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Month: February 2017

British Airways Galleries Lounge – Heathrow Terminal 2

British Airways Galleries Lounge – Heathrow Terminal 2

I thought I should experience the British Airways Galleries Lounge as I as flying BA to Barcelona.

 

The Lounge

It is a big long space divided into several sections. Some have windows but overall the impression is of a dark area.

The first main space you enter is the dining area with a selection of hot and cold foods. There was quite a nice if rather basic selection. All self service.

 

The next areas you enter are seating areas divided by “wine racks”. There are quite dark but there are windows overlooking the taxi ways.

 

Beverages

In the final section there is a large selection of spirits. On the centre of this area is an iconic wine cooler with a light installation above. Many other reviewers have commented upon it. Sadly this is now full of bottles of water.

The wine is relegated to another area nearby. However there is a selection of 4 reds and 4 whites. I could not see and fizzy stuff. The Grenache I tasted was very pleasant. This was all self service.

 

Conclusion

I found it an odd place. It is big but felt less comfortable and less spacious than the smaller No 1 Lounge upstairs. It as also generally noisier and less restful.

It is ok but not that relaxing. Overall I think I preferred the No 1 Lounge.

No 1 Lounge – London Heathrow Terminal 3

No 1 Lounge – London Heathrow Terminal 3

I am travelling to Barcelona so decided to use my Priority Pass to try the No 1 Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3.

There was no problem getting in although moderately busy.

I chose a seat by the window with a view over the tarmac.

 

The Lounge

It was quite spacious with various zones and different seating types. There was plenty of “sit up to” tables to work at or eat and lower tables and armchairs to relax.

Food and Drink

There is a serviced bar with free standard alcoholic drinks. If you wanted champagne a glass would set you back £8 and a bottle of Veuve Cliquot £48.

 

They served Langley gin. Not one I have had before – quite nice with tonic.

I was disappointed with the food selection. There was self service for some rather boring salads and cakes. If you wanted other food you could order it. The selection, as I write, included Lamb Hotpot, Mac and Cheese, Fish finger sandwich, Soup of the day or the cheese plate. I selected the latter and it was served to me.

Not very impressive

 

There is also a paid spa, not that I tried it, but it looked good as I walked by it on the way to the toilets and showers. Then toilets are individual cubicles (no urinals). They are quite dark with dark tiling although the toilet is well lit. The handbasin is supplied with L’Occitane Verveine hand wash.

 

Conclusion

A very pleasant ambience and comfortable place to spend some time. Moderate food . Overall worth a visit

Funky Eva Air Lounge – Bangkok

Funky Eva Air Lounge – Bangkok

When I landed in Bangkok after leaving Sydney the gate was at the other end of the airport to the departure gate for my London flight.

As I was making my way to across the airport I noticed the Eva Air Lounge. I was able to access this with my Star Alliance Gold card.

 

The Lounge

it is really funky with strips of neon lights. I almost felt as if i were in a hall of mirrors. The lights were rather confusing and slightly disorientating.

 

 

However, it was funky and refreshing . Very different to others more staid lounges I have explored. It was quite comfortable with a fairly decent selection of self service food and drink

 

 

It doesn’t have a view of the airport hence the dynamic lighting.

 

Sadly I could not stay too long as the walk across the airport to the C gates for my London departure were calling.

 

Conclusion

This was an interesting and fresh and different lounge. It really made me think about flying Eva Air or at least nest time I go to Bangkok to get to the airport early to spend more time there.

American Express Lounge – Sydney Airport

American Express Lounge – Sydney Airport

On my way home from Australia I decided to have a look into the American Express Lounge in Sydney Airport.

This has had a good write up by others.

Access

As a Platinum card holder I was able to access the lounge free. There was a large placard in the reception of all the accepted American Express cards – and there were loads!

 

The Lounge

On entering the lounge it was quite light with windows overlooking the airport tarmac. I wondered down the lounge to the food and drinks area. I was then struck that it was not very big.

