Lounge Reviews

Review: Emirates Lounge San Francisco Airport

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Our connecting flight arrived in San Francisco about three and a half hours before our flight to Dubai. As we had plenty of time, and my husband still didn’t feel great, we popped into the Delta SkyClub for some soup and downtime before heading over to the international terminal.

The Emirates check-in desk opens three hours before departure, and online check-in isn’t possible from San Francisco. Fortunately, there wasn’t a queue for First Class passengers, so we had our boarding passes in minutes.

Then began the most ridiculous “TSA” experience of my life.

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Review: United Polaris Lounge Chicago

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We arrived on our United “Polaris” flight from London and had a four hour layover in Chicago before our connecting flight. This gave us plenty of time to check out the brand new Polaris Lounge which we were rather excited about. Unfortunately, it was a few days before they began serving restaurant-style order-off-the-menu meals so those won’t be part of this review. A day late and a dollar short. Or something like that.

We cleared security and headed over to Terminal C through the psychedelic tunnel.

As you come up the escalator, the United customer service counter is straight ahead. And the Polaris Lounge is just to the left of it.

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Review: Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi

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A couple of days ago I finally had the chance to visit Etihad’s new first class lounge in Abu Dhabi. The lounge opened in May 2016, after substantial delays. While I used to fly Etihad all the time, I’ve been making an effort to review more new airlines lately, so this was my first time passing through Abu Dhabi in first class since the lounge opened.

Prior to that I visited Etihad’s Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi, which can be accessed by business class passengers. For a business class lounge it’s solid.

Etihad’s Abu Dhabi first class lounge is open 24 hours a day, and is located just past the security checkpoint at Terminal 3. So if you’re originating in Abu Dhabi you’ll find the lounge as soon as you clear the security checkpoint. Meanwhile if you’re connecting, clear transit security at Terminal 3, and then follow the signage to the first class lounge.

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Review: United Club London Heathrow

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This was the first time that we had passed through London since the new Queen’s Terminal opened and we were curious to see it. I don’t remember that much of my last visit to London Heathrow other than the Star Alliance airlines were sharing a common, mostly nondescript lounge that seemed to have few if any windows.

With the opening of Terminal 2, there are now so many choices for Star Alliance flyers at London Heathrow that it’s almost overwhelming. Ben has recently reviewed all of them — Lufthansa, Singapore, Air Canada, and United. That meant there was no need for me to take one for the team and we could just head to the best. Which is considered to be the United Club. That’s not a misprint.

Not only was the United Club rated the best but it was also undeniably the most convenient as it turned out to be right next to our gate. We headed over, though got sidetracked for a long time at the kids play structure as you approach the pier. It’s an impressive space filled with kids, and is even staffed by a Heathrow employee. Judging by the no photography signs posted in the vicinity, the Brits are camera shy, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

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Review: SAS Lounge Oslo Airport

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We had decided to spend our final night in Norway at the airport so we wouldn’t have to get up quite so early for our 7:50 AM flight to London Heathrow. The terminal is only a short distance from the Radisson Blu Oslo Airport, most of which is covered to protect you from the weather. The walk probably took no more than five minutes and was made easier by the luggage cart we had cached the night before.

On the way, we passed through a set of double revolving doors which gave me flashbacks to Super Mario Brothers. In fact, I stood there for a minute trying to time up my steps so I wouldn’t get squished in the middle.

Having made it to the next level, I mean, into the terminal, we quickly found the Star Gold counter for SAS. There was a bit of a line, but the agent was very efficient and we waited no more than a couple of minutes. She then had the five of us checked in and on our way. Even as SAS Plus passengers, we weren’t directed to Fast Track Security or advised about the location of the SAS lounge despite that being one of the few perks of SAS Plus. That was no big deal, just a little surprising.

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Review: Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt Airport Terminal A

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We had four hours to kill at Frankfurt Airport before our connecting flight to Oslo so we made our way over to Terminal A and checked into the Lufthansa Senator Lounge.

I find Frankfurt to be perhaps the most sprawling, convoluted airport in the world. I’ve connected there numerous times over the years, yet nothing ever really seems familiar. I’ve mostly given up trying to figure it out and instead just follow the signs to my next gate like a lemming.

So I’m not going to try to describe the process of getting to Terminal A. Suffice it to say we made it.

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Review: Emirates Business Class Lounge Dubai

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My flight from Dubai to Los Angeles was departing at 3PM, so a friend dropped me off at Terminal 3 at around 11:30AM, so I’d have plenty of time to review the lounge. Emirates has a separate drop-off area for first and business class passengers, which lets you skip the main part of the check-in hall altogether.

The Emirates premium check-in area is massive. First there are a bunch of red carpets for first class check-in, and then behind that are blue carpets for business class check-in.

