Cathay Pacific’s First Class Lounge in London isn’t loud and noticeable in the way that some flagship-type spaces can be. Instead, it’s hidden away. Sure, from the concourse, you can see that Cathay Pacific has a lounge of some description. But to the untrained eye, you’d have no idea that there was a little ‘Emerald City’ tucked away inside.

If you’ve made it this far and get the nod to come on through, you’ll be welcomed into a world of calm. My first impressions are of a space that’s quiet, respectful and peaceful – almost surprisingly and impressively so. Of the few other guests here, I spot a multi-Platinum recording artist enjoying a quiet meal. We happen to lock eyes, exchange a smile, and leave each other be. Discretion is the order of the day, and it’s a vibe.

In fact, especially if you visit at lunchtime, you can bet that your fellow lounge lizards are also seasoned travellers who know the drill. That’s because, after Cathay Pacific’s midday departure, the airline doesn’t have another flight until 5 pm. Who else, other than tuned-in frequent travellers, would know to come to visit at the same time? It really is a nice little club.

Location, layout and seating

You’ll find Cathay Pacific’s First Class Lounge after security within London Heathrow’s Terminal 3. Just follow the signs for ‘Lounge C’. If you’re familiar with the Qantas International London Lounge, you’ll find this right next door.

Inside Cathay’s lounge precinct, the reception area for Business Class and First Class is shared. If you’re eligible for First Class, you’ll be pointed in the right direction. While the neighbouring Business Class Lounge is quite sizeable, First Class is a cosy affair.

You’ll enter to find the main seating area, divided into several bays. From there, walking towards the windows uncovers a long and well-lit corridor with additional seating. Given the views across Heathrow Airport, this is my go-to space when relaxing in the lounge.

Again, this lounge is small. It’s certainly not on the scale of Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong lounges. But then again, it doesn’t need to be. Even when the Business Class Lounge next door is bustling, the First Class Lounge is often blissfully quiet. That’s how I find it today.

Food and beverage in the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at London Heathrow

Beyond the peace and quiet, it’s the hospitality that really sets Cathay’s First Class Lounge apart from its Business Class space here in London. While Business Class has a walk-up noodle bar, First Class has a dine-in restaurant.

I settle in with a glass of bubbles – Joseph Perrier Champagne, to be precise. There’s also a Rosé (George Vesselle) and Prosecco (Arcobello) for some variety. Today, I’ve already flown in from Los Angeles, swung by AA’s Arrivals Lounge and gone back through the airport formalities to be right here. I gladly take a moment to relax and settle in.

Once I have a chance to peruse the menu, I can’t resist beginning with some traditional favourites. The dim sum basket and dan dan mien noodles are calling. The peanut sauce is just as good here as in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Bliss. But I’m in London – and teasingly, without a chance to actually leave Heathrow this time around. Fish, chips and mushy peas are a must. Fortunately, the lounge has that, too.

I’m planning a bit of a hop around Heathrow today – continuing with the Qantas, American Airlines First Class and Amex Centurion lounges. So I skip dessert… as tempting as the strawberry eton mess would have been. Next time.

Don’t have time for a full sit-down meal? Counters and fridges out in the main lounge space have you covered. Here, you’ll find fruits, lunch-type bites, desserts, cheeses, nibbles, breads and much more. There’s also a corner with very small servings of hot bites. Two calamari rings at a time, for instance, if you fancy a very small snack. Guilty.

How to access the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at London Heathrow

Access to Cathay Pacific’s First Class Lounge in London mirrors the usual oneworld Alliance rules. The biggest hurdle many will face is the lounge’s location. It sits in Heathrow’s Terminal 3 – whereas London’s largest oneworld carrier, British Airways, is based at Terminal 5.

BA still runs some of its flights from T3: tonight’s hop to Oslo, for instance, is my ticket through the door. But if you’re flying BA to Singapore (and onwards to Sydney), or to places like New York, this lounge isn’t physically accessible: these flights leave from T5. So do most of BA’s flagship departures, really. For BA, T3 is generally home to shorter hops within the region.

But Terminal 3 houses most other oneworld carriers serving London, and that includes Qantas. Yes, you can visit this space before embarking on QF2 or QF10 – if you make the cut. And, clearly, Cathay Pacific flies from T3 as well.

Cathay Pacific First Class check-in at London Heathrow
Welcome to First Class. [Image courtesy of Cathay Pacific]

As for Cathay’s First Class Lounge, who actually qualifies? You’ll need to be departing in First Class on a oneworld Alliance flight, or hold oneworld Emerald status and be flying on a oneworld airline. For example, I’m flying British Airways and have a Qantas Platinum (oneworld Emerald) card. It may be a quick flight to Norway, but the destination doesn’t matter: I’m good to go.

You may also qualify – sans status – if you’ve arrived in London in First Class on a oneworld airline. But that flight needs to have been at least five hours in length, and you’ll also need a same-day onward oneworld flight from Terminal 3 (in any cabin). One guest is allowed for all of the above. For Cathay’s own Diamond members, it’s two guests. And for Cathay Diamond Plus and Diamond Invitation cardholders, access is granted when flying any airline, oneworld or otherwise.

The verdict

To be fair, Cathay Pacific’s First Class Lounge in London doesn’t have the same ring as The Concorde Room. But the two are very different beasts. This is an outstation for Cathay Pacific – not its home hub. And the cosy lounge that Cathay offers here is pleasant, peaceful… and perfect.

It doesn’t go big on flashy amenities or need to be huge. It’s comfortable, it’s discreet, and it’s everything you want it to be. If you’re seeking natural light and airport views, there’s plenty of both. If you’re after a quick bite before you race off, that’s covered. And if you have time for a full meal, settle in and enjoy.

Admittedly, there are still a couple of oneworld lounges I haven’t yet tried in Terminal 3. But when you have access to Cathay Pacific’s First Class Lounge in London, why would you head anywhere else?

Also reviewed: British Airways Boeing 777 First (London – New York)

Featured image courtesy of Cathay Pacific. Other photography by Chris Chamberlin. Chris accessed the lounge courtesy of his Qantas Platinum (oneworld Emerald) status while travelling on British Airways at his own expense.

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Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, London Heathrow was last modified: May 21st, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin