A display of drinks available to passengers in the British Airways Club Lounge at Gatwick Airport.

British Airways Gatwick Club Lounge elevates traditional product

Cartoon of passengers, flight attendant and pilots onboard an aircraftLondon Gatwick has always played second fiddle to Heathrow, with premium carriers like Virgin Atlantic and British Airways basing only a limited fleet amongst the sea of easyJet orange. Yet, despite being geared towards a leisure market, BA does maintain a large lounge complex in the South Terminal with (almost) all the trappings of its Heathrow equivalents. On a recent seasonal flight from Gatwick, I was delighted to learn that this outpost offers a refined and intelligent product, even if it is showing its age.  

The premium experience begins at checkin. BA has a dedicated checkin space located in a corner of the South Terminal, where the desks are enveloped in a curved wall of stylish leather benches and occasional tables.

Airport terminal check in area in Gatwick Airport.

The checkin area is far superior to that offered by BA at Heathrow Terminal 3. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

The friendly checkin agent directed me to look for the JD Sports outlet once I cleared security and, sure enough, almost hidden from view, was a small hallway leading to the business lounge. Gatwick organises its lounge spaces in a stacked formation off of the main terminal shopping area. It is an efficient use of space, even if the setting itself isn’t luxurious.

A sign directing passengers to the lounges in Gatwick airport.

All Gatwick South Terminal lounges are hidden away in this nondescript alcove. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

Nevertheless, I arrived at the complex and was greeted by a friendly receptionist, who directed me into the Club Lounge, which aligns with BA’s Club Europe and Club World business class products. BA also offers a “First” lounge, which caters to the most loyal frequent fliers. 

Despite it being a peak time for leisure routes from the airport, the Club Lounge did not feel crowded at all. That’s not always the case, of course. But on this occasion, there were plenty of empty seats dotted around, and the team of staff worked hard to keep it clean and tidy. 

The BA lounge inhabits a large square space on the upper level of the terminal building. Enormous outer walls, with floor-to-ceiling windows, bathe the space in light, whilst internal divisions provide some intimate nooks in the centre. A brilliant move by the designers was to house the bar and buffet within this central construction, shielding the airy seating areas from noise and smells. 

A large open seating area in the BA Club lounge at Gatwick Airport

The large seating area flanks the central space. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

Before taking a seat, I took a little tour. This lounge provides all the features you would expect, including a quiet zone for passengers who really need to knuckle down and get work done.

Runway Girl Network reckons that the serried ranks of leather chairs facing each other — found at lounges around the world, including this one — need a bit of a rethink, as the ‘premium leisure traveller’ segment grows . I certainly hear that, though there are surely still some passengers who appreciate BA’s functional work space. Those passengers were scarce, however, on a Saturday morning.

A room with three long tables and chairs with power stations in the center of the tables.

The work space was unsurprisingly empty for a Saturday morning, but certainly provided lots of room. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

Towards the far end of the lounge is a children’s play zone, which faces outwards towards the exterior wall, again limiting noise pollution for the rest of the space. 


Showers are also provided, but I did not use them this time. 

The interior of the lounge is very well appointed. The leather seats and wood furniture, in reds and greys, are high quality and in good condition.

The muted palette is perhaps not as exciting as other lounges, but I found it very soothing.

I sat down at a table overlooking the terminal and runway, and felt instantly relaxed. As far as I’m concerned, the only real downside to the interior is that it’s unfortunately quite dated. Accent walls of wine bottle stacks and nondescript pillows overlooked by rattan light fittings may have been innovative in 2000, but now they feel almost like a time warp.

I applaud BA for the quality of the fittings, but I personally believe that a revamp is overdue.

A wall of wine bottles stocked for passengers to be served.

The wine wall is more akin to an Italian chain restaurant from 2005. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

I arrived just in time for breakfast, so I availed myself of the buffet. Hot breakfast options were on offer, as well as cold fruits and cereals. Whilst the eggs and hash browns were fine, I was most impressed by the pastries, which were some of the best I ever had in an airport, or indeed a bakery.

Coffees, teas, and juices were available. The Union Roast coffee was slightly bitter, but I was pleasantly surprised to see decaf available from the machine espresso-based drinks.

The buffet in the British Airways Club Lounge at Gatwick Airport is being enjoyed by passengers.

The buffet was kept very well stocked. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

BA offers a premium self-service bar at all times, including wines, Prosecco, and top quality spirits like Ciroc Vodka. But I’m baffled that Champagne is only available on request. Not only that, but there were no obvious signs at the bar that this was on offer at all.

It feels incredibly cheap to hide the good stuff away from paying passengers in lieu of Bottega Prosecco. I really hope that BA changes this policy in the future.

Nevertheless, I reckon that this lounge is a standout in both the airport and the BA lounge collection. The excellent fittings, if dated, add a touch of sophistication, whilst the smart interior design maximises enjoyment for all whilst minimising noise.

The breakfast provisions were excellent, and the staffers kept the buffet well stocked. The lounge itself was clean and fresh. Aside from the stinginess of the Champagne protocol, BA has provided a refined offering of its established ground experience, and I would recommend it.

A glass of Champagne sitting on a table in the lounge. The tails of parked BA aircraft can be seen through the window.

You don’t ask, you don’t get, and I was getting this Champagne one way or another. Image: Fintan Horan-Stear

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Featured image credited to Fintan Horan-Stear