Arriving into London Heathrow Airport's Terminal 2 on Star Alliance members United Airlines, Air Canada and South African Airways does have its advantages: namely, access to the shared arrivals lounge in the same terminal, operated by United on behalf of the collective with a la carte dining, an array of shower suites and a housekeeping 'pressing service' should your suit need a touch-up.
Australian Business Traveller stopped by on a recent journey through Heathrow to see what the lounge has to offer.
Location & Impressions
After exiting Customs at Terminal 2, turn left when you emerge in the public arrivals hall, and as you continue walking, keep your eyes open for this "Arrivals Lounge" sign, again to your left:
If you also spot the "Arrivals Lounge 1" panel with the various airline logos, you're in the right place:
Once inside, you'll find a relatively small space featuring a variety of seats catering to both dining and relaxing...
... along with a selection of reading material, a TV, and down the corridor pictured below, a line-up of private shower suites, which occupy most of the floor space:
This lounge opens from 5am until 2pm daily.
Be aware, this isn't a generic "Star Alliance arrivals lounge" open to passengers arriving on any carrier – it's only available to the travellers below:
- United Airlines' Polaris first class and business class customers arriving into London
- United Global Services members arriving on United in any class of service
- Air Canada business class passengers arriving into London
- Air Canada Altitude Super Elite 100K members arriving on Air Canada flights (+1 guest)
- South African Airways' Voyager Platinum Life members arriving on SAA flights
Business class passengers and Voyager Platinum cardholders arriving on South African Airways flights are instead directed to the nearby Plaza Premium arrivals lounge here in Terminal 2, as access to this space for SAA passengers is strictly for Platinum Life cardholders only.
To reiterate, no other Star Alliance airline passengers have access to this lounge, so if you're landing into London on Singapore Airlines, for example, you won't have access here: although the Plaza Premium Lounge utilised by South African does accept Priority Pass cards and is open all day, giving you another option.
With some passengers arriving on overnight flights of just seven hours, such as from Toronto and Newark (New York), having access to this arrivals lounge allows them to maximise their rest on board, sleeping through until close to landing and eating breakfast on the ground.
There's both a standard buffet (below) and a la carte dining, although the latter wraps up at 1:30pm, half an hour before the lounge closes.
We'll start with the buffet, which offers the expected breads and condiments...
... an array of pastries...
... yoghurts, mueslis, salads, smoothies and croissants...
... joined by a simple selection of cereals, for those seeking just a quick bite...
... still and sparkling water, plus various soft drinks...
... and machine-made espresso coffee, although I found I never had to go near the machine, as the staff were proactively offering drinks to seated guests, such as when taking or delivering their meal order.
You'll find a menu at every seat – here's what you can request:
- Traditional porridge oats with brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins
- Full English breakfast: eggs, Cumberland sausage, grilled back bacon, plum tomatoes, field mushrooms and baked beans with white or wholemeal toast
- Eggs Benedict (with ham)
- Eggs Florentine (with spinach)
- Smoked salmon Benedict
- Breakfast rolls, with Cumberland sausage, grilled back bacon or a free range egg omelette
- Sweet waffles with Greek-style yoghurt, honey crunch and berry compote
- Fresh avocado and hummus on toasted wholemeal bread with salsa and a poached egg
While the English Breakfast sounded tempting – and would be an easy way to try the local food for first-time visitors – I went with a (slightly) lighter smoked salmon Benedict instead, which was as you'd expect, but offered only one egg and muffin, so if you're peckish, you'll have to order two:
Later during the visit, I also tried the avocado and hummus bread, which was tasty and fresh:
Unlike some lounges, you're not constrained to ordering one dish only, so if you happen to feel like breakfast as soon as you arrive, then a shower, then some laptop work and then some morning tea or an early lunch before heading into town and checking into your hotel, that's what the lounge is here for!
With the exception of the dining tables, most seats here offer easy access to power, with AC and USB outlets easily located in between each seat pair...
... while over to the side of the lounge, you'll find a line-up of benches suited to laptop work...
... where each traveller gets their own power strip, should multiple devices be in need of a recharge:
Given this lounge primarily caters to passengers jetting to the UK from Canada and the US, it's great to see both UK and North American AC power outlets here, along with those USB sockets for universal charging: although if you're arriving from South Africa, you'll need to bring an AC power adaptor with you, ditto all Aussie travellers.
Wireless Internet is available throughout the space, with our speed tests measuring both uploads and downloads around the 65Mbps mark, which is quite swift.
As you'll have just flown overnight, hopefully you have some time to truly 'wake up' before the busy business day begins, and for that, there are plenty of seats available, whether you're after a comfy personal sofa...
... or for a quick stay with a coffee in-hand, in which case, try the blue chairs against the yellow feature wall:
Again, a wide selection of reading material is available from both sides of the Atlantic...
... along with shower facilities, which can be booked via reception and offer Cowshed-branded amenities, such as you'd also find in United's Polaris amenity kits on board.
There's a pressing service here too, so if your suit jacket is a little crinkled, you can place it in a two-way cupboard, ring the 'housekeeping' button, and it'll be returned while you refresh.
But for the lucky few Star Alliance travellers who have access to this arrivals lounge after their United, Air Canada or South African Airways flight, being able to shower, freshen up, eat some breakfast and catch up on work before heading into town for the first round of meetings is sure to be a welcome amenity.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as guest of Star Alliance.