This is my review of the British Airways lounges at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal.
Five years after the lounge complex first opened, and two years after the entire South Terminal was closed due to the pandemic, British Airways is back at Gatwick South and with a new short haul operation flying alongside its long haul leisure routes.
Very little has changed in the lounges. The First Class lounge is open, before you ask, although I never really liked it and indeed spent yesterday in the main lounge.
If you are familiar with the Galleries lounges in Heathrow Terminal 5, the only radical thing is this:
…. although as it’s in the Kids Zone you will probably need to be accompanied by a small person in order to use it!
Getting to the British Airways lounges at Gatwick
…. is a faff, and the airport tries to make it even harder. When you come through security, there are escalators taking you down. Do not go down the escalators. It is a trick.
The escalators drop you in the duty free shop, through which you have to do a snake-like walk to reach the departure area. At this point you need to go back UP another escalator to get to the lounges. Don’t do it.
Instead, to your left immediately before the down escalators after security, is a passageway. Take it. You will realise that you were very close to the lounges all the time. That’s two minutes of drinking time saved.
You come out next to Club Aspire and My Lounge. You need to walk across to the other side of the mezzanine floor where a tiny corridor in between two shops leads you to the No1 Lounge, No1 Clubrooms and the BA lounges.
Whilst the No1 facilities are on the same level as the mezzanine, BA passengers then need to head down another corridor, take a lift and then go down yet another corridor. It is important that you leave the lounge in good time to get to your gate, which will take longer than it would in Terminal 5.
It wasn’t exactly busy on the first day of short haul operations with only four BA flights on top of the long haul ones. Here is the view looking down onto the main level, where the gates are, from the mezzanine:
A lot of shops hadn’t bothered to reopen although I assume more will do so as Easter approaches.
The British Airways Business Lounge at Gatwick
There are two reception desks as you enter. The First lounge is off to your left whilst the Business lounge is off to your right.
Let’s start with the far larger, and nicer, Business Lounge.
The ‘Galleries’ branding is not being used at Gatwick. I don’t know why as the furnishings are identical to other Galleries lounges.
The lounge is effectively a long thin space, with exceptional views over the tarmac from the left hand side (once you are half-way in) and the far end. There is also a mezzanine.
To break up the space, BA has installed a giant wine wall about half way down, roughly where the windows begin. Whilst the whole lounge was empty when I was there, this initial area before the wine wall has always been very quiet to the lack of natural light and the distance from the buffet – albeit that is less of an issue as the online ordering system has been retained.
This is followed by another little used area by a secondary coffee station:
If you want a cosy nook, the top end also has a couple of booths:
and a business centre which is so tucked away I imagine 90% of lounge visitors don’t even know it exists:
Let the light flood in ….
Once you get beyond this point, the lounge suddenly brightens up due to the fantastic floor to ceiling windows.
You’ll need to take my word for that, however, as it was dark when I was there!
and (these solo seats have an internal view):
What is impressive about the lounge is the number of different seating arrangements available. I think everyone will find something to suit their personal style and the size of their group.
There is a small kids playroom available, as per the photo at the top of this article. The photo makes the room look sparser than it is, as there were some other bits and pieces behind me.
The big secret – the mezzanine
The new British Airways lounges at Gatwick South have a secret – a mezzanine floor.
Well, it isn’t really a secret, given that there is a big staircase on the lower level:
It was closed when I was there because, ironically, it was being prepared for a press party which our very own Rhys Jones was attending three hours later. It will be open usually.
Here is a picture taken from a previous visit – you can tell because there are newspapers available. Guests today may wonder why BA considers newspapers to be a health risk when, between the lounge and your gate, you will pass around five identical displays dishing out free newspapers and magazines …..
No food is available but there was, and probably still is, a coffee machine.
Inside the British Airways First Class lounge at Gatwick
The First lounge can be accessed by British Airways Gold and oneworld equivalent members, as well as ticketed First Class long haul passengers.
To be honest, I have never been hugely impressed by it. If a random stranger walked in by mistake they would think it was the Business Lounge and the big bright space outside was First Class.
The furnishings are identical to the Business lounge. The First area is also relatively small and I suspect, at certain times, it will be more crowded than the Business lounge.
The only reason to come here would be for a slightly higher quality of drink (I didn’t check what premium spirits were available, and there was no premium champagne out) and a higher quality food menu.
The Tracey Emin artwork which used to be here wasn’t visible – either I missed it or, more likely, it was sold off in BA’s lounge artwork sale during the pandemic.
Food and drink in the British Airways Business lounge
The breakfast offering in the Business lounge will be very familiar to anyone who has used Galleries Club at Heathrow recently.
The selection is pretty much identical, as are the coffee machines and layout.
British Airways has now moved to a hybrid ordering system:
- ‘proper’ food must be ordered from your seat, via your mobile phone, using the QR code system
- drinks must be made yourself
- a small amount of food (croissants etc) is available to pick up yourself
It’s not ideal as, assuming you do want a drink, you have to get up and move around anyway so it doesn’t save any time versus the old buffet system. The food I ordered was delivered very quickly but, of course, I was virtually the only guest at the time. As usual, the hot food ordered off the menu was done well.
British Airways did an excellent good job back in 2017 with its new lounges in London Gatwick’s South Terminal.
Whilst it isn’t the easiest place to find, it is a lovely space and the designers have done a good job in creating different styles of seating to serve the varying needs of travellers.
The food and drink is on a par with Heathrow and, given that Gatwick tends to play second fiddle to Heathrow, that is as good as you could have expected. If I’m honest, I prefer the Business Class lounge at Gatwick to Galleries Club at Heathrow.
The South Terminal experience as a whole is now much improved. BA passengers no longer need to take the monorail from the train station to Gatwick North, security was efficient – with a dedicated premium channel – and the lounges are impressive. Even the quality of the shops seems to have improved in the five years since British Airways moved in.
It’s also worth noting that Gatwick now has dedicated World Traveller Plus check-in desks. This service improvement has not yet rolled out at Heathrow.
If you have access to British Airways lounges, it is worth giving Gatwick another look if you are on a route served by both of the major London airports.
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 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 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.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get two 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 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.