Faster Flying

Lounge lovers

Where can you go to relax on furniture crafted by British designer Tom Dixon, read under lights hand-made from Murano glass, or enjoy an expertly mixed cocktail while perched on bar stools designed by Philippe Starck? Not a luxury five-star hotel, but the new BA lounge in Washington. It is set to open in October, together with a new BA lounge in Amsterdam, so The Faster Track went to meet the BA lounge team to discover how these elegant spaces are created

How does BA decide which destinations need a lounge?
We respond to customers’ needs. There are more than 45 BA lounges across the network. Plus the lounges are shared with BA’s oneworld partners.

How do you decide the location of the lounge?
Our teams consider factors such as size, natural light, views and proximity to the gate. Newark has an incredible skyline view, while Cape Town, Amsterdam and San Francisco look over the apron. Natural light is important, particularly for transfer customers or people moving across time zones – it helps with jet lag.

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How do you decide when a lounge needs a refresh?
Sometimes it clearly needs a refresh or we need to innovate. It might be in response to customer feedback or because we need additional capacity. For example, a change to BA’s flight schedule might mean we suddenly have more customers in a terminal at one time, as was the case with our recently refurbished lounges in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Why are you redoing the Washington lounge?
In preparation for the inaugural A380 flight, which arrives on 2 October. Because we have larger planes operating the route, we need extra space for customers – the lounge will have space for more than 200. There will be fine dining with runway views, intimate bars, business facilities, shower suites and a private VIP area. 

Who works on the design?
We have a dedicated team that works with other BA departments, local airport teams and interior designers. We look at how we can create wow factor, where guests would prefer to sit and where the bars, coffee and deli areas should be. Aesthetic is very important – we even changed the colour of the smoke alarms in the Cape Town lounge. Accessibility is also a large factor and we try to ensure our less able-bodied customers can enjoy all the facilities.

Do you incorporate local influences?
Yes, wherever possible. In Glasgow we curated works by students at the Glasgow School of Art and sourced Harris Tweed fabric from mills on the Isle of Lewis. In Cape Town there’s a wine bar displaying South African wines and we do tastings.

Which lounges will be the next to get a refresh?
Watch this space – can’t say anything yet.