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When I dropped by the British Airways Galleries First Lounge at Heathrow T5 a couple of weeks ago, it was my first visit in a number of months and I noticed that the food service had changed since the last time I visited. Not really a very notable thing but as I ended up taking a few pictures, I thought that they may be of interest to anyone who may be visiting the lounge in the coming weeks.
When the Galleries First Lounge reopened after its Covid-induced closure, it was a very different space to the one I knew before the pandemic. Seats were separated by plastic dividers, the self-serve champagne and wine bar had been turned into a manned service station, the self-serve coffee and tea machines had been roped off and were manned by lounge staff waiting to fulfill orders, the main buffet area had been converted into an extended kitchen area, and most food and drinks had to be ordered using a menu accessed via QR codes found on every table.
Quite a bit has changed since those days although significant aspects of the mid-pandemic lounge still remain.
The seats are no longer separated by perspex screens, the spaces between dining tables have narrowed (to allow for more tables) and to a degree, the buffet is back.
QR codes are still present on all of the tables and the option to order food to your seat is still there…
…and while the area where the buffet was traditionally located is still a kitchen/service station…
…a buffet is now served at the entrance to the lounge’s dining area.
While breakfast is being served, this is what the buffet looks like:
The self-serve champagne and wine bar area continues to be out of bounds as it’s still being used as a manned beverage station…
…but a full list of drinks continues to be available to order via the QR code/menu…
…and a variety of self-serve spirits, wines, and beers have reappeared at the smaller bars around the lounge.
Things are pretty similar when it comes to the non-alcoholic drinks.
Juices, smoothies, and hot beverages are all still available via the QR code, but the lounge has now gone back to offering a lot more self-serve options too.
Overall, the lounge is living in a hybrid world and offers a mix of Covid and post-Covid options…and I think I like it.
The breakfast buffet that I saw was not much different from the breakfast buffets that I remember from the days before the pandemic, and I quite like having the ongoing option of ordering everything that I want via the QR code menu. It appeals to the lazier side of my personality 🙂
If I was traveling later in the day I’d probably wish that the self-serve Champagne bar was back in action but as all my foreseeable travel through T5 will be before the sun is at its highest point in the sky, I’m more than happy with a coffee and an OJ.
If like me, you haven’t visited the British Airways Galleries First Lounge at Heathrow T5 for a few months, you’ll probably find that things are now slightly different from how they were on your last visit. Some of the Covid-led changes have now been rolled back – more self-serve options are now available and the buffet is back – while a few Covid-era changes remain (like the QR code menus).
Overall, as a First Class space the Galleries First lounge continues to lack anything that marks it out as special, but as a place to relax or to do some work before a flight, it’s a perfectly nice space in which to spend some time…even if the washrooms continue to disappoint.