After my so-so flight over from Dallas, I decided to use British Airways’ Arrivals Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.
British Airways pioneered the concept of an Arrivals lounge back in the early 2000s. The basic premise behind it, I think was a really great bit of customer experience. East Coast USA to UK flights, especially in the winter are really short. Sometimes a New York to London can be as quick as 5 1/2 hours. If you’re heading into the office straight from a red eye, it’s pretty tough on such little sleep. Add in take-off, serving a dinner on board and then breakfast on board and there’s perhaps three hours sleep.
So what BA did was create pre-flight dining rooms in their East Coast lounges so you can get a full dinner on the ground. On board they do an abbreviated dinner service (which I will nearly always decline). They also provide breakfast onboard, but will nearly always decline that too. Basically, get on board, go to sleep for as much of the flight as possible, then wake-up and use the arrivals lounge.
It provides a shower, breakfast and a clothes-pressing service, allowing you to freshen up after the flight and head straight into the office, saving valuable sleeping time on the aircraft.
The arrivals lounge in Terminal 5 is broken up into multiple sections. You enter straight into the refectory. It has a number of beans to cup coffee machines, a good selection of breakfast pastries, fruit, cold cuts, and everything you need for a full English breakfast. There’s a bunch of high tables and more comfortable seating areas. To the left upon entering is the Elemis travel spa. Straight on is the Concorde Breakfast room, which is only open to First class passengers (you’re given an invitation when you enter). Finally when taking a right you walk through to the Hydrotherapy zone.
There are two options available, the regular shower rooms, and what’s known as the “Infinity baths”. These have never, ever been offered to me during the entire time that I’ve known the lounge to be open. I believe that the “Infinity Baths” are available to First Class and Gold Card holders only.
Most people will opt for the showers; I’m not going to review these, but they’re now getting on for ten years old and are really quite shabby and plasticy. If you think of the shower room from a Travelodge, you won’t be far wrong.
However once you enter one of the infinity bathrooms themselves, they’re actually quite nice. They’re in a much better state of repair than most of the regular showers are.
There’s a lavatory and sink immediately to you right, along with a flower arrangement. The bath is behind a screen and there’s also a deck chair provided. There’s also several towels provided, most importantly with a set on the chair next to the bath.
The door into the bathroom is also the same as the regular shower rooms in that it’s a double-door with a space for you to hang any clothes that you want pressed. There’s a “valet” button for you to summon one of the staff members to do this.
There’s also two large bottles of Elemis products, both the shampoo and the shower gel for use in the bath.
When you enter the room, I strongly recommend turning on the water to the bath straight away. It takes a few seconds to get hot, but then takes a good twenty to thirty minutes to fill. Don’t ask for one of these rooms if you’re in a rush.
However there are a number of things missing from the product in order to make it that little bit better. No bathrobes are provided, which is a shame. Also, there are no slippers available. These would be a great addition when placed on the wooden surround. In terms of the Elemis products, there’s no hair conditioner provided.
Overall, if you have the time and have an eligible boarding pass, they’re really quite a relaxing way to end a long haul flight with a good soak in a large bath. However, it’s still not really a first class product. Perhaps they could introduce some kind of waiter service here, with cocktails delivered through the valet door? Plus some of the improvements suggested above would make it lovely, but I accept doesn’t really fit with the raison d’être of the lounge.