Fly OneWorld or another airline in Business or First Class out of London Heathrow Terminal 3 & you can access a number of different airport lounges in T3. Which is best? Cathay Pacific vs Qantas vs British Airways vs American Airlines vs Emirates vs Virgin vs paid Priority Pass lounges? Find out below.
Just to clarify, if you are travelling in Business or First class or have premium status with a OneWorld airline’s frequent flyer program, you can choose from a selection of OneWorld airline lounges.
Best Lounge For Flying In First Out Of Terminal 3
If you flying First Class on a Oneworld carrier or have a British Airways Gold card, you should always choose the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge. The BA Galleries First and the AA First Class Lounge are not as good, don’t even think of visiting these as an alternative. The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is undoubtedly your best option. You don’t need to do this.
Best Lounge For Flying In Business Out Of Terminal 3
If you have paid for Business Class in cash or miles on any OneWorld airline departing from Terminal 3, you will be able to access a choice of three lounges, the American Airlines first class lounge, the Qantas Lounge or the Cathay Pacific Business lounge. Both the Cathay Pacific Lounge and the Qantas Lounge are better than the American airlines and British Airways lounges.
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1. Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3
The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge at London Heathrow terminal three is the best lounge in the terminal. It offers excellent food with champagne and cocktails, attentive service and classy decor. The Cathay Pacific Lounge is found in zone C so head through security and via left and it is just a short walk. The lounge is open from 5:30 am until 10:30 pm except on Sundays when it opens later at 7:30 am.
Passengers can use this lounge if they are flying OneWorld First Class (whether you are flying British Airways, American Airlines, Finnair, Cathay Pacific or other in First), or are OneWorld Emerald. Even if you are only flying in Business Class or even Economy, you can use this incredible lounge if you are OneWorld Emerald. OneWorld is the only alliance that lets top tier elite members access first class lounges (with some exceptions). You can also access this lounge if you hold American Airlines executive platinum status.
There are two sections of this lounge and if you are an Emerald or flying in First you get access to the first class section. A hallway takes you to the business class section of the lounge whereas the first class entrance is right at the check-in desk.
In the First section, the first-floor section of the lounge feels very oriental with lots of towns and oaks. The lighting is cute with low hanging yellow lamps that look a bit like small thorns. The comfy lounging seats are spaced out and the coffee tables are massive sliced bits of a tree trunk, I really like these. Tropical vegetation is sat in pots in the corners of the room again adding to the Oriental feel and there are views out to the tarmac from the various seating areas.
This lounge is cleverly designed whether you are travelling on your own in a couple or as three of you because the chairs are grouped nicely and can be moved around to suit your needs. By the windows there are Ottomans with footrests which look out to the tarmac, they are perfect if you are travelling on your own and just want to relax and watch the planes go by. It is worth noting that this lounge has spectacular views out to the tarmac and of the runway so you can watch the planes fly in and out.
As you enter the first class lounge you will find a kitchen area to the right with a coffee machine, loads of teas, a water dispenser with still and sparkling water and lots of pastries like muffins and croissants. Of course, there are jams to go on your pastries. If you prefer a savoury bite there is a fridge with charcuterie meats and mini burger stall snacks as well as all the usual juices soft drinks bottled water spirits beers and wines and champagne. In fact, there is a huge range of wine available and you can even order cocktails.
To the far end of the lounge, there is a dining area where you can order à la carte food. At breakfast, you can choose from the eastern meals like poached chicken fried noodles beansprouts crispy bread dim sum basket or you can go for an English breakfast which is two eggs of any style, pork sausage streaky bacon oven roasted tomatoes sautéed mushrooms baked beans and Ciabatta Toast. You can also choose eggs Florentine, Royale, omelettes salads, Quinola salad, waffles with maple syrup and my favourite bircher muesli with apple golden raisins, Almonds, raspberries and honey to choose from. Healthy options include yoghurt and fruit salad granola type options. I can’t imagine needing to eat on the plane after this feast. There are also fruit juices and a daily cleanser smoothy type drink which apparently contains orange celery and lemon to start your day. The food in this lounge is as good as it sounds.
To give you an idea of the all-day and a la carte menu which is what you get if you have lunch in this lounge, there are starters like smoked pork, crispy calamari, chicken salad for starters and for mains there is the option of slow-cooked pork belly, pan-seared salmon with pasta plus some chefs specialities of wonton noodles in the soup, Dan Dan Mien, Fish and chips and Angus beef burger. All these can be followed by sticky toffee pudding cheesecake, a cheeseboard or fruit.
