- variety of comfortable chairs
- lots of natural light
- cheap wine
- blisteringly fast wifi
- power points everywhere
Since I had to check out of my London Heathrow airport hotel by noon, I decided to check in for my Terminal 3 flight early and get some work done in the oneworld alliance lounges.
Terminal 3 is home to all oneworld airlines that aren't British Airways, plus the joint Qantas-BA Kangaroo Route flights to Singapore and Australia.
The first lounge I tried was the American Airlines Admirals Club. Having experienced lacklustre Admirals Club offerings in the US, I wasn't expecting much -- but I was really surprised by the standard of the lounge.
Location & Impressions
The lounge is located in Lounge Area H (Heathrow unhelpfully directs you to meaningless letters rather than using, say, airline codes) and is open from 6am to 8pm most days, but closes at 6.30pm on Saturdays.
After winding your way through the congested and seemingly interminable duty free shop (thanks to airport operator BAA), turn left after the Caviar Bar and follow the signs.
After a passport/boarding pass scan (no, I'm not entirely certain why this needs to be done either) the friendly and cheerful lounge attendant welcomed me into the lounge.
There are half a dozen or so separate areas, with plenty of different -- and, take note Qantas Business Lounge in Sydney, comfortable! -- chairs. At almost every seat there are power points for both UK/Singapore and US plugs. (No Australian slanted flat points, unfortunately, so bring your adaptor.)
Usefully, there's a small "drop-in" area with seats and chairs right by the entrance where you can stop off, recharge your batteries and get some work done if you don't want to head through the rest of the lounge.
A quiet area is around to the far left hand side of the lounge, and there's a business area with HP computers by the windows.
TV screens with rows of power point-equipped chairs play US and UK rolling news in the centre of the lounge, but the TV isn't audible in the rest of the space.
There's plenty of natural light, with expansive views of planes departing over the Terminal 3 apron.
Business class passengers departing on an American Airlines flight are given access to the lounge, and oneworld Sapphire-level frequent flyers (equivalent to Qantas Gold) get in regardless of what class they're flying.
Also welcome are Qantas business class passengers and Qantas Club members departing London Heathrow with Qantas or Emirates when booked on a QF flight number.
An AA Flagship Lounge is available next door for first class passengers and oneworld Emerald tier (Qantas Platinum) cardholders.
I arrived between the morning/lunchtime period when most American Airlines flights depart and the evening rush for the rest of the world, so I wasn't surprised that the spread was along the lines of "light meal".
With several different stations containing salads, crudités, fruit salad, cakes, pasta and other assorted snacks, it's perfect for having a bite to eat before getting on the plane.
Soft drinks, a decent selection of liquor and (fortunately, not just American) beer is on a curved bar in the food area.
The wine selection is only okay, though, with two white wines and two reds. The wines on offer when I visited retail in the UK for about £5/A$8.
The wifi speed in the lounge was a blisteringly fast 18Mbps down and 15Mbps up when I tested it at 3pm.
That makes this lounge a superb place to slurp down a movie or three for your flight, or to send off those massive files you've been working on.
(It took me 20 minutes to download a 1.8GB movie, for example.)
It dropped down to 9Mbps down and 5Mbps up -- still fast, of course! -- by 4.30pm when the lounge got a bit busier. (Or, potentially, when the service provider realised I'd downloaded 10GB of iTunes movies.)
In terms of power, fast wifi and chairs that let you work with a laptop on your knees, this is one of the better lounges I've seen.
The quiet zone was observed, with passengers napping on comfortable chairs and very little sound penetrating through.
International newspapers and magazines are on offer on several tables in the lounge.
Private shower rooms are available, with modern, cool, chic rooms with their own loo, and particular mention must be made of the staffer who artfully arranged the hand towels in the bathroom.
I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the American Airlines lounges in Heathrow -- both the AArrivals lounge and now this Admirals Club.
With exceptionally fast wifi, comfortable chairs, power points and lots of natural light, this is an exceptionally good business class lounge.