In a sign that travel demand has most certainly recovered from the pandemic-era lows, American Airlines is finally reopening its fanciest lounge in London.
The doors to American’s one-and-only International First Class Lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) opened once again on Monday. The facility, which closed at the outset of the pandemic, has been shuttered since 2020, but will now be open daily going forward from 5 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
The lounge is located on the departures level of Heathrow’s Terminal 3 beyond passport control in lounge area H. You’ll find the space colocated with the airline’s standard Admirals Club on the ground floor just below the entrance to the top-notch Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse upstairs.
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During the downtime, American gave the space a light refresh, presumably including some new furniture and finishes, but it also gave the space a big back-of-house upgrade in the form of a brand-new kitchen.
The overhauled catering space will allow the carrier to offer both an extensive buffet and an a la carte dining menu in the lounge.
While new menus and pictures weren’t immediately available, I’d expect that the selection has been upgraded to take advantage of the new kitchen space. Before the pandemic, American teamed up with Rhubarb Hospitality Collection to provide catering services for this London outpost, and flyers were generally pleased with the offerings.
Other amenities in the lounge include seating for 120 passengers, restrooms (but not showers), a Champagne bar and high-speed internet access.
“At American, we want to continue reinvesting in our products and services to best meet the needs of all our passengers, especially at a time when seamless travel is key,” Rhett Workman, American’s managing director of strategic performance and U.K. operations, said in a statement.
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Access is reserved for those traveling in first class on a same-day international flight marketed and operated by American or a Oneworld alliance member airline.
Alternatively, Oneworld Emerald members can access the lounge when they’re departing, arriving or connecting in any class of service on a same-day international flight operated by American or a Oneworld alliance member airline. Note that this includes American’s Platinum Pro, Executive Platinum and Concierge Key elites.
The International First Class Lounge is a unique outpost in American’s lounge portfolio. It’s the only one of its kind, as American’s other premium facilities are called either Flagship Lounges or Flagship First Dining facilities.
(This space in London used to be marketed as a Flagship Lounge, but that branding was dropped in the 2010s in favor of the International First Class Lounge moniker. American had planned to renovate and rebrand the club as a Flagship Lounge as early as 2020, but that never happened.)
Flagship Lounges are designed as business-class-only spaces, while the exclusive Flagship First Dining facilities are located within the Flagship Lounge and offer an elevated sit-down dining experience.
American operates Flagship Lounges in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles and Miami, and it has Flagship First Dining outposts in all but the Los Angeles outpost.
Meanwhile, in New York, American and British Airways recently teamed up to open three lounges (Chelsea, Soho and Greenwich) at their new joint home in Terminal 8 of John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).
During the pandemic, American also colocated with British Airways at LHR’s Terminal 5, and during that time, eligible flyers could use BA’s lounges there.
Now that American is back in Terminal 3, the airline’s International First Class Lounge will be a good option for those traveling in first class on transatlantic journeys.
That said, LHR’s Terminal 3 features perhaps the best assortment of lounges of any airport terminal worldwide, and those who are eligible to use American’s International First Class Lounge can also visit (among others) the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge and the Qantas Lounge if they’re open before your flight.
Personally, I’d prefer a cooked-to-order plate of dan dan noodles in the Cathay lounge instead of a visit to American’s Heathrow club, but more options are certainly better than fewer.