Also in the lounge, you will find showers and bathrooms which can also be accessed by the Business Class lounge. Probably the nicest thing about this lounge is that even when it’s full just before a flight only about half the seats get taken up so it remains a peaceful place to relax.
2. Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3
This is the lounge you should choose if you are flying American Airlines in Business Class or British Airways in Business Class or in fact any Business Class on any OneWorld airline that is flying out of London Heathrow terminal three. This lounge is situated next door to the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge and is accessed by the same doorway although you go off in a different direction if you are travelling in First. The Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge remains an excellent lounge and your best Business Class lounge choice in Terminal 3, although it is slightly more crowded and busy than the Cathay Pacific first class lounge at Heathrow. The opening hours of this lounge are the same as the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge and the design also remains similar, with an Oriental atmosphere and light woods with orange seating. There is a dining area with little booths where you can enjoy food and there is a noodle bar where you can order Hong Kong style wonton noodles Dan Dan Mein, Rice noodles, Dim Sung and ice cream. Beyond the noodle bar is the extensive buffet area with drinks, a coffee machine, juices, water and breakfast, lunch or dinner (cold and hot dishes) depending on what time you arrive in the lounge.
The food is excellent quality like you would get in a luxury hotel. At breakfast, there is scrambled eggs, baked beans, potatoes, fried sausages, bacon along with more healthy options like salads fruit and vegetable yoghurts and of course, there is a selection of pastries and muffins. Beyond the eating area, there is plenty of comfy seating in a similar style to the First Class Lounge with lots of big tropical plants and comfy seats are placed on nice thick rugs. Oriental screens separate off the various areas and there is also a bar area where you can drink any spirits, wines, beers or cocktail as you fancy. At the back of the lounge, there are eight private seats facing the windows which give you a bit more privacy and then there is a relaxation area, very similar to the one in the first lounge with comfy seats kind of like Parker loungers and footstalls where you can sit and watch the planes come and go as they look out towards the tarmac the views once again all pretty good. There is also a business centre showers and washrooms which have Aesop toiletries.
Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 and Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3these are the two best lounges in Heathrow terminal three and the ones that you should pick if you are flying out in either First or Business on OneWorld.
3. Qantas Business and First Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3
The Qantas Business and First Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3 is not the best lounge in terminal three but remains an excellent choice and is far better than the British Airways lounge or American Airlines lounge in the same terminal. The decor is more classic with seating around a central marble bar area, which feels modern but quite formal. The lounge is split over two areas and is similar in design to Qantas Lounge in Hong Kong, Singapore, Los Angeles and Brisbane airports. The interior was apparently inspired by London at twilight, which means that there is a lot of green and blue representing grass and rain with warm woods. This lounge also offers great views out towards the tarmac. There is a gin bar which doesn’t just offer gin, it offers all the usual spirits wine beer etc, along with a menu of recommended gins and snacks which are in little pots, for example, small bits of cucumber carrot and pepper to go with your drink.
The food here is a buffet during the afternoon with hot and cold food on offer. After 5.30 there is an à la carte menu of light meals. In the buffet, there are lots of salads soups and curries, along with an afternoon tea offering with scones jam and cream and, of course, champagne and strawberries with cake. Beyond this, there are six showers with Aurora amenities and a business area. This lounge is open from 7.55 am to 20.30 and is open to Qantas customers travelling in First and Business and Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold Qantas Frequent Flyers and their guests. You can also get in if you are OneWorld Emerald and Sapphire although I would once again recommend going to the Cathay Pacific Business or First Lounge if you have the choice. Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold customers can also get access to this lounge.
4. Emirates First and Business Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3
Emirates has an 1,025m² lounge for premium passengers which seats 260 located near Gate 7 of T3. This is not a OneWorld lounge. First or Business class passengers as well as Emirates IO, Emirates Skywards Platinum/Gold members can access this lounge. Outside of OneWorld, Qantas’ unique alliance with Emirates means that if you fly Qantas, you are also entitled to visit the Emirates lounge.
The lounge has furnishings consistent with all Emirates lounges and is long and thin with floor to ceiling windows, a separate buffet dining area, 2 self serve bar area, a working area with computers and a few TVs, shower facilities and a prayer room. Spirits include all the main brands, and champagne is available (Veuve Clicquot). Food includes a buffet of fresh veggies, dips, salads (like seared tuna), whole fruit, delicious bowls of high-quality mains such as large, whole fillets of salmon and chicken (compared to the BA curry with meat mixed in).
