Lounge Reviews

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. šŸ˜‰

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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. šŸ˜‰

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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Review: Garuda Indonesia First Class Arrivals & Chauffeur Service Jakarta

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I was expecting the amazing experience to be over the moment we stepped off the plane given that Jakarta Airport is one of the less-nice ones in the region, though Garuda still found a way to make the ground experience pleasant.

We arrived at a remote stand, and the moment the door opened there were several airline representatives waiting to pick up first class passengers. There were two representatives per party (one to escort you, and another to take your luggage).

We were greeted by Larizka and Ilham, who said theyā€™d be helping us through immigration and to our waiting car. They apologized once again for the flightā€™s delay, and for the fact that we were arriving at a remote stand. Itā€™s nice when an airline has a separate bus for premium passengers, but in the case of Garuda Indonesia, they had two buses for first class passengers, so that there were only three people per bus. We had a roughly five minute drive to the terminal.

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Review: No1 Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 3

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Our flight from London to Jakarta was scheduled to depart at 8:15PM, though around noon GMT I got an email from Garuda Indonesia indicating that there had been a flight delay:

“I have just emailing to let you know that tonight’s flight has had a small delay due to a technical problem, The flight is now due to depart LHR at 23:05 and you will arrive into CGK at 19:55+1.

Please note that check in will open at 17:15 and will close at 22:00.

Apologies on behalf of Garuda Indonesia.”

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Review: New United Club LAX

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While most readers know me as the lone (consistently) pro-Delta voice on the blog, I recently flew United Airlines out of Los Angeles. (In truth, I’ve long since requalified for Diamond Medallion, Delta doesn’t offer a nonstop from Los Angeles to Washington just yet, and during the holiday season United flies internationally-configured 777s between Washington Dulles and Los Angeles/San Francisco, so using miles I was able to score a “Polaris First” seat for the four-hour flight.)

Given the new United Club lounge that just opened at LAX’s Terminal 7 (which is in the midst of a remodel, if a rather generic one), I took this as an opportunity to review the new space. Tiffany generously offered one of her United Club passes that come as part of her perks as a Hyatt Diamond.

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Review: Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

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Over the past decade I’ve visited the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt a countless number of times, and it certainly ranks as one of my favorite first class lounges in the world. However, it has occurred to me that I haven’t actually reviewed it since 2012, so it’s probably time to revisit it. In 2014 I wrote a primer on the lounge, including access rules, how to get there, etc.

Anyway, shortly after 9AM we were dropped off in the transit area at Frankfurt Airport. The First Class Terminal is intended primarily for passengers originating their travels in Frankfurt, since you can drive directly up to it and skip the airport altogether. It’s not quite as seamless if you’re connecting, since you have to walk to the FCT on your own.

After a transatlantic flight we were happy to get a bit of movement, so didn’t mind the walk. Regardless of what terminal you arrive at, you’ll want to clear immigration and then go through baggage claim. Once on the outside roadway of the airport, start walking left until you’re at the very end of the terminal.

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A Look At American’s Makeshift International First Class Lounge At LAX

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U.S. airlines are for the most part upping their game when it comes to lounges. United just opened their first Polaris Lounge at Chicago O’Hare Airport, Delta recently opened a gorgeous new SkyClub at SeaTac Airport, etc.

American is also in the process of making some major changes to their lounges. In addition to refreshing many of their Admirals Clubs, American is also changing how Flagship Lounges work. Up until now Flagship Lounges have been accessible by international first class customers and oneworld Emerald members, while starting next year business class passengers will have access as well. When these new lounges are introduced, international first class customers will have access to special areas with restaurant-style dining.

As you might expect, the footprint of many of these Flagship Lounges will be expanded significantly, given how many additional passengers will have access to them.

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Sneak Peek: Cathay Pacific’s New London Heathrow Lounge

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Cathay Pacific has been refreshing many of their lounges worldwide, which has led to some pretty impressive spaces, like the new “The Pier” lounge in Hong Kong, which is one of our favorite airport lounges.

The new Cathay Pacific Heathrow lounge had a “soft opening” yesterday, and is scheduled to fully open to passengers on December 7th. Reader Clint happened to have a long layover at Heathrow Terminal 3 yesterday, and was kind enough to share some quick photos.

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Review: New Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich Airport

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My flight from Zurich to Los Angeles was departing at 1:10PM, though I got to the airport at around 5:30AM, about eight hours before departure. Why on earth would I do that?

— I had heard great things about the new Swiss lounge, so wanted to be sure I could photograph it as much as possible before there were other guests; arriving right when the lounge opens is one of the best ways to do that
— Possibly the greatest amenity in the Swiss first class lounge is that it has private bedrooms you can sleep in, which looked so cool; since I didn’t sleep well at the Hilton, I figured I’d instead sleep in one of those rooms, so I could truly experience what the lounge had to offer

I arrived at Zurich Airport right at around 5:30AM, when it was basically still deserted. Clearing security took only a couple of minutes, and from there I followed the signage towards the E Concourse, which is where most of Swiss’ longhaul flights depart from, and also where their new first class lounge is located.

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Ranking The Lounges At LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal

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Over the past few years Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX has undergone a very nice renovation, and I’d argue it’s now possibly the nicest terminal in the US (though arguments could certainly be made for a few other terminals as well).

If you’re someone who typically flies in premium cabins or has elite status, you may also appreciate Tom Bradley International Terminal for the fact that it has some of the best airline lounges in the US. However, not all of these lounges are created equal, so I figured it would be fun to rank the lounges, from best to worst.

Up front let me add that the disclaimer that everyone is looking for different things when it comes to lounges, so there’s no objective, universal way to rank these from best to worst. Some lounges have great food, some have great cocktails, some are spacious, some are quiet, etc. I’ll try to mention those attributes below, though I’m not suggesting my ranking should work for everyone.

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Review: Kiev Airport Lounge

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The bus from the remote stand dropped us off at the transit area of the terminal, which was chaotic. There were massive queues both for people connecting and also for people arriving.

They weren’t able to print the boarding passes for our flight to New York when we checked in at Baku Airport, so we headed to the transfer desk, where fortunately there wasn’t a very long line. Within a couple of minutes the agent printed out our boarding passes, showing a 3:05PM departure time, rather than an 11:05AM departure time.

She didn’t even mention the delay, though when we asked her about it she confirmed that the flight was late. After doing some research it seems as if the plane was about seven hours late arriving from Beijing. Our three hour layover just turned into a seven hour layover.

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Review: Baku Airport Lounge

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Our flight from Baku to Kiev was departing at 6:15AM, so we got to the airport at around 4:30AM. As I noted when we arrived in Baku, the airport is gorgeous, and that’s evident before you even enter the terminal. Upon entering the terminal we had to go through a full security screening, including pat downs (even though we didn’t set off the alarm). While a lot of airports do basic bag screening before entering the terminal, this is probably the most thorough screening I’ve seen to even enter the terminal.

Once inside the terminal we found the Ukraine International Airlines check-in desk at the far right of the terminal. It was a zoo.

There were tons of people lined up, though in no real order. They had several counters, and everyone just formed their own queues. We tried to get in line at the business class counter, though there were over a dozen people in line there, and there was no one to police the line. Furthermore, there wasn’t actually anyone working most of the lines, so they didn’t move.

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