Time for an Update: A Review of the American Airlines Admirals Club at Heathrow Terminal 3
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To The Point
As the oldest lounge in Heathrow’s Terminal 3, it’s pretty clear that the Admirals Club is in need of a full renovation. Pros: Super-fast Wi-Fi, solid views of the apron and plenty of power outlets. Cons: Drab and boring décor, rubbish everywhere and too many pasta dishes for one buffet.
American Airlines flies at least once a day from Heathrow’s Terminal 3 to nine major cities in the USA, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, so naturally it makes sense for the airline to have a dedicated lounge for its premium-class passengers.
On my last trip back from New York, I was very impressed with the Flagship Lounge at New York-JFK, so I had high expectations for this lounge, even though Admirals Club lounges are often thought of as being a league (or three) below the airline’s premium lounge. Still, I was confident I wouldn’t be disappointed.
There are two lounges within one: The Admirals Club and the International First Class Lounge (again, not to be confused with an AA Flagship Lounge). As I was traveling on an economy British Airways ticket but have Silver elite status (Oneworld Sapphire status), I was able to use the Admirals Lounge, but not the International First Class Lounge. The lounge is open between 5:30am and 7pm, closing earlier than most lounges because most AA flights depart by 7pm.
The lounges in Terminal 3 are categorised into letters and are clearly signposted from the second you get to the departures area. The Admirals Club is in the right wing of the lounge area, tucked underneath the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse and a short walk from the main departure area.
The first area I saw was the buffet and dining area, which reminded me a bit of a school or office canteen, not a business-class airport lounge. The decor was pretty drab and uninspiring and nowhere near as comfortable or inviting as some of the lounge’s competition in the terminal. American seemed to be aware of this, though, as one of the first things I was told at the reception desk while checking in was that the Admirals Club is the oldest of the Oneworld airline lounges in the terminal and the last to be renovated.
The lacklustre décor theme continued into the main seating area, which was busy at the time. What I really liked was that you could plug in and recharge your devices at almost every seat. There were UK and US outlets everywhere and USB outlets at some seats.
I didn’t once see a member of staff doing the rounds and clearing away empty glasses and dirty plates, and there was rubbish and dirty dishes at almost every unoccupied seat.
There were a couple of plants dotted about the place to add a bit of cheer in the gloom, but this lounge was not somewhere you should spend time if you have an eye for detail and like to relax in luxurious surroundings.
Continuing with the corporate theme, after the office canteen area, there was a meeting or presentation area partitioned off, which took up quite a large chunk of the lounge. Behind it was an area with a couple of desks, a printer and a photocopier, which had about the same inviting appeal as a university library and, again, was littered with rubbish and dirty dishes.
Right at the far end of the lounge was a small seating area with comfier-looking seats that people were sprawled asleep in.
There was no mistaking which lounge you were in from the views outside the window, either, as the lineup of American Airlines aircraft sat pretty on the tarmac waiting to hop back across the Pond.
When I arrived, one of the things the enthusiastic receptionist told me was that the Wi-Fi was amazing and that it was one of the main reasons people use the lounge. I was pretty skeptical about this, as the Wi-Fi speeds I had encountered so far on my tour of Heathrow’s lounges had been pretty abysmal, but he was right! The speeds were even quicker than my Wi-Fi at home (download 25.4 mbps and upload 13 mbps). Well done,Admirals Club! If only the staff were as quick at keeping the place looking clean and tidy.
Fortunately, the dirtiness and disorder of the main lounge didn’t spill over into the washrooms and shower rooms.
The shower room I had a peek at was probably the most modern thing about the lounge, and it was perfectly clean and ready for its next guest, complete with towels and amenities.
As with most airline lounges, there was a rack of basically untouched magazines. Of course, mobile phones are the most popular entertainment choice of many travellers these days.
Food and Beverage
Apparently, according to the staff checking me in, the breakfast in the First Class lounge is legendary, and passengers flock from all over Terminal 3 to try it. Unluckily for me, I only had access to the food in the Admirals Club, so I will have to make sure to go back and try it out for myself.
In the Admirals club at least, the hot food could have been better. As I’ve said before, I think pasta is a bit of a cop-out, especially in business-class lounges, and here there were three! There was also a curry and rice.
The cold dishes were nothing out of the ordinary, either. If you don’t eat meat, then the make-your-own salad was definitely out of the question unless you wanted a crouton, cheese and Caesar dressing.
There was a small selection of sandwiches and wraps parked next to the dessert section, which consisted of a dry-looking cake and even dryer-looking pastries. I think the apples might just have been for decoration.
At last, some colour! And the lettuce to go with the make-your-own salad, as well as what looked like mortadella and slices of plasticky cheese.
On the plus side were the pick-and-mix sweets tucked away toward the back of the lounge. I think that this would be great for kids and adults alike, and added a bit of character to this personality-free lounge.
The drink selection was arguably better than the food that was on offer. In addition to the usual soft-drink suspects (Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite) there were two flavours of fruit smoothies for a healthier option.
Beers included the Danish Carlsberg or the aptly American Budweiser. This was the first time I’d noticed this in a lounge before, but there were also a couple of cans of Kaliber alcohol-free beer, too.
The selection of wine and spirits was decent, and there were even instructions on how to make your own cocktail.
Would I be happy with this lounge if I were travelling on an American Airlines premium-class ticket? Probably not. The other lounges in the terminal are far superior for food and beverages as well as decor and style. The fact that rubbish and dirty plates and glasses were pretty much everywhere I looked was really pretty poor by anyone’s standards.
I get the impression that this lounge has been neglected given its age and the fact that it is due a renovation. Yes, the food options weren’t awful, but still, compared to the competition in the terminal, I would definitely put the Admirals Club toward the bottom of the list.
All photos by the author.
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