Lounge Reviews

Review: United Club Los Angeles Airport

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In December 2016, a new United Club was opened at LAX. United can’t seem to decide what they want to do with LA, and whether it’s a hub or focus city. The new United Club certainly shows their investment in the airport, and I was excited to check it out.

In December Nick wrote a review of the lounge, though I figured I’d share my thoughts on it as well.

My flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco was departing at 6:40AM, so I got to the airport way early, at around 4:15AM, since I wanted to be able to review the United Club while it was still empty.

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Review: Kuwait Airways Lounge Kuwait Airport

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Our flight from Kuwait City to New York (via Shannon) was departing at 9AM, and we got to the airport plenty early, at around 6:15AM. We had already received our boarded passes all the way to New York in Dhaka, so could skip the check-in counters (which were deserted anyway).

Kuwait Airport is pretty solid. While the finishes don’t come off as especially luxurious, the ceilings are high, and they have excellent concessions.

Starbucks and Pinkberry next to one another? Yes please!

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Review: Dhaka Airport Lounge

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Our Kuwait Airways flight from Dhaka to Kuwait City was departing at 8:55AM, and we got to the airport at around 6:45AM. Our driver pulled up to the airport and signaled for us to go through the staff entrance. I wasn’t sure whether we were really supposed to do that, but he insisted, so we did. Sure enough, the officers waved us through.

Security at Dhaka Airport is very high. Probably the highest I’ve seen at any airport. There were guards with machine guns everywhere. First there was a security and passport check to get into the terminal.

Then we tried to find the Kuwait Airways check-in counter, which proved a bit of a challenge. There was a lack of signage indicating which airline used which counters, and on top of that the terminal was crowded. Eventually we found the Kuwait Airways check-in counter, located in row “E.”

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Review: Kathmandu Airport Lounge

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Our flight from Kathmandu to Paro was departing at 9:45AM, and we got to the airport at around 7:15AM. That’s obviously way early, though the night before we were told that there would be big protests in the city that could greatly impact traffic, so we didn’t want to miss our flight. As it turns out, those protests were canceled, so we ended up being way early.

To even enter the Kathmandu Airport terminal we first had to go through a passport check. The armed guard just glanced at the cover of our passports and then waved us through.

After that we had to go through a security check, which took a few minutes.

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Review: Air France Lounge San Francisco Airport

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Our flight from San Francisco to Seoul Incheon was departing at 11:30AM, and we arrived at the airport plenty early, at around 8AM. Korean Air departs from International Terminal A at SFO, and they use check-in Zone 9. Their check-in only opened at 8:10AM, so they were just setting up as we arrived.

The check-in process was friendly and quick, and we were soon handed boarding passes all the way to Kathmandu, and invitations to the British Airways Lounge, which Korean Air uses for their premium passengers at SFO.

Often security at SFO’s international terminals is horrible, though fortunately we arrived ahead of the big rush, and we were through security in a matter of minutes. While SFO’s Terminal 2 and International Terminal G are quite nice, I find that the shopping and food options are fairly limited in International Terminal A.

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Review: Sampling Every Dish At The United Polaris Lounge

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I’m not going to lie, traveling as a family with three kids five and under is a lot of work. Quite often it means not getting to use some of the airline or lounge amenities — like daybeds or even showers — that you otherwise would.

But once in a while there can also be real advantages to having five mouths to feed. Like being able to sample literally every dish on the United Polaris Lounge lunch and dinner menu.

As luck would have it, we had another opportunity to visit the United Polaris Lounge Chicago about a month after our Oslo trip. And this time, we got to experience the full sit-down dining experience.

So rather than doing a full review of the lounge, I’m going to focus exclusively on the a la carte dining experience.

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Review: The New American Flagship Lounge New York JFK

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Last February, American announced that they’d be making some major changes to their lounges, including the following:

— American will be renovating and expanding their Flagship Lounges in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York
— American will be adding Flagship Lounges in Dallas, Miami, and Philadelphia
— American will completely be changing access rules for these lounges; previously Flagship Lounges were open to those in international first class and oneworld Emerald members, while under the new rules they’ll be open to oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members, as well as all passengers in international first & business class
— American will be introducing Flagship Dining, where international first class and A321 transcon first class passengers will have access to a la carte dining at Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York

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Review: Alitalia Lounge New York JFK

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After flying Singapore Suites from Frankfurt to New York (a flight I’ve reviewed before, though won’t be reviewing this time around), I flew Philippine Airlines from New York to Vancouver. I arrived in New York from Frankfurt shortly before noon, went into the city, and then had an 11:55PM flight to Vancouver.

I’ve been fascinated by Philippine Airlines’ new flight between New York and Vancouver ever since they launched it in 2015, especially as they’re competing head-to-head with Cathay Pacific on the route. So I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try it, especially as the one-way business class fare was just $440.

I got to the airport at around 9PM, plenty early for my flight. Outside the terminal I saw the Philippine Airlines sign, which I of course had to take a picture of.

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Review: St. Regis Lounge Male Airport

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As I mentioned in the first post of this series, I’m keeping this trip report pretty brief, and just focusing on the new aspects of the trip. So after checking out of the InterContinental Hong Kong we flew to London in Cathay Pacific first class, then to Abu Dhabi in Etihad first class, and then connected to Male in Etihad business class (which I didn’t write about this time, but it’s a route I’ve reviewed before).

That’s because we were staying at the new St. Regis Maldives Vommuli, which opened last year. This hotel is expensive, and justifiably so — it’s stunning. When the hotel first opened they allowed redemptions for 26,000 Starpoints for overwater villas for a very brief period, which is a great deal. I made a few reservations using this deal, but canceled all but one.

They updated the pricing pretty quickly, and I believe the property now costs 90,000 Starpoints per night. However, historically Starwood has run promotions for 35% off resort redemptions once per year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that at this property in the future.

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Review: Frankfurt Airport New VIP Services Lounge

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I landed at 5:15am on my Condor flight from Cape Town. We were one of the first aircraft into Frankfurt, which was quite cool. As we pulled into the gate, I saw multiple other widebodies from the rest of the world populating the surrounding gates as well.

Upon leaving the aircraft and walking up the jetway, I was greeted by a kind British woman who would escort me to the VIP lounge. Frankfurt Airport had kindly arranged access for me ahead of my 9:00am interview with Fraport executive Anke Giesen. (you can find the pricing for the VIP services here).

After being led down a flight of stairs, I was standing on the tarmac beneath the 767 that I’d just flown in on.

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Review: EVA Air Lounge Taipei Airport

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We spent a majority of our time at Taoyuan Airport checking out all the Hello Kitty goodness, though we also spent a bit of time visiting EVA Air’s lounges. EVA Air has four lounges at Taoyuan Airport — The Garden, The Infinity, The Star, and The Club.

If my understanding is correct, The Garden is for EVA Air Diamond members, The Star is for Star Alliance Gold members, The Infinity is for business class passengers, and The Club is for EVA Air Silver members. I’ve reviewed The Infinity and The Star several years ago, so I figured it’s time for an updated review.

All of these lounges are located one level above the main concourse in Terminal 2, just past security and immigration. The escalators are just beyond the immigration checkpoint.

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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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