Review: Uzbekistan Airways Lounge Tashkent Airport

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Our flight from Tashkent to Dushanbe was scheduled to depart at 7:35AM, so we got to the airport at around 5AM. Before this trip I had heard that security at Tashkent Airport is super tight, and that’s no exaggeration. As is the case at many airports, there’s a car security check as you drive up to the airport.


Tashkent Airport exterior

After going through the car security check there was yet another security check to even walk towards the terminal, where bags were screened and everyone had to go through a metal detector.


Tashkent Airport exterior

From there we approached the terminal, and on the right side of the terminal we noticed an entrance to the Tashkent Airport VIP Lounge, and figured we’d be able to enter straight through there. After all, on arrival there was a special VIP arrivals lounge. Unfortunately as we approached the door we saw that it was locked. I’m not sure if that was just because it was so early in the morning, or if they just don’t intend to use it as the lounge entrance.


Tashkent Airport VIP Lounge exterior

Instead there was an escalator to the left of the entrance that took us up a level, where there was yet another security check to enter the terminal. That took just a few minutes.


Tashkent Airport terminal

Once inside the terminal there was signage for the lounges — “Business Lounge Uzbekistan Airways” was to the right, and “Business Lounge CIP” was to the left. So we turned right.


Tashkent Airport VIP Lounge signage

At the far end of the hall was the entrance to the Uzbekistan Airways lounge.


Uzbekistan Airways Business Lounge Tashkent Airport exterior

We figured the lady at the desk would check us in, though as it turned out, she was simply there to verify that we were eligible to access the lounge. So she took our passports and looked up our names, and then directed us to proceed.


Uzbekistan Airways Business Lounge Tashkent Airport reception

After that we had to go through an immigration check. It looked like the immigration officer was taking a nap when we arrived, because he turned the lights on in his booth as I got up to the window. I guess we were the first passengers of the day. Then we had to go through yet another security check — mind you, this is still before you even check bags. So at this point we’re talking about being screened for the fourth time. I suspect this was more of an immigration check than anything, though.


Uzbekistan Airways Business Lounge Tashkent Airport security

Then there was a circular hallway leading into the rest of the lounge, which featured a cool wall that had the distances to all kinds of cities on it.


Uzbekistan Airways Business Lounge Tashkent Airport security channel

Here’s a view of that from inside the lounge.


Uzbekistan Airways Business Lounge Tashkent Airport security channel

Then we finally got to check-in, where there was a single agent who quickly had us checked in, and invited us to use the lounge. He told us we’d be called when our flight was ready for boarding.


Uzbekistan Airways Business Lounge Tashkent Airport check-in

Initially I thought the entire lounge was on the first floor, in which case I thought the lounge was sterile but modern and functional. The lounge had some cool designs on the walls that reminded me of United’s Polaris branding.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge seating

There were all kinds of leather seats, including circular seating displays, dining tables, etc.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge seating


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge seating


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge seating

In the corner of the lounge was a counter with a selection of drinks. There was no food, but rather just water, soda, and juice.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge drink selection


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge drink selection


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge drink selection

There was also a duty free store on the first floor, as well as a floor-to-ceiling screen showing awesome takeoff and landing videos from a cockpit. So cool!


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge aviation videos

I saw signage indicating that the “restaurant” was located upstairs. I wasn’t sure if this was part of the lounge or something else, so we decided to take a look.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge stairs to dining area

On the second floor was an entrance to the “restaurant,” as well as the restrooms to the right.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge dining area

The upstairs area was gorgeous. While the lower level felt sterile and lacked character, the upper level felt like a cigar bar, minus the smoke. It had big, comfortable leather couches, and all kinds of cool-looking seating. This isn’t what I was expecting from Uzbekistan Airways’ lounge!


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge dining area


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge dining area

The upper level had a walkway that was essentially in a “U” shape, with the bar being the centerpiece of the lounge.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge dining area

One side of the lounge had those big leather couches, while the other side of the lounge had more individual seats, which were equally stylish.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge dining area


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge seating

There were two attendants working in the lounge, who were standing behind the bar to assist in case anyone wanted anything. There was also seating along the bar, should you prefer that.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge bar


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge bar


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge bar

To the side of the bar was a small counter with some pretty snacks, including nuts, dried fruit, cookies, etc. There was also a fridge with water, soft drinks, and juice, similar to what was found downstairs.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge buffet


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge drinks

The bar had a more extensive selection of food, though it still wasn’t anything special. It included all kinds of carbs, from muffins to pastries to to finger sandwiches.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge food selection


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge food selection


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge food selection

We had a couple of little breaded things — one sweet and one savory — which the attendant heated up in a microwave.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge snacks

On top of that the lounge had a huge alcohol selection. I’m not sure where exactly the line was drawn as to what’s included and what isn’t. I can say that the 2006 Dom Perignon retailed for 160EUR per bottle. I also had to laugh at the fact that they had Capri Sun. Talk about childhood memories.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge drinks for sale


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge drinks for sale

There was also a selection of cigarettes for sale.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge cigarettes for purchase

In addition to everything else, there were freshly prepared coffee drinks, so we each had a couple of cappuccinos, which were pretty good.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge cappuccino

Overall I thought the lounge had an impressive interior yet a disappointing food selection. However, my single biggest frustration was that the wifi didn’t work. I don’t know how you can build such a beautiful lounge but then drop the ball in such a major but easily fixable way.

