In this review:
- a machine telling a human no;
- an office of a 90’s company under federal investigation for ponzi schemes;
- a first class lounge with falling ceiling tiles.
FUCK YOU, HEATHROW
I headed towards the transit area, hoping to get to experience the legendary Concorde Room as a First Class passenger. Sadly, unlike my last time transiting through Heathrow and hopped between terminals, my expectation to experience different lounges was about to be utterly annihilated at a molecular level. I turned around the corners and dashed towards the transit gates. Now, Heathrow has installed these new electronic gates, which you can scan your connecting flight’s boarding pass and automatically gain access to the terminal. Of course, it would not open for me due to the fact that my connecting short hop was departing from Terminal 3 instead of 5. However, in order to access the Concorde Room, I had to get through here, or I would be locked out of heaven. Fortunately, there were two attendants manually checking the boarding passes of those who somehow were denied by the stupid machines.
I gladly wafted towards one of the lines, and within a minute I was hopping towards the agent.
“Your flight leaves from Terminal 5.” The agent recognized.
“Yeah I know that, but I would really like to spend my transit time in the Concorde Room here instead of the lounge in Terminal 3, because I flew in with First Class.” I waved my stub of the first class boarding pass.
“No you cannot go through here, take the bus to Terminal 5.” She was visibly annoyed.
“Please, Terminal 3 has really bad lounges, and they let me stay in Terminal 3 while I was on the other way coming through just 2 weeks ago!” I was starting to wonder if she even heard my reasoning in the last round of exchanges.
“The machine says you cannot go, so I cannot let you go. Now go to Terminal 3!” She bellowed.
What!? Just because a machine said I could not do this completely legitimate transfer because of some stupid coding, I cannot go despite going through you? Are people working in these jobs not have a brain? Isn’t it your job to properly analyze the situation and let people eligible to pass to go through instead of, you know, LISTENING TO SOME STUPID GATES WITH SCANNERS? The human element of any service industry is dealing with oddities and unusual occurances with empathy and reasoning, which machines cannot do, and what a shame these people put themselves down and do not even work above it, or even worse, be told to work below the metalic barriers. What a bunch of braindead, rude, and self-absorbed imbecile do you have here in Heathrow! Now I cannot even visit the only appropraite lounge British Airways have on offer for First Class passengers! This means unless you are connecting to another intercontinental flight, do not bother flying first class if you want the full experience, as most of the shorter flights depart from Terminal 3.
I sluggishly moved out of the way, while being stared down by both the agent and the passengers lining behind me as if I just asked the teacher if I could go to the bathroom since I pooped my pants. The mixture of frustration, impatience, ridicule, and belittlement coming my way was too much to bear, so I straight up ran to the connecting bus without looking back.
Fuck you, Heathrow, and your stupid employees.
Sincerely, a traveler.
Cathay Pacific Heathrow First Class Lounge
I begrudgingly entered Cathay Pacific’s lounge in Terminal 3 again, still quite upset from the debacle even after the 10-minute ride on the bus. Gladly, I also had a relatively great option: Cathay Pacific has a first class section in this lounge! Granted, it is not exactly a separate lounge dedicated to the top elites and top-paying customers, as this is simply a different wing of the lounge, but it would still beat out everything else. (OneWorld top tier Emerald elites have no access to the Concorde room.) I waltzed in and took a look around the beautiful surroundings in order to calm down.
As you may have deduced, it is very similar to the business class lounges Cathay Pacific offers, and honestly they do not need to be introduced any more. I have reviewed Cathay Pacific and their products on board and on the ground multiple times, and you can click here for a complete list of Cathay Pacific experiences I have encountered worldwide. In fact, I passed by the lounge just 2 weeks prior, albeit only in the business class section.
The basic idea remains the same: warm, cozy, relaxing sofa seats in bulk, and working pods facing the windows. Just for the First Class section, they are more upscale looking and more airy, also contributed by the fact that the lounge had a much higher barrier of entry so there were very few people. One major distinguishment of this section is the lack of a manned bar, as instead there was only a self-serve bar.
The champagne served is Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Brut, which is rather cheap for First Class, but I did not mind as much, since I would just use it as fire-extinguisher for my inner-flames of hatred towards this god-forsaken airport authority. I also checked out the dining section of the lounge.
There were honestly too many options on the spread, given that this is merely the buffet section of the foods, while you can easily go a few steps over to the business class wing for a dim sum break, or if you are lazy, less than ten steps to the a-la-carte dining room exclusively for the patrons of this section.
I took a seat at the small dining room, and was promptly approached by an agent who offered me the classic Cathay first class dining menu with a British twist, and took my drink orders. I quickly placed my orders with her, and was handed some restaurant quality dishes within 5 minutes, while sipping on my favorite airline-branded drink: Cathay delight. Now that is efficiency at work, watch and learn, other airlines!
Needless to say, this is some high-profile food. Even though they were clearly readied for the quickest delivery time, the food still felt like deserving for first class passengers on a bottomless basis. The only regret, at least for me, was that I lost my Oneworld Emerald status a few years ago, so I could no longer enjoy this every time I fly. I packed up my bags after a hasty meal, since I still had to explore other lounges on offer. Believe me or not, there are still quite a few out there just in this terminal!
American Airlines Admirals Club
Just a few steps down the hallway was the gigantic staircase hallway for American Airlines’ Admirals Club. Honestly, anything related to American Airlines is not exactly the pinnacle of luxury, or relaxation, or fun, or quality, or actually anything other than mediocrity, and you shall see it here.
