Another pandemic success story is the British Airways Galleries First lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5. The required pivot to keeping people safe has arguably resulted in better service than ever before.

I passed through on 14 December 2020 after an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin, connecting to a BA service to Stockholm. Let’s just say I was pretty impressed, so let’s see why.

British Airways Galleries First Lounge Decor

It’s the festive season and the ubiquitous Christmas Tree has appeared flanking the horse lamps at the entrance. Those lamps are stuff of legend in certain parts, for reasons I don’t need to share here.

Most things remain the same in the lounge, however the terrace is now the “Concorde Terrace” while the Concorde Room lounge is closed. It does not cause any problem with space as not many people are using the lounge, though it is still fairly well patronised.

The Main Event – Food Ordering!

In a staggering example of unusual efficiency, food ordering is now done via an app. In the past you had two options, the self-service buffet or the “dining room”. There, you would sit in what could almost be described as a busy corridor, having to flag down exhausted and harried looking staff members to place your order. Not so much fun! Things have now changed.

Every table in the lounge has a QR code stuck to it. You scan this with your phone and it brings up a site, where you are presented with a menu full of food and drink choices.

Once you’ve placed your order, the drinks arrive, followed by the food. The speed of service is sensational, so if you have a tight connection, you don’t need to worry.

Happily my choice was delicious, so I decided to get back on the app and see what else I could find. Staff members clear up after you very swiftly also – a notable change to the past where used glasses and dishes would sit around forever.

The Toilets

One must use the facilities and these are unchanged from before… except in two areas. I’m not sure when it happened, as I haven’t been to the lounge for a while, but it has happened.

Yes, Dyson has arrived… and it appears that the vintage travel posters are gone. At least, there wasn’t one in the little room I was using. I liked those!

What Is A Jukes 6?

I’m pretty much like a fly on shit when I see something on a menu that is unfamiliar to me. In the drinks menu, there was this available to order. “Jukes 6 – the ‘red’. A sophisticated non-alcoholic drink centred around a black fruits theme with a deep, earthy, spicy feel and a mellow, long, savory finish.” I’ll have one of those please… and a soup of the day… and another Champagne!

The soup is a win, with lovely bread. The Jukes 6 had a choice of still or sparkling water, or tonic water. I had it with still. You just pour it into the glass and drink it. I thought it was yummy! It is bursting with fruity taste and it’s akin to a red wine, which I suppose is the point. I rather liked it and would recommend giving it a whirl.

Overall Thoughts

Frequent flyers have long made jokes about the BA web site advertising their lounges as an “oasis of calm” over the years. None of them ever have been, as they are usually very, very busy.

Happily this is now actually true. It was an absolute pleasure to sit in the lounge, which had plenty of passengers, yet did not feel busy. Having food and drink brought to you instantly on a whim is excellent and really makes the experience. The fact there is good variety and it’s tasty too just adds to the joy.

You had better use the British Airways Galleries First lounge as soon as you can. Once flying picks up again, it will be back to the usual scrum. In an ideal world, BA would have more lounge space, as clearly after 12 years they need it.

What do you think of the new food ordering and general experience of the British Airways Galleries First lounge right now? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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