In terms of other amenities in the lounge, there were bathrooms on both the upper and lower level, which were clean.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge bathroom


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge bathroom

There was even a shower room on the upper level, though there wasn’t a separate toilet in the shower room.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge shower room


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge shower room

There was also a play area for kids on the second floor, as well as a smoking lounge.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge kids play area

Our boarding pass indicated that boarding was scheduled to start at around 7:05AM. We figured we could meander into the terminal a bit early to grab some pictures, though we realized there was no exit. There’s a single door to exit the lounge, and you can only leave when they call you. Otherwise the door is locked.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge departures board

So we sat down by that door for a while (which is on the first floor, right next to the door to the second floor), until we were called at 6:50AM (the clock below is wrong, oddly), along with the flight to Kazan.


Uzbekistan Airways Lounge exit

The Uzbekistan Airways agent confirmed our boarding passes and then directed us to proceed down the hallway.


Exit from Uzbekistan Airways Lounge

On the way there was a great view of the Uzbekistan Airways 787.


Uzbekistan Airways 787 Tashkent Airport

At the end of the hall was another security check. We were the only ones in business class to Dushanbe, so everyone else walking with us was going to Kazan. When we got to the security checkpoint they saw shoe covers/booties, so they decided to put those on over their shoes before walking through the metal detector. That’s not how that works. 😉


Exit from Uzbekistan Airways Lounge

Once past the security checkpoint we were ushered to a waiting bus, but not before a bit of drama.

The security agent saw me taking pictures (we had done a good job up until this point subtly taking pictures in a country that seems pretty anti-pictures), and said “give me phone.” He took my phone and spent about a minute going through my camera roll looking at pictures. Fortunately he didn’t speak any English, or else he may have questioned me. He deleted a few pictures (surprisingly he left all the ones of the lounge, etc.), but clearly he wasn’t familiar with the “recently deleted” folder, since the pictures were quickly recovered.


Bus to departure gate

So those going to Dushanbe and Kazan piled onto a big bus that was outdated but comfortable. We first stopped at the plane for Kazan, where the other passengers were dropped off. The Uzbekistan Airways agent accompanied us on the bus, to make sure everyone got on the right flight.


Bus to departure gate

And then after about a five minute drive we arrived at our plane. I couldn’t help but notice how many people there were in military uniforms on the tarmac and near all planes, which I haven’t otherwise seen in many places. So I avoided taking pictures on the tarmac.

Our plane to Dushanbe

By around 7:10AM we arrived at our plane, and to my surprise we were the first passengers there.

Uzbekistan Airways Lounge Tashkent bottom line

Uzbekistan Airways’ new lounge in Tashkent is really impressive, on one hand. It’s cool that they have a private area of the terminal, separate security and immigration checks, drive you to the plane separately, etc. It’s almost like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. Almost. The lounge itself is also beautiful.

It’s not a complaint, though rather I think it’s worth emphasizing just how redundant the security process at the airport is. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, so be sure you leave plenty of time.

The biggest area of improvement for the lounge was with the lack of wifi (which I find to be totally unacceptable), as well as the quality of the food selection, which is a minor point in the grand scheme of things.

But overall this place greatly exceeded my expectations, minus the wifi issues.

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Comments

  1. It continues to amaze me when I travel how many procedures/rules I come across that make absolutely no sense (and I identify this in 2 minutes) yet those people who work there every single day dont notice how pointless their job/operation is. I assume this is a combination of not knowing/not caring?
    I always think the same thing in that situation: ‘am I honestly the first person who has ever questioned this?!’

  2. Ben –
    But isn’t that half the fun of travel?
    It’s bad enough the world is becoming this stencilled Starbucks/h&m/McDonald’s place – let there be some curiosities along the way.
    It also makes me think what some people make of the USA, and some of the things we take for granted as making perfect sense.

  3. That is one of the most visually appealing lounges I have ever seen. Suprised you didn’t make a comment of all the cool plane themed decorations, outside of the video. Looks like a modern lower half with a speakeasy upper portion.
    Nice review as usual, thanks.

  4. Every time I read about this trip I can’t stop wondering who is the president of Uz-beki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan?

  5. All the security, the government still thinking like the soviet era.
    They are former Socialist Soviet Republic.

  6. I can’t help but think of how piss-poor US airport lounges are compared to other countries. Even countries which aren’t exactly doing well seem to have fantastic airports, whilst the US is stuck in the 1950s/1960s.

    While security seems extreme (and extremely ineffective) at this airport, I bet none of the workers were yelling at passengers and throwing their weight around.

    The US could learn a lot.

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