A Week in the Gulf: QR J, EK J, Qatar, Oman, and the UAE
- Introduction, Planning, and Booking
- Qatar Airways JFK Check-in and British Airways Galleries Lounge Review
- Qatar Airways A350 Business Class JFK-DOH
My flight to Doha was scheduled to depart JFK at 11:15 AM, while boarding was scheduled for 10:30. Qatar operates two JFK-DOH frequencies a day, one in the morning and one at 10 PM. While the evening flight departs out of the American Airlines terminal (Terminal 8) at JFK and premium passengers have access to the new AA Flagship lounge, the morning departure leaves out of BA’s Terminal 7 and uses the British Airways Galleries Lounge. Both T7 and the BA lounge are significantly weaker than their counterparts next door. There haven’t been any recent reviews of the Galleries Lounge, and I was curious to see if anything noteworthy has changed or improved.
Knowing that the BA Galleries Lounge wouldn’t be anything special, I didn’t plan on arriving too far in advance, but did want to have time to finish up some work in the lounge. I hopped on the E train around 7 AM and got to Terminal 7 close to 8 AM. The Qatar Airways premium check-in area was empty and I was helped with no wait. Qatar Airways does not participate in TSA Pre-Check, but I was through within minutes, as there was no one in the security line. I’m not sure if this is part of the TSA’s new “enhanced” screening procedures, but in a first for me, my laptop was pulled aside and swabbed for explosives residue.
I made my way to the BA Galleries Lounge, which over the years has earned a justifiably bad reputation. Though the lounge itself is large, it’s shared by several carriers operating out of Terminal 7 and at peak times gets very crowded. This, in addition to the disappointing food selection, makes for a pretty unpleasant lounge experience. As a slight positive, it seems that at least some of the furniture in the side room before the main dining space has been refreshed fairly recently, but much of the lounge continues to have old seats and tables.
The Qatar AM flight is one of the first out of Terminal 7 in the morning and, other than the 12 PM ANA departure, the QR flight doesn’t overlap much with other T7 departures. Because I was there before the afternoon rush began, the lounge was almost completely empty for most of my time there. Absent the wandering, shoeless Asian businessmen talking loudly on their phones (ANA) and the afternoon hordes of rambunctious, less-than-sober bankers (BA) having colorful conversations not fit for polite company, the lounge was a decent place to get some work done before my flight. Working power outlets can be difficult to find in the lounge, however, and even with fewer than fifteen other passengers inside, I had to wander around the dining area for a bit before finding a usable outlet.
The most disappointing thing about the lounge was the incredibly meager breakfast selection. In addition to small bags of Japanese snacks, there was cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, various pastries and breads, and some fruit. Honestly, the spread (if it could even call be called that), was roughly about the same as what a good SkyClub might offer, only displayed more attractively.
With nothing looking particularly appealing, I ended up having some green tea and a croissant. While most of the service staff in the lounge either stayed in the back rooms or congregated in the lounge amongst themselves, I was pleasantly surprised with one particular lounge attendant who was friendly and courteous and went around clearing plates off of everyones’ tables in the main dining area.
Towards the end of my time in the lounge, passengers on the ANA flight began arriving. There were no loud phone conversations while I was there, but I was quite impressed by the several older Japanese ladies who entered the lounge and promptly went to work downing Heinekens around 10 AM.
About twenty minutes before my scheduled boarding time, I left the lounge to make my way to the gate. Bottom line, don’t plan in any extra time for the BA lounge, as it continues to be subpar compared to other international business class lounges. It’s a bit of a shame that passengers flying BA, Qatar in the morning, and Iberia are relegated to using the significantly worse BA lounge while oneworld passengers flying out of Terminal 8 have access to the newly refreshed and AA lounges.