One of the brilliant features of this lounge (and most lounges on the Emirates network) is the fact that you can board directly from the lounge. Unfortunately, if you access this lounge but are flying Qantas, you won’t have the same boarding benefits.
Paid access (US$100) is possible for economy passengers who are Skywards members and this lounge is well worth paying for.
5. Virgin Clubhouse at London Heathrow Terminal 3
Virgin have done well with their Virgin Clubhouse at London Heathrow Terminal 3. It is reached via a lift with a sofa in it (what fun!) and although it is not intimate, chic or exclusive, it is the most futuristic and colourful lounge I have experienced.
There is loads of comfy seating, a cinema, a bar offering an extensive array of drinks, dining areas and even a garden! There is also a super pool table with arcade games and a library. The lighting is funky and the pillars connecting to the ceiling reminded me of backlit mushrooms. In fact, the whole lounge with its curvy walls and backlit detailing would fit nicely into a 70’s space-age movie set.
Food is offered in the sit-down restaurant area with an excellent and large menu and a “deli” buffet which in the mornings consists of yoghurts, cereals, breads, cheeses and smoked fish.
In addition to all the usual lounge facilities is a Bumble & Bumble Spa, where you can grab a quick complimentary treatment such as a 15 minute back & shoulder massage, manicure or even a haircut. My tip for this lounge would be to try and book a spa treatment as you arrive, as they can get booked up and if you have a quick turnaround this is a nice freebie that is worth taking advantage of.
It is also worth noting that this is a busy lounge, so if you are trying to avoid pre-flight stresses and want to find a quiet corner of the airport, this isn’t the lounge for you. It is fun, busy, funky and stylish. It is absolutely worth a visit and the food and drink offering along with the spa extras are excellent. But the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lacks the sophistication of the British Airways lounges such as the superb Galleries First lounge and Concorde Room.
It is worth noting that the booking Virgin Upper Class is equivalent to booking British Airways Club World. British Airways Club World passengers only get access to the Galleries Club Lounges at London Heathrow and NOT the First Lounge and Concorde room. These Galleries lounges are huge, pleasant with decent buffet food. They have everything you need but are not noteworthy and can be busy with the entire fleets worth of Club World and Club Europe passengers coming and going. This makes the Clubhouse a more appealing offering for those travelling on equivalent Business Class flights.
6. British Airways First Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3
There are also two British Airways Lounges in Heathrow terminal 3, the British Airways Galleries First in Terminal 3 and the British Airways Business Class lounge. These lounges are not as impressive as the Cathay Pacific or the Qantas Lounge but some flyers prefer the wine and champagne selection that British Airways chooses. If the alcohol is a deal breaker for you the BA lounges are worth considering (for a moment, before you pick the Cathay lounges!). If you’re a fan of Gin the Qantas Gin bar is a must but, as I’ve outlined previously, the Cathay Pacific food and overall offering is so much better that I would always head there, whether you are flying in First or in Business Class on whichever airline.
For me the only reason to choose the British Airways Lounge is in this terminal is the Elemis Spa. You are entitled to a free 15-minute treatment at the spa if you are travelling in First or Business class or if you are a gold card member and flying long haul. Unfortunately, these appointments tend to fill up quickly, so unless you can pre-book (only First Class passengers can prebook), the chances of getting one of these appointments it’s quite low.
Note that this lounge is different than the Concorde Room in Terminal 5, which is exclusively for British Airways first class passengers. Like the British Airways Business Class lounge below, this lounge is dark. It is also quite small and narrow. The fixtures and fittings are stylish and look like all the other Galleries and First BA lounges plus is plenty of alcohol on offer from spirits to wines to beers and free magazines. There’s also a kids area with a PS4 and other games machines, all very good, but my boy prefers to use his own connection to the free wi-fi and I imagine the few children who travel in First, may well prefer to also use their own rather than communal facilities.
Breakfast is very good and includes danishes and croissants, cereal, fresh fruit, cheese, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, hash browns, mushrooms, sausage, bacon, etc. What I like about this lounge is the presentation oin ceramic trays (rather than metal vats in the AA lounge).
The lunchtime buffet includes pork or beef meatballs, pasta, peas, fish and chips, rice and herby potatoes better than a business class lounge but not great for a Galleries First. The cakes are consistently excellent in BA’s lounges, I took some nice shots of the cakes in the Gatwick First lounge and the chocolate and Victoria Sponge cakes are so good! You also get Champagne if you so wish in this lounge.