It was moderately crowded although I was able to find a comfortable seat. Armchairs are by the windows and against the wall opposite and in the middle is a long set of tables and chairs with power access for computers etc

There was a small food area serving and hot and cold food. It looked quite nice although I didn’t try any as I was “saving” myself for the onslaught of food on my 24 hour return flights to the UK. I did have a gin and tonic and was pleased to see they were serving Hendricks gin.

The toilet was a weird affair with an electronic sliding door and once inside you had to press a button to lock the door. There were large signs about this so presumabaly many an accidental door opening had occurred!

 

In conclusion

This was a small but pleasant lounge with a nice food and drink selection. It was a little crowded and hence not as relaxing as it could have been if it were a bit more spacious.

Second Guessing Airline Offers

Second Guessing Airline Offers

When I flew to Australia last month I had booked my flight in September. I felt I had got a good deal as I booked with Thai Airways during a sale offer. I was pleased with the price I got.

Since I booked I noticed that other companies had a number of sales so it is possible I could have got a cheaper deal.

 

So when do you book?

How long is a piece of string?!

Many blogs I have read suggest booking almost as soon as the flight is released – is about 11 months before flying. I am not sure if this is for rewards flights – paid with airline points or for paid with cash  flights. However, I am really not convinced that this is the best strategy for paid with cash flights unless you are reserving a space with a ticket that can be cancelled. It seems to me that you need to take a punt and book in a sale. But which one and when?

 

Booking a sale price – and changing your mind

The problem with sale prices is that they have lock in clauses. Usually you are billed immediately on booking and cannot change the flight without cost. So in essence you are committed and cannot change your mind.

The exact timing of a sale and which airlines offer sales is variable. It seems they offer sale prices around the same time but never at exactly the same time so you cannot really compare, and book, one airline’s sale prices to another’s.

 

What about upgrade offers?

Once you have booked your tickets what then? I recently received a reduced points upgrade offer. It is on the airline’s website and is a shortlived offer for a few days only. I have no idea of the award availability so decided to snap up an upgrade to Emirates first simply because I had the points and like the offer. I should, perhaps, have looked at the costs and decided if spending my points had value. Interestingly because I had booked and paid for the original flights through a travel agent, again at a time of an offer, I was unable to upgrade the flight with cash on the airline’s website. It seemed OK, however, to upgrade with points with this offer. I thus had no way to compare upgrade costs. I went for it and am looking forward to Emirates First and a shower in the sky!

But again, the whole thing seems predicable and is pot luck.

Conclusion

As I commented about hotel booking,  a good airline deal is a lottery and a mug’s game. I suppose there are some predictable times when airlines have sales but it by no means certain and I can see no way of predicting if and when they are going to offer points upgrade deals.

So look out for a sale. Decide if the offer looks attractive on an airline you want to fly and book. Accept it and grimace when you see a better offer with another airline a few days/weeks later. Hey that’s the way of it.

But grab an upgrade (especially to first) if offered and you have the points.

That will be my policy anyway!

Heathrow Terminal 2 – Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and Conclusion

Heathrow Terminal 2 – Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and Conclusion

Unlike the other affiliated lounges the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge does not have a first class section (in contrast to Singapore Airlines’s SilverKris, United’s Club and Lufthansa)

I was welcomed very warmly and shown into the lounge.

It is a long lounge along windows with a second tier of seating raised a little from the window seats.

There is a small food section with hot and cold choices.

The bar is serviced and as usual provides a range of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks.

The lounge didn’t seem as busy as the others I had tried earlier that day. I wonder if this was because many airlines use the United Club, or simply by the time I got there a number of flights had departed, hence depleting the number of waiting passengers

The seating was of a modern square design and comfortable.

I was able to watch the status TVs and walked from the lounge to board my flight very smoothly.

 

Conclusion

So which is best?

