British Airways – My long haul carrier of choice

Inside the British Airways Galleries Lounge at Cape Town International Airport, South Africa. (Roger Sedres)


Travelling with British Airways

With Cape Town, South Africa right at the foot of Africa; I always face daunting long haul flights when required to travel to cover major international sporting events as a photographer.

Whether Europe, North America or Asia, I almost always face a minimum journey of more than 11 hours.

British Airways has been my airline choice since 2012 and operates a daily direct service from Cape Town to London. I’ve had many memorable trips and am pleased to say that my journey begins somewhat before I board a BA flight. One of the best parts is relaxing in a BA lounge before boarding. The airline has many different lounges that add to the overall experience of flying “The world’s favourite airline”.


Business Class

Club World is British Airways’ long haul business class cabin. The airline was the first commercial carrier to launch fully flat beds in business class in 2001, with the patented “yin yang’ formation. The current Club World suite offers customers a spacious area that can be adapted to suit their needs, be that working, sleeping, relaxing or dining. Customers travelling in Club World are able to use private lounges and luxurious spas treatment facilities and even benefit from a larger free baggage allowance.

Some Club World airport features include:

  • Dedicated Club World check-in desks at most airports
  • Fast Track security at London Heathrow, Gatwick and New York JFK airports
  • Fast Track arrivals for non-EU passport holders and 90 partner lounges around the world including the Galleries lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5 and the Terraces lounge at Gatwick. The Galleries lounge offers customers calm and tranquil surroundings, featuring Osborne and Little exclusively designed fabric, and light meals, snacks, fine wines and champagne. Business facilities are available within the lounges and customers can make use of the luxurious Elemis Travel Spa (Heathrow Terminals 3 and 5 and New York JFK terminal 7)
  • Priority boarding
  • A more generous baggage allowance with the ability to check-in up to three (3) bags


The Cabin

 Main features include:

  • A fully flat six foot (1,83m) bed with a memory foam headrest and quilted blanket
  • Customers can choose the position of the seat, from fully flat, through a “Z position” with the knees supported and slightly raised, to upright, all at the touch of a button
  • A 2-4-2 configuration across the cabin
  • Yin-Yang style seating
  • 4 inch flat screen inflight entertainment system with hundreds of on-demand channels
  • Luxury Elemis amenity kit featuring skincare products and accessories such as socks and eye masks
  • Power supply for laptops and electronic devices
  • Delicious three-course meals inspired by the world’s top chefs. The menus are designed with provenance in mind and feature high quality seasonal ingredients. In between meals, the Club Kitchen offers a range of healthy nibbles, wraps and other treats
  • The Sleeper Service offers passengers the ability to sleep for as long as possible on North American and Middle East flights with a night-cap just after boarding and a quick breakfast prior to arrival


Lounges in London Heathrow Terminal 5

Within Terminal 5, there are six (6) British Airways lounges within the terminal, viz. The Concorde Room, The First Class lounge, three Club lounges and an Arrivals Lounge. Collectively, the lounges, known as “Galleries”, are capable of hosting up to 2500 people.


The Concorde Room

The Concorde Room can accommodate up to 156 of the airline’s First Class customers and the airline’s specially invited guests. The lounge contains a fully serviced “Concorde Bar” serving wines and spirits from across the world as selected by British Airways’ dedicated wine buyer. A restaurant is available for FIRST customers, offering a selection of freshly prepared refreshments and meals throughout the day. A dedicated concierge desk enables customers to manage various aspects of their lives from booking theatre tickets and taxis to changing flight details. A discreet boardroom enables customers to conduct meetings and check their computers in complete privacy.


The Galleries First Lounge

The Galleries First Lounge, with 542 seats, is for FIRST customers and Gold Executive Club members. The lounge features “The Gold Bar”, which is covered in gold leaf and is lit by a Swarovski crystal chandelier. During peak times, the bar, again stocked with some of the world’s most interesting wines and spirits, is manned or, if they prefer, customers can simply help themselves.

The Wine Gallery has a selection of prestigious wines and offers wine tastings at selected times throughout the day. The Champagne Bar serves a range of the best champagnes.

A Work and Entertainment Zone provides wired PC’s across the lounge for customer use with free internet access and expansive download content. A dedicated customer service desk enables customers to arrange or amend flights and handle general queries.


The Galleries Club Lounges

The Galleries Club Lounge is open to Club World, Club Europe, Gold and Silver Executive Club members. It is the largest lounge with 830 seats and features two “Silver” bars. Customers can help themselves to the bar’s selection of drinks and fine wines, all under the glow of a Swarovski crystal chandelier. A Wine Gallery and Work and Entertainment Zones also feature in the Galleries Club Lounge. There is an additional Galleries Club Lounge at the northern end of the terminal, situated close to the short haul gates, for Club Europe customers and Gold and Silver Executive Club members travelling on the short haul and domestic networks, which has 440 seats. There is also another 465-seat Galleries Club Lounge in the satellite B building specially designed for the long haul passenger.


Galleries Arrivals Lounge

The Galleries Arrivals Lounge is available to First class, Club World and Gold Executive Club members travelling on long haul flights and can accommodate 156 guests at a time. The Galleries Arrival lounge is tranquil and relaxing with comfy lounge seating and a wealth of high-end amenities to suit customers’ needs. Customers can experience a range of treatments at the Elemis Travel Spa within the lounge, revive themselves in one of the 94 shower rooms whilst British Airways presses their suit for them! The lounge also has free internet access and a news zone to allow customers to catch up on the latest world events.


Elemis Travel Spas

British Airways has teamed up with leading skincare expert, Elemis, to offer customers a spa treatment as part of their travel experience. There are two large Elemis Travel Spas situated in the southern Galleries lounges and the Galleries Arrivals lounge, both boasting six treatment rooms each and a slightly smaller version in the Galleries Club Lounge in the satellite building with four treatment rooms. These spas are open to First class and Club World customers or Gold Executive Club members travelling on long haul flights and all treatments are offered on a complimentary basis. First class customers can also pre-book their treatments 28 days in advance of their flight.

The Elemis Travel Spas were created to form a relaxing atmosphere using controlled lighting and natural materials, such as wood and slate, together with layers of fabric to create depth and privacy around the treatment areas. Customers can choose to be revived or relaxed by selecting from a range of 15-minute treatments. The therapies are performed on a unique intelligent massage chair that warms the traveller’s body and performs a targeted acupressure body massage covering every area of tension.

The arrivals spa is open from 06h00 to 14h00, the departures spa within the Galleries complex is open from 07h00 to 21h00 and the Terminal B spa is also open between 07h00 and 21h00

For more information about the lounges, please visit

Source: British Airways


Inside the British Airways Galleries Lounge at Cape Town International Airport, South Africa. (Roger Sedres)