In the days leading up to this trip I started to fall into my usual routine. A routine consisting of constant checking of seatmaps, checking flightaware.com flight histories, memorising PNRs, making sure to update all my starred locations on google maps, brushing up on local phrases and of course, checking to see if menus and IFE details were already available.
There is almost nothing I don’t love about travelling on airplanes. I even get a perverse enjoyment out of security lines, I guess it helps that I don’t often find myself in the ‘regular’ line. Even when I do, once I’m through I get a sense of accomplishment, I feel I’ve really earned that champagne in the lounge
Carrying a suitcase to work, ready for an evening flight, is a particular joy. On this bleak day in October I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder every few minutes to look at my bags, comforted by the fact that soon they and I would be off to Tokyo.
After a 30 minute trip on the Heathrow Connect from Paddington (If you are an FTer and take the Heathrow Express on your own dime, something has gone wrong), my girlfriend K and I arrived at LHR T3.
First Class in T3 is still something of an oddity. BA only operate a small number of F flights from here, Miami and South African destinations being some of the better known examples. As such you do get a deeper feeling of exclusivity here versus the enormous F check-in at the far end of T5 (although this should of course change once the new F channel straight into Galleries First is built).
There is even a small sitting area to use in the unlikely event of there being a wait for the next available agent.
The check-in agent had a bit of shocked look on her face when she pulled up our PNR, I could see her trying to figure out where exactly we were going. I suggested that it would be easiest if she just checked our bags to HKG. A wave of relief visibly washed over her. She had peered into Pandora’s box and found that the lid had mercifully snapped shut.
We were told that this was a full flight (JL seem to do a great job of filling their premium cabins, I’ve only once seen F less than 8/8) but the agent managed to seat K and I near each other this time. JL blocks half of the seats to everybody until check-in, which is a rule that is obscure and bewildering in a way that only the Japanese can manage. Last time we flew JL F together we were as far apart as you could possibly be in a cabin of 8: 1K and 2A.
With boarding passes in hand and regal red JL F tags attached to our carry ons, we headed to security. Fast Track security was deserted when we passed through, always a pleasure knowing you’ve managed to gain a couple of extra minutes of lounge time.
When we visited, CX was still operating its old lounge. As I write this, it is in the process of being redesigned to match the Ilse Crawford design of the Pier in HKG as well as the BKK and HND lounges.
QF will also be building a combined J/F lounge due to complete in 2017. Furthermore AA are remodelling their lounge to meet the ‘New American’ brand standard…leaving BA at the back of the pack at their home base.
Anyway, I digress, we chose the CX lounge because we knew it to be the best available lounge at T3, once it reopens in late 2016 I imagine this will continue to be the case
We took the only empty sofa in the bright area overlooking the runway. The lounge was actually really busy when we first arrived but soon emptied out once the AY and CX flights departed.
We made sure not to eat and drink too much, given the bonanza of food and drink awaiting us on board. I think the dining area was the one most in need of a refresh, they could at least hang a painting to break up the bare walls. Those with ‘flexible ethics’ will note that the door at the back of this room gives access to the F section, without having to verify credentials…
Unfortunately there was no Laurent Perrier Rose this time, Veuve Clicquot was the only champagne available. Nevertheless the drinks selection is very respectable with numerous decent options to choose from.
A rare surprise to see such a variety of healthy options available in an airport lounge.
I ignored the salads however and made a beeline straight for the char siu pork pork.
I also took the chance to get a pic in a Solus chair, knowing that these are slowly going the way of the 744…
One thing I really want to note is the quality of the lounge staff. LHR is notoriously terrible in its lounge staffing, this is categorically not the case with CX. The lounge is kept spotlessly clean, the food is replenished regularly but never whilst a customer is busy helping themselves. We were repeatedly offered refills once the lounge quietened down and most importantly the staff were friendly and engaged us in conversation, really making an effort to make us feel welcome.