Review: Azores Airlines Lounge Ponta Delgada

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Our flight from Ponta Delgada to Lisbon was departing at 9:45AM, though we got to the airport plenty early, at around 7AM. That’s because we had to get gas, return our rental car, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to review the airport, etc.

Ponta Delgada Airport is quite small, with just a single terminal.


Ponta Delgada Airport exterior

Once inside the terminal we first went to the rental car counter, and then walked to the far end of the terminal, where check-in was located.


Ponta Delgada Airport terminal


Ponta Delgada Airport check-in counters

There was a business class check-in counter, where there was just one person ahead of us, so we were checked in pretty quickly.

I knew that our flight to Lisbon would be operated by a leased HiFly A340, which features economy, business, and first class seats. They don’t sell first class, so I asked about the possibility of assigning seats in the first class cabin, which they gladly did. Sweet! As it turned out, all but two business class passengers were actually in first class.


Azores Airlines check-in Ponta Delgada Airport

Right next to the check-in desk was security, which was an easy process. We were through in about a minute. The airport’s airside area is pretty small. Gates 1-5 were to the left, gates 6-10 were to the right, and then there were a couple of duty free shops and coffee stands.


Ponta Delgada Airport airside terminal


Ponta Delgada Airport airside terminal


Ponta Delgada Airport duty free shop

Azores Airlines operates a lounge at the airport, which is located past security and to the right. SATA rebranded as Azores Airlines several years ago, but the airline can’t seem to update their branding, as just about everything still says SATA.


Azores Airlines Lounge exterior Ponta Delgada Airport

Inside the lounge was a reception desk, where the agent took forever to get us checked in. It took her a couple of minutes as she wrote down every single detail from our boarding pass onto a sheet of paper. For what it’s worth, Priority Pass members also have access to this lounge.


Azores Airlines Lounge reception desk Ponta Delgada Airport

This lounge was plain depressing. While the rest of the airport had lots of natural light and felt fairly modern, the lounge felt like a log cabin, and not in a charming way. The only light came from the frosted glass windows.

The lounge consisted of just one small room, which is fair enough, because Azores Airlines doesn’t seem to have many premium passengers.


Azores Airlines Lounge Ponta Delgada Airport


Azores Airlines Lounge seating Ponta Delgada Airport

On the plus side, I appreciated their use of vertical wood beams to make the lounge feel a bit more private.


Azores Airlines Lounge seating Ponta Delgada Airport

Towards the back of the lounge were the two larger seating areas.


Azores Airlines Lounge seating Ponta Delgada Airport

The area in the back left of the lounge had a TV.


Azores Airlines Lounge seating Ponta Delgada Airport

The food & drink selection was back near the entrance to the lounge, and was pretty bad.


Azores Airlines Lounge food & drinks Ponta Delgada Airport

To drink there was a selection of liquor, soft drinks, and water.


Azores Airlines Lounge liquor selection Ponta Delgada Airport


Azores Airlines Lounge drink selection Ponta Delgada Airport

Then there was also a fridge with drinks.


Azores Airlines Lounge drink selection Ponta Delgada Airport

Then there was a coffee machine and a kettle.


Azores Airlines Lounge coffee machine Ponta Delgada Airport

The food selection was limited to a few types of small packaged snacks (crackers, cookies, and nuts).


Azores Airlines Lounge snack selection Ponta Delgada Airport

Then there was an area with magazines and newspapers.


Azores Airlines Lounge magazines & newspapers Ponta Delgada Airport

While the lounge had a wifi network, the airport’s wifi network was stronger. The issue was that the airport’s wifi didn’t work well in the lounge, so connectivity was better outside the lounge.

The lounge also had no bathroom, so you had to go into the terminal to use the bathroom.

The lounge was so bad that we decided to go to a coffee shop to get a coffee and snack. There were no healthy options, just a selection of carbs.


Food at Ponta Delgada Airport

Then we headed to the gate area, because that was more comfortable than the lounge.

Even though the Azores is part of Portugal, you have to go through passport control when flying from Ponta Delgada to Lisbon. Our flight was departing from gate 3 — passport control let out near gate 1, and then we had to walk past two sets of gates to get to our departure gate.


Azores Airlines departure gate Ponta Delgada Airport


Azores Airlines departures board Ponta Delgada Airport

Boarding was scheduled for 9:05AM, though that didn’t happen. Instead we began boarding the bus to the remote stand at 9:35AM, with no explanation of the delay.


Bus to gate Ponta Delgada Airport

Then at 9:40AM the bus left to the plane.