I told the agent I flew in on First Class, hoping she would just direct me to the door behind me dedicated for the esteemed passengers, yet she could not care less. I walked around the business class section, which has a total occupancy of 2 other people. Yes, 2. And seeing this truly desolate scene, I could not bear to be here any longer, so I took a series of photos just as a reference here on the blog, before promptly packing my bags for somewhere else that does not look like Blockbuster headquarters 2 days before bankruptcy.
Honestly every aspect about this lounge is depressing. Either the lighting that reminded me of a 1990s company whose CEO had already escaped to Argentina as it was merely a shell for his ponzi scheme, or the food spread that barely covered the bottom quarter of the long-defunct food pyramid, I could not decide which one depressed me more. I am pretty sure prolonged exposure to this caliber of Admirals Club is world’s 3rd most common cause for severe depression.
I could not do anything but feel bad for the other two human beings “enjoying” themselves in this waste of space. The low ceiling, tiny windows, and jarringly intrusive lights all made me feel like it is a modern Norwegian jail, or some kind of improved version of hell dedicated for those people who steal food from the shared fridge in the break room. I looked at one of the other guests typing on his lap top in the corner, and his eyes met mine.
“Help me.” Those eyes said, as if a few drops of tears were about to burst out.
I noped out of Admiral’s Rehab as soon as I finished my photoshoot. Normally, I complain about overcrowding in a lot of lounges, but this time it was so deserted that this place looked scary. Time to move on before I hang myself on this lighting fixture.
British Airways Galleries First Lounge T3
Oh boy, where do I start? Um, let’s just say no matter what happens, British Airways makes it a bit easier to not commit suicide in their lounges, compared with some airline whom’st name shall not be known. However, even though I understand being in a fortress hub makes even the most exclusive lounges crowded, I still have to complain. So, here goes nothing.
I walked into the doors, and had to hand out my incoming first class boarding pass stub in order to be admitted to the first class galleries lounge, separate from the business class one I passed by last time. The agent immediately let me through as I said I had come in from a first class flight, not bothering to check at all. The interior is quite dull and uninspiring in some parts, while renovated and modern in the others. There were clear signs of renovation, or… renovation in progress.
Yo what the fuck? Let me remind you, this is a first class lounge. FIRST CLASS LOUNGE. There were no signs, no protective barriers, or any form of acknowledgement, and I could clearly see the large pipes dangling by a thread. This is some ridiculous shit right there.
As the same as the business class section, the lounge is mostly divided into a few large rooms. Most functions mirror the ones in business class side, albeit with slightly upgraded interior and furniture. As a result, I will only show you the photos and tell you my honest opinion: this ain’t any class close to first class. First class services and lounging should be intimate, relaxed and personal, not crowded with hundreds of others vying to take the last possible cucumber in the communal salad bar. I know it is hard for British Airways when it has so many super-elites, but that is their fault for not arranging the issues properly. Cathay Pacific has this issue as well and they manage qutie a bit better at Hong Kong, so this is no excuse.
The food selection at the buffet might as well been the same as business class, as I could not see any distinguishment at all. However, I immediately scratched that big minus in my mental scoring sheet as I saw the dining room at the deepest depths of the lounge, thinking that it would serve well as a substitute for those who wish to have a more filling meal. Oh boy was I wrong.
The area was clearly dedicated for sit-down, restaurant style service, but there wasn’t anyone. The attendant’s table was simply abandoned, with a bunch of random junk and a powered-down ordering computer screen. People took foods from the buffet here, and leftover plates piled high in multiple baskets. It was hard to imagine this for more than a dive bar at 5am in a small Indiana town after the police sealed the perimeter after a fight, let alone a first class dining room. Honestly if I paid over 7 dollars for this experience, I would have been disappointed. Gladly it was free, yet it only showed how abysmal the supposedly “first class” experience can be sometimes in Heathrow, given my inability to access the best offers simply because of stupid machines blocking my way.
Luckily, I had to leave this place of sorrow behind, as I ran towards the gate of my flight to Barcelona.
British Airways A320 Business Class
I have already reviewed this exact flight on the opposite direction on my outbound journey, so I will spare you the trouble. This time the only difference was the catering, which was set as a snack due to the departure time. The seat was awful, and the entertainment non-existant, but this Do&Co snack tray was on point. The meat was juicy and tender, and hummus never fails a spoiled millenial like me. Yum!
This is honestly one of the best meals on a short-haul flight I have ever had, and that was absolutely impressive given British Airways’ spotty record. My seatmate also commented that it was restaurant quality. If you invest in your catering, people notice, who could have known!? The rest of the flight was pretty eventless, as we touched down slightly after midnight.
Heathrow sucks. The airport authority is an incorporated private firm, sticking its capitalistic tendrils into every brainless employee’s skulls. I missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience because of it. Fuck you.
Cathay Pacific delivers consistent, high grade services, suitable for a first tier airline. Admirals Club from American Airlines was equally consistent, even though it was on the other end of the spectrum. And finally, British Airways have their hands tied as thousands of top tier elites flood this hub on a daily basis, and trying to create an intimate and luxurious feel in their first class lounges would be difficult, but I still think they are mostly at fault here: they did not even bother trying. I would probably spend all my time in Cathay Pacific’s lounge if I have to do that again and have no blogs to write, and that ends the sad tale of this world-famous hub with humiliatingly abysmal human touch.