After that I proceeded through immigration and passport control, which was relatively quick thanks to this checkpoint only being for premium passengers. Once through security I took the train to the A Concourse, which is Dubai Airport’s A380 concourse (though 777s depart from there as well, and not all A380s depart from that concourse).

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Review: Royal Brunei Lounge Bandar Seri Begawan

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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.

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.

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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Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Kuala Lumpur

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My Royal Brunei flight to Bandar Seri Begawan was departing at 12:10PM, so I got to Kuala Lumpur Airport at around 10AM. I checked the departure monitor, and easily found the check-in area for Royal Brunei.

Royal Brunei had a business class counter, though it wasn’t staffed. I still queued there for a minute (since the main line was quite long), and after a few minutes the station manager got the hint, and had one of the associates staff that desk.

Within a few minutes I had a boarding pass to Bandar Seri Begawan, and an invitation to the Plaza Premium lounge. I’ve only ever used the Malaysia Airlines first class lounge in Kuala Lumpur, so was curious to see how one of the airport’s contract lounges compared.

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Review: Royal Jordanian Lounge Amman Airport

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I took a taxi from the Grand Hyatt to the airport at around 9:30PM, plenty early for my 1:30AM flight to Kuala Lumpur. About a mile before we got to the actual terminal, there was a security check. They searched some cars, while others they let through after looking into the cars. In my case they asked to see my passport, and when they saw it was German, they waved us through.

Before entering the terminal, I had a bit of an odd exchange with the taxi driver. We agreed the price should be 25JOD before the ride, and I gave him 30JOD (since that’s the leftover currency I had).

“No tip?”

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Review: Cairo Airport Lounge Terminal 2

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It’s funny how this transit worked out. Initially I was supposed to arrive in Cairo at 5:55AM, while my connection on a separate ticket on Royal Jordanian was scheduled to depart at 10:15AM.

Then a few days before the flight I got notice of a schedule change on my Cairo to Amman flight, which was now instead departing at 12:10PM. So I was dreading the layover of six hours, though as “luck” would have it, my Toronto to Cairo flight was delayed by over three hours, meaning my connection would only be three hours.

So you’ve gotta love when stuff goes sufficiently wrong that it actually goes right. ­čśë

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Review: Lufthansa Lounge London Heathrow Airport

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We arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 on Garuda Indonesia at around 5:40PM, and had a separate ticket to Munich on Lufthansa at out of Terminal 2 at 8:15PM. So we took the bus to Terminal 2, had to clear security again, etc. In all, the transit took about 30 minutes.

Then we found ourselves in Terminal 2 (known as “The Queen’s Terminal), which is my favorite terminal at Heathrow. I was excited because the terminal has four Star Alliance lounges, and the Lufthansa lounge was the last one I hadn’t yet visited. I’ve already reviewed the Air Canada lounge, Singapore Airlines lounge, and United lounge. So I was excited to check out the Lufthansa lounge prior to our flight.

Once inside the terminal we followed the signage towards “Lounges A1-A2,” which includes the Lufthansa and Plaza Premium lounge. Terminal 2 consists of two concourses, and the Lufthansa and Plaza Premium lounges are in the near concourse, while the other three lounges are in the far concourse. Getting between concourses can take 10-15 minutes, so when you’re flying Lufthansa it’s a bit of a detour to use one of the other lounges.

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Review: Dnata Lounge Terminal 3 Singapore Airport

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Our transit time in Singapore was only scheduled to be 65 minutes, so initially our plan was to just hang around the gate, since we were running late, and I figured it would take a while to get to the lounge. Of course I should have known better, given that Garuda Indonesia carefully considers every aspect of the first class ground experience. ­čśë

Upon deplaning we were greeted by Saddiq, who had a sign with our names on it. There was another representative waiting for the other first class passenger.

Saddiq informed us that he’d be staying with us for the duration of our time in Singapore. Once outside the gate there were two golf carts waiting for the two first class parties, so we were driven to the lounge.

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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class Lounge Jakarta

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Our flight from Jakarta to London (via Singapore) was departing at 7:20AM, so we requested that the Garuda Indonesia limousine service pick us up at our hotel at 4AM. We got to the lobby at around 3:50AM, and the driver was already waiting for us in a Toyota Alphard.

Our ride to the airport took about 40 minutes. Funny enough, the traffic was worse going to the airport at 4AM than it was from the airport to the hotel at around 9PM.

We pulled up to the far end of the terminal when we arrived at the airport, where we were immediately greeted by the two Garuda Indonesia representatives, Dea and Freddie, who would be taking care of us. They greeted us by name, and escorted us straight to the lounge. It really is incredible how seamless Garuda Indonesia makes the ground experience.

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