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  • ross 46 posts

    Hi All,

    – Lounges are not what they were.
    – If a UK Lounge were a restaurant (outside of the airport) I would never frequent it.
    – UK Lounges are an over-valued benefit.

    Plaza Premium T5.
    I was there in Tuesday morning. It is worse than any Wetherspoons I have been in, and significantly worse than the Wetherspoons it it opposite from.
    – Seats are worn through, heavily permanently stained.
    – Carpets are stained and in areas, threadbare.
    – The Lounge resembles more a tube station than an oasis of calm (queue to get in, walk around trying to find a seat as people move in all directions and barge past you, food selection is more akin to a Travelodge buffet).

    People strewn everywhere.

    I left, went to Vagabond, as Giraffe had a 30 person queue, and enjoyed a decent meal.

    Galleries T5 B Gates
    A flight leaving from T5B meant that once the gate was announced everyone went to the Lounge at the same time. The result a long queue to check into the lounge. People frustrated, people shouting, people swearing – oh the luxury of a lounge.
    No seats.
    I don’t know who designed the food layout, but sticking all the food into a corner, not only is unattractive, but it makes it harder to access.
    The food was average at best, the “hunt” for a seat adds stress.
    QR ordering would improve things massively.
    A bar, with a barman, would improve things.
    Having the same level of service as a middle of the road restaurant would improve things.

    No doubt some will say I am expecting too much. But, Lounge Access was something I place value on as part of paying for a credit card, yet, recent experience, I would have much rather been in a restaurant.

    Roberto 301 posts

    Back in the day when they were “business lounges” they were worth visiting. Now they are just lounges and over filled with hen parties, kids and the great unwashed.

    can2 580 posts

    … the great unwashed :))

    The real Swiss Tony 729 posts

    Back in the day when they were “business lounges” they were worth visiting. Now they are just lounges and over filled with hen parties, kids and the great unwashed.

    Whilst that’s true of the open access lounges, the closed ones like BA have no such excuse. However what I still can’t fathom is why the BA lounges at LHR are so overcrowded when I’ve never seen the EDI or GLA ones in a similar situation. If too many people had status or CE cabins were too big, surely this would be noticeable elsewhere, not just at Heathrow?

    iplaypoker 23 posts

    If people have paid for or have a right to access then it is what it is.

    Back in the day when they were “business lounges” they were worth visiting. Now they are just lounges and over filled with hen parties, kids and the great unwashed.

    John 1,086 posts

    However what I still can’t fathom is why the BA lounges at LHR are so overcrowded when I’ve never seen the EDI or GLA ones in a similar situation. If too many people had status or CE cabins were too big, surely this would be noticeable elsewhere, not just at Heathrow?

    Because only a small fraction of BA’s capacity serves EDI and GLA whereas all BA mainline flights go from LHR?

    0 post

    I’ve heard about the scrums at Galleries N and S during the day and how T5B is calmer ( actually been there myself late morning and it was v quiet.) I have a JNB flight later this month and was planning on going straight to T5B but this thread has got me thinking that, of course, with all the long haul evening departures, it’s probably going to be rammed. What are the N and S lounges like in the evening?

    Aston100 1,496 posts

    With airport restaurants, I think there is a shorter time limit before you need to vacate.
    Otherwise I suppose if you compare a walk-up price to a lounge vs going to an airport restaurant, the restaurant should win overall.

    Gagravarr 75 posts

    If you take the train to B gates, best be quick off the mark to the lifts / escalators. If you’re slow, you’ll be stuck behind a lot of other people to get into the T5B lounge. If you’re quick, you’ll sail straight in!

    Otherwise, just walk to the B gates. If the train isn’t already there, I find it’s quicker to walk than to wait. Added bonus that you don’t arrive at the B gates at the same time as loads of other people, so there won’t be a queue to enter the lounge

    Oh, and in T5, the Concorde Room (CCR) has bar staff and waiters taking orders, but it can still take quite a while to get a drink, and it’s tough to find a seat with a power socket nearby. Even trading up to First doesn’t always help that much! (Though CCR always feels calmer than GF, let along GC)

    ross 46 posts

    The mitigations are precisely the problem.

    “Get there quick”
    “The lounge might be worth it, as you can sit there longer than a restaurant”
    “Plan to go to a different Lounge based on flight schedules”

    It’s all a bit disappointing. The Lounge used to be somewhere that I looked forward to going to.

    An escape from the melee of the Terminal.
    Decent drinks.
    A friendly barman.
    A nice place to sit and relax.

    Now Lounges are among the most crowded spots in T5.

    It’s self-serve everything, which has a significant knock-on to the quality of staff they employ. The staff also rarely care.

    The Plaza Premium lounges are gross, and not nice places to visit at all.
    You cannot find somewhere to sit sometimes either!

    The real Swiss Tony 729 posts

    Because only a small fraction of BA’s capacity serves EDI and GLA whereas all BA mainline flights go from LHR?

    But why have the London lounges become disproportionately busier than those in Scotland? Heathrow didn’t used to be a chaotic mess pre-pandemic, but now it is.

    I suspect overall capacity is probably higher EDI-LON than it is LHR-Europe in percentage terms than it was pre-pandemic. Maybe it’s a heavy skew into these 14 row CE cabins we now see?

    But what’s gone so wrong that people are left to queue or sit on the floor in London? I can never recall seeing that at BA lounges in the past.