7. British Airways Business Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3
I reviewed the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3 before my flight on Japan Airlines in Business Class from London Heathrow to Tokyo. JAL does not have it’s own airport lounge in Terminal 3, so it shares access to the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge. British Airways offers this lounge British Airways flights departing from Terminal 3 with destinations including Denver, Cape Town, Phoenix and Vancouver, although the majority of British Airways flights depart from Terminal 5.
The lounge is very similar to the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge South and Galleries Club Lounge North in Terminal 5, albeit it a less glamorous version. The passage to the lounge is somewhat unappealing as you have to make your way through a long tunnel, before you enter the reception area where you find the separate entrances to the Spa, the Business Class lounge and the First Class lounge.
The Business Class lounge is a long rectangular space, that is divided into four consecutive rooms: a small seating area, a restaurant, a large seating area with a business centre on the side, and another seating area centred around a stylish bar. The lounge features British Airways’ signature contemporary decor that can be found in the airline’s lounges around the world, with stylish design chairs, an oak wooden floor, and an impressive lighting fixture above the bar. A buffet is displayed at the restaurant: when I arrived at the lounge around 4 pm, only poorly looking sandwiches, fruits and soup were available, but things improved after 5 pm, when a larger buffet was offered, including several hot dishes and salads.
Overall, the lounge feels less modern and airy as compared to the excellent British Airways lounges at Terminal 5. Terminal 3 is an older building and the ceilings are lower, and although part of the lounge has large windows on one side with views of the apron and runway, the lounge itself feels quite dark. From the lounge, it was about a 10 minute walk to the JAL gate.
8. American Airlines First Class Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 3
American Airlines also has a First and a Business Class lounge at Heathrow terminal three. You can access the First lounge if you were flying on a OneWorld airline with a First Class ticket or hold a British Airways Gold card or equivalent such as OneWorld Emerald. It is located below the Virgin Atlantic Club House.
The look is terrible, tatty looking mushroom coloured couches, dated decor, free alcohol but of a lower standard than the BA lounges in this terminal, let alone the Qantas or Cathay. Limited Moet champagne (you can’t self pour, this is monitored), a ridiculously poor food menu with no appetisers and just three mains, teriyaki pork belly, wasabi crab cake, butternut puree and one dessert. The buffet was a mix of salads, wraps and some hot items. This lounge is due to be refurbished and it needs it.
9. American Airlines Business Class Lounge, London Heathrow Terminal 3
The decor in this American Airlines Business Class lounge is navy blue and grey and my goodness, this lounge is straight out of the 1990s with traditional small sofa seats and bright strip lighting.
The positives are the buffet. breakfast is delivered in big silver catering vats with one large one for scrambled egg, another for bacon, another for cooked tomatoes, another for mushrooms, there are breads and condiments along with juices and a good selection of alcohol if you so wish, wines and prosecco, even at breakfast? The presentation, like the lounge, is pretty appalling when compared to the rest of the airport lounges in terminal 3 but the flavours are good and the coffee machine is good too.
Lunch tends to be pasta, salads and some nice sandwiches but the presentation… It is in those darned catering metal trays (ugh) and even though the food isn’t too bad, the presentation puts you off. I far prefer the Cathay Pacific lounge and also the British Airways lounge in this terminal over the AA lounge, it is simply so ugly it does not give you that “luxury” or Business Class feel.
Most people don’t realize you can use a different lounge than the lounge of the airline you’re flying, but you can. This gives you no excuse to use any lounge except the Cathay Pacific lounges in Terminal 3 if you are flying OneWorld Business or First. It is the best. The second best is the Qantas Lounge, particularly if you like Gin.
How About Paid Lounges At Heathrow Terminal 3?
10. American Express Centurion Lounge T3
American Express is due to open a Centurion lounge past security at Heathrow T3. Access will be open to AMEX Centurion and Platinum card holders and up to 2 guests. This will be American Express’ first Centurion Lounge in Europe, and second outside of the US. Opening sometime in 2019, the new Centurion Lounge at Heathrow will be located post-security in Terminal 3 and will offer an exceptional level of luxury including the premium facilities and services that Platinum and Centurion Cardmembers have come to expect.
To get access to this lounge, you will need an AMEX Platinum card. With my referral link you will get 35,000 Bonus* Membership Rewards points instead of the usual 30,000 when you spend £4,000 within 90 days. Contact me via our Luxury Travel Concierge page to get a referral link and the extra 5,000 points.
