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I haven’t passed through the British Airways First Lounge at Heathrow T5 since mid-October last year, but since my last visit the lounge has undergone a minor refresh.
The layout of the lounge remains (mostly) the same as always, and a key aspect of the lounge that badly needs refreshing hasn’t been touched, but all the seating areas now have a completely new selection of chairs and sofas.
I’m not going to go into detail about the changes that BA has made to the furniture in its First Lounge at Heathrow T5 as the pictures tell the story well enough, but I will say this: Aesthetically, some of the new chairs are a big improvement over what was offered in the lounge before this refresh, but I worry that some of BA’s choices aren’t very practical.
Near the entrance from the First Wing
This is what this area has looked like in the past:
Between the main entrance and the terrace (main seating area)
I’m not a fan of these sofa-style seats as their design appears to encourage a certain type of passenger to sprawl out and use them as a bed.
Nothing makes what is supposed to be a premium area of an airport feel a lot less premium than passengers asleep with their feet up on the furniture surrounded by their luggage (and there were three such passengers on my last visit).
This last seat-type (which feels very private) is found by the high tables near the entrance to the terrace (these haven’t moved and haven’t been changed).
This is what some of the seating in this area looked like in the past:
From the main seating area to past the washrooms
The sleep pods area
The sleep pods have gone and have been replaced with sofas, chairs, and tables.
This is probably a sensible move by BA as the sleep pods took up a lot of space while catering for relatively few passengers. This extra seating should, hopefully, relieve the pressure a bit during busier times.
The workstations that are located outside the old sleep pod area are still in place.
These were the old sleep pods:
The indoor terrace
The bigger seat in this picture is the same seat as you’ll find near the entrance to the terrace (shown earlier).
This is what this area has looked like in the past:
The dining area
This area still has some furniture that dates back quite a few years, but there have still been quite a few significant changes made here.
These chairs are by the entrance to the dining area …
… as well as opposite the coffee machines.
And, a little further in, you’ll find these seats …
These are some of the seat types that we’ve seen in the dining area in the past:
Overall, it’s very nice to finally have some new furnishings in the British Airways First Lounge at T5 but it’s not all great news.
A minor issue that I have is that I can imagine a good number of these seats getting dirty quickly (the older seats looked dated but a number of them appeared to be a lot easier to clean than the latest batch of seats), and I can’t help but wonder how soon it will be before that dirt starts to show.
A far bigger issue that I have is with the power outlets in the lounge – BA appears to have removed almost all the AC power outlets and replaced them with USB/cordless charging points.
Unless I missed something, the only area of the lounge with access to AC power appears to be the workstation area past the washrooms.
Why does the airline think that everyone who wants to work on their laptop while charging it* wants to sit on a stool at a shallow workstation like an out of work ‘screenwriter’ at a Los Angeles Starbucks?
And with the limited number of seats in the workstation area, what happens when things get busy (as they inevitably do)?
I have no idea what BA was thinking here.
*A significant number of aircraft in BA’s short-haul fleet do not offer AC power in the main cabin, and it’s often hit or miss if the AC power outlets are working on BA’s long-haul aircraft, so it’s usually a good idea to make sure you don’t start draining your battery while working in the lounge.
My final issue is with what BA hasn’t attempted to refresh – the toilets/washrooms/bathrooms.
The toilets in the First Lounge are notoriously disgusting and are long overdue a refresh (I usually use the restrooms opposite Gate 23 rather than in the First lounge before I head to my gate) and yet there no sign that BA has any interest in doing something about this.
Yes, I know that the airline needs to find a way to close the current facilities while keeping the lounge open and that this will be challenging – it takes 3-4 months to install two scanners at T5 so, presumably, it will take forever to build some new toilets – but this is a job that seems to have been put off for far too long.
New and modern furniture is nice, but I’m pretty sure most passengers passing through this lounge would put acceptable toilets ahead of a furniture refresh on their First Lounge wish list.
At some point in the past couple of months, British Airways has swapped out most of the old furniture that had sat in the T5 First Lounge since time immemorial for some funky new furniture that actually looks quite nice.
We’ll have to wait and see how well the new furniture will stand up to the hoards that pass through the lounge every day, but that’s not really my biggest concern right now.
My biggest concern is that BA continues to show little interest in refreshing the horrendous washrooms in the First lounge and that the airline appears to have decided that passengers don’t really need AC power in most areas of the lounge.
Assuming that I haven’t somehow missed a whole batch of new AC outlets as I wandered around the lounge (I really hope that I did!), whoever signed off on this decision should be made to eat nothing but BA sausages for the rest of the year 🙂