With the announcement of a new lockdown earlier this week, along with a ban on all non-essential travel, passenger demand from the UK plummeted to near-non-existent levels. As a result, British Airways announced that it would be closing its Heathrow lounges from Thursday, November 5th, when the new measures come into effect.
Temporary closure starting Thursday
It feels somewhat like March all over again. Airline schedules are contracting, some carriers are canceling services, and airport lounges are once more shutting their doors. Due to the UK government’s four-week lockdown restricting all non-essential travel, British Airways announced that it would close all of its Heathrow Terminal 5 lounges from Thursday.
“Due to the UK Government’s national restrictions, our lounges at Heathrow Terminal 5 will be temporarily closed from November 5. We will continue to follow government guidance and keep our customers updated with any changes,” a spokesperson for British Airways told Simple Flying.
They further said that the decision resulted from the UK government’s guidance on the closure of hospitality venues. These state that places such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars, and social clubs must close, except for providing food and drink for takeaway (before 10 pm; and not including alcohol), click-and-collect, drive-through, or delivery.
While British Airways is not required to close the lounge, it is likely doing so out of an abundance of caution for the safety of its passengers.
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Business and essential oneworld travelers left lounge-less
During the month-long lockdown announced at the beginning of the week, leisure travel from the UK will remain prohibited. However, business travel is still permitted, with the additional warning that travelers may end up staying overseas “longer than planned” due to potential disruptions worldwide.
This means that while regular demand has once more come close to non-existent, the passenger segment still allowed to travel is also the one to most likely frequent the lounges. While there may not be any crowds to escape in the airport at large, the custom comforts will surely be missed. This applies not only to BA passengers but to those traveling with oneworld alliance partner airlines as well.
Buffets out, QR code menus in
British Airways only took the decision to reopen Heathrow lounges in July, following three months of closure. Meanwhile, it made good use of that time. The carrier spent the lull in activity upgrading the areas.
Upon opening again, it returned with a tech-supported menu ordering system rather than a buffet and a thorough cleaning protocol, which may hopefully become the standard for airport lounges worldwide, even post-crisis.
The official lockdown in the UK is set to end on December 2nd. However, there is no telling what the situation will be like in the rest of Europe or the world for that matter at that time. If demand remains decimated throughout the holiday season, BA’s refurbished lounges may remain closed well into the new year.
Do you think the lounges will reopen at the end of the lockdown, or will they stay closed longer due to a lack of demand and commercial viability?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.