When looking around for a trip for early November, as usual, I turned to Google Flights. With my Star Alliance Gold status due to expire at the end of the month, I was initially looking around for Star Alliance deals in order to get one final Heathrow T2 lounge tour before I’d have to start paying a lot more for the privilege.
Well, one thing led to another and as it turned out I could head across the Atlantic for not too much more than a weekend in Europe would cost me. The one major issue though was the price of the hotels in the US. They used to be fairly reasonable in years gone by. However, over the past two years or so, anywhere downtown has become almost prohibitively expensive.
One place that was more achievable on a budget however, was Minneapolis. One of the few US cities I’d not been to before. The flights turned out to be a little more expensive, however the overall cost was less when the hotel was included.
One downside of choosing the cheaper basic economy fare with American was that it was pretty restrictive. Even OneWorld Emerald status couldn’t help avoid the seating charges.
The final trip, and this report, will consist of the following:
- American Flagship First Lounge, Heathrow T3
- American Airlines Basic Economy, LHR-DFW, 777-300ER
- American Airlines, Boeing 737-800, DFW-MSP
- Crowne Plaza, Northstar, Minneapolis Downtown
- Minneapolis: In Pictures
- American Airlines, Airbus A320, MSP-CLT, Economy
- American Airlines, Airbus A330, CLT-LHR, Economy
- Review: American Airlines Arrivals Lounge, London Heathrow
On to the day of departure. Long gone are the days of making my way to Heathrow on a National Express coach. These days, I prefer to park. No more relying on their timetable. And by paying not too much more, the Business Parking options at Heathrow offer far more frequent shuttles to the terminal.
As such, I arrived at terminal 3 within a few minutes of parking up.
As I had a mobile boarding pass, I skipped the check in desk and made my way up to the fast track security lane. Despite booking a basic economy ticket, you still get most of your OneWorld status perks. Although free seat selection isn’t one of them.
Usually the terminal 3 fast track is a little busy in the mornings. Although this time around, it wasn’t too bad. Just 5 minutes or so after arriving, I was airside and it was off to the American Airlines International First lounge.
Lounge Entry Requirements
- First Class Ticket on either American Airlines or OneWorld airline
- American Airlines Concierge Key or Executive Platinum Status
- OneWorld Emerald Status
The American Airlines First Lounge is located in Zone H of Terminal 3, below the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
As you enter, you’re greeted with the main reception area. This is where your boarding pass is scanned. If you’re flying in Business Class or have a OneWorld Sapphire card, you will be directed into the main Admirals Club. However, if you’re in First or have a OneWorld Emerald card, then you will be granted entry to the First Lounge on the right of the reception area.
American Airlines International First Lounge
As you enter, there are a couple of tables on either side of the entry offering champagne on one, and a selection of sweets to take away on the other.
The first stop for me was breakfast, which is to the right. This consists of a buffet area consisting of hot items alongside lighter items of smoothies, pastries and fruit.
Along the wall of this area is a couple of coffee machines, sprirts, wines and two fridges containing chilled soft drinks, bottled water and beer.
Usually available in this area are a selection of bar snacks, although in the morning cereal is available.
A more recent addition to the lounge is a small restaurant area. Whilst a la carte dining was offered previously, having a dedicated area to eat was lacking somewhat.
On to the rest of the lounge. Its mostly quite comfortable armchairs, most of which have powerpoints nearby.
There is a small business area, consisting of a number of PC’s and printing facilities.
Also available is a selection of reading material dotted around the lounge.
The International First Lounge also features it’s own dedicated washrooms as opposed to a shared facility with the Admirals Club.
By all accounts, this is probably the weakest of the OneWorld lounge offerings in Terminal 3 on paper.
I find the breakfast offerings in this lounge probably the best. Where as the buffet in the British Airways lounge is clearly buffet quality, what’s on offer here is reasonably good quality – from both the kitchen and the buffet. The Cathay Pacific lounge has yet to really blow me away with their breakfast. Its a different story later in the day though.
Decor wise, the American Lounge is way past its prime. Its all clean, tidy and everything is in working order. But the brown has a very 1970’s feel. Which is odd, considering I’m fairly sure this area was the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at one point. Therefore can’t be more than 15 years old.
Whilst this lounge is generally busy in the morning, hit it after lunchtime and you’ll have it more or less to yourself.
Although according to the American Airlines website, the Heathrow lounge is due to be upgraded to the latest Flagship concept. It doesn’t state when, but it will be interesting to see what they do with the area. And whether they will stay with the dual lounge setup, or go with just a Flagship lounge.