Lounge Reviews

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. 😉

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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. 😉

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 they’d be helping us through immigration and to our waiting car. They apologized once again for the flight’s delay, and for the fact that we were arriving at a remote stand. It’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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