When I landed in London the week before last, before my nap at the Yotel, I was excited to try out the newly redesigned AA arrivals lounge at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 which reopened in August.
This lounge reopened only days after my last arrival into LHR on American a few months ago, and during the renovations, eligible AA customers were allowed to use the BA arrivals lounge in T5, which in theory is a nice gesture, but T5 is quite a trek from T3.
Most airlines that have early flights into LHR (particularly those coming from North America) have arrivals lounges at LHR, for the intended purpose of allowing business travelers to freshen up after a long flight and have breakfast and a shower before a meeting or other activities.
Typically these lounges are accessible to premium class passengers as well as some of those with elite status, but rules are sometimes a bit different than those for accessing departure lounges. The access rules for this lounge are as follows (from American’s website):
Customers who can access the lounge when arriving on a same-day flight:*
- First and Business Class travelers
- AAdvantage® Executive Platinum/oneworld® Emerald SM members
- British Airways Premier members
Flying on British Airways, Cathay Pacific or Qantas? Customers who can access the lounge when arriving on a same-day flight:*
- First, Business Class, oneworld®EmeraldSM and British Airways Premier customers on long-haul international flights marketed and operated by British Airways.
- First and Business Class customers on long-haul international flights marketed and operated by Qantas, or marketed by British Airways and operated by Qantas, or marketed by Qantas and operated by British Airways.
- First and Business Class customers on long-haul international flights marketed and operated by Cathay Pacific.
Although I was traveling in Economy class on an AA flight from Charlotte to London, I was able to access the lounge based on my AAdvantage® Executive Platinum/oneworld® Emerald status. The lounge is pretty typically sized for an arrivals lounge (i.e. similar to the Air Canada, United, and Virgin Atlantic arrivals lounges at LHR which I have visited prior to this; the BA arrivals lounge in T5 is much larger) but it was almost eerily empty the morning I arrived (then again this was the Friday morning of Thanksgiving weekend in the US, so not many U.S. flyers traveling eastbound that morning).
The majority of seats are in the main room where the food is located. There are also two smaller side rooms with seats, one of which is more of a “business center” with computers available for use. International power outlets (i.e. some US, some British, some European, not universal) are available throughout the lounge as well.
As for the food and drink, there is both a buffet option as well as an A La Carte menu that you can order off of. Unlike many of the other arrivals lounges at LHR, alcoholic beverages are also available here. You can order a custom-made bloody mary off the menu or even make your own mimosa with the mini-bottles of self-serve Moët & Chandon champagne available near the juices.
The buffet food looked appetizing but I decided to just grab a smoothie from the buffet and order something off the menu. I chose the Bacon Butty sandwich and figured I might as well try the Bloody Mary as well. I was quite impressed with the presentation of the Bloody Mary, complete with chili flakes on the glass rim and a bottle of Tabasco sauce to customize the level of spiciness. I was a bit less impressed with the Bacon Butty sandwich, which was simply served on plain un-toasted brown bread (I was not asked what kind of bread I wanted). It was edible but very plain, similar to something one would expect to get in the refrigerated section of a Tesco Express for £2 or so.
I did not get a chance to check out the showers there as I had planned to shower at the Yotel, but supposedly according to this thread on Flyertalk, the lounge has 29 separate shower suites so I’m assuming for the size of the lounge, the wait time is not bad even on busier days.
The newly re-designed American Arrivals lounge at LHR is a solid arrivals lounge and probably on par or slightly better than most of the other arrivals lounges at Heathrow, and definitely worth a visit if you are an eligible customer arriving on an eligible flight. Although I’ve visited many of the other arrivals lounges at Heathrow, I have not visited the British Airways arrivals lounge at T5 yet, so I can’t really make a comparison there.
If you don’t have elite status and/or not arriving in a premium cabin, you can still relax and refresh upon arrival into Heathrow at the Plaza Premium Arrivals lounge in T2, which I’ve reviewed here, accessible via a Priority Pass membership or cash payment upon arrival.