After a rather unpleasant transit experience following our flight from London on British Airways, we still had about 3 hours to kill before our connecting flight back home to Dallas on American. And at that point, I could have really used a nice place to relax. American doesn’t have an Admirals Club at Dulles. Fortunately, since our inbound flight was in British Airways First Class, we had access to the British Airways Galleries Lounge. Even better, it was only a short walk away from American’s gates in Concourse B.
Important note: the Galleries Lounge is a Priority Pass lounge, but is only open to PP cardholders until 2 P.M. If you need Priority Pass access after 2 P.M., you can visit the Air France-KLM Lounge in Concourse A. That lounge is open from 6:30 A.M. until 11 P.M. See Matthew’s review of the Air France-KLM Lounge if you would like to compare the offerings.
The Galleries Lounge features a good location; once you step off the train into the concourse area, just head right to the sign and take the elevator to the second floor. Additionally, if you are connecting to an American flight, AA’s gates are just a short walk down the hall. If connecting to a British Airways flight, BA’s gates are a short walk the opposite direction. Thus, there’s no need to stress about leaving the lounge early to make it to the gate on time. Once inside, you’ll see that the lounge is basically one long, narrow corridor. Chairs, tables, and windows overlook the concourse to the left. Various rooms jut off to the right (I took this photo from the back, so pardon the flipped orientation).
At the end closest to the entrance, the first room to the left is the Club World dining room. Guests using the lounge as an arrivals lounge may not use the dining area, so I don’t have any photos of this area. Per reader Arthur’s comment below, Concorde Dining is also available for departing First Class passengers. If it’s anything like the dining room in the London Heathrow Concorde Room, it is probably quite good. Next is the main bar/food service area (pardon the blurry photo of the food). I took this photo in a separate area at the back of the lounge; however it is virtually identical to the one in the center of the lounge; more on why a little later.
The food selection is decent, with a selection of finger sandwiches, fruit and cheese, a little salad, and some soup. I had a couple of the sandwiches, and they were tasty. A fully stocked set of drinks refrigerators is opposite of the food spread; you can choose from a variety of soft drinks and a selection of beers. A plentiful selection of hard liquor was also available, but you had to place an order with the bartender/lounge attendant. I have read elsewhere that the liquor and wine is self service. Perhaps this it depends on the time of day you go. There are also several tables and chairs set up to the right of the bar with equally good views of the airfield.
The lounge attendant hovered nearby, though. You may recall my creepy experience with a lounge agent who disapproved of my picture taking in Rome.
Down the hall from the bar/food area is a small business center.
As you can see, it’s pretty rudimentary, with a couple of workstations, a printer, and seating for perhaps 10 persons. One nice bonus, though, is that you do have a nice view of the big screen TV from here.
At the back end of the sitting area is a quite nice espresso machine (again, the attendant kept hovering around the area, so I was nervous to take a photo), and behind that is yet another kitchen/bar area, though it was not in use at the time of our visit. You’ve seen the bar itself above, but there are also a handful of tables back there. That’s useful if you’re in search of a more out-of-the-way, slightly quieter place to sit. A departures board is also located in this area.
Now, as to why there are nearly identical bar and sitting areas in the center and rear of the lounge. Apparently, it has to do with the hours during which Priority Pass members are allowed inside the lounge. BA reserves the center area for Priority Pass, while the seats to the side overlooking the concourse, along with the bar/kitchen in the rear, are for British Airways customers. That would probably explain why the rear bar/kitchen was not in use. I imagine both can be opened up during times of high demand (it was maybe half full during our visit).
As for the seating area itself, the seats are comfy, the decor is pleasant, and plugs abound everywhere. However, the narrow set-up of the lounge makes it difficult to find seats together for more than two, or if you wish to sit side-by-side to converse. About half the chairs are in a 1×1, “facing each other” configuration, while the remainder are in a 2×2 configuration. Seating is more plentiful in both bar areas, but these can get a little noisy. Thus, these are not ideal if you are trying to enjoy a relaxed conversation with a traveling companion. I was surprised to read, though, that the lounge has a maximum capacity of 200 persons. While it appears to be quite small, BA apparently uses the space quite efficiently.
Overall, this is a fair lounge, with a reasonable food/drink selection and a top location if you are connecting from a British Airways flight to American or vice versa. The narrow layout can feel a little claustrophobic, though, and if you are a Priority Pass cardholder, the restricted access hours provide limited utility if you have a flight in the afternoon or evening. Nevertheless, it’s a nice place to spend a few hours, on par with other Business Class lounges such as The Club at ATL.
At long last, that finally wraps up my Europe trip report. Don’t fret, though – I’ve been busy racking up the passport stamps this year, and I’ve got two more series in the works, one for a trip to Prague and Bucharest in October, and the second a trip to Japan in November. Stay tuned for those to kick off in the next couple of weeks!
Note: this post is part of my multi-part trip report series about my wife and I’s trip to Europe in June/July, 2015. Read the trip report introduction for an index and background about our trip.