This is our review of the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow T3.
This is the second review in our recent lounge safari of oneworld lounges at Heathrow Terminal 3. You can see my review of the British Airways Galleries Club lounge in Terminal 3 here.
There is no Concorde Room at Heathrow T3, so the Galleries First lounge is the best that British Airways has to offer. That said this is no huge loss, with no long haul BA flights scheduled from Terminal 3 at present.
How to access the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3
You do not need to be flying British Airways to access the Galleries First lounge, although you can find the list of BA T3 flights here. The only requirement is that you are flying on a oneworld carrier (such as Finnair, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific or Qantas), either on a same-day First Class ticket or with the relevant status.
That means anyone with oneworld Emerald status (ie. British Airways Executive Club Gold) can access the lounge, even if you are flying on a hand-baggage-only economy flight.
Of course, the same rules meant I also had access to the Cathay Pacific and Qantas lounges. Those reviews will follow in the coming days.
How to find the Galleries First lounge
Terminal 3 uses an alphabetic labelling system for the nine lounges that are available. Both the Galleries Club and Galleries First lounges are designated as ‘Lounge F’ when you exit security.
(Just to be confusing, the No1 Lounge is also considered as ‘Lounge F’ for signage purposes as it is adjacent to the BA lounges.)
Lounge F is situated between the main terminal concourse and shops and gates 13-22. It is just around the corner from the Qantas and Cathay Pacific lounges as well as the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (review here).
Inside the BA Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3
Once you have found Lounge F you walk all the way down the corridor:
Directly in front of you is the Galleries Club reception whilst immediately to your left is the entrance to Galleries First.
As you can see, the Galleries First lounge is currently undergoing some light renovation and is partly closed, so access is via a separate, temporary side door. The champagne bar is also closed.
The First lounge is slightly smaller than the Club lounge and a bit more of a warren. The central area is made up of casual seating:
…. as well as dining tables and a bar along the window:
Tucked away in the corner is the buffet area, although this is currently sparsely populated due to the new in-app ordering system:
My favourite part of the lounge is a small room behind the bar with booth-style seats and two large windows looking out across the airfield:
This space is incredibly bright and warm, with the low winter sun shining in. I’m not the only one who loves this spot: whilst the rest of the lounge was virtually empty, there were several other guests in this area.
The lounge also features a small children’s play area:
…. plus a self-serve Union coffee station:
Food and drink at the Galleries First lounge in Heathrow T3
As mentioned above, British Airways is still operating its in-app ordering system for food rather than reinstating the buffet. Unlike in the Club lounge alcohol and other soft drinks are also available to order, so you really don’t need to leave your seat.
In my opinion, this is an upgrade. To access the menu you scan the QR code that has been rather unclassily stuck to the middle of each table.
Despite being a First Class lounge the food offering is still exceptionally meagre, with only a few upgrades from the Club lounge. You can’t even order a full English breakfast. You can choose from:
- Bacon and hash brown roll
- Scrambled eggs on toast
- Kipper and scrambled eggs
- American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup
- Baked beans on toast
- Cereals, yoghurt and fruit
For the rest of the day, you can expect:
- Afternoon tea (some sandwiches and a slice of cake)
- Sri Lankan chicken and potato curry
- Mixed bean tagine
- Pasta Bolognese
- Selection of sandwiches
- Plus some soup and salads
In this case, the only real difference between Club and First catering is the addition of “traditional sandwiches” served with cake or crisps. Not exactly awe-inspiring.
I have a soft spot for the bacon roll so I did have that, although I saved most of my appetite for the vastly superior dining in the Qantas and Cathay Pacific lounges. The roll seems to have grown in size since I last had it, but I do wish the bacon was a bit fresher:
When it comes to champagne the Canard Duchene Blanc de Blanc is on offer. The remaining alcohol selection is pretty poor too, with no real premium spirits. Gordon’s and Tanqueray are your choice of gin and the same Red and Black label Johnnie Walker you can find in the Club lounge.
Showers are shared between the Galleries Club and First lounges. You can pre-book a slot via the same QR code menu you use to order food.
To access them you need to walk back outside the reception area. An attendant will assign you a shower.
The showers themselves are nothing to write home about:
Toiletries are provided by Elemis:
It all feels a bit industrial and prison-like. The toilets and showers have always been the weakest link at BA’s Heathrow lounges and it’s no different here.
Should you use the BA Galleries First lounge?
There is very little to set the First lounge apart from the Club lounge. With the exception of a few additional (paltry) dishes to choose from and a marginally better champagne everything remains virtually identical.
If anything, I prefer the openness and lightness of the Club lounge, which has much more natural light and is less of a maze.
BA must be slightly embarrassed to call this a First Class lounge given what’s on offer elsewhere in the terminal, and you would be foolish to come here instead of heading to the vastly superior Cathay Pacific First Class lounge or even the Qantas London Lounge.
There is literally nothing in the BA Galleries First lounge that those two don’t do better, as my reviews over the next few days will show.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (December 2023)
Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK 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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £24. 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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £24 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.