First Look: British Airways' New Lounge at Rome Fiumicino
I was recently in Italy and chose to fly back home to the US with American Airlines. Before my flight, I had the opportunity to check out the brand-new British Airways lounge at Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO). As luck would have it, I actually got to visit on the lounge's opening day, and I was told that there will be more lounges opening across Europe soon, as the carrier has pledged a £4.5 billion investment in the "customer experience"— which includes updates to lounges across the entire network. If this location is any indication, passengers have a lot to look forward to with BA's upcoming lounge refreshes.
I was able to access this lounge a few ways. First of all, I was traveling on an international business-class ticket with both BA and AA. I'd booked an economy ticket and then upgraded it to business class using a systemwide upgrade, thanks to my Executive Platinum status with American. My Exec Plat status also grants me oneworld Emerald status, which grants access to the lounge in any class of service.
If you’re not flying business or first class, you can get into this lounge if you have one of the following status levels:
- Oneworld Sapphire (i.e. American Airlines Platinum, American Airlines Platinum Pro, British Airways Silver)
- Oneworld Emerald (i.e. American Airlines Executive Platinum, British Airways Executive Club Gold)
Location and Entrance
The lounge is located in Terminal 3 after security, near the E gates.
After walking through the duty free shops you'll head up the escalators to reach the lounges. The BA lounge is open daily from 5:15am through 8:30pm.
When I arrived at the lounge I was promptly greeted, and then noticed that there were quite a few staff members on hand and remarked that it was unusual for 6:00am. One of them kindly informed me that it was the first day the lounge was open to the public so there were additional staff on hand to help with any final details.
The lounge features different zones, including a social area by the bar, a rest area, a solitary space and a business center. This allows guests to choose a space that best suits their various needs for their time in the lounge.
The lounge itself measures 460 square meters (almost 5,000 square feet) and can comfortably host up to 140 customers, according to BA.
The majority of the artwork in this lounge is by English artist Patrick Caulfield and includes a number of pieces from his series of 22 screen prints from 1973 titled “Some Poems of Jules Laforgue.”
There's a cluster of low and smallish small tables with attractive chairs that are perfect for small groups to relax and socialize.
The bar design is a hybrid model — it can be a self-serve space during non-peak hours with an assortment of chilled beverages such as soft drinks, sparkling water, beer, wine and spirits.
Or, during peak hours, it can feature a bartender and plenty of seating around it. I found the design of the bar to be very attractive, with its black marble countertops and bespoke lighting fixtures.
One of the best features of this space is how many power ports there are — just about every seat that I saw had its own set. Even at very crowded times, I don't think any guest would ever have trouble charging their devices in this lounge.
Power, sweet power!
The range of seating reflects the range of needs of different travelers — from solo business travelers to couples and small groups of friends.
The lounge also features large windows to let in natural light — and views of the gate area. They'll also feature "smart electronic blinds" programmed with sensors to react to light and heat throughout the day.
British Airways says that this location is the first in a new series of lounges to be rolled out soon. The design concept was developed with Universal Design Studio in London, and features "the very best of British and European design, delivering a luxurious and contemporary look and feel." I certainly have to agree with that sentiment — I am a very big fan of the design of this space!
I was told by staff that much of the materials and furniture are (appropriately) Italian — think Carrara marble and terrazzo floors.
The business center area is dominated by the large communal work table in the center — of course with ample power ports.
If you've got work to do, you can take advantage of wireless printing in the business center area.
It also features a separate coffee machine and selection of chilled beverages — a nice touch that allows you to stay hydrated or to refuel with caffeine without having to venture to the main bar and dining area.
Food and Beverage
There was plenty on offer in the way of food and drinks at this lounge. The main buffet area featured a selection of various pastries as well as scrambled eggs.
You could also choose from cereals, cold cuts and...
... more pastries! Those Italian cookies pictured in the towers below looked fantastic, but it was just too early for me to be eating cookies. The coffee machine wasn't quite ready for use yet, so during my visit there was brewed coffee in a pot as well as hot water for tea.
And, because this is Italy, there was plenty of bread to choose from, too. Next to the bread were a couple of yogurts.
If you want a lighter breakfast, you can choose from a variety of fresh whole fruit, which is located across from the main buffet area.
You won't go thirsty in this lounge, you can be sure of that. A chilled area houses a selection of fruit juices, as well as Italian white wines. Red's also available, if that's more your speed.
The lounge offers a wide variety of aesthetically pleasing (and tasty) Italian aperitifs.
Plus, there's a good number of spirits available to craft your own cocktails when the bar isn't staffed with a mixologist.
I certainly enjoyed my brief stay in this brand-new lounge. It's a very attractive space to relax in or get work done before a flight. Plus, there is an abundance of power — an absolute necessity in any modern lounge. I am already looking forward to spending even more time here in the future on my next trip home from Italy.
The next lounge to debut with the new look will be at New York-JFK. The airline also says that further investment is planned for its lounges in San Francisco (SFO), Johannesburg (JNB), and Chicago (ORD). If this lounge in Rome is any indication of where things are headed for the carrier's lounges, the next ones to open will be drastic improvements over the current offerings and will help the carrier compete with the world's top airlines — at least in the ground experience.