Fresh off our Virgin Atlantic flight in Upper Class from Detroit and a refreshing visit to the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, it was time to head to Terminal 5 and spend a bit of time in the Galleries First Lounge. Even after 90 minutes in the Revivals lounge, we still had 3 hours to pass before our British Airways flight to Santorini. Obviously Virgin Atlantic and BA aren’t partner airlines so we needed to re-check out bags onto BA.
Once we arrived at Terminal 5, we headed to BA’s exclusive First Class check-in area. First Class check-in is reserved for OneWorld’s top-tier elites and those travel aboard BA’s in the First Class cabin. As an American Airlines Executive Platinum (OneWorld Emerald), I qualify for First Class check-in and First Class lounge access. The staff at First Class check-in was incredibly friendly and personalized.
We headed for fast-track check-in and were on our way after a few minutes. Our only hold-up in the security queue was a young girl who had four gallon-sized bags full of liquids who was not too pleased she had to condense it down to one quart-sized bag. This is exactly why I always travel with my Flight 001 Carry On Clear Quart Bag. Let’s just say she she had to throw away quite a few of her liquids. Following security we headed straight for the south end the terminal where both a Galleries Business Lounge and Galleries First Lounge are located. On the opposite end of Terminal 5, there’s an additional Galleries Business Lounge.
We were checked in right away by the front desk staff which is directly across from the Galleries Business Lounge. My initial impression was how much more spacious the Galleries First Lounge is than the Business lounges. The crowds are also much smaller so there’s a lot less noise and more privacy. That extra peace and quiet goes a long way for me.
The decor is similar to the Business lounges with a bit more thought into the art work and some higher-end furniture. But not remarkably different. The restrooms are the same as the Business lounges and unfortunately, the drab shower suites found in the Galleries Business Lounge at Terminal 5, are also in the Galleries First Lounge. I would have expected at least some upgraded toiletries.
The WiFi connection on this particular visit was consistent and quick. There are a nice spread of power outlets in the Galleries First Lounge. It appeared to be a good improvement over the power outlet shortage over at the Galleries Business Lounge at Terminal 5 where power outlets are in short supply. One other interesting feature was a mini pop-up Samsung store inside the lounge in case you fancied any shopping during your visit.
We had eaten quite the large breakfast on our inbound flight to London and had a coffee at the Revivals Lounge so neither of us were incredible hungry when we first arrive at the Galleries First Lounge. But as morning turned to the lunch hour, I began to develop a bit of an appetite. The food selection is a slight upgrade from the Galleries Business Lounge, mostly owing to the smaller crowds. During the late morning hours, there was a good selection of hot and cold breakfast items. Overall, I thought the food was quite good. The coffee and espresso bar is identical to that of the Galleries Business Lounges. Drinks are also self service, including beer, wine and cocktails.
After about two hours or so at the Galleries First Lounge, we decided to start making our way to our boarding gate, especially since we had to transit to one of the satellite concourses.
Overall, I would certainly consider the Galleries First Lounge at Terminal 5 over the Galleries Business Lounges at LHR. If you expect a night and day different between Business and First lounges with BA, I will have to say you’ll be somewhat let down. The food is only a small upgrade over the Business Galleries Lounges and the drab restrooms and shower suites are a bit of a negative.
However, the increased space and much smaller crowds result it a more peaceful passenger experience. My biggest dislike with BA’s Galleries Business Lounges has been the crowds and congestion so the Galleries First Lounge eliminates that issue. And that goes a long way. In the end, I’m seeking good food, a quiet space, quick WiFi, and power outlets in a lounge experience. The Galleries First Lounge is no Cathay Pacific First lounge but it’s a suitable spot for layover relaxation.