For me, there’s nothing better after a long flight than having a lounge to visit. And as far as arrivals lounges go, London Heathrow offers a wealth of options in this space. There’s a virtual sea of airlines with facilities to greet passengers when they land, and independent operator Plaza Premium offers the service here too. But when it comes to Qantas’ partner American Airlines, how does its Arrivals Lounge stack up?

Funnily enough, a Qantas Platinum, Platinum One or Chairman’s Lounge card can get you inside… but not when you fly with Qantas. Fortunately, my arrival into London is on American Airlines from Los Angeles. And even though I’m on a Qantas (081) ticket with a Qantas Frequent Flyer card, it’s smooth sailing from here.

Location, layout and seating

Once you’ve cleared passport control, collected any baggage and exited Customs at Heathrow Terminal 3, make a left turn. Then just follow the signs up to level two. That’s where you’ll find the American Airlines Arrivals Lounge. If you’re lost, you can also follow signage for the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, which is up on the same floor.

As you pass reception, you can veer left towards the main lounge space. There’s a central sitting room, a dining room by the windows and a business nook in the back corner. It’s not an overly large lounge, but it doesn’t really need to be. The guest list isn’t as broad as AA’s departure lounges, but we’ll get into that later.

One feature I really appreciate here is that there are both US- and UK-style power outlets. Given the lounge mainly serves customers on American Airlines – with which, all flights arrive straight from the United States – it’s exactly what you want if you’ve forgotten to pack a travel adaptor. Or even if your US plug is still attached to your device after visiting a lounge in the US before departure.

Many of the outlets also sport USB-A sockets: handy for keeping your phone topped up before venturing into London itself. AA’s Arrivals Lounge opens daily between 6:30 am and 3:30 pm.

Food and beverage in American Airlines’ Arrivals Lounge in London

By nature, arrivals lounges most often serve passengers touching down from long, overnight flights. That makes breakfast the order of the day. And that’s exactly where American Airlines puts its focus in its Heathrow Arrivals Lounge.

After eating ‘plane food’, I always like something prepared fresh once I’ve landed. AA’s à la carte menu offers a range of brekky favourites, and it’s hard to pass up the bacon brioche roll. It’s a slightly more sophisticated twist on the classic British bacon butty, and it’s well enjoyed with a coffee on the side. The brews would be nicer if barista-made, but at present, they come from a DIY push-button machine.

Perfect for those with only limited time to dine, there’s also a full buffet spread. Options begin with snacks such as pretzels and crisps, before moving along to grab-and-go fruit. There are also breads and bagels for toasting, pre-made wraps, meats and cheeses and ingredients for a DIY salad.

For those who’d rather a spot of lunch even at breakfast time, the separate hot buffet has you sorted. Pair tasty beef with steamed vegetables, or indulge in a splash of comfort food in the potato wedges.

All in all, there’s enough here that you could well decide to sleep through the meal service before landing to maximise rest. And then once you land in London, head here to the Arrivals Lounge for breakfast instead. After all, when you’ve landed before your hotel check-in time, lounges like this are fantastic for bridging the gap when you don’t have anywhere pressing to be.

Given the time and my busy day ahead, I wasn’t eyeballing the range of alcohol. But I did notice that you can ask the waiters for a glass of Champagne (Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut NV), even with breakfast.

Lounge amenities

There isn’t a huge amount of seating inside American Airlines’ Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow. Instead, it feels like more of the space has been given over to the vast wings of shower suites. And to be frank, that’s a very good thing.

I’d just touched down off an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles – AA’s first arrival from LA that day. And yet, when I walk in, I can immediately head to the showers with no wait time. I’m impressed.

Towels and amenities are provided in the showers. There’s also a garment pressing service available, but I didn’t have a need to use that. It’s worth noting though that unlike the nearby Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, AA’s Arrivals Lounge doesn’t offer day spa services. That said, I didn’t really notice its absence. I was more interested in a shower, a change of clothes and a bite to eat before being on my way.

