Fresh off my record fast Transatlantic flight on BA’s A350 Club Suite, I prepared to head to the rental car counter to finish my trip to Manchester. While I originally intended to fly, Winter Storm Ciara interfered and delayed my connection by 12 hours. Before hitting the road, I visited the British Airways Galleries Arrivals Lounge LHR T5 to freshen up. For a quick meal and shower after an early arrival, it does the job nicely. Though it’s actually a quite decent lounge in its own right.
Note: this post is part of my trip report series about my quick trip to Manchester in February, 2020. Click here for the trip report index and introductory post.
British Airways Galleries Arrivals Lounge LHR T5
As the name implies, the lounge is meant for arriving passengers, and is located landside just after exiting immigration. Head for the orange lifts pretty much in the middle of the main terminal area. Head up one floor to find the entrance to the lounge. Incidentally, there is ample signage directing you to the lounge throughout the terminal.
The following passengers may access the Arrivals Lounge provided they arrived on a long-haul flight:
- British Airways First and Club World
- British Airways Executive Club Gold card holders
Note that I’ve seen conflicting information on whether American First/Business/Concierge Key members can access the T5 Arrivals Lounge. The British Airways T5 information page only lists BA customers as eligible. Other sources, however, suggest that AA premium class passengers can access the lounge. The point is largely moot, though, since American currently flies only out of Terminal 3. You might as well just use American’s arrivals lounge at T3.
Current operating hours are 5 am to 2 pm daily.
Date of Visit: Saturday, February 9, 2020
British Airways Galleries Arrivals Lounge LHR T5 – Review
Although I visited the lounge pre-pandemic, it remains largely unchanged, with two notable exceptions discussed later.
Upon entering, you’ll notice two large main rooms. Straight ahead is a large, open dining area. A couple of rows of bench seating in the back complements several rows of tables.
This is where the major difference comes into play, though. Back in February, 2020, the British Airways Galleries Arrivals Lounge LHR T5 featured a buffet breakfast. The main attraction? Traditional English breakfast items, along with fresh fruits and a selection of juices (boxed, though, not fresh).
As is typical of all of BA’s Heathrow lounges, there’s also a Union coffee station.
I’m normally not a breakfast person, but with a 3-hour drive to Manchester ahead of me, I loaded up on some bacon, baked beans & toast, and yogurt to power up first. It was all tasty and hit the spot before my long-ish drive.
So what’s the big change? While the coffee station remains, the buffet no longer exists. Instead, British Airways replaced the buffet with a QR code ordering system. Though the general offerings remain the same, an attendant brings what you want to your seat. Personally, I’m a fan of these new QR code systems. I often get engrossed in work in a lounge, and it’s just easier to not have to get up to get something.
As you leave the dining area and head left, you’ll find the main seating area. Based on recent photos, this area remains pretty much identical. It includes several comfy couches and tables, and I found it much quieter than the dining area. I also found plugs in reasonable abundance, but don’t forget your UK adapter.
Pre-pandemic, the seating area included a large selection of magazines and newspapers along the wall. A magazine rack felt like an increasing rarity even in early 2020. Sadly, even this anachronism disappeared, a victim of the pandemic.
The one thing I don’t love about the space is the lack of natural light. With no windows, you only have the light from the terminal itself. And at 5:30 am on a February day, light is, well, nonexistent in England. Anyway, continue past the back of the seating area to find the “hydrotherapy zone”. It’s a MASSIVE shower area. You do need to check in with an attendant, but with 94 (yes, 94) stalls, I doubt you’ll ever experience a wait. Before reaching the shower stalls, there’s a handful of lounge-type chairs if you want to lie down for a few minutes.
As for the shower area itself – the pods look quite industrial.
Inside, the industrial look continues. If anything, it reminds me of the work camp-style restrooms at Deadhorse Camp in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Don’t get me wrong, they’re perfectly functional, the water’s hot, and they get the job done. But the look isn’t particularly luxurious, they’re a little tight space wise, and the stalls are showing their age.
There is a small table to hang your towel and store your clothes.
As with other British Airways lounges, Elemis provides the toiletries.
The T5 Arrivals Lounge used to include an Elemis Travel Spa, but like all other Elemis Spas at Heathrow, it was closed during the pandemic. Supposedly, the spa area has now been repurposed with four cabanas, similar to those found in the Concorde Lounge.
British Airways’ Galleries Lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5 generally leave something to be desired. The Arrivals Lounge, though is actually a pretty good one. Yes, I complained about the look of the shower area, but really, most using Arrivals Lounges come for two things. One, a bite to eat, and two, facilities to freshen up. And on both of those counts, the British Airways Galleries Arrivals Lounge LHR T5 succeeds pretty well.