I arrived in LHR on a cold and rainy day and couldn't wait to get to the Oneworld lounges at T3. The connecting bus from T5 to T3 was swift and security was painless. My first stop was AA's Flagship Lounge and after presenting my credentials the agent welcomed me into the Admirals Club side. I kindly reminded her that I was Oneworld Emerald and would very much like to go to the Flagship lounge. Upon realizing this she quickly directed me to the correct lounge situated to the right side of reception. Since I had plenty of time, the agent mentioned that I could access the BA and CX lounges as well.
AA Admirals & Flagship lounges.
The lounge is located in area H next to the famous Virgin Atlantic's Clubhouse.
There was an empty desk with a screen showing flight departures and a stand featuring American candies right after entering. The Flagship lounge is not that big, but there was plenty of space and the buffet featured a more generous selection of individually plated food compared to the Admirals' side. Overall I found it functional without being too impressive. As a matter of fact I thought the UA Club in T2 was vastly superior in terms of decor and food offering, and we are not comparing same level lounges.
I then decided to take a shower and headed to a hallway that was shared by the Flagship and Admirals Club. An attendant came right away to assist me and informed me that in order to get back to the Flagship lounge all I had to do was go back to reception and ask the agent there to allow me inside. The shower room was nothing to write home about, but it did its utilitarian job.
After an invigorating shower I explored the more humbled side of the club and ventured into the Admirals Club. It was practically empty with lots of empty space and plenty of seating everywhere. There were a few hot dishes and salads in the buffet but I did not consume any food since I wanted to save room for the other lounges.
Buffet & dining area.
BA Galleries First Lounge.
The lounge is located in zone F and upon entering you turn left for the First Class lounge or continue right to the Galleries. After showing my boarding pass to the receptionist, I was invited to enter and straight ahead was the Champagne Bar. This area provides a welcoming first impression for anyone entering and it was surprisingly empty.
I find the periodical section a bit out of character with the lounge with those flashy lights.
To the left there was another seating area with a self serve bar and a business center with computer terminals. I took a break and had a whiskey on the rocks.
Afterwards I ventured to the right side of the lounge where the self serve coffee bar, a kid's room, the sit down restaurant and the buffet were located. I did not eat at the restaurant so I can't comment on that aspect of the lounge experience, but I have read some disappointing reviews and instead helped myself to the buffet. I had a light afternoon tea snack and later indulged in some more robust fare.
Slow Cooked Pork with Prune Terrine on the left and Herb Crusted Cod Supreme with Tomato and Black Olives.
CX First Class lounge
If you fly on AY J, this was your assigned lounge located in area C. I was lucky to experience it before its closure for renovation from 26 Nov 2015 - late June 2016. Out of the 3 Oneworld F lounges in T3, this is the smallest one, but what it lacks in size it more than compensates in view and Asian food, especially noodles.
I found this lounge to be intimate and well appointed.
My snacks. Of course I had to have some noodles. ;)
Business class section.
At about 45 min. before dept. the gate was not posted yet but I decided to leave the lounge and check out the shops outside. After doing some browsing I noticed that the screens showed that the flight was delayed by 50 min. so instead of leaving at 1925 it was now leaving at 2015. The flight was leaving from gate 40 and I immediately headed that way. I was glad that I did this because the gate was quite a walk from where I was.
Arriving at the gate.
The plane was parked and agents made announcements to keep everyone informed. There was a VIP passenger that boarded with his companions ahead of J passengers before the announcement to board was made.
Plane at the gate. It reminds me of the lone ranger with that mask on the cockpit.
Finally the announcement was made inviting J passengers to board. While walking down the jetbridge I was thrilled to be on this flight for two reasons. The first was to ride on a new airplane and the second to experience a new airline. A couple of FA's were positioned at the door greeting passengers and after exchanging a few pleasantries with the crew I turned left and paused for a few seconds to admire the cabin and my seat.
The cabin was bright and the light colors used in the aircraft interiors gave it a peculiar Nordic feel that was soothing and relaxing.
A purser came by my seat and personally welcomed me onboard and thanked me for flying with AY which was really nice.
The second J cabin.
My seat 8A.
The seat is the Zodiac Cirrus one used by CX, AF and AA among others. It's a very comfortable product that offers direct aisle access and good privacy. There is plenty of space to put one's belongings and I appreciated the different compartments by the armrest and on the side.
One slight negative thing that I find is the surface for your feet which looks somewhat fragile and not able to withstand the frequent wear and tear of frequent use.
The plane still had that faint new airplane smell and one thing I noticed was the lack of overhead bins for the center rows. This gave the cabin a very spacious feel but I wonder if the airline sacrificed practicality for aesthetics in this case. If this was a full cabin, would the overhead bins on the sides have enough room to accommodate all the carry-on luggage for the J cabin? I must warn you that if you are seating in row 8, the overhead bin right above you is used to store cabin's equipment and blankets, so I ended up placing my stuff in the bin above row 7.
The J cabin is divided into 2 sections with seats 1-8 in the front cabin and 9-12 in the second one which seemed more private. On my flight there was a group of Finnish passengers that boarded at the last minute and seemed to know the crew. I assume that they were AY's employees on a familiarization trip. Later when I walked into the second cabin, it was practically empty. I noticed that the second J cabin has overhead bins for the center rows contrary to the one in the front.
The view across my seat.
IFE. The screen was big but some of the functions were not intuitive. My system was stuck in Japanese and I couldn't figure out how to change it to English. I called a FA for help and it took her a few minutes to figure it out.
Earphones were distributed.
Door closed and we taxied for take off. You could access the camera from outside and see your take off and landing.
Good bye LHR.
After leveling off, I visited the WC. The faucet is sensor activated.
Hot towel to start the service followed by distribution of menus.
The tray table was easy to fold out but it was not very big.
I started my dinner with AY's signature blueberry juice accompanied by some pretzels.
Crew was very friendly and attentive. There was no choice of meal but the pasta was very good. The appetizer was tasteless and the salmon was chopped and contained bones.
The berry compote was something that you could get from a grocery store. Good thing that we were offered a blueberry pastry a bit later.
Seat in flat position.
FA's clearing the trays and offering coffee or tea along with Fazer chocolates from a basket.
Duty free was offered and I bought a set of playing cards. After signing the receipt a nice FA told me to keep the AY pen as a souvenir which was a kind gesture.
We arrived into HEL 9 minutes later at 0029. Not bad at all.
–Amenity kits collected during this RTW trip– (per JonathanND's request) ;)
Cathay Pacific First/Business Class Lounge
London - LHR
Helsinki - HEL
It was a great experience flying AY's new A350 which is a very comfortable and quiet airplane. The seats in J strike the right balance between privacy and comfort and the 1-2-1 cabin layout ensures that everyone has direct aisle access.
AY offers a decent inflight service with a Nordic touch that is courteous and professional. The catering can be a bit basic but so far I have only flown them on European routes and my experience is very limited. I feel that not having a choice of meals when flying J is quite disappointing.
The entertainment system seems to offer a good selection of programs, but the control settings are not the most straight forward to use at times.
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