect time to do so and I think they did.

    • Yepm..all the nice art will have been removed!

    • ChrisC says:

      I wouldn’t be so sure/

      These things take months to organise and can’t just be turned on and off in an instant.

      Plus who would have been allowed to have done the works? It would hardly come under the ‘esential works’ exemption that permitted for example some road and building works to take place.

      • Apparently all the fabric chairs have gone and replaced by wipe-down leather ones.

        Presumably the best of the artwork has gone too!

  5. riku2 says:

    [Showers will be available in the Arrivals lounge and will be cleaned after every use.]
    Is this new ? I would have hoped that they were cleaned after every use before – although I learned long ago to take advantage of the showers in the CX lounge instead of the plastic and mouldy showers in the BA arrivals lounge.

    • Showers should always be cleaned, although I imagine they are using different cleaning products at the moment.

  6. Simon Schus says:

    I’m interested about the Arrivals Lounges. Presumably there will be a period where very few people can reasonably use it due to quarantine requirements (until the traffic light system comes in which will open a few of those countries up but places like USA will still not be able to use it, less the exceptions like diplomats etc etc).

    I am coming in from USA next week and would love to have a shower before the long trek to my place of quarantine.

    • Simon Schus says:

      (FYI. I’m eligible to use them with BA. My concern is over the quarantine requirements even before July 10th changes. Arrivals is only for long hauls so the number of places is cut significantly when overlapping with the red quarantine list).

  7. TouristFlyer says:

    When these ‘air bridges’ get announced it maybe useful to see which countries will actually let brits in. I’ve seen japan/canada/ australia mentioned as places where you can travel from where you don’t have to quarantine in uk- but they aren’t letting foreigners in. Seems a mess

  8. Harry H says:

    Great to see the announcement and the offerings once in the lounge seem higher than most were expecting – assuming hot food and reasonable wines are on the menu.

    Disappointing that there is no opening of outstations, particularly domestic ones where mostly the same relaxations apply.

    Check the One-World website is code for “Don’t ask us”!

    • Paul74 says:

      I’ll be pleasantly surprised if the ordering system works as advertised but you never know. Might be worth ordering everything you’d like in your first order to allow for service being slow (not enough time for a second order to be delivered)…overall though, like you more than I was expecting and if it works, good.

      • Tariq says:

        Indeed if it works well then it’ll be an enhancement over the usual offering!

        • Bagoly says:

          Makes getting champagne no more onerous than wine.
          So not good for BA keeping costs down.
          Therefore won’t last post-vaccine?

  9. They’ve updated this by the way. Galleries south club lounge is open as well

    • Yes, weird – big change of plan since the press release at 1pm, but I was told by a BA employee early this morning that Galleries South was going to be included.

  10. Seems like a fairly sensible plan – can’t see me visiting them anytime in the next few months though – all the trips I would have had to London are now virtual meetings and no long haul travel planned for the foreseeable!

  11. Andrew says:

    Good to see that the First Wing is open, but that regular Fast Track remains closed – makes the Gold card have some value – with shared lounges and no priority boarding, at least some added value remains.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Looks like galleries will open through the peak hours and only shared outside of that

      Expect things to change quickly if holiday bookings increase.

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