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British Airways has permanently closed its Elemis lounge spas

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British Airways has confirmed that it will not be re-opening the Elemis spas in its airport lounges.

The spas have been closed for the last year but there was no sign that the airline would be removing them completely.

British Airways said in a statement:

British Airways closing Elemis lounge spa

“We’re proud to work with Elemis, a brand our customers love, and we continue to provide their products on board our flights. Our Elemis lounge travel spas have remained closed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and we have decided that they will not be reopening. Over the coming months we will be reviewing new propositions to support our customers’ health and wellbeing pre-flight.”

Elemis has had the contract to operate the lounge spas since 2007, when it took over from Molton Brown.

Where were the Elemis spas and who could use them?

Elemis spas were found at London Heathrow and New York JFK airports in the following locations:


  • Terminal 5A South lounge
  • Terminal 5B lounge
  • Terminal 5 arrivals lounge
  • Terminal 3 departure lounge

New York JFK:

  • Terminal 7 lounge

If you were flying on a First or business class ticket, you were entitled to a free 15 minute treatment. They were also available for Executive Club Gold members who were flying long haul.

At Heathrow Terminal 3 and JFK Terminal 7, the complimentary treatments were only for travellers on British Airways operated flights and not oneworld partners.

Is this really a great loss?

I am in two minds about this.

Let’s be clear. It was virtually impossible to get a treatment slot if you were flying in Club World or in the lounge as an Executive Club Gold member. Anyone travelling in First could pre-book, which left very few slots remaining. Unless you were facing a 4-5 hour lounge layover and put your name down on arrival you were unlikely to get in.

The treatments were also – as they were 15 minute slots – rather perfunctory.

The situation is so bad that I have thought numerous times over the years that BA could have been pulled up for false advertising. It liked to promote the spas as part of the Club World experience, but the percentage of Club World travellers on any particular day who could get a slot must have been low single digits.

That said …. it did add a halo to the British Airways lounge operation. BA has a very simple lounge strategy – it spends a lot of money on building them, and then tries to run them on the skimpiest of budgets. The state of the showers in Terminal 5 has been a hot topic for many years. The cost of running the operation would have been relatively modest – no more than the cost of running a typical small town hairdresser.

British Airways to close Elemis lounge spa

British Airways is simply following the trend by closing spas

When I were a lad …. flying Virgin Atlantic down to South Africa whilst working on toll road financings, it still had the in-flight massage service. A qualified masseur was part of the cabin crew and you could make an appointment for a massage during the flight.

Even when that service ended, Virgin Atlantic retained a decent selection of free and paid-for treatments in its lounges. The spa still exists at Heathrow Terminal 3 but virtually nothing is free these days. The closure of the spa in Virgin’s Heathrow arrivals lounge was announced in August 2019.

Etihad also turned the free Six Senses spa in Heathrow Terminal 4 into a paid facility, before deciding to close it entirely.

Are paid-for lounge spas the best way forward?

And yet …. are paid-for spa services really a bad idea? When we flew on Etihad 18 months ago, my wife paid for two treatments in the Abu Dhabi business class lounge. As she saw it, the benefit was the convenience. She was hugely busy and appreciated the ability to make the most of a couple of hours of lounge downtime. The fact that she had to pay was totally immaterial to her.

On the two occasions that I have had haircuts in the Virgin Atlantic lounge at Heathrow, it is something that I would have been happy to pay for. It was more convenient than having to make time for it during the work day.

If BA had decided to turn it into a paid facility, but increased the range and quality of treatments and allowed proper pre-booking, it could have turned it into a selling point. Arguably it would be better than the current situation where people – especially first-time Club World flyers – turned up in the lounge expecting a treatment and were disappointed to be turned away.

I wonder what Akbar Al-Baker, the Qatar Airways CEO, has to say. Last week he declared that British Airways – in which his business is a 25% shareholder – was a ‘2 out of 10 airline’. However, he declared that he had confidence in the new BA CEO Sean Doyle:

“He’s a very good leader. He has my confidence … British Airways will come back to its old glory.”

OK Akbar …..


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Comments (62)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • chabuddy geezy says:

    I managed to get a treatment a couple of times, they key was to use the spa in the B lounge as it was a lot less busy.

    • Alan says:

      Same, B lounge much easier and I found the upside of a domestic connection was generally arriving with enough time before the flight to get something booked.

  • Jill (Kinkell) says:

    No loss getting rid of them. Perfunctory, and not very pleasant or relaxing. Last few trips didn’t even bother booking. However, decent loos and showers would be a massive improvement with a total refurb of the lounges and CCR. …. such uncomfortable sagging seats .

    • Lady London says:

      Almost impossible to get an appointment as they were ‘full’. And yet so many times when I had tried to get an appointment there was no sign of any therapist working nor any other client there, at all. Or at most one therapist. And as you say @Jill K the treatments were perfunctory.

  • Johnny5a says:

    Years ago I had no trouble on a monthly basis getting an appointment for the spa though I arrived in T5 at 7am for a 2pm flight. Why so early? I was able to get 1/2 days work in and not get stuck in traffic on the M4.

    Later when travelling for leisure purposes and arriving at a sensible 2-3 hours before flight, impossible for a booking and always offered the “chair” LOL

  • Daz says:

    Can’t say it will a loss, my wife used it once and thought it was absolute rubbish, the woman working there was more interested in her nails and phone that providing a service to flyers.

  • Scott says:

    Another enhancement of the BA premium product… sigh. We usually managed to get appointments on our long haul trips and I really enjoyed it as a perk of travelling with BA. I agree with others though that the perception was that only about 30% of available capacity was staffed hence why walk-in slots were difficult to find. And the treatments available in Qantas First at Sydney and Melbourne were substantially better, as was the offering from Emirates in Dubai. Wasn’t massively impressed with Cathay’s spa treatments in Hong Kong but their lounges and lounge catering were much better than BA’s so I was willing to overlook… Overall this is another vote for travelling on OneWorld partners for paid F or J.

  • AJA says:

    I never used the spa so won’t miss it. I do hope they refurbish the toilets though and introduce urinals in the male toilets. Having to queue to use a toilet when all I need is a pee is always annoying.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Worst lounge toilets I have ever seen. Whoever, spec’s and agreed to that standard should have been let go immediately.

      I don’t even understand why you have individual washrooms but make them male/female.

  • Alex W says:

    I found if you got to the airport at least 3 hours before your flight and went straight to the spa to book a treatment, there was a decent chance they could squeeze you in just before legging it to the gate. However the stress of it all outweighed the benefit from a 15 minute massage!
    I would be happy to pay for a hair cut in the lounge if it was around the £10 mark.

    • Chris K says:

      Maybe I’m weird but after I get my hair cut the first thing I want to do is completely remove any trace of cut hair and a full change of clothes. I can’t imagine getting on a flight afterwards while itchy with hair stuck in my collar.

      In fact I have a special t-shirt for getting my hair cut in, because I always find remnants of itchiness in the collar even after washing it.

  • VINZ says:

    I used them a couple of times. Horrible. It was a 15-minute treatment each time and they tried to sell you even the chair you were sitting on. I possibly left even more stressed than when I arrived…

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