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.)
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:
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’.
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.
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