For all intents and purposes, British Airways use Gatwick airport to serve holiday destinations. Long haul, you’re looking at places like The Caribean, Vegas, Cape Town, Mauritius, Cancun, et al. Short haul it’s sun traps like Mallorca, Dubrovnik, Paphos, Faro, etc.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why even mention that in a lounge review, it’s a pretty crucial bit of information. You see airlines prioritise business travellers over leisure travellers and this is reflected right across the board from lounges to aircraft, to seat design and even tiny details like choice of food and drink served.
This then I suppose is a review of BA’s best lounge offering for the UK outside of Heathrow.
|Access||OneWorld First Class ticket holders or OneWorld Emerald status holders|
|Opening Times||Monday-Friday 05:00-20:00|
|Location||Head left as you exit security (Saves going through duty-free) then over the gantry and on your right. Take either the stairs or the elevator to the top floor and you’re there.|
When it comes to seating you’re spoiled for choice. As you enter the lounge, immediately on your right you have the above little nook with 8 wingback chairs and tables in what seems to be BA’s preferred colour of choice for First Class. They’re comfy, supportive and this section of the lounge is relatively private should you want to have a semi-private conversation.
Opposite is where you’ll find the bulk of the lounge seating I think 41 seats in total. Each seat has access to power in either 240V Type G or USB (Do note that a LOT of the USB plugs weren’t functioning) along with either sharing or having your own dedicated table. The tables are fairly small so if you were unfortunately sharing it would be one plate at the front and one at the back, they aren’t wide enough to have 2 plates side by side.
Finally, you have 12 egg chairs, these wouldn’t be my first pick but if the lounge is very busy they’ll do. If you’re curious about my first pick it would have to be the wingbacks which face out onto the runway, love a bit of plane spotting.
Unlike the majority of lounges you pay for, BA actually provides pretty decent food. Above is their self-service buffet bar. This was at breakfast, they had a very good selection of fresh fruits & meats should you want to go all continental, pancakes and syrups, cereal and of course the hot breakfast selection.
Should you want to just sit there and be waited on hand and foot, they have you covered. Simply scan the QR code on your table and you can put your order in from the menu and have it all delivered to you.
For breakfast you can order:
- Eggs Benedict – Poached egg and sliced ham with hollandaise sauce on an English Muffin.
- California Egg – A poached egg served with crushed avocado and red chillies on sourdough toast.
- California Toast- Sourdough toast with crushed avocado, red chillies, tomatoes, drizzled with rapeseed oil.
- Kipper with scrambled eggs
- kipper with poached egg
- Bacon muffin
- Sausage pattie roll – With Stokes tomato chutney
- Omelette and cheese roll – With Stokes tomato chutney
- Full English breakfast – Scrambled egg, bacon, pork sausage, black pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, hash brown, tomato and toast. (Pictured above without tomato)
- Vegetarian breakfast – Scrambled egg, tomato, mushrooms, baked beans, hash brown, vegetarian sausage and toast.
- Scrambled eggs on sourdough
- American pancakes with bacon & maple syrup.
As I said, they offer quite the feast and if you’re like me and can easily demolish food, they have no issue with you ordering lots of different food or multiples of the same thing.
If you’re after something light, there’s a whole fresh pastry selection next to the tea and coffee area where you can help yourself.
On the drinks front, there’s nothing really much worth mentioning. There’s a champagne bar but it’s stocked with nothing special, this is BA’s First Class lounge, it should have BA’s speciality, Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle but it doesn’t so you’ll have to settle for Lanson. If you’re swerving the champagne bar (which I would given the choices) then there are plenty of spirits to choose from. Regular travellers will hype up the Johnnie Walker Blue Label being available because it retails for £150 a bottle… The purists will say it’s no Glenrothes. Still, you can easily whip up your own airport lounge cocktail.
If you find yourself needing to crunch some numbers, rejig your timeline or move some sliders, the office area is rather well kitted out. Each of the 9 desks feature chairs that are fairly ergonomic, multiple power sockets including Type C, and ethernet ports. There’s no reason you can’t get the job done here. There’s even a printer should you need to print out visa paperwork, etc. I like that every now and again when you’re deep in it and need a break, a plane will start moving outside so you have something cool to distract you for a brief period.
What’s more amusing, the fact that BA is using Virgin Media Business as their internet provider or the fact that you won’t get 3Mbps… It’s truly shambolic that the speeds are this low. You’ll barely be scraping by on YouTube never mind trying to download podcasts etc before you fly.
There are showers although technically they are in the business-class lounge. Towels and toiletries are provided though you do have to ask for things like a razor, comb, toothbrush & toothpaste, etc. To me, this is a godsend. It means I can leave Fabric in London at 06:00 head straight to the airport, check in, grab a shower/freshen up and catch a flight at 08:00. Yes I’m aware, that’s not how most would choose to start a holiday, but the option is there.
Gatwick is open 24 hours a day but the BA lounges aren’t and they most certainly do not want you asleep in their lounge. there is nowhere you could even attempt to sleep unless you can pull off the bolt upright seeping.
All in all, I think it’s a bloody good lounge, the food is perfectly edible (nothing spectacular but still good) and there’s plenty of space to relax before you fly. I don’t like that they skimp on the good champagne but that’s BA down to a tee. The fact there’s a fully functioning office and table service is really appreciated as is the shower. Somewhat disappointing that there’s nowhere to make a makeshift bed but hey ho, you could just drift off watching the planes go by.
Is it the best First Class lounge in the world, most certainly not. Is it poor form for BA to clearly differentiate First Class leisure travellers from business travellers, yes. Is it annoying that they only open at 05:00 when the first flights depart at 06:00 thus meaning some passengers only get 25 minutes in the lounge, yes. Nonetheless, if you find yourself there you won’t be disappointed (Well if you’ve spent £8k on a first-class ticket to the Caribbean you may).