Ponta Delgada Airport tarmac

Our gorgeously simple HiFly A340 was parked at the far end of the tarmac. When the bus pulled up the cleaners weren’t done yet, so we had to wait another five minutes in the bus before we were allowed to board.


HiFly A340 Ponta Delgada Airport


HiFly A340 Ponta Delgada Airport

Finally at around 9:50AM we were able to board.

Azores Airlines Lounge Ponta Delgada

On the plus side, Ponta Delgada Airport is easy to use, and fairly nice for a small airport. Unfortunately the fact that we had lounge access and decided it was more comfortable to sit in the gate area should tell you everything you need to know about the quality of the lounge.

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Comments

  1. I was there last year and I did not had to go through passport control. I flew TAP to LIS.

  2. Hey lucky could you do a piece on the best small airport lounge that you have visited? Also a general comparison of what are the main differences in service between a small and large airport would be really cool.

    Just a suggestion.

  3. The Azores are part of the Schengen Area. You should not have to go through any sort of passport control to enter mainland Portugal.

  4. @lucky – Weird – was under the impression that’s the entire point of the Schengen Area. Maybe it has to do with the migrant issues Europe has faced.

  5. @Lucky What would you say is the world’s best airport? Also, what is your favorite airport in Florida?

  6. Just a detail about the branding. Both Azores Airlines and SATA coexist. They rebranded SATA Internacional to Azores Airlines. That is the side of the carrier which operates outside the islands (to North America, Africa, Madeira and also to mainland Portugal). Those flights across the islands are still opetared under the SATA brand.

  7. You were not getting aboard a flight from a Schengen Area, it was a non Schengen one.
    The last time I checked Canada and the USA are not part of that agreement to have people and goods traveling around between their members without passport/customs control.
    And there are daily flights to and from those countries daily at that airport with a stop, not end of flight there.
    And I agree the lounge is a bit on the miserable side, but like you said there aren’t many premium travelers around.

  8. I forgot to mention that that has happened to me several times and the surprise lasts a few moments ” OH. I’m flying in that bloody old coal flying train, that comes from or goes to north america! :P”

  9. Ah…. this airport is in the Azores, not in Dubai.

    What did you expect ?

    Its not like there are $ 28,000 First Class passenger tickets leaving from this airport.

    Really ? Have you been to the lounge in Tulsa Oklahoma lately ? Not much better. Oh, thats right, there IS no lounge. Jeez.

  10. @Ben, you complained that the lounge only had carbs, but outside of the lounge, you had coffee and muffins… isn’t that carbs too? 🙂
    On the passport control, that’s very very strange..I did the same route despite with TAP to LIS, and there was certainly no passport control. Is it because the flight will continue in LIS further out of Europe? Just a guess on the passport control thing…

    Cheers!

  11. Again I’ll repeat that @Ben was boarding a “NON SCHENGEN FLIGHT”, probably from Canada or USA.
    Because of that I just can’t understand why are a lot of surprise about it, it is supose to be passport control on non Schengen flights? Isn’t it?

  12. @Mike “The lounge was so bad that we decided to go to a coffee shop to get a coffee and snack. There were no healthy options, just a selection of carbs” seems to be referring to the options at the coffee shop not in the lounge

  13. Was this an exit passport control or entry passport control (as denoted by the stamp in your passport)? I was confused by @José T.’s comments until I realized that you were boarding a flight that had non-cleared passengers from North America–so I suspect they have to treat you as leaving the Schengen Area to board this flight, simply to reprocess you as a Schengen arrival on the other end? Otherwise, there’d be no way to tell the difference between those who had been processed and those who hadn’t…

  14. Austin
    It’s a flight originated on a non Schengen Area country with final destination Lisbon, with a stop at Ponta Delgada, so everyone between origin and destination that are going in and out, including stops have to be for ID at origin, at stop over and at destination.
    You can get in Boston and get out at PDL, if your final destination is Lisbon you get out of the plane in PDL but you can not leave the airport, you go to the international boarding area at the airport to wait for reboarding.
    One of the reasons is that this kind of fligths serve mostly the azorian comunities at north america, but also serve to connect some islands to the mainland and viceversa, without having t6o operate a diferent plane/fligth. I guess.

  15. “SATA rebranded as Azores Airlines several years ago, but the airline can’t seem to update their branding, as just about everything still says SATA”.
    @Ben: it isn’t as simple as that. The holding SATA Group (aka SATA SGPS) owns SATA Air Açores, which is an airline that connects the 9 islands of the Azores archipelago. SATA Air Açores owns, in turn, owns the airline SATA Internacional, which is the airline you flew. It isn’t therefore a matter of not updating the branding, but of actually reflecting their (complex) corporate identity.
    https://www.sata.pt/en/sata/about-sata

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