    Gagravarr 75 posts

    I’ve heard a suggestion that the problem is people spending more time in lounges. Mixture of travel delays, and more leisure passengers rather than business ones, means the average time per visit is higher

    cin3 170 posts

    I have no issue with the people in the lounges but the quality of food is just abysmal with so many basic errors. Substantially worse than the already low standard of high street chain restaurants.

    TGLoyalty 757 posts

    PP T5 has been in horrible condition for 3 years – I suspect it had a very low budget and now construction costs have soared refurbishing it so soon after it was first installed is a tough decision

    pay peanuts get monkeys or buy cheap buy twice come to mind

    re T5B I normally just head straight there if on a widebody as strong chance that’s where you will leave from or C and if not the walk back isnt really an issue

    steveculshaw 21 posts

    LHR T5 North is still pretty poor… flew out June 4th 2024

    Finding seating for the two of us together was a task, no chance of getting a seat with a power socket, seats weren’t comfortable

    Food wasn’t anything special

    Queues to get in

    🙁

    Peter K 612 posts

    I guess they think that if there are queues to get in then they don’t need to try any harder. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    TGLoyalty 757 posts

    It’s not that simple for airline lounges it’s not pay per use so it’s not the same economic theory as a pay for use lounge.

    Eventually they see the drop in customer satisfaction scores and willingness to pay but not queues to get in

    jj 549 posts

    The corporate world is littered with the carcasses of businesses that once had a reputation for quality that began to take their customers for schmucks. The facade is maintained for a while, then the empty shell collapses under the weight of unmet customer expectations.

    Bluntly, anyone who pays more than £5 to enter most contract lounges is either a achmuck or will not be back. Unless higher quality is enforced, I give the Priority Pass no more than 5-10 years before it goes the way of Rover, Karen Millen, Jamie’s and countless other examples of corporate greed.

    To be fair, I don’t share the view that the BA lounges are dire. They’re always shabby, often grubby, and occasionally too busy, but decent food and drink is always available, and the environment is considerably better than the terminal outside. In contrast, the only contract lounge I’d ever want to visit again is in Calgary.

    simonbarker 61 posts

    We used the Centurion lounge in T3 the other week and it was pretty poor I thought as well. It looks nice but it’s noisy, uncomfortable and the food was a dietary requirements disaster.

    Nicest lounge I’ve used in the UK was the Clubrooms in Birmingham.

    Londonsteve 211 posts

    The OW lounges at T3 are nice, even the BA one! I’ve not visited the AA one and have no plan to.

    Yes the T5 lounges are a zoo (I’ve not been to the CR). I agree that lounges in general are a disappointment, especially commercial ones offered at outstations where premium airline passengers are mixed with people entering with lounge cards or just paying the walk-up price. The often poor quality of these lounges is a significant disincentive to quality for status when the alternative is using Avios to book into J on a selective basis when you know the overall travelling experience makes the implied cost of the upgrade worthwhile.

    Mouse 195 posts

    Victims of their own success unfortunately. As Yogi Berra said, “nobody ever goes there anymore — it’s too crowded”.

    Mouse 195 posts

    Would be interesting to know if there is a market for a genuinely premium lounge offer. Something like for say £60-75 per person you get at-seat service of premium drinks (real champagne, bartender-mixed cocktails, interesting beers, wines that retail at £25-30 a bottle), excellent snacks (I’m thinking high quality cheese & charcuterie, canapés, etc), option to pay for freshly-cooked restaurant-that-you’d-actually-visit-at-home quality food, guaranteed maximum of 70% seat occupancy, service by people who have actual hospitality experience. I think in major cities you’d have a decent base of people prepared to pay that just to get away from the riff raff for a couple of hours.

    AndrewT 170 posts

    Catch 22 is that the top end of the ‘Premium’ audience, i.e First passengers, are already well catered for. Would Business passengers with an included lounge be willing to pay for an improved pre-flight offering? Would lower cabin passengers be willing to pay a much larger proportion of their cheaper ticket price for it?

    Some would undoubtedly pay whatever it costs just because it’s there, but would need some careful market research to validate a business case.

    JDB 4,821 posts

    @Mouse – you are ahead of your time. I wish you were right and that there was indeed a market for decent quality lounges with real food and drink, but Brits appear remarkably willing to put up with mediocrity at a high price. That’s why really second rate expensive places like the Ivy or the Coppa Club do well in the UK but have no equivalents in France or Southern Europe.

    The other issue that complicates this is the British mentality amongst a certain group that maximum value must be extracted every time. When people here report necking a few JD or rum and Cokes at breakfast time because it’s ‘free’ you can identify the sophisticati that will break the model. They will eat anything as long as there is supposedly high end branded alcohol and champagne.

    Notwithstanding endless cookery programmes, so many shops are devoid of ‘real’ food and all trace of fat, bones, skin is removed from meat and people happily buy plastic pasteurised cheese in a country that produces so much brilliant proper cheese. We are an island yet we consume incredibly little fish/shellfish per capita, so it’s mostly exported, even post Brexit. Expensive ready meals or pre-prepped veg/fruit are sold on an unparalleled scale and busy working lives are not unique to UK families.

    CJD 74 posts

    @Mouse instinctively £60-£75 feels like far too low a price for what you’re suggesting for it to be commercially viable.

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