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Thursday
Sep272012

Inbound Lounges London to Washington Dulles.

Inbound

 

United – Star Alliance Lounge

A couple of years ago when Heathrow was shuffling around airlines to different terminals, United and the rest of the Star Alliance moved over to Terminal 1. The United lounge used to be in Terminal 3 but when Terminal 5 was completed and British Airways moved to that facility the Star Alliance carriers got together and took over the old BA lounge in Terminal 1. They did a complete redesign and redecoration and made a rather nice space.  And because it’s all of the Star Alliance and not just United it’s actually a nice lounge to visit. Here is some information about it. Star Alliance Lounge London Heathrow.

As with all Terminals at Heathrow they make you walk the Shopping mall mile before you get to the lounge and after you get through security. It’s not that bad and I usually get a bottle of scotch to take home and some water for the plane. There is a huge difference in the friendliness at this lounge compared to the United club at Dulles. There is a nice desk with about three or four attendants welcoming everyone as they come in. They actually smile and try to help you. Once it’s been determined that your’re allowed access they point you in the right direction to the left of the podium.

This lounge is somewhat busy but you can usually find a seat farther back. They have a main area with the bar and food areas and places to sit to eat. You can go to a quiet area to the right of the food or you can go to the left where a TV is playing news and you can see outside. I usually head there and make camp then get a glass of wine and something to nibble on. The wines are standard wines and not too fancy nor too cheap. The food is influenced by Indian cuisine with some soups, curries, rice and sandwiches. You will also see bowls of fruit around. They also have plenty to read with a wide range of newspapers and magazines. There are also shower facilities in case you’re connecting and need to freshen up. Not the nicest but they work.

This lounge is perfectly fine, it’s much more modern and more lighted then the United Club at Dulles. The seats are in good order and the attendants while not necessarily friendly are not rude or abrasive which is a far cry from Dulles.

 

British Airways Terraces Lounge

After the fiasco that United has turned into after the merger with Continental (More about this in a future post) I decided it was time to use another carrier to the UK and what better choice than British Airways?  Because I have Sapphire status in the Oneworld alliance I’m able to use the BA Terraces or Galleries lounges when traveling on a Oneworld carrier on that same day. I can also use the business class check-in. We arrived at Terminal 5 from the Heathrow Express and found ourselves at the complete opposite end of the Terminal as to where we needed to go to check-in. Once we did check-in we were informed by the check-in agent that we had to go through fast track and then all the way to the other end of the terminal to take an escalator down to the “shopping mall”. Yet again you have to walk through the mall to get to the lounges. Once we found the main entrance to the south end lounges we asked someone which one we should use. They have the Concord Room (BA First Class only) the first class galleries lounge for BA and Oneworld first class customer along with BA’s gold members and then the regular Galleries and Terraces lounges for all us other common folk. Now I say this jokingly because the Galleries and Terraces lounges are absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to get the chance to try the Concord room this coming October trip. We were directed to the Terraces lounge. I was happy for that because it was completely open and very bright with natural light from looking out at the tarmac.

Once we were allowed in by a smiling attendant we turned left to the wall of windows were we could watch the planes take off. You could turn right and go watch the people in the concourse but we like the planes better. The place is huge and fairly well visited as it was hard to find a seat. We got one right next to the window and proceeded to settle in. It was now time to snoop around. They had an island bar pretty much like the one at Dulles only with a much better selection of wines. On either side of the island bar about twenty meters there were bars with hard alcohol and nibbles. These also carried the red wines and soft drinks. If you wanted coffee they had a whole wall set up on a far side of the lounge especially for that, you could have just about any kind of coffee Starbucks could brew up for you, if you knew how to make it. Self-serve.

Now when we checked in I saw some islands with food on them almost right behind the check-in area. So once we got settled naturally I had to go take a look. They had all kinds of cold food. A wonderful blue cheese, salmon, salads and such. They also had a soup bar with three different kinds of soup and then another island with hot food. Curries, pasta and sauces, baked potatoes with all the fixings. You were not going to go home hungry. My travel companion went even further into the other side of the lounge and told me that they had even better wines selection over there.

The Terraces lounge has showers and private single bathrooms. You very rarely see that now-a-days. They also had plenty of reading material, British newspapers and magazines were in the majority. I also loved the open and very bright siting areas. They had attendants running around always keeping everything fresh and clean and full. The attendants where friendly and courteous without being over intrusive.

Both lounges are actually very usable and nice places to get away from the craziness of the airport main areas. I will still give the British Airways lounges the win when it comes to comparing the two.  BA really went out of their way to make a special space for their important passengers. The attention to detail is amazing and you really do feel a little bit special. The Star Alliance just feels a little bit too generic and almost like an afterthought when compared.

 

Next up, what went wrong with United after the merger.

 

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