There’s certainly no shortage of lounges at London Heathrow Terminal 5: British Airways, which occupies the entire terminal (plus portions of Terminal 3), operates no less than two First Class lounges (“Galleries First”), three Business Class lounges (“Galleries Club”), and one Arrivals Lounge.
The British Airways lounges share two common traits. 1. They only welcome British Airways’ Executive Club and oneworld elite members and premium passengers, and 2. They’re typically crowded.
Unlike other airlines which sell day passes or offer lounge access as an add-on for specific ticket types, the British Airways lounges are pretty exclusive: you can’t buy your way in. Which, given the aforementioned crowding issues, is probably a good thing. The sheer size of the lounges is no match for the ever growing number of flights departing out of Terminal 5, and the recent closure of Terminal 1, which had the airline shift more flights to Terminal 5, hasn’t helped in this regard.
More flights and more passengers means longer security lines — Terminal 5 is infamous in this regard — and passengers tend to spend more time at the airport. For some travelers, the required buffer time might be a chance to indulge in the high end shopping mall that is the heart of Terminal 5, but for some, it’s mostly a hassle or a productivity killer.
This fosters a natural opportunity for pay-in lounges, which welcome all passengers regardless of class of service and status. The pay-in lounge market is expanding fast, with numerous providers (Plaza Premium, American Express, No. 1 Traveler, Airspace, The Club Airport Lounges, etc.) all competing on the world’s stage and expanding their networks at a rapid pace.
Plaza Premium made an aggressive move earlier this year by opening two lounges at the brand new Terminal 2 (“The Queen’s Terminal”), a departures lounge and an arrivals lounge, followed by a departure lounge in Terminal 4. Over in Terminal 3, competitor Swissport runs their own independent lounge.
This left Terminal 5 ripe for opportunities. And it’s Swissport again, in a joint venture with Collinson Group — the owner of the popular lounge access program Priority Pass — who has stepped in to fill the gap.
Aspire, the Lounge and Spa at London Heathrow Terminal 5
Aspire, the Lounge and Spa at LHR T5, opens this week by gate 18 to all passengers traveling through Terminal 5 for £35 when booked in advance at www.executivelounges.com or for £40 at the door. Of course, the lounge welcomes Priority Pass members.
The Aspire brand, launched in 2012, identifies Swissport‘s premium lounge offering. Aspire lounges (often former, upgraded Swissport or Servisair lounges) feature innovative designs with high-end amenities.
The 4,000 sq. ft. London location features a fresh and modern design, with large windows and white surfaces that give the space a luminous vibe; comfortable furniture, and design elements reminiscent of Terminal 5, such as the white discs on the ceiling which also appear in public areas. Amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, sleeping pods, and a range of complimentary food and beverage options. Premium drinks are also available for a fee. The lounge also features a spa, perhaps in a nod to British Airways’ own offering. Patrons may purchase 20 minute or 40 minute treatments.
The lounge operators promise that service will be paramount, with a customer service team dedicated to helping passengers.
The arrival of a new independent lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5 is excellent news all around. For passengers who do not have access to the British Airways lounges, the Aspire Lounge and Spa Terminal 5 offers a chance to relax, catch up on work or dine before their flight. For premium and elite travelers who happen to be Priority Pass holders, the Aspire lounge offers a fresh alternative to the perhaps a tad old-fashioned British Airways lounges. The addition of a single lounge is unlikely to significantly mitigate crowding, but it’s certainly welcome news.
Have you visited Aspire, the Lounge and Spa at LHR T5? Share your impressions below.