Please extend a warm welcome to one of my friends – and sometimes contributor to Economy Class and Beyond – Adam, who has been musing about the state of lounges at Heathrow. Does the Plaza Premium Lounge offer a viable alternative to using British Airways Galleries lounge? Take it away Adam…
The declining quality of British Airways lounges at Heathrow Airport has been a sore point among the airline’s frequent fliers for many years. The transition to BaxterStorey catering a number of years ago saw in a substantial reduction in the quality and quantity of food available. Couple that with BA’s failure to give the lounges the kind of TLC that’s required after 10 years of serving the great British public and it’s clear that the Galleries complex leaves rather a lot to be desired.
Unfortunately, for many years, there was no alternative. You either played the BA status or travel class game or you didn’t get a lounge. That changed when Aspire opened their lounge in Terminal 5. Unfortunately, it was small, frequently overcrowded and offered a poor catering selection, even in comparison with Galleries Club. Now Plaza Premium, the well respected Asian lounge operator has opened its offering, has BA finally met its match?
The answer is a resounding but slightly qualified yes. Plaza Premium is beaten in a few areas by Galleries Club (which I’ll be using as my yardstick throughout this review) but generally makes up for these small deficiencies with a far better atmosphere.
The lounge was far from crowded during my visit. Admittedly, this may be because it was a Sunday afternoon in February but I’ve seen BA lounges struggle at similar times. The seating is mostly single pods with a few areas for two or four. Unfortunately, these were all occupied by solo travellers, meaning my companion and I had to take two pods opposite each other.
Unlike Galleries Club, hot food is available all day. The options are not dissimilar to the slop that BA serves up but the meat meals actually had a decent amount of the promised meat inside them. Unlike BA, these are available all afternoon. There is no ‘Afternoon Tea’ window.
There is also a cold salad bar offering, cheese, meats, pastas and (erm), salad, soup with bread rolls, a fairly good selection of fruit and Walkers ginger biscuits and shortbread. Your author sampled several of these to check for consistency and is pleased to report that all were delicious.
Alcohol is served from a manned bar. The only self serve options were orange juice, apple, water and a coffee machine. There’s a choice of three red and three white wines. I sampled the Sauvignon Blanc which was fairly good. Spirits are slightly lower end than BA Galleries (vodka was Russian Standard, whereas the Galleries lounge has self-pour Ciroc and Grey Goose). In drinks terms, the Plaza Premium lags slightly behind BA but the wine may well be more consistent.
WiFi wasn’t great. I sampled the Plaza Premium and BA lounge WiFi on the same day, as well as the Heathrow public WiFi. None were great but, surprisingly, the Heathrow public option came out on top. Don’t plan on doing anything heavy duty with any of them.
To sum up, in its present form, the Plaza Premium lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5 makes for a pleasant alternative to Galleries Club. Depending on your priorities in a lounge, it may well be a better option. If you have access via a credit card or membership scheme, there’s no reason not to try it.
The lounge does not currently accept Priority Pass and it’s not clear if it ever will (I can imagine it being rammed if it did). American Express Platinum or DragonPass are your best options for entry.
Otherwise, it’s a fairly steep £40 for 2 hours and £10 for each additional hour. I can just about see how that’s worth it if you’ve just come off say a transatlantic economy flight and have a longish Euro Traveller flight to look forward to, otherwise it’s hard to recommend paying cash for entry.
Have you strayed from the Galleries Lounge to the Plaza Premium lounge? What do you think of it as an option to the British Airways options? Comments welcome in the box below!
Thanks to Adam who reviewed this lounge for Economy Class and Beyond. Lunch is on me in Lisbon.
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