Some links to products and travel providers on this website will earn Traveling For Miles a commission that helps contribute to the running of the site. Traveling For Miles has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling For Miles and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities. For more details please see the disclosures found at the bottom of every page.
The British Airways First Lounge is the only British Airways lounge currently open at Heathrow Terminal 5 and so until that situation changes, it’s open to all travelers passing through T5 whose fare or airline status gives them lounge access as one of their benefits. With American Airlines and Qatar Airways now operating out of T5, this is currently a lounge for more than just British Airways passengers.
As I passed through the T5 First Lounge earlier this month and as there’s no sign that any other BA lounges will be opening up before the UK government adds more countries to its “green list”, I thought I share what I found the lounge to be like to give anyone who’s able to travel right now some idea of what to expect.
BA First Lounge Heathrow T5 – COVID-19 Edition
An important thing to note is that the security line at the First Wing in T5 (which leads directly into the First Lounge) is only open between 06:00 and 14:15 so if you’re passing through outside of those times and have access to the First Class check-in desks, you’ll have to use the regular security lines and access the First Lounge via the escalators at the south end of the terminal (by Fortnum & Mason).
Inside the lounge, a few noticeable changes have been made to accommodate the new rules around social distancing and hygiene.
The first change that most people will probably notice first is that perspex partitions have been put up between some of the seats.
The self-serve champagne and wine bar that once occupied a central position in the main area of the lounge has now been replaced by a manned service station…
…and most food and beverage items now have to be ordered via a smartphone/tablet which can be used to access the lounge’s menu using the QR codes supplied on the tables and partitions around the lounge.
If you ignore the missing self-serve bar and the perspex dividers, the main lounge area doesn’t look much different from 15 months ago, but the business center has now been closed (to be replaced by the new sleep pods):
The tables in the dining area are now considerably more spaced out than before:
The buffet area at the far end of the dining area has been converted into an extended kitchen/serving area that is not open to guests:
The self-serve coffee and tea machines have been roped off and are now manned by lounge staff waiting to fulfill orders coming in from guests using the online menu/ordering system:
The Concorde Terrace has been turned into a makeshift Concorde Room for guests traveling in First Class:
And while you’ll still find bottled water, a small selection of fruit, pre-packed muffins, and a limited selection of chips (crips) still available as self-serve options…
…everything else has to be ordered via the online menu.
Ordering Food & Drinks
There are a number of signs in the lounge that explain how the new food and drink ordering system works…
…and for anyone who doesn’t have a phone/tablet or whose camera can scan the QR codes, BA has supplied a weblink (t5f.yourmenu.cloud).
The lounge menu invites guests to enter their name, table number, and the lounge’s current Wi-Fi code…
…before displaying the list of options that guests have.
I’ve provided images of the full menu via the thumbnails below (click/tap to enlarge) but here are the key things to know:
- The food selection is pretty limited.
- The lounge is back to serving alcoholic beverages following a change in government regulations.
- The speed of service was very good during my visit
- When ordering a hot beverage, the menu will allow you to customize it and/or add a cookie to your order after you’ve added it to your basket.
During my visit, I ordered the “Traditional sandwiches served with Tyrrell’s crisps” together with a latte and a shortbread cookie and this is what that looked like:
There’s nothing to stop a guest from ordering whatever they want and as many times as they want but be aware that if you’re particularly hungry or if you’re not planning to eat on your flight, a number of options on the menu aren’t really substantial meals.
The Food/Tea/Coffee Menu
Non-Alcoholic Drink Options (And Examples)
I’m not about to pass judgment on the British Airways First Lounge at Heathrow T5 because, frankly, I’m lucky to be allowed to travel, all the members of staff I integrated with were fantastic, and the conditions that the lounge is being asked to operate under are far from ideal – I was just grateful to have somewhere comfortable to spend time before my flight.
Right now, the BA First Lounge at Heathrow is where all travelers passing through T5 and who have lounge access are being directed but no one should be visiting in the hope that the offering will be anything like it was pre-pandemic. A limited number of food and drink options are available via table service only, perspex dividers are in place throughout the lounge, there was a lot of evidence that lounge staff are sanitizing tables and chairs shortly after the guests depart, and a number of areas in the lounge have been repurposed.
Overall and no matter what you may think of the lounge’s current offering, one thing is certain – the First Lounge is still a considerably better place to wait for a flight than an empty gate area, and considering the state of the world right now, that’s good enough for me.