London Heathrow Terminal 3: the best oneworld business class lounge

By John Walton, September 28 2011
London Heathrow Terminal 3: the best oneworld business class lounge

If your Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific or other oneworld alliance flight departs from London Heathrow Airport's Terminal 3, you might not know that you can get into three different business class lounges.

That's if you're flying on a oneworld airline, in business class -- or you have a oneworld Sapphire card or higher, equivalent to Qantas or Cathay Gold, or British Airways Silver.

The three T3 oneworld business class lounges, which we've reviewed in the past couple of weeks, are:

We've compared them across five key areas for the business traveller:

  1. Wi-Fi Internet
  2. Power points
  3. Food & drink
  4. Ambience & comfort
  5. View

Here's how the three lounges fared.

Wi-Fi Internet

American Airlines comes out clearly ahead, with a blistering 18.24Mbps down and 15.48 Mbps up.


BA trailed in the distance at 2.6Mbps down and 1Mbps up, and Cathay coming in last at 1Mbps down and 0.5Mbps up.

If downloading documents or media to your laptop is important to you, the Admiral's Club is definitely the lounge to pick.

Power points

American Airlines wins here too, with loads of power points at nearly every seat in the house. Extra marks for catering for international power points, and for comfortable seating.

BA comes second, but really only because it has various international power points in the "drop-in" area at the front of the lounge.

Cathay Pacific finishes just behind BA, mainly because its power points are only to be found at the tables with lights on.

Food & drink

Cathay Pacific edges BA out slightly on both food and wine, but both are ahead of American Airlines.

Cathay's made-to-order noodles, curries, great Prosecco and interesting wine choices beat British Airways curry, sandwich bar and mediocre champagne, although BA's wine selection is quite good.

Cathay's wine wins, though, for interesting varietals (when was the last time you saw a Grüner Veltliner in a business lounge?) and the sensible decision to offer a decent Italian Prosecco rather than middling French Champagne. 

American Airlines' buffet spread, while a good range of light options, wasn't in the same league as either of the other two lounges, and its wine was very much bargain basement.

Ambience & comfort

While this is probably the most subjective of our categories, Cathay Pacific's lounge on the top floor was small, but had floor to ceiling windows with runway views, felt a little bit luxurious, and emptied out regularly between Cathay flights, giving a bit of quiet.

With chairs comfortable for working on, Cathay Pacific gets first place, slightly ahead of American Airlines for feeling a bit more chic and less corporate-functional.

American's Admirals Club was spacious, with various different areas to tuck yourself away in.

However, it felt significantly more corporate and business-y rather than upmarket and chic. It gets top marks for having a variety of chairs and surfaces for working and relaxing, however.

British Airways' Galleries Club lounge is quite dark, has little natural light, and the food area is noisy with lots of through traffic to the rest of the lounge.

The areas further inside (including the wine library area and the Silver Bar) are more pleasant, but it feels smaller than AA's and, in the way it's laid out, noise carries.


Probably the least important part for many travellers, but for people who like relaxing and looking out on the workings of an airport, a decent view is a big pull for a niche market. 

With a runway view from Cathay Pacific's lounge, it slightly pips American Airlines' view of the Terminal 3 parking stands.

BA's Galleries Club view was marred by small windows with building overhang, and a more limited view along the same side of the terminal as Cathay's lounge. There's only a couple of windows as well, and the seats in front of them are buffet-style perches.


If you want fast wi-fi and lots of power points, head for the American Airlines Admirals Club.

For food, especially if you like noodles, visit Cathay Pacific's lounge.

In terms of wine, Cathay slightly pips British Airways.

For ambience & comfort, it's a corner of Cathay's lounge -- or the quiet zone in American's Admirals Club.

If you're in business class or are a British Airways Gold member, head to BA's Elemis Spa for a massage.

Our strategy if there's enough time: first, backrub in the BA lounge. Then download a couple of movies for the flight at the "drop-in" area in the AA lounge before heading off to the Cathay lounge for a bowl of noodles and a decent glass of wine.

Otherwise, or if pressed for time? We'd head straight for the American Airlines Admirals Club "drop-in" area for a bit of time with fast wifi before the flight.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

13 May 2011

Total posts 5

Hi John, what about the shower facilities in each? 

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

All three are actually much of a muchness, I thought, which is why I didn't compare the shower offerings.

27 Jul 2011

Total posts 42

Maybe you could do some tests in the future on - speedtest's connection quality and reliability sister :P

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

Yes, reporting on ping has been something that we've been considering for a while, and have been tossing the idea around the AusBT office recently. I'm still not sure that enough people really know what ping is, admittedly...

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