Review: Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan

Introduction: Flying With Royalty (Or Not)
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Review: Royal Brunei Business Class A320 Kuala Lumpur To Bandar Seri Begawan
Review: Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei
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I got to Bandar Seri Begawan Airport at around 5PM for my 8:35PM flight to Dubai. Brunei’s Airport is small and beautiful, easily one of the most passenger friendly airports out there. A vast majority of passengers using the airport seem to be transiting rather than originating in Brunei, meaning that security and immigration are both very quick.

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Brunei Airport exterior

I was impressed that Royal Brunei had luggage trolleys for business class passengers (not that I needed it, with my carry-ons), though the station wasn’t staffed.

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Brunei Airport premium check-in

Despite how small the airport is, it has very high ceilings, similar to what you’ll find at many of the nicest airports in Asia.

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Brunei Airport check-in hall

Just inside the entrance to the airport and to the right was Royal Brunei’s business class check-in, which featured a sitting area.

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Royal Brunei business class check-in

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Royal Brunei business class check-in

There were two associates working there though no guests, so I was checked in within about a minute.

Just past check-in was security, where there literally wasn’t a single passenger, so I was through very quickly. After that was immigration, which was equally quick. Then I found myself in a long hallway leading to the main part of the terminal.

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Brunei Airport airside terminal

Brunei Airport has slightly different “world clocks” than you’ll usually see, which largely overlap with Royal Brunei’s routemap, including London, Dubai, and Melbourne.

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Brunei Airport airside terminal

I did appreciate the Royal Brunei 787 model in the hallway.

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Royal Brunei 787 model

Brunei Airport is tiny, with fewer than 10 gates, so it’s really easy to navigate.

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Brunei Airport airside terminal

The airside area is just as spacious and bright as the landside area. There was plenty of seating, though not that many amenities, given how small the airport is.

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Brunei Airport airside terminal

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Brunei Airport airside terminal

The only lounge at the airport is operated by Royal Brunei, given that only a couple of other airlines fly here. Royal Brunei’s Sky Lounge is located one level above the main concourse. There’s a spiral staircase leading to it, and I imagine in another area there’s also an elevator, though I didn’t see it.

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Royal Brunei Sky Lounge stairs

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Royal Brunei Sky Lounge signage

At the lounge entrance I was admitted upon presenting my boarding pass, and informed that boarding would be announced in the lounge.

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Royal Brunei Sky Lounge entrance

The lounge isn’t especially big, with a seating capacity for 120. Then again, it doesn’t really have to be big, given how few flights operate out of the airport. The lounge has a few different seating zones.

In the far corner of the lounge were seats arranged in a circle with some cool artwork in the background.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan seating

Then past that was a rack with some magazines and newspapers, and then a bunch of traditional lounge seating arranged in rows.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan seating

Along the wall was a lime green bench with some dining tables.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan seating

Past that was the reception desk, and then on the other side of the lounge were similar seats in a different arrangement, with 3-4 seats per section.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan seating

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan seating

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan seating

At the far end of the lounge were two heavy duty massage chairs.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan massage chairs

Then there was a bigger selection of magazines and newspapers.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan newspapers & magazines

Next to the main part of the lounge was a circular business center with several outdated-looking PCs.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan business center

Back in the center section of the lounge was the buffet spread.

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Royal Brunei Lounge buffet

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Royal Brunei Lounge buffet

There was a coffee machine, bottled water, juice, and soft drinks.

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Royal Brunei Lounge coffee machine

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Royal Brunei Lounge drink selection

Then there was fresh fruit, salad, and several types of hot options.

