Flying back home from London to Los Angeles, we flew on a return ticket that we had purchased last year when there was an AMAZING Business Class fare for routes from US cities to Europe on British Airways (including codeshare flights with American Airlines).
You can visit my past blogpost about how I scored these amazing business class fare Flying a $6,000 British Airways Club World Cabin from LA to London for only $661
British Airways operates out of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport and it is an enormous terminal with numerous check-in counters (for all BA flights) that can be rather overwhelming for some.
There weren’t any clear signs on where the Business Class (Club World) / First Class Check-In counters were located that we had to ask one of the airport staff who informed us that the Club World Check-Ins were at “Counter H” towards the east end of the Terminal.
By the time we arrived at Counter H, there were about 6 other people in front of us and as it was getting busy the staff started sending some passengers to check-in at the First Class counters which was great because this area was much nicer and quieter. Checking-in was quite a breeze and we received our boarding passes straight away.
First Class Check-In at Heathrow (photo: huffpost)
Making ourselves through security, ironically enough the fast track lane had a longer line than the normal lane, so we chose to get into the normal lane.
The wait to get to the security checkpoint was probably about 5 minutes, but one of our carry-ons was selected for a random check that we had to wait for.. wait for it… 30 minutes… until it was our turn.
Extra security aside, this airport definitely did not make a good impression on us for making us wait that long. The First Class Lounge called the First Galleries is located on the upper level of gate A18.
It was a bit of a walk to reach this side the Terminal 5 after passing security. London Heathrow has a number of British Airways lounges:
- Concorde Room – Exclusively for First class travelers on BA (not partner airlines), BA Gold members (5,000 tier points)
- First Class Lounge / First Galleries – First Class passengers (incl. partner airlines), BA Gold Members, oneWorld Emerald status traveling on any class
- Business Class Lounge – Business Class passengers, BA Silver Card Members, oneWorld Sapphire status traveling on any class
Thanks to my husband’s Executive Platinum status with American Airlines (equivalent to oneWorld Emerald status) we were given access to the First Class lounge even though we were only traveling in Business (Club World).
If you like or want to experience airport lounges, you don’t always have to fly in Business or First Class, many credit cardholders memberships offer this added benefit, or you can simply sign up for a worldwide lounge membership like the Priority Pass Membership with over 950 lounges worldwide.
Entrance to First Galleries
The lounge was busy when we arrived even though it was a very sizable and spacious lounge, bigger than LAX Qantas First Class Lounge and almost as big as Etihad Flagship Lounge in Abu Dhabi. This lounge also has a Kids Zone although not as impressive as Etihad’s kids area in Abu Dhabi – there were no toys around, just a television, a computer and colorful seating area.
BA Lounge Kids Zone was quite plain and boring.
Etihad Lounge Kids Zone in Abu Dhabi was much more playful.
Food and beverages were always well-stocked.
The dining area serves a buffet style dining which I much prefer rather than ordering from the menu – although you could also order a la carte dishes from the menu.I find buffet style dining to be more time efficient and you can just get small ‘samples’ of the different types of food if you don’t feel like having a big proper meal, it’s a more effective option for travelers especially those who are in a rush.The food quality and taste were quite good although not that special and they had a good selection of western and asian food, along with cheese plates and charcuteries. I apologize for not having any of the buffet / food photos – my son was not in his best behavior at the time which made it hard to take specific photos (parents: you feel me…).The lounge also has business center and a champagne room which of course were irrelevant for us so we didn’t get a chance to check it out properly.
The best part about this lounge was the ‘open-air’ terrace area. Well it’s still inside the building but it’s open-air with the rest of the airport. I’m not sure why there weren’t any more people here because we could find seating very easily, it was close to the beverage bar and a help yourself ice-cream fridge.
Our departure gate of C56 was not announced or posted on the screen up until 50 minutes before flight time which was quite last minute because we were meant to board the flight at about 1 hour before.
Please note that B gates and C gates in Terminal 5 are completely detached from the main Terminal and you will need to allow extra time to take the underground Transit System (Train) to reach the B and C wing.
I wrote a review on British Airways Business Class experience flying from Los Angeles to London here and I still find the seats to be better than Virgin Atlantic Upper Class mainly because of the seat that doesn’t feel narrow and the added privacy (thanks to the divider screen between seats).
But in terms of service, on-board dining and amenities Virgin Atlantic is still superior than BA. British Airways (A380 and 747-400) Business Class cabin has 2 middle seats that would be suitable for those traveling in pairs or with children. I actually chose the same exact seats as our last flight with BA from Los Angeles to London because it worked really well for us.
Refer to SeatGuru to get a closer look of aircrafts’ seat maps.
Overall, as a traveling mama, the 10-hour flight in BA Club World was much more bearable than the 6-hour flight in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, thanks to the extra seat that was fully dedicated for our toddler (it was actually his big brother’s seat who decided not to come). It really made a lot of difference because he was so well-behaved when he had his own space (just like any other adult would).