We’ve recently written here about Priority Pass, an airline lounge membership that allows members into over 900 lounges worldwide and comes as an added benefit with many “premium” credit cards such as the American Express Platinum or Citi Prestige MasterCard among others.
On my recent visit to London a little more than a month ago, I had the chance to check out one of the lounges open to Priority Pass members – the Plaza Premium Arrivals lounge in Terminal 2 at London Heathrow (LHR) Airport, which opened about a year and a half ago as the first independent/non-airline-affiliated arrivals lounge at LHR.
I flew in on an overnight American Airlines flight from Chicago in business class and arrived around 12 noon London time into LHR’s Terminal 3. I was initially excited when the flight attendants handed out invitations for AA’s new redesigned T3 arrivals lounge:
But that excitement was short-lived when I got to the lounge and found out they handed out those invitations in error as it was still a few days before the lounge officially re-opened last month.
During the renovations, eligible AA customers were welcome to use the BA arrivals lounge in T5, but traveling from T3 to T5 is a bit of a trek. By the time I landed in London, especially after a few delays, I was in desperate need of a shower. So after checking the Priority Pass app on my phone, I realized there was an arrivals lounge I could get into in T2. If you land in T3 and plan to take the Underground into London, you have to walk pretty much to the entrance of T2 anyway, so it’s not that far of a detour:
Although there are many airline-run lounges in the Priority Pass program that I’ve been impressed with (Virgin America Loft LAX, Alaska Airlines Board Rooms, KAL Lounge Seoul, etc.) most of the “syndicated” lounges (Servisair, Menzies, etc.) left a lot to be desired. So I wasn’t expecting much when I arrived at the Plaza Premium Arrivals lounge.
However, I have to say I was quite impressed. After checking in, I was asked if I needed a shower, which was immediately available. I’m sure the showers are busier in the morning, but there are 8 separate shower rooms here, and I think it was the first time I’ve ever not had to wait for one at a Heathrow arrivals lounge (and I’ve been to many of them). And the showers were very modern and clean, unlike some of the “hospital” style ones in some of the other lounges.
After my shower, I wanted to get something to eat as I had skipped breakfast on the flight. The lounge has a limited selection of self-service food (some crackers and cheese, fruits, and bakery items) and a bar where you can get cooked-to-order dishes and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
I didn’t get a picture of the menu but there were several options including a few full meal type dishes as well as some smaller appetizer type items (food items were all complimentary). Beer and wine are available for free as well; however premium drinks including champagne were available for an additional charge (I think around £5 for a glass of champagne). I chose to order an Indian dish, Chicken Tikka Masala with rice and papadums, and it was incredibly good, better than I’ve gotten at most Indian restaurants.
For those that don’t have a Priority Pass membership, you can buy a single pass to get into the lounge for £25 per person. I believe they also have a “shower-only” option available for £15. The lounge is open from 5am to 10pm daily.
It’s nice to see that there are more arrivals lounge options available to customers flying into London Heathrow, especially for passengers who don’t have airline elite status and/or are flying in Economy class. I wasn’t expecting much when I visited this lounge but was pleasantly surprised. Even for customers that don’t have a Priority Pass membership the cost to use the lounge is fairly reasonable.