Which lounge to use/access? LHR AA T3 or BA T5 arrivals?

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by snowpuff, Feb 21, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. snowpuff

    snowpuff Silver Member

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    Hey MP'ers!
    I'll make this short and sweet. I'm an AA EXP and will be arriving at LHR in the morning via an AA flight (I would have done BA biz upper deck but I wanted to use my SWUs - my first time to ever use any believe it or not). Since I am on an AA flight I believe I will arrive at Terminal 3 and there is an arrivals lounge operated by AA I can access there (I'm in biz class). I'm connecting on to TLS 5 hours after arriving and that flight departs out of terminal 1 (which I've actually never been in). So:
    • As a OW Emerald traveling internationally I could technically access any lounge upon my arrival, correct? Including the awesome BA arrivals lounge at Terminal 5 right? (I LOVE that lounge but I've only ever used it when flying biz on BA - the shower pods are awesome)
    • If I can access any lounge, would you recommend me lounging at the arrivals in T5? I viewed photos of the lounge in T1 and it looks less than stellar (it is a BA lounge)
    • Do you have any experience with the AA arrivals lounge? How does it fare against the BA arrivals lounge (assuming BA is better)
    If I have read up on my access stuff correctly I should be able to land, go through customs, head over to BA T5 and walk into their arrivals lounge and hangout there until my flight out of T1 (which is on BA) but would love confirmation and input
     
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  2. DestinationDavid
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    Arrivals lounges are not subject to OW lounge access policies, so throw those out the window. ;) Go to the OW website and do a search for OW lounges on their tool at LHR. You'll notice neither AA's or BA's Arrivals lounge appears.

    As an AA EXP, you definitely have access to the AA T3 Arrivals.

    Access to BA's T5 lounge is more complex. AA and BA do have a reciprocal access benefit in place for their elites. The application of that reciprocal benefit can best be described as "spotty". Some AA EXPs have been able to access the facility without issue, others have been flat out denied and told that they're to use AA's facilities at T3. BA's webpage information on the T5 Arrivals still does not state that AA EXPs are provided access. You can give it a shot, but a big YMMV on that front.

    All that being said, my thoughts are this: If I was the one traveling, I'd land at T3, stay airside, and head to T1 and enjoy the lounge there. 5 hours seems like an awfully short time to try to clear customs and immigration for a lounge. If you really do want to take that trek through customs and immigration, I'd just stick with the AA Arrivals offering. There are some differences between the BA and AA Arrivals, but none that I view as so amazing that I'd walk/train from T3 to T5 then to T1 to experience.
     
  3. flyyyj

    flyyyj Member

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    The arrival lounge in T5 is OUTSIDE of customs, so you would have to clear customs and exit the secure area to get to the lounge. As a AA Ex-plat (flying AA) I was able to use the lounge which closes at 1 or 2pm I think. It is a fine lounge and allowed me to grab a shower before heading onto the local bus to a hotel.

    However, my personal favourite is the T3 BA departures lounge F lounge. To use this one, instead of clearing customs, go to the T3 departures (you will need to go through security but you will not need a bording pass) then use the lounge (which with a same day boarding pass you should be able to use) There is a restaurant in the T3 lounge and of course a nice quiet area to relax and enjoy the champaigne. Showers are next door.

    Fly through LHR about 5-10 times per year, and have never flown out of T1 so no help there sorry. Also I have never used the AA arivals lounge so can not comment on that either.
     
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  4. DestinationDavid
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    Not an issue since he's arriving at T3, not T5. Both are landside though ;)

    It's possible since flight connections at T3 don't require a boarding pass check, but it can also be problematic.

    Heathrow Airport Holdings, the operator of LHR, does not allow lounge access for passengers who are not departing from that terminal. According to their rules, he should be funneled to T1 for use of the lounge there. Enforcement of that rule is up to lounge staff though.

    If he attempts to access the T3 BA or AA lounges, they may reject him based on those rules. Even if they don't reject him and he enjoys the lounge, he'd have to back track to the flight connections/C&I area of T3 which is accessible only to arriving passengers and explain why he's trying to exit the T3 departures area and enter the T3 arrivals area. There's a multitude of issues involved, which is why if I was doing the travel I'd either head straight to the BA lounge at T1, or if pressed exit the proper way through C&I and use the AA T3 Arrivals.
     
  5. flyyyj

    flyyyj Member

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    I am unaware of the ruling about using the lounge in the terminal you are departing - this would seem to be outside of the official OneWorld lounge policy where it states you may use a OW lounge IF you have a departing same day OW ticket.

    As far as being problematic, entering T3 is very easy - just go through the security x-rays. Leaving T3 - even easier, just walk out the exit. From this exit you can either
    a) go through UK customs (probably a BIG wait)
    b) take a bus to flight connections in terminal 1

    Again, I have not experience T1 nor the AA arivals lounge as I always use the BA First lounge in T3 or if connecting out of T5 the BA First lounge in T5.
     
  6. DestinationDavid
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    I'm not sure why you would think an airline alliance's lounge policy would overrule an airport management company's requirements on passenger movement within the airport. To be clear, the regulation comes from HAH, the management company of LHR. This has nothing to do with OW's access policy.

    And to further clarify, there is no "exit" from T3 once you're airside. Airside passengers are meant to board planes and depart for their destinations. Only arriving passengers have access to the exit at T3. To "exit" as you've suggested, you'd have to backtrack to the entrance for connecting passengers and "exit" through that entrance. T3 is designed to keep departing passenger traffic completely separate from arriving passenger traffic. The exit through C&I at T3 is not meant to be used by passengers on the airside.