Of the 3 lounges I sampled on the same day I liked Lufthansa in the main building and the Maple Leaf Lounge in the satellite. If I am not flying first (I wish) then I certainly use this lounge over the SilverKris business lounge and probably even prefer it over the United Club business lounge.

Heathrow Terminal 2 – Lufthansa Lounges

Heathrow Terminal 2 – Lufthansa Lounges

This is on the same, upper level, that you enter once through security. Turn right out of security and it is near the escalators.

I showed my gold status card and my boarding card. My business class ticket with Thai airways allowed me entrance to the business lounge and the status card to the Senator lounge. From reception you first enter the business lounge.

Business Lounge

This was much lighter and bigger the the Plaza lounge. Again more crowded than I have encountered on previous visits but there were still places to sit and relax.

At the end of the business lounge is a door opened by waving a piece of paper with a QR code under a reader. You can then enter the Senator Lounge.

 

Senator Lounge

As before this seemed more crowded than the business section. As far as I understand it this lounge is for first class ticket holders and premium status holders. Although I am one of the latter I wonder how I would feel if I were a first class ticket holder. Perhaps Lufthansa needs to reconsider their admission policy.

The Senator lounge is smaller in area and feels as if it has more seats per unit area than the business area. There is certainly less free circulation space.

 

 

The food selection was similar although a little more extensive than Plaza. Again there were a couple of hot selections and cold foods. The beverages were serve yourself in both areas with any of the soft drinks and mixers, Coke, soda water or tonic water etc provided via a dispenser rather than cans. I presume this reduces waste.

The food and drink selection seemed very similar in both areas so again I can see no benefits of the Senator Lounge over the Business Lounge.

The toilets were clean and modern and had a pleasant air freshener smell.

As my departure time approached I made my way to the satellite part of terminal 2.

Heathrow Terminal 2 and the Plaza Premium Lounge

Heathrow Terminal 2 and the Plaza Premium Lounge

I arrived in Heathrow Terminal 2 at the start of my adventure to Sydney.

My plan was to try a couple of lounges whilst I waited to board. In fact I tried 3.

Plaza Premium – accessed with Priority Pass.

Lufthansa – I was able to access both the Business and Senator sections with my Thai Airways gold card (part of Star Alliance).

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – accessed with my Gold card as part of Star Alliance.

 

Terminal 2 in the evening

Before I comment on the lounges I wants to make an observation on the terminal. I have flown from Heathrow Terminal 2 on a few occasions,  usually around midday. It has been busy but not overtly crowded. Tonight it was really busy.

I dropped my bags easily and then went to security. I usually use the Fastrack lane but tonight the queue was backing up into the concourse. I asked the attendants if the standard queue was any quicker. She shrugged her shoulders, “everywhere is busy”. I decided to risk the standard area as it has more lanes. It was equally busy but well marshalled and did seem to move quickly so, in fact, I got through security pretty quickly. Overall therefore quite a good experience although not as good as previously.

Once through security I decided to try the lounges.

 

Plaza Premium

The Plaza Premium Lounge is in the main hall of terminal 2. After security you go down a level and pass by the transfer desks to the pleasant looking entrance. The receptionist was efficient and processed my Priority Pass quickly and then pointed me to the entrance before moving on to the next customer.

The Lounge is windowless but is well lit in a subdued manner. There are lots of natural woods and is overall very calming except for the crowds! Other reviews I have read say how quiet it is. The day I visited it was quite busy but I was still able to get a seat and was quickly served at the bar for my gin and tonic. Admittedly it was not noisy and was still quite relaxing.

The food selection was good from a couple of hot meals to a few wraps, cheese and cold meats.
There were a few papers and magazines – not a particularly large or varied selection but enough. I was provided with wifi access which seemed to work ok for a bit of web browsing and email checking.

Toilet facilities were clean and functional.

There is another section that contains showers and bedrooms. I did not explore this area.

All in all the lounge was OK. It has clearly got busier since it opened and other reviewers have commented on it.

After a short while I moved on.