I hadn’t connected to Wi-Fi on the AA flight as I was mainly trying to relax and sleep. So it was quite handy to have speedy Wi-Fi here to catch up on my inbox before venturing out. My tests revealed average download speeds of around 29Mbps, and average uploads of 74Mbps. Perfect for backing up those holiday snaps to the cloud, or sending any large files through to colleagues after a long flight.

Accessing the American Airlines Arrivals Lounge at Heathrow

Even though American Airlines belongs to the oneworld Alliance, this lounge doesn’t come under the ‘usual’ oneworld rules. That’s because oneworld’s alliance-wide policies only cover departure lounges: not those accessed on arrival. Airlines are free to grant – or not to grant – access to a lounge on arrival, as they see fit.

To that end, here’s who makes the cut for the American Airlines Arrivals Lounge in London:

  • When flying American Airlines, passengers arriving at Heathrow in Flagship Business, Flagship Business Plus or Flagship First, from any AA destination. Must be on an AA flight number or BA codeshare operated by AA.
  • When flying British Airways, travellers arriving in Club World (Business Class) or First on a long-haul flight into Terminal 3. Must be on a BA flight number or an AA codeshare operated by BA.
  • oneworld Emerald frequent flyers, but only when arriving on American Airlines, or a long-haul British Airways flight into Terminal 3 only. This includes cardholders such as Qantas Platinum (and Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge), AA Platinum Pro (along with Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey), BA Gold (as well as Gold Guest List and BA Premier), and so on.

Access is not granted here for oneworld Emerald members arriving on BA into Terminal 5. (And only specific Emerald cards will get you into BA’s own arrivals lounge at T5 – Qantas members don’t make the cut). For clarity, there’s no access here for Qantas Business or Qantas First passengers landing in London. Nor is there access for Qantas Platinum or other oneworld Emerald members arriving on a Qantas flight. This was possible some years ago, but Qantas no longer has this agreement in place with American Airlines.

As for me, I’d flown Qantas Premium Economy from Sydney to LA, and then AA Premium Economy from LA to London. As a Qantas Platinum / oneworld Emerald member arriving into London on American Airlines metal (booked on an AA flight number), I was warmly welcomed inside on the basis of that AA flight.

The verdict

It’s quite a welcome privilege having access to a lounge after a long international flight – especially an overnight journey like mine. But it’s even nicer to have that access on the basis of frequent flyer status. Particularly when you’re only flying down the back – well, far enough back that there’s a seat rather than a bed – it really makes you feel valued as a customer.

My visit to American Airlines’ Arrivals Lounge capped off quite a pleasant journey. I’d begun my time in Los Angeles with visits to the Qantas First Lounge and AA Flagship Lounge, both on the basis of my Qantas Platinum status. And then on arrival here in London, that status came in handy yet again. It’s a nice little perk.

I would just note though, I don’t recall the AA cabin crew making any announcement about this facility before we landed in London. Granted, I may have been asleep during an earlier address, but there wasn’t a reminder as part of the typical ‘welcome to London’ spiel after touching down. I only realised I’d have access here by accident, when researching the lounge options I’d have upon my later departure from Terminal 3. I’m glad I planned ahead, did that research before travelling and knew I could visit here. And now, you know too – if you’re in the Platinum club, anyway.

Speaking of feeling valued though, it’d be a positive step if Qantas were to reestablish access here for its own passengers on QF1 and QF9. This privilege was axed in January 2020. Back then, Qantas justified that most passengers were bypassing the arrivals lounge. Instead, they were using the airline’s chauffeur drive service to zip straight to their home or hotel. But with Qantas chauffeur drive also since terminated, lounge access on arrival into London would be a welcome return.

Also reviewed: British Airways Concorde Room, London Heathrow

All photography by Chris Chamberlin, who travelled at his own expense and accessed the lounge courtesy of his (earned) oneworld Emerald frequent flyer status.

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American Airlines Arrivals Lounge, London Heathrow was last modified: March 25th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin