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Review: the American Airlines First Class lounge, Heathrow Terminal 3

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This is my review of the American Airlines First Class lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3.

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

The AA First Class lounge is the last of the airline lounges to reopen at Heathrow (the rest that are shut will remain shut, we believe) and opened a full year later than virtually all the other lounges. The American Airlines Admirals Club lounge (review) has been open since late 2022.

Better late than never, I popped in on my way to visit family in Stuttgart last week as BA has recently moved those flights to Terminal 3. You can see a full list of BA’s short haul flights from Heathrow T3 here.

Note that this is a First Class lounge, not a Flagship First lounge. AA has been upgrading its top lounges for five years now, and whilst Heathrow was originally on the list to undergo refurbishment it has yet to happen. It’s not clear if the whole project has been dropped.

Heathrow Terminal 3

How to access the AA First Class lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3

You do not need to be flying American Airlines to access their lounges.

The only requirement is that you are flying a oneworld carrier (such as Finnair, American Airlines, Iberia, Qantas or British Airways), either on a business class ticket or First Class ticket – depending on lounge – or with the relevant status.

That means anyone with oneworld Emerald (ie. British Airways Executive Club Gold) can access the First Class lounge, even if you are flying an a hand-baggage-only British Airways economy flight. Unlike The Concorde Room in Terminal 5, you do not need to be flying in First Class.

If you have a British Airways Silver card or oneworld equivalent, or are travelling in business class on a oneworld airline, you could use the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge reviewed here – although we don’t recommend it.

You are allowed to bring one guest if you are entering via your frequent flyer status. If you are entering via your ticket class, you must be flying in First Class to bring a guest, who must be travelling on the same flight.

Where is the American Airlines First Class lounge at Heathrow?

Terminal 3 uses an alphabetic labelling system for the nine lounges that are now available at the airport. The First Class lounge is designated as ‘Lounge H’ (together with the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and AA Admiral’s Club) when you exit security.

The majority of the lounges are all along one corridor. The Admirals Club / First Class lounge is just to the right of the Cathay Pacific and Qantas lounges, and is slap bang in the middle of the corridors to the majority of gates.

The First Class lounge is open from 5:30am until 7pm daily.

Inside the American Airlines First Class lounge at Heathrow

The good news is that, whilst a full conversion to Flagship First is still on hold, AA did at least use some of the downtime whilst the lounge was closed to refresh it. That includes:

“The revamped space saw the install of a new fully fire-rated professional kitchen, providing American’s chefs with the capacity to produce an extensive buffet offering and a premium á la carte menu. The reopening also sees the return of American’s Champagne station, alongside top-of-the-range bean to cup coffee machines and an extensive wine and spirits list.”

Chairs and soft furnishings have also been replaced, which means it no longer looks as much like an old people’s home as it used to.

You check in in the same (large) lobby as for the Admiral’s Club:

…. but instead of proceeding ahead, turn around to your right and you’ll see the entrance to the First Class lounge:

I was surprised by the size of the lounge, which can seat up to 120. Immediately as you enter is a little sweets station:

If you prefer something a bit harder, a champagne station is also immediately available, stocked with bottles of Moet (white and rose):

The lounge is split into a handful of sections. Broadly speaking there is ground level at the front with a mezzanine level at the rear. The ground level section features a large bar-height dining / working area:

Opposite, you’ll find a row of armchairs:

To the far right is the buffet area, and adjacent to this you’ll find the dining room. This looked particularly dated previously so the addition of new tables and chairs makes a big difference, although the wall photograph of the Houses of Parliament still feels very noughties!

In front of the buffet are more dining tables and chairs, in a more casual set up:

The main difference is that staff will come and take your order in the dining room, and you also have access to an a la carte menu. That said, it was extremely quiet during my visit and the staff were happy to take orders from other areas too if you waived them over.

Towards the windows and the mezzanine you have another large area of casual seating with lots of armchairs and plenty of charging sockets.

and

Food and drink in the American Airlines First Class lounge

As mentioned, there’s a small buffet section as well as an a la carte menu. The buffet was fairly basic and featured chicken tikka masala, mac n cheese, steamed vegetables, soup and vegan mushroom stew:

Let’s be honest, it isn’t the most exciting offering:

You also have a choice of some pre-made salads and various mezze including hummus:

The a la carte menu is significantly more inspiring. It features an all-day breakfast and lunch menu so you can eat whatever you fancy. Choices are:

  • Eggs benedict
  • Eggs florentine
  • Eggs royale
  • Smashed avocado on toast
  • American pancakes
  • Waffles

Whilst on the lunch side of the menu:

  • Cured pork
  • Pan-fried cod
  • Polenta cake
  • Baked fennel citrus and pistachio salad

I wasn’t totally enamoured with any of the choices – in fact, I almost ordered my usual eggs royale at 4pm – but I decided to settle on the cured pork.

Top marks for presentation, although the meat did topple over as it was put down on the table:

Visually, this was much higher-end than I expected. Unfortunately the impression didn’t hold up as the meat was a little on the tough side, which was a shame.

I also wanted to try the apple crumble for dessert but sadly that was unavailable.

Conclusion

Overall, the American Airlines First Class lounge at Heathrow is a surprisingly big space although it can feel cramped thanks to the low-ish ceilings and lack of natural light.

The addition of new furniture has helped to modernise the space a bit but it’s a far cry from AA’s latest Flagship First lounges in the US and even its latest generation of Admirals Clubs. In comparison, the First Class lounge looks like a lounge from yesteryear thanks to its sea of beige and brown.

When it comes to the buffet, I would be tempted to simplify the offering to high-quality sandwiches and other cold items rather than offer hot items in addition to the a la carte menu.

I wouldn’t mind trying the breakfast items on the a la carte menu next time. If they can pull off a proper poached egg then I might pop in here more regularly in the mornings.

For now, however, you can still sit and eat in much more style in the Cathay Pacific First lounge next door – with no need to stare at a sea of beige.

Travelling from Heathrow Terminal 3? Here are your lounge options ….

Heathrow’s Terminal 3 has one of the highest concentration of premium lounges of any terminal in the world.

Our overview of the best airline lounges at Heathrow Terminal 3 is here, or you can read individual reviews of all the lounges here:


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (May 2024)

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.

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 £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.

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

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

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

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (26)

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

  • Mirp says:

    I tend to go in to grab a bag of sweets; have a glass of champagne and download any media I need for the flight as the wifi is very fast.

  • Nick says:

    Looking forward to checking this out next time I’m in T3. I’ve switched from CX F to the Amex lounge, I got too fed up with yobs shouting on video calls and the slow wait for food that’s come with it being too popular. Plus Amex makes excellent cocktails, which seems (at least in reviews) to be a very well kept secret.

  • Paul says:

    What do you mean by “Flagship First lounge” – do you mean the AA Business Class lounges they call ‘Flagship Lounge’ or do you mean ‘Flagship First Dining’ found inside some of their business class Flagship Lounges?

    • HH says:

      AA have five Flagship First lounges in major U.S. hubs, which are fitted to a much higher standard and with a more premium F&B offering. I visited the one in Miami this week and was seriously impressed (though it’s still no Cathay lounge…)

      • Paul says:

        They aren’t Flagship First Lounges, they are Flagship Lounges, they are Business Class lounges. Some have a Flagship First Dining section though, with sit down service.

    • SammyJ says:

      Ahh that. Yeah sounds vaguely familiar now, and of absolutely zero interest. Thanks!

  • Mirp says:

    I’ve used in many times flying Business and as BA Gold (OW Emerald) flying economy.

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

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