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Royal Brunei Lounge food selection

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Royal Brunei Lounge food selection

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Royal Brunei Lounge food selection

The food looked okay, though not especially appetizing…

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Royal Brunei Lounge food selection

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Royal Brunei Lounge food selection

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Royal Brunei Lounge food selection

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Royal Brunei Lounge food selection

The lounge’s bathrooms were located in the center section, and had a unique design.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan bathroom

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan bathroom

The lounge’s showers are located inside the main restrooms, and didn’t look especially appealing. There wasn’t even a full door between the showers and the rest of the bathroom, but rather something similar to a bathroom stall.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan shower room

So while the lounge technically has showers, I’d avoid using them if possible.

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Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan shower room

Unfortunately the lounge’s wifi was also almost unusable. That’s very frustrating for a lounge.

Royal Brunei’s three longhaul destinations are Melbourne, Dubai, and London. They fly nonstop to Melbourne and Dubai, and then the Dubai flight continues to London. Based on observing and overhearing the other people in the lounge, it seemed like 90% of the people in the lounge were Australians and Brits flying between Melbourne and London (Royal Brunei times the flights so that they’re optimized for connections in both directions).

At around 7PM I was paged by name in the lounge. Hmmm, that’s usually not good (well, at least when there’s not a cabin for you to be upgraded to).

The agent asked if I’d be willing to switch seats, because a couple seated together was currently separated. Even though I wasn’t thrilled with the seat change I was happy to make it, as I didn’t want others traveling together to be separated.

I decided to leave the lounge at around 7:15PM. My boarding pass indicated that boarding would start at 7:35PM, a full hour before departure (this isn’t true as Royal Brunei boards 30 minutes out — it drives me nuts when airlines lie about boarding times on boarding passes).

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Bandar Seri Begawan Airport departure monitor

About 15 minutes after I left the lounge they started boarding the flight to Melbourne, which was departing at 8PM.

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Bandar Seri Begawan Airport before departure

My flight was departing from gate 5, located just outside the lounge.

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Royal Brunei departure gate to Dubai & London

I had to use the restroom while waiting (I drank a lot of water in the lounge), so used the public restroom. As it turns out, all the bathrooms at this airport are squat-style. I’m sure that caught some Brits and Aussies just transiting in Brunei off guard.

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Bandar Seri Begawan Airport bathroom

I assumed boarding would start at 8:05PM (30 minutes before departure), but the crew only showed at up 8:10PM. There was no announcement about the delay, though at 8:25PM business class boarding finally began.

Royal Brunei Lounge bottom line

Brunei Airport as such is a joy to fly out of, though I wasn’t impressed by Royal Brunei’s lounge. While the seating was nice enough, the wifi didn’t work, the shower situation wasn’t especially good, and the food didn’t look all that great for a carrier’s flagship lounge. The lounge is a perfectly nice place to pass some time, though I wouldn’t arrive early to use it.

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About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Fascinating review. Calling the restrooms with showers inside a “unique design” is interesting. That’s probably the worst lounge shower I’ve seen. There are some other pretty terrible lounge showers inside restrooms: Virgin Australia lounge at SYD, looking at you.

  2. That bathroom and shower look like something found in a high school. Very odd. But to me the food looked good. All the chafing dishes seems fresh and topped up, and carefully filled. With so few people going through the lounge I don’t know what else you’d want to have. It certainly looks better than wrapped sandwiches and packaged cookies. Still, you’re reviews have really given me a push to try and get there. I’ve been to every country in the region except Brunei. Time to stop flying around it and over it and actually land!

  3. So I grew up in Brunei, I am very jealous of you visiting. Can you do a report on your sightseeing? Having lived here until I was 14 I feel like part of my heart still lives there!

  4. Unusual to see both Pepsi and Coke products on offer most airlines and lounges seem to offer one or the other

  5. I transit through BWN regularly between Melbourne and Asia/London. There are showers available to the public as well (outside of the lounge, on the lower level). Strangely, I find these to be both cleaner (usually) and more private than the lounge showers, assuming you have your own toiletries and towels! Also, definitely check out the new airside sweets shop, next to gate 2. They sell heaps of interesting local candies, and has become a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.

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