    Which is why I said it can be problematic. Is it possible? Yes, some have done so. It's not a tactic that is guaranteed to be without issue though, and representing the scenario as if it is an entirely legitimate course of action does a disservice to those who are asking for information/advice, in my humble opinion.
     
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  7. flyyyj

    flyyyj Member

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    Has something changed at London Heathrow?
    I guess I have not flown in/out of LHR since the summer. Or are you confused with T5 at Heathrow where there indeed is a requirement to have a boarding pass to enter the terminal.

    The exit for T3 is right next to the security X-ray entrance. There is a steady stream of passengers exiting and entering T3. It is no problem.

    Do you have any more information on the regulation for using the lounge in the departing terminal from BA?
     
  8. DestinationDavid
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    DestinationDavid Milepoint Guide

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    I think there is certainly some confusion, but I don't think it's on my end. :) ;)

    Since my written explanation isn't getting much traction, I drew a picture. Hopefully a visual helps.

    photo.JPG

    So I've done my best to draw how T3 is designed to function. Passengers arrive and can exit through C&I, or they're connecting and can go through security to get to the departing side of the terminal (I've left off passengers connecting to other terminals to keep it simple). Departing passengers arrive and enter the "departing" area and board their planes to leave. These two sections are purposefully kept separate. The only link between the two areas for passengers is the security checkpoint for connecting passengers from arriving flights.

    So yes, a passenger CAN access T3 after arrival without a boarding pass since they simply go through security and are intended to pick up their connecting boarding pass once they're in T3. What you're suggesting is what I've circled in blue above. Once passengers are on the departing side of the terminal, they're supposed to stay there until they board their flight. That security checkpoint is a one way street going into the departing side.

    What you're suggesting goes against the design of the airport and the regulations set up by the managing company, HAH. As stated, folks have done exactly what you're suggesting before. It's possible. What I'm saying is that it's not *supposed* to happen, and that a traveler should be aware of that fact when considering using this tactic as an option for accessing a lounge.

    Hopefully that makes a little more sense?
     
  9. garyst16
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    garyst16 Silver Member

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    I will be flying AMS to LHR with about a 2 hour layover departing T5 flying BWI-J to BWI. A couple of quesitons...

    1. Do I even have enough time to use a lounge?
    2. If so, which do you recommend?
     
  10. DestinationDavid
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    So to clarify, you're flying AMS-LHR-BWI on BA in J? You've got a typo in there (I think) and it's a bit confusing.
     
  11. garyst16
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    garyst16 Silver Member

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    Sorry, yes... AMS-LHR-BWI on BA in J with a 2 hour layover at LHR... departing for BWI out of T5
     
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  12. DestinationDavid
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    I thought so, but wanted to make sure. :)

    In that case you're in luck - BA's AMS flights arrive at T5 and the BWI flight also leaves from T5. You should be able to connect there and have a little bit of time to enjoy the lounge. I prefer the North lounge as I tend to find it quieter, though really their pretty comparable and you can simply pick the facility that's closest to your departure gate.
     
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  13. garyst16
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    garyst16 Silver Member

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    Thanks, DD!
     
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  14. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    As a OW Emerald, you can also use the Galleries First lounge on the south end of T5.

    http://www.britishairways.com/travel/lounges-galleries/public/en_gb

    :)
     
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  15. garyst16
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    garyst16 Silver Member

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    Is there a significant difference between the Galleries First and the Galleries Club lounges?
     
  16. malikguy

    malikguy Silver Member

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    * Edit: Weird, my mobile app didn't load the subsequent posts until I posted this. Sorry for the repeated info.

    If you have to switch terminals, I would say that you wouldn't have much time because of the bus ride and security. If you are staying in T5, there are only BA lounges there. If you are Emerald, T5C has a BA pretty nice F lounge. I believe it's on the north side of concourse C.
     
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  17. malikguy

    malikguy Silver Member

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    The F lounge is going to bit more quiet and less busy. I believe they also serve better meals.
     
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  18. mmamminna

    mmamminna Active Member

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    Hello, mom is traveling and has a long layover in Berlin Tegel airport. I am looking to trade Admiral's Club Passes for any of those:
    Air-France Salon-Lounge
    BerlinAirportClub Lounge
    British-Airways-Terraces-Lounge
    Lufthansa-Lounge
    I need 2 passes, and have 4 AA passes.
    Please let me know asap if you can help. TIA
    P.S. I am in Chicago
     
  19. garyst16
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    garyst16 Silver Member

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    Just returned from my trip to the UK/Amsterdam. Sincerely appreciate all of the input on the lounges at LHR. The galleries first lounge is definitely the best of the bunch... more food options and a nice champagne bar to pass the time... Cheers!
     
  20. Canadi>n
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    Canadi>n Gold Member

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    Curiously the ONEWORLD site is not showing any of the BA lounges (i.e. regular not Arrivals) in T5, just in the other terminals. Reference was made to the spotty admission of AA ExecPlats to the T5 BA Arrivals lounge. Assume anyone flying F or J will have automatic access based on fare paid, but what about those of us in WT? Assume that's the "spotty" issue. (Also recognize Arrivals lounges are not part of the ONEWORLD or STAR lounge access program.)

    Also my flight is an AA codeshare on BA. I have a 9-hour connection (T5 to T5) so plan to go into London for a few hours, so if rejected for the BA Arrivals Lounge can I use the AA Arrivals Lounge at T3 even though I flew BA, albeit as an AA codeshare?

    Alternatively, at T5 is it possible to use the First Class lounge after deplaning (and I suppose clearing security), then go through immigration to head into the city for a few hours? Never been to T5 so don't know if arriving and departing passengers are mixed or segregated within this terminal.
     
  21. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Just answered your duplicate post on the BA forum...
     

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