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Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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This is our review of the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow T3.

This is part of our series of reviews of airport lounges across the UK.  You see all of the reviews here.

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.

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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.

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

(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:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

and

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

Directly in front of you is the Galleries Club reception whilst immediately to your left is the entrance to Galleries First.

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

and

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

…. as well as dining tables and a bar along the window:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

Tucked away in the corner is the buffet area, although this is currently sparsely populated due to the new in-app ordering system:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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.

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

The lounge also features a small children’s play area:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

…. plus a self-serve Union coffee station:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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

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:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

Toiletries are provided by Elemis:

Review: the British Airways Galleries First lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

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.


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (December 2022)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

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

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

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.

Comments (36)

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

  • Bembi says:

    Rob used to have a very useful details of which BA flights departed T3, has BA moved any flights to T3?

  • His Holyness says:

    BA loves a dry roll

  • meta says:

    Did they removed a separate First Dining Room area for F passengers? There used to be a small dining area at the end of the main walkway.

    • Andrew J says:

      That’s the area Rhys says he likes – it’s available to everyone who has access to the lounge.

      • meta says:

        Aha, I didn’t realise from the article. BA used to do a la carte dining there for F passengers similar to Concorde Room at T5.

        • John says:

          It’s still a la carte… The menu is now online

        • Andrew J says:

          It was a la carte before Covid, same menu as the T5 Galleries First Lounge – so not the finer dining that’s offered in Concorde. And you didn’t have to sit in there to have the a la carte.

          • meta says:

            I haven’t been there since maybe 2018, I guess I remember the menu being much better than what is outlined above with eggs benedict for breakfast for example which was brought to the table.

  • JK says:

    It’s a very miserable poor excuse for a lounge and BA clearly don’t care.

  • Deb20 says:

    For a period of time, this lounge used to have some amazing champagne cuvées like the Taittinger Recolte and Henriot Millésimé vintages, along with some unique growers champagne cuvées like the Jeepers rosé mentioned in a comment above.

    Most people didn’t appreciate them because they either aren’t well known or aren’t the bling champagne names that most people like, but I used to look forward to my weekly visits to the lounge for a glass or two before my flights.

    • JDB says:

      Fortunately, they still do offer, in the Concorde Room and on board in F, wines/champagnes of a calibre you simply don’t find with any other airline, even SQ, QR etc where they generally prefer the ‘big names’ vs quality. I’m not sure how BA sources them as I have sometimes looked them up (particularly white and red burgundy) with a view to buying them, but they are genuinely exclusive, difficult to find bottles. BA wine in Club however, is rarely worth a second glass but that still keeps them on a par with QR whose offering is otherwise much superior.

      • John says:

        Oh, I remember the incredibly long thread on FT regarding the quality of the wines in BA F and BA C.

        Botton line was it is most definitely of a calibre you simply don’t find with other airlines, as noone else is as cheap as BA. 😉

        • ChrisC says:

          There are some incredible wine snobs on the BA FT Board.

          They are so knowledeable they slammed a wine they hadn’t even tasted merely based on an erroneous report you could buy the wine at Morrisons for a fiver a bottle.

          Never mind that was for a 1/2 bottle and wasn’t even the same wine as BA were serving but came from the same vineyard.

          And those that had actually tasted it thought it was a great wine!

          • Rob says:

            Google the Jancis Robinson article about why she resigned as BA wine advisor.

          • ChrisC says:

            I found this

            https://www.headforpoints.com/2019/02/27/the-financial-times-on-british-airways-wine/

            All mention is of cost not quality.

            We’ve probbaly all had some awful expensive wine and some great cheap ones (my current favourite wine is a £4.50 Viognier from Aldi).

            To assume cheap = bad is the worst kind of wine snobbery. Why is that in blind tastings many of the wines and spirits sold by the likes of Aldi and Lidl beat the supposed better but more expensive ‘known name’ ones?

          • Rob says:

            An argument which might hold water if anyone except Jancis Robinson had written the piece.

            Feel free to check out Business Traveller’s annual Cellars In The Sky awards, professionally (and blindly) judged by wine professionals. I was a guest at the last ceremony (2019). BA sent along the most junior member of their PR team as insurance just in case they did actually win anything. Obviously they didn’t.

            It’s crap, bought in bulk via tenders based on little except headline price against a low quality threshold.

      • Lady London says:

        I think they are bin ends

  • Lady London says:

    I think they are bin ends

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

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