a bar with a lot of bottles on it

British Airways, like many airlines, is in the process of trying to win customers back into the skies. For frequent travelers and those with a first or business class ticket, part of that is bringing back airport lounges. Obviously, in a covid-19 world, that’s easier said than done. The airline has laid out novel plans to safely manage the spaces, and in many ways, they actually sound nicer than ever before…

people walking in a hallwayTwo Lounges To Start

To start, British Airways will open one all day departure lounge at London Heathrow, with one more opening up just for the morning rush. For inbound travelers, the arrivals lounge will also be open.

Galleries First, which is typically reserved for British Airways Gold Executive Club Members, and Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers from other loyalty programs will function as the all day lounge, whereas Galleries will also open in the morning until 12:30PM.

This means that for the interim, those flying in the afternoon or evening in “Club World” business class, or with British Airways Silver Executive Club status, or any other Oneworld Sapphire elite status will get an upgrade from the slightly inferior Galleries Lounge their ticket would usually entail, once Galleries closes at 12:30 and be able to enjoy Galleries First.

For those flying in First Class, the “outdoor” terrace in Galleries First will be roped off exclusively for those in this cabin, or with a Concorde Room Card from British Airways, or Concierge Key from American. The Galleries First Terrace will be the new Concorde Room, for the immediate future.

British Airways joint venture partner American Airlines is moving all London Heathrow service Terminal 5 where British Airways facilities are located, and those holding elite status with American, or with a business class or above ticket on American will be allowed in the space as well.

a bar with a wood counter and white pipesImpressive Lounge Tech For Ordering Food

British Airways has launched “Your Menu” an online food ordering website for its airport lounges, or for the near term – just airport lounge, singular. People touching things is a primary concern for everyone in travel right now, particularly in lounges which traditionally offer a buffet style setup, and the ordering system brings dedicated waiter service to what’s traditionally been a mostly self serve area.

The new “Your Menu” digital ordering system allows you to scan a code onto your phone or computer, create a username and password, and then order food and drinks directly to your seat, which will have a number so staff know where to locate you. Early reports are that you can even track the status of your order, and that lounge staff will be the only ones handling food.

GSTP Take: Is this better than BA’s best offering before? I’d say so! It was always hard to flag down a server or even a menu prior to covid-19 in the Galleries First Lounge, and this new system sounds fantastic. Early reports are that service is exceptionally good, and better than ever on the Concorde Terrace.

Everyone Gets Red Carded In BA Lounges

Understandably, travelers aren’t too interested in sitting down in any public space which hasn’t been sanitized recently, particularly if someone was just eating, drinking and sitting there. In lounges, this is particularly tricky. To quell the issue, and introduce a bit of extra branding, British Airways is handing every lounge guest a card which is printed ‘red’ on one side, and ‘blue’ on the other. The system is simple enough…

  • Leave the blue side up on your seat when you leave the lounge.
  • Leave the red side up on your seat when you’re just walking around.

The system is designed to alert lounge cleaning staff when a guest is officially departing, and therefore time to wipe down the seat and area before the next guest may sit there. For an airline with a history of cleaning snafus, this may be the greatest offering yet.

Got more questions? Find someone who cares! Just kidding, British Airways has a helpful FAQ about what’s on offer, how often things will be cleaned, where sanitizing stations can be found and more, here.

A Positive Start To The Reboot

British Airways took early heat for cutting virtually all premium services both in airports and on board aircraft, but have recently taken important steps to lure customers back in, with some resemblance of normal service. How well the new online ordering system works, or how substantial the menus for food and drinks remains to be seen, but if they pull it off, it may be the best lounge the airline has ever offered.

British Airways plans to trial automatic lounge check in within the next week, which will eliminate a further touch point. This is something many airlines already do successfully. Expect many more British Airways airport lounges in other countries to start opening up as travel begins a slight rebound in August.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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        1. No worries at all, just glad I didn’t miss anything! I’ve heard it’s only open half day, but will be interested to see if it stays longer. Best to you!

  1. Not so impressive if you’re a Gold Card Holder and have now got to share your lounge with all other business travellers and status card holders. It could be quite busy in there.

    1. I honestly think this is a step up, and who cares if someone gets an upgrade if your facility is better? Demand is so low at the moment and most BA frequent traveler traffic is made up of people transiting between the UK, North America or Asia. With those options mostly off the table, there just aren’t that many people flying. I’m Gold, don’t mind it one bit.

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