The Comprehensive Guide to the Lounges in Heathrow’s Terminal 5

May 16, 2019

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One of my first projects for The Points Guy UK was to head into each of London Heathrow’s terminals and spend time in as many of the lounges as possible in order to put together a guide to help you, our readers, decide which lounge is the best for your particular situation.

Terminal 5 opened in 2008 as the home of the majority of British Airways flights departing and arriving into the UK, in an attempt to create a transfer hub for the nation’s flag carrier. (Consequently, of the seven lounges in the departures area of the terminal, five of them are British Airways lounges.) Exactly a decade after it opened, Terminal 5 has recorded an impressive 32.8 million passengers in 2018 — that’s over 40% of the total number of passengers passing through the airport’s four terminals in 2018.

Just as the world of commercial flying is broken down by fare class, so is this guide.

Economy or Premium Economy (No British Airways or Oneworld Status)

This one is easy. If you fall into this category with an economy or premium-economy ticket but no status with BA or its alliance partners, the Aspire and Plaza Premium lounges are the only ones available to you — unless you’re traveling with someone flying in a premium cabin or who has British Airways or Oneworld status, and they’re willing to invite you in as a guest.

Only use either of these lounges if you have a Priority Pass or other lounge membership. Paying £40 (or even £34.99) to access the Plaza Premium Lounge isn’t worth the mediocre food and drink.

If you must choose one, go to the Aspire Lounge over the Plaza Premium Lounge. Why? Three reasons: Firstly, neither lounge offers particularly memorable food, but there was more variety in the Aspire Lounge. Secondly, despite the Aspire being the more crowded of the two, you can reserve a table if you’re organised and plan ahead. Thirdly, spirits are complimentary in the Aspire Lounge, and there’s draft beer. In the Plaza Premium, spirits are not complimentary and the beer comes in cans.

The bar at the Aspire Lounge

Economy or Premium Economy (With British Airways Silver or Oneworld Sapphire Status) or British Airways Club World/Europe

If you’re in this category, you have the choice of the Galleries North, South and B gates lounges, but there’s not really a lot of difference between the three. It comes down to how you like spending your time in a lounge. If food and drink are most important to you, then each of these lounges offer pretty much exactly the same. If you like peace and quiet, though, go to the Galleries at the B gates, as this lounge is pretty much always quieter than the Galleries South lounge and especially the Galleries North lounge.

Quieter B Gates lounge

If you have work to do, go to the Galleries South lounge, as it’s the biggest of all of the Galleries lounges and has the largest work area, including computers and a printer and scanner, as well as another smaller workstation at the other end of the lounge. But remember to travel back to the main terminal via the underground walkway if your flight departs from the A gates.

Galleries South Lounge business area

AvGeeks, however, have a decision to make. Many people’s favourite spot is the terrace area in the Galleries North lounge, depending on how the runways are being used.

I personally think none of the three lounges in question provide amazing photo opportunities. Granted, you can get a good view of planes taking off and landing from the Galleries North and South lounges,  but the glare from the double set of windows can affect picture quality. The B gates lounge probably has the worst runway views of the three lounges, but the satellite terminal is often empty and you can get up close and personal with some of the planes parked at gates.

So, if you have enough time, why not check them all out? Just remember that if you decide to go to the B gates lounge and are flying from the A gates, make sure to walk back to the main terminal via the underground tunnel and do not take the train — this avoids having to clear security again, as the train takes you back with the rest of the arrivals passengers.

One of the many photo opportunities from the B Gates

Economy or Premium Economy (With British Airways Gold or Oneworld Emerald Status)

If you fall into this category, then you have access to the Galleries North, South and B gates lounges with the added bonus of the Galleries First lounge. The only thing that stood out for me on my recent visit to the First lounge was the à la carte breakfast menu, which was absolutely delicious.

The lounge was also really busy, so if that’s also the case for you, stay in the First lounge for a bite to eat then head over to the B gates for quieter rest and relaxation.

If your flight is after 8pm, you might be best staying in the First lounge, because the buffet area by day turns into a table-service restaurant by night.

First-Class Ticket or Concorde Card Holder (Any Class)

This is an absolute no-brainer. If you have read my review of the Concorde Room, you will understand why this is the only place I would spend my time if I were flying first class or had a Concorde Card. The à la carte menu, the Concorde dining room and the waiter service throughout the lounge makes this lounge incomparable to the others available to you on a first-class ticket.

All photos by the author.

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