London Heathrow Terminal 3 is home to a sea of oneworld Alliance lounges. You’ve got American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas all under one roof. And for American Airlines, the carrier puts its best foot forward in London with an International First Class Lounge.
This isn’t a salubrious space to rival the design of the nearby Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, mind you. But it is a place that’s worth visiting if you’re in need of somewhere quiet to relax, make a call or enjoy a quick meal. Best of all, eligible passengers can stop by before any oneworld flight.
Thanks to the power and partnerships of oneworld, I’m able to access this American Airlines lounge thanks to my Platinum (Emerald) status with Qantas. I put that card to use ahead of a British Airways flight – and one I’d booked using Qantas Points after connecting over from American Airlines on the same ticket. How’s that for an airline love triangle?
Location, layout and seating
It’s easy to find American Airlines’ International First Class Lounge in London. Once you’re through security at Heathrow Terminal 3, follow the signs for lounge H. You could also follow the signs for the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, as AA’s lounge complex shares the same entryway and sits one floor below.
Compared to the likes of other First Class lounges, this isn’t a huge space. It’s more of a secluded area tucked away within the footprint of AA’s neighbouring Admirals Club. Both lounges share the same reception, but if you’re eligible for First Class, the staff press a secret button. A door glides open, and you’re through – into a much quieter world.
It’s been a while since this lounge has been refreshed. In fact, it remains the only ‘International First Class Lounge’ that American Airlines continues to operate anywhere in the world. Over time, all of AA’s other First Class lounges have been redesigned and rebranded as Flagship lounges. But for Platinum-tier flyers, London brings some advantages.
As the guest list is only First Class passengers and Emerald-tier frequent flyers, it’s very quiet. Truth be told, I wasn’t even planning to visit this lounge. But when I learn of a half-hour wait just to get inside the nearby American Express Centurion Lounge, I figure it’ll be worth a visit.
Where Amex is heaving, the AA First Class Lounge is serene. The dining room is wide open, and there are seats with airport views and comfy sofas to settle into. Design-wise, this may not be AA’s ‘fanciest’ lounge, but it certainly feels exclusive.
As with the Admirals Club next door, the First Class Lounge opens daily between 5 am and 7:30 pm.
Food and beverage in the American Airlines International First Class Lounge at London Heathrow
I’m barely a few steps into American Airlines’ International First Class Lounge in London when I uncover the Champagne station. (Hello there!) Today, it’s a choice between Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut and Rosé. I seem to encounter the former quite regularly on my travels, so I opt for the Rose for something different.
From there, most food and drinks are self-serve from the main buffet. This early evening visit finds lighter options, such as wraps and salads, alongside heartier hot choices. Out of the corner of my eye, though, I spot a collection of tables with menus on them. I wander on over and settle in. I’ve just made the cut-off for the evening dinner service, huzzah.
It’s a small menu, but the options cater to many tastes. I can select from a trio of sliders, a salmon dish, a stuffed portobello mushroom or a vegan heritage summer salad. I’ve been lounging a bit these last few days, so the salmon sounds like a healthy pick. It’s served with asparagus, beans, cherry tomatoes and a little scoop of orange caviar.
My salmon is cooked to perfection. And as I’m the only person dining, it also comes quickly. Just as I’m finishing up, I get a notification that I’m at the front of the digital queue to enter the Centurion Lounge. AA, it’s been fun, but it’s time for my next stop.
How to access the American Airlines International First Class Lounge at London Heathrow
The door list for the American Airlines International First Class Lounge in London is much tighter than for AA’s Flagship lounges. While Flagship is open to Business and First Class – and to Gold and Platinum – the First Class Lounge is strictly for top-tier travellers only. Here’s who makes the grade – all with one guest allowed.
- Passengers departing Terminal 3 in First Class on a oneworld Alliance airline.
- Travellers who arrive into T3 in First Class on a oneworld flight of five hours or more, and who have an onward oneworld flight of under five hours (in any cabin).
- Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members with an onward oneworld flight.
- Other oneworld Emerald frequent flyers with an onward oneworld flight.
For passengers accessing the lounge via status or onward First Class flight, there are no restrictions on entry based on the length of the flight. For instance, today, I’m flying British Airways from London to Oslo – a mere two-hour hop. Because this flight departs from Terminal 3, I can use the First Class Lounge courtesy of my Qantas Platinum status – and I do exactly that. The staff here know the drill and don’t bat an eyelid when I hand over my BA boarding pass. Happy days.
Some top-tier lounges are all about glitz and glamour. They can be an airline’s most luxurious pre-flight experience. Yet it’s fair to say that the American Airlines International First Class Lounge doesn’t fall into this category. By the same token, though, the lounge has a few other things going for it.
For one, it tends to be very quiet. You truly appreciate this once you wander out of this secluded space and back into the terminal proper – and must dodge people racing through narrow corridors to make your flight. The lounge, on the other hand, provides a lovely place to work and relax.
There are basics that you’d expect, such as showers and zippy Wi-Fi. But the dining room provides a nice touch. No doubt, the nearby Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge offers a broader menu. But when you just want a quick bite that’s healthy and fresh, AA knocks it out of the park.
If it weren’t for the restaurant, I wouldn’t really rate this space. It’s a little old – and a little more like an Admirals Club than a top-tier lounge. I’d even say that other facilities like AA’s Flagship Lounge in Los Angeles outdo the London First Class Lounge – in terms of style, at least. And, of course, there are plenty of oneworld lounges to choose from at Heathrow Terminal 3.
But those alternatives can be popular. If you’re short on time, the AA First Class Lounge may be a better bet. I’d return for that salmon dish alone.
Also reviewed: The Qantas International London Lounge
Chris Chamberlin accessed the lounge courtesy of his Qantas Platinum (oneworld Emerald) status while travelling on British Airways at his own expense.
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