Travel review: The British Airways Club Lounge
Location: Terminal 4, Heathrow Airport, London, UK
Overall rating: **1/2 (out of 5)
Customer service: **1/2 (out of 5)
Food and drinks: *** (out of 5)
Internet access: ** (out of 5)
Amenities (furniture and printers): *** (out of 5)
Showers: **** (out of 5)
Value for money: **1/2 (out of 5)
Review by: Alexa Williamson
Recently, I was fortunate enough to be given a Club Class ticket for British Airways. One of the perks of this was the use of the ‘lounge’ to wait in.
With the Club Class ticket costing about £1800 (including the taxes to travel to the US) – and First Class costing even more – I was expecting the lounge to be incredibly posh. However, it wasn’t. Actually, it was only about the quality of a 3-star hotel.
Things on offer in the lounge were free such as food, non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, Internet access, a photocopier/printer and showers. However, the quality of everything in the lounge wasn’t what I’d expect if you’re paying so much for your ticket. It was very middling – and middleclass in comparison to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, over in Terminal 3, which has a Cowshed spa, St Tropez tanning booth, steam room, sauna and Bumble and Bumble hair salon (according to a recent article in The Sunday Times) .
Why the Club Lounge disappointed
Here are the key points I noted that made me disappointed. Sure, these are wonderful things to have if your company is paying for it. However, I’d rather just stay in the normal terminal area in Heathrow’s fairly comfy leather seats and ‘tough it out’ doing some window-shopping at the various duty-free shops including Harrods, MAC cosmetics and a range of others.
- The chairs seemed as if they were one of the more expensive ranges that came from Ikea. They are padded, cotton-type fabric, 90-degree and upright. Fairly comfy but not as nice as the seats as Club Class on the plane. I’d have expected them, due to the money generated by ticket prices to be recliners, and possibly leather. These two features would be particularly helpful if you’re tired before or after a long flight. Granted there were a few (but likely not enough) sofas for people to stretch out and sleep on.
- The self-service of the alcohol, food (including snacks and meals) and other beverages, was good as it meant you could relax as you helped yourself. However, again, for the money, I’d expect some customer service. (Actually the sad flipside of this is you help yourself but there were no receptacles to put the used porcelain plates, cups or silverware in.) Quiet staff would come around and clean up after you. The lounge was clean, but, personally I think there should be some encouragement to be considerate and tidy away your dishes so that others will have a clean area after you.)
- The quality of the food was fair. It was relatively fresh and not junk or greasy. However, Pret á Manger can do fresher and more inspired food. At the bar serving freshly prepared food, there was heavy use of mayonnaise in some salads and uninspired bacon rolls. Some of the brand name things on offer included (but were not limited to): Twinings teas – a safe selection, but not the best; snacks including ‘Kettle’ chips and beers including Heineken and NewCastle Brown Ale – in cans. It was also nice to have packages of biscuits and mini-croissants and pain au chocolates. However, they didn’t look very fresh. The best bit of the ‘cuisine’ was the well-stocked bar, which included many alcohols for cocktails. That’s fab, however, not necessarily the wisest thing to offer people before a flight (as sadly some abuse it).
- It was great to have free Internet connection. However, I had to try three different computers before I could get on the Net and then it was slow.
- The customer service at desks was friendly. However, food serving/clearing staff, although nice, tried to be invisible.
Best features of the Club Lounge
The best features of the Club Lounge were:
- the shower facilities – nice, tiled shower rooms and clean, fluffy, white terry towels.
- the well-stocked bar
- friendly, helpful customer service at the customer service desks
Overall, it’s nice to have a lounge instead of not. But, personally I think a few extra touches – such as a more inspired menu, better quality furniture/food, a faster Net connection and staff trained with better customer-facing skills – would make it what it should be for the price of a ticket.