London’s distinctive combination of history and modernity will serve as inspiration for the space, which will span approximately 7,000 square feet. In addition to the existing amenities found across Centurion Lounge locations – such as complimentary food and beverage from top chefs and mixologists, premium showers, access to high-speed wi-fi and private noise-buffering work stations, the lounge will feature specially curated amenities influenced by British hospitality, culture and style.
John Arbuckle, Head of Property at Heathrow said, “We are really proud to welcome Europe’s first Centurion Lounge to Heathrow. The lounge will offer a unique and premium experience for American Express customers and a comfortable haven, bringing to life the essence of modern British hospitality.”
Current locations of The Centurion Lounge include New York’s LaGuardia Airport, Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Miami International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Houston’s George Bush International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. In addition to The Centurion Lounge at Heathrow, American Express recently announced new locations coming to Denver International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Access to The Centurion Lounge is complimentary and exclusive for Platinum Cardmembers and Centurion Members. Platinum Cardmembers may enter with up to two travel companions at no additional charge. Centurion Members may enter with their immediate family or up to two travel companions. Platinum and Centurion Cardmembers may purchase access to The Centurion Lounge for further guests for an additional fee per guest. Currently, American Express Platinum cardholders get a Priority Pass membership and can also get direct access to Plaza Premium lounges in Terminal 3.
11. No 1 Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3
You can access the No 1 Lounge or the Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3 with a Priority Pass.
Get two free lounge passes with the FREE (in the first year) American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card. These two free Lounge Club passes can be immediately used to get into these lounges to enjoy free drinks (including alcohol) and food.
The American Express® Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card also offers 12,000 bonus* points when you apply, are approved and spend £3,000 in your first three months of card membership. To get the full 12,000 points you must apply through a referral link (contact me if you would like me to refer you via our Luxury Travel Concierge page). If you apply without a referral you only get 10,000 bonus* points.
The No 1 Lounge in Terminal 3 is also very good and much larger than Club Aspire. This Priority Pass Lounge that is worth a visit if you are hungry before your flight. While this lounge is always quite crowded, it is stylish and looks a lot like the No 1 Lounge at London Gatwick North that we reviewed previously.
There is an a la carte menu provides a mix of complimentary items and paid items along with a buffet which serves salads, pastas, beans and fruits at lunch. Complimentary a la carte dishes include things like a small plate of fish and chips, fish finger sandwiches, bacon sandwiches, noodle broth, spinach and ricotta pasta shells and similar and eggs benedict or florentine in the morning. There are also buffet sconnes, cream, cakes and chocolate brownie type offerings for dessert.
The food is better at this lounge than the club Aspire lounge which sits in our 11 spot, but the atmosphere is more hectic.
12. Club Aspire lounge Heathrow Terminal 3
This Club Aspire airport lounge is an intimate lounge located past the Cathay Pacific lounge in Terminal 3. The lounge looks nice with lots of woods (floor, tables etc) and sofa seating along with dining table seating. There are ‘Rest Pods’, which are free-to-use day beds but they are often full.
The breakfast is good with hot dishes like scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausages etc and the drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic are plentiful. It also has showers and Bliss Spa facilities for an extra charge.
Heathrow Terminal 3 Also Has Some Arrivals Lounges
American’s arrival facility at T3 reopened in summer 2016 after a major refurbishment. It features 29 shower rooms, valet pressing service, work area and a breakfast/lunch buffet (with a la carte menu) and champagne bar.
Access is available for AA, BA, Cathay Pacific and Qantas First and Business class passengers; plus OneWorld Emerald elite, BA Premier and AA ConciergeKey.
Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge T3 is a paid lounge that you can get for free if you hold a dragon pass or an Amex Platinum card or you can pay for access from around £25. This small arrivals lounge has seats and 11 showers.
Finally, there is the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, Virgin’s arrivals lounge which is on the upper level after T3 arrivals and features 18 shower rooms, valet cleaning service, breakfast bar, Clubhouse spa and free WiFi. Access is free for Virgin and Delta premium and elite passengers.
Emirates also as a small arrivals lounge on the ground floor for premium passengers using the chauffeur car service. The lounge seating, newspapers & magazines, drinks & snacks, computer workstations and WiFi.
*The bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card which issues Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months. This would include Green, Gold, Platinum and the American Express Rewards credit card.
You are OK if you currently or recently only had a British Airways, Starwood, Costco or Nectar American Express card. But you must not have held a card offering Membership Rewards points.
Disclosure: Most reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.