Review: TAM First Class Lounge Sao Paulo Airport

Introduction
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Korean Air First Class 777-300ER Los Angeles to Sao Paulo
Marriott Sao Paulo Airport
TAM First Class Lounge Sao Paulo Airport
TAM First Class 777-300ER Sao Paulo to New York
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Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER New York to Vancouver
Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver


I was dropped off at Terminal 1 at 6:40AM and headed towards the B check-in hall, where TAM check-in is located.

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Sao Paulo Airport terminal

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Sao Paulo Airport terminal

I could easily find the queues for every type of passenger (online check-in, business class, economy class, ticket sales, etc.), but couldn’t for the life of me find first class check-in.

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Sao Paulo Airport terminal

As it turns out they have a dedicated first class check-in room. It’s located right by the entrance of the terminal, just to left of their other check-in counters.

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Sao Paulo Airport first class check-in room

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Sao Paulo Airport first class check-in signage

It’s a small room with a couple of dedicated agents and some couches.

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Sao Paulo Airport first class check-in room

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Sao Paulo Airport first class check-in room

The agent checking me in was friendly, and printed out my boarding pass within 30 seconds. It’s worth noting that the boarding pass was literally the cheapest I’ve ever gotten from any airline. I think toilet paper would be a more durable material to print their boarding passes on.

I was under the impression that TAM offers an escort service at Sao Paulo Airport, so I kind of stood there for a second waiting for further instructions, because I figured at the very least she would tell me where the lounge is located or something. But after a second I asked, and she told me to just walk through security and the lounge would be located to the left.

So the security queue had no wait at all, though there was a long queue for immigration. As usual the line for foreigners was much shorter than the line for Brazilians, though it still took about 30 minutes to get through it. And unfortunately there’s no premium queue either.

Once through immigration I turned left and followed the sign towards lounges. That led me to an escalator.

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Sao Paulo Airport escalator to lounges

At the top of the escalator was a contract VIP Lounge and the TAM Executiva Lounge.

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM business class lounge entrance

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Sao Paulo Airport VIP lounge entrance

Just down the hall from that was the TAM Primeira Lounge, which looked a bit like a bank safe entrance.

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge entrance

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge signage

I tried to get into the lounge, though it wouldn’t open. After a minute two agents showed up, and I guess that’s because the lounge was literally just opening (even though it was already set out).

The agent at the entrance was extremely friendly, and asked whether I wanted to be escorted to the gate early or late in the boarding process. Ah, I guess the escort isn’t through immigration but instead from the lounge to the gate.

I indicated that I’d like to go early (after all, I wanted to be sure to grab some pictures of the empty cabin). My flight’s departure time was 9:20AM and the boarding pass listed that boarding would begin at 8AM, which seemed off. The agent told me they would actually probably start at around 8:20AM.

So the lounge itself was small but gorgeous. It was beautifully decorated, and kind of felt like a nice living room.

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge

There were several types of seating, including couches, coffee tables with seats, and even a small dining area in the corner.

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge

In terms of drinks, the lounge featured self serve booze, wine, water, and soft drinks.

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge drinks

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge drinks

There was a case with a bunch of snacks that actually looked appetizing, though there didn’t seem to be any “real” food. I’m not sure if there was a menu or anything, but I don’t think so.

Regardless, I was saving most of my hunger for aboard anyway, so was happy to just have a quiet place to sit.

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge snacks

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge snacks

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge snacks

Then at the far end of the buffet was some sort of decorative silverware case or something… I think?

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge display

In terms of displays, I especially loved the model planes that were under the glass shield of the coffee tables.

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge model airplane

Lastly, there was also a small bathroom in the lounge. While I didn’t see a shower, there apparently is a single one in the lounge.

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge bathroom

The server in the lounge came over to see if I wanted anything to drink, and I ordered a cappuccino. In Brazil cappuccinos seem to either be powdered, super sweet, or usually both. In this case the cappuccino was pure goodness, even if it had as many calories as a Starbucks Venti frappuccino. And I may have had a chocolate tart and muffin to go along with it, given that I didn’t have breakfast. Healthy, I know…

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM first class lounge healthy breakfast

Sao Paulo Airport quite possibly has the world’s worst airline lounges, so I can’t even begin to say how much better this lounge is than anything else I’ve seen at this airport. Compared to the GOL Smiles Lounge, American Express Centurion Lounge, and even the American Airlines Admirals Club, this lounge wins by a very long shot.

