On our last trip to Venice, we flew business class with British Airways from Glasgow to Venice, with a connection in London Heathrow airport, Terminal 5 (T5). The 8 hour long layover gave us a great opportunity to fully experience both the north and south BA Gallery lounges in T5.
We’ll be reviewing both the North and South (below) Gallery Lounges in T5. If you can access one, you can access the other.
How To Access The Lounges
You can access the lounges if you’re flying Business, First, Sapphire Tier or Emerald Tier with British Airways, Iberia Airways or if you’re eligible and travelling with another oneworld member airline.
Where Are The Lounges?
Terminal 5 has 3 buildings (A, B and C). You can find the two main lounges, that we are reviewing, in T5A, the main building. One lounge (the smaller one) is at the north end of the concourse and the other is at the south end. There is another Galleries lounge in the T5B satellite building.
Both the north and south lounges are large L-shapes. We arrived at the south lounge (the bigger of the two), at around 11:30am and despite the large number of seats, we struggled initially to find a place to sit. Both lounges have a reputation for being notoriously busy throughout the day.
The south lounge has one main catering section (with smaller ones dotted about).
You will also find multiple seating areas (chairs, couches, bench seats, tables), a kids area and a business centre in the south lounge.
We spent most of the long layover sitting on a couch near the window overlooking the south runway. Later in the day, we moved to a table by the wall, with two high-backed chairs.
The north lounge has a catering section, on entry, with a canteen-style seating area.
Turning left and walking down the long part of the L, you walk past multiple seating areas (plus more food/drink facilities), until you reach a business centre and a kids area.
One unique feature of the north lounge is the balcony seating area. Here, you can sit ‘outside’ the lounge (but still in the main terminal building) and look out over the north runway.
The north and south lounges look over the north and south runways respectively. Out of the south lounge window, I managed to catch a glimpse of one of BA’s custom BEA-painted Airbus A319s. The company, celebrating 100 years in 2019, has customised some of its aircraft with iconic liveries from its history.
This particular livery was used by BEA (British European Airways) between 1959 and 1968. This was before the company merged with the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) to become British Airways back in 1974.
Food and Drink
Both lounges offered a variety of snacks and hot/cold food. Drinks included fizzy drinks/soda, sparkling/still water, red/white wine, champagne, teas and coffees.
Food in the south lounge included:
Meat and Cheeses
Scones with Jam and Clotted Cream
Soup (Carrot and Coriander, Pea and Ham)
Salad and Dressings
Sweet and Sour Beetroot Salad
Spanish Style Chickpea and Spelt
Chicken and Cauliflower Dhansak
Smokey and BBQ Beef
There was also a rather appealing popcorn stand which made an appearance later on in the day.
The north lounge had a smaller, but still sizeable selection of food with a lot of the same options.
Both lounges offered runway views, business centres (with computers and plug points) and kids areas (offering consoles, games and books). There were also plenty of flight information screens dotted around. You could find plug points in and around the seating areas as well as wireless Qi chargers if you wanted to top up one of your Qi-capable devices.
There was a selection of reading materials on offer (you could find these near the north/south lounge entrances).
Both lounges have shower facilities too. You could find the north lounge showers inside the lounge, to the left. The south lounge is a bit different. There are bathroom facilities inside the south lounge: private cubicles, each with a toilet, sink and mirror.
To get access to the showers, you went outside of the south lounge and down the escalator to the Elemis Spa. We simply showed our business class tickets to the reception staff and we were allocated a private shower room.
The shower rooms were one of the highlights of the lounge. Each had a walk-in shower (with good water pressure), a toilet, sink, mirror and hairdryer. Towels and a few toiletries (body wash, shampoo, hand wash and hand lotion) were provided too. The facilities were cleaned to a high standard during our visit.
Since we left early to head to our first flight from Glasgow (our first stop), the showers were a welcome refresher (especially since we had a long layover).
Although features between the lounges were pretty similar, there were a few distinguishing features. For example, you could store luggage in the north lounge. At one point we wanted to leave the south lounge and explore T5. We couldn’t store our luggage in this lounge, so we had to take it with us.
One distinguishing feature of the south lounge was the cinema area. This was basically a darker room with a large TV on one wall. Whilst I think this was a decent concept in theory, in reality it was being used as a large nap room (for families with small children).
WiFi speeds in the south lounge were quite slow. Download speeds hovered around 2.82 Mbps and upload speeds averaged 0.73 Mbps. Despite the slow speed, I could still stream YouTube in HD without too much difficulty.
All of the staff members that I spoke to were polite and courteous.
Conclusion and Scoring
The lounges were quite busy throughout the day. Initially, we found it difficult to get a seat in our preferred lounge (Lounge South). However, once it quietened down a little we had a few more options. There was a good range of food and drink available and well-separated catering areas meant no one part was too busy.
The private showers were definitely one of the highlights. Overall, although it was an 8 hour layover, the BA lounge access helped pass the time and made the experience in Heathrow T5 much more enjoyable.