British Airways (BA) has revealed its new First class check in area at Heathrow Terminal 5 known as ‘The First Wing’. Designed to offer more privacy to customers, there is a ‘three-meter-high signature wall’ surrounding the expanded check in area which leads to a dedicated security channel with direct access to the Galleries First Lounge.
The additional security lanes are open to customers who are eligible to use the Galleries First Lounge (Gold Executive cardholders, Emerald oneworld cardholders and customers travelling in First class). As well as offering an exclusive experience for these customers, it should also decrease the number of customers using the South fast track lanes which will benefit customers with Silver Executive Club and Ruby oneworld status and those travelling in Club World.
Customer comments seem to be positive so far with many applauding BA for investing in premium experience at Terminal 5 which has been largely unchanged since it opened over 9 years ago. The only potential concern is that customers will need to walk through the Galleries First lounge and across the foyer to access the Concorde room, increasing the distance to the most exclusive lounge available. Also, it’s worth being aware that due to the layout of security and the direct access it has to the Galleries First lounge, Gold and Emerald cardholders travelling with guests not able to use this lounge will still be able to check in at The First Wing but will need to use South security rather than the new dedicated lanes.
So how does this upgraded experience compare with what other airlines offer customers travelling in their premium cabins?
Virgin Atlantic offers Upper Class customers at Heathrow a ‘seamless transfer from car to Clubhouse in just 10 minutes’ – via a drive-through check-in, baggage concierge and private security channel.
Emirates First and Business class customers are offered a complimentary transfer to and from the airport in over 70 cities. When travelling from Dubai, as well as gourmet food and spa treatments, customers can also take advantage of a Duty Free boutique based in the lounge.
Singapore Airlines First Class customers departing from Singapore’s Changi Airport are offered their own porter, who will carry their baggage and guide them to the lounge. A dedicated customer service representative will then check them in while they relax and enjoy the food, drink and entertainment on offer.
Qantas offers First customers a complimentary chauffeur on eligible international flights from Sydney or Melbourne. They are then met at the terminal by a host who guides them to the dedicated check-in area and fast-tracked through immigration to the lounges.