For the 45 minutes I was in the lounge I was the only passenger, and at around 8:20AM an agent came into the lounge to escort me to my plane, which was leaving from gate six.

It was a quick walk and the agent was extremely friendly and engaged me in small talk the whole way. Once at the gate she literally opened the “ropes” and walked me all the way to the door of the plane. And I couldn’t wait to finally try a first class product that was more or less unattainable until recently.

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Sao Paulo Airport walking to gate

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Sao Paulo Airport TAM departure gate to New York

While I wish they’d escort you from check-in to the lounge, on the whole the ground experience exceeded my expectations quite a bit. No, this isn’t the Emirates A380 First Class Lounge in Dubai, Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok, or Air France First Class Lounge Paris. But by Sao Paulo Airport standards it might as well be.

So it was nice to find out that there’s exactly one part of the terminal that’s not actively miserable…

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Comments

  1. Pretty sure they do have showers there at the TAM First class lounge, maybe you need to ask to use them/find them. I saw a Brazilian blogger’s review that included a shower.

  2. Since this seems to be the only worthwhile lounge at GRU, is there a way to get inside without a TAM F ticket?

  3. Now that TAM have joined Oneworld. Do the Star Alliance carriers flying into GRU still use their lounges? Or are *A flyers confined to the 3rd party lounge offerings.

  4. @ Jonas — OMG, totally forgot they joined OneWorld. Does this mean oneworld Emerald members can now use the TAM first class lounge when flying any oneworld carrier, even if not in first class?!

  5. @ Jonas — Crap, looked into it, and unfortunately per the oneworld first class lounge access policy, the TAM first class lounge doesn’t allow Emeralds:
    “TAM First Class Lounge in Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport is excluded.”

  6. My mind immediately jumped to JJ being in OW now, and looking how small that lounge is there’s absolutely no way it could accommodate the rush of Emeralds. Maybe they will be forced by OW to find a larger space?

  7. Hello Ben!
    This week there’s a new VIP lounge at Guarulhos Airport which is quite exclusive. It’s called “Villa GRU”. It costs around USD380 (or R$800,00) and can manage just 30 people.
    You should try it next time!

  8. I always wonder about pianos in public spaces. Are they intended to be played? Does anyone freak out if they are? Sometimes I’ve been tempted to play one but it felt weird to do so.

  9. I’ve been at this lounge several times as a *A First passenger and recently as an AA First passenger:

    The lounge is not available to Emeralds (obviously because of space concerns), but is available to ALL OW First flyers — I went in flying AA First.

    The piano is very much used. There is a “cougar” that comes in and plays in for 20 minutes at a time, alternating between this and the Executiva lounge. I say cougar, because she’s of advanced age (still attractive for that age) and hit on me at least a couple of times. 🙂

    @Lucky — You should know that they have real Champagne. They drag their feet in bringing it out, but if you ask they will happily do so. I believe they serve a Deutz brut variety, I forget which one. Not a very expensive bottle, but true champers nonetheless.

  10. @Corky I think they should be played and people should gather around and sing loudly. Especially when it’s next to someone on the phone.

    Also, I am curious about that special needs lift up the stairs. Is it the photo or will they have to move the couch to accommodate?

  11. It is so amusing that TAM considers is F lounge at GRU so exquisite that only F customers have access … LOL … Have they ever been to Qatar’s lounge at London LHR T4????? Have they ever been to British Airways Galleries First at LHR T5????
    Give me a break!

  12. http://www.viajenaviagem.com/2014/05/villa-gru-sala-vip-guarulhos

    http://www.falandodeviagem.com.br/viewtopic.php?t=8793

    Not quite a FCT, but close. They have car service pick you up from the plane and everything.
    $300+ for access though. Says only 20 people/day can access.

    Don’t think you can say “Sao Paulo Airport quite possibly has the world’s worst airline lounges” anymore 🙂 Doubt you’ll be heading there anytime soon, but would be great to see a review!

  13. You, of course, know that there is a brand new international terminal at GRU now. Way, way above the standards of the old terminals.

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