After having my eggs Florentine and a Negroni for breakfast at the American Airlines Flagship Lounge, I walked next door to see what was on offer at the British Airways Galleries First Lounge. Both were accessible to me with my oneworld Emerald status (which comes with AAdvantage Executive Platinum status) even though I was flying in business class. I think first class lounge access is one of my favorite special perks of the oneworld Alliance; other major alliances only offer business class access unless you actually are flying in first class.
My two primary complaints at the Flagship Lounge were the small size and the half-hearted service. British Airways overcompensated on both counts. The Galleries First lounge was so large I never actually found the buffet, though I didn’t search very hard after I was distracted by the self-serve Champagne bar and Jonnie Walker Blue Label.
I didn’t actually have much time here before I had to leave for my gate — well, enough time for a glass of Champagne and a large pour of Scotch. So my review is more pictures and less experience. I didn’t get to eat while in the lounge. I do know from past experience at the Galleries First lounge in T5 that the buffet isn’t all too special. Decent, sure, but I’d like to think a good first class lounge doesn’t need to rely on a buffet and can offer menu service instead.
The T3 lounge actually stepped it up a notch. While there was a buffet (I glanced at it in the back), I also found menus scattered at tables throughout the lounge if I wanted to order from a server. I didn’t see these in T5, and they were printed and presented much more nicely than the ones I saw at the American Flagship lounge. If appearances matter, British Airways won.
There were also many more amenities — or at least the appearance of such. You already saw the Champagne bar at the entrance surrounded by bench seats. The main bar to the left shared room with a spacious business center and not one but TWO full size copiers that could fulfill all the needs of a business traveler on the go. Sometimes all you find is an old PC and a 3-in-1 printer.
In the other direction, a children’s playroom provided some noise insulation and more private seating and televisions offered another place to relax before flight. But everywhere I went there seemed to be few passengers. Who can argue with more space and fewer people?
I’m still confused why British Airways bothers to operate its own first class lounge in Heathrow’s T3 when there is a partner lounge next door. Many of its flights are located at T5, and I saw only a couple BA airplanes at T3 during my layover. A business class lounge would still make sense given that this is a hub airport; the Galleries First lounge seemed unnecessary. But as long as it’s here, I recommend you take advantage of it when traveling through on a oneworld itinerary.