Lounge Reviews

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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Review: Air France Lounge New York JFK

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We spent the weekend in the city (we stayed at the Andaz Wall Street, which I won’t be reviewing again). We got to JFK at around 9AM, plenty early for our 12:30PM flight from New York to Baku. Azerbaijan Airlines departs from JFK Airport Terminal 1, as do many other international airlines. I found it funny that Azerbaijan shared a sign with Meridiana, which is another airline I really want to try.

Azerbaijan’s check-in counter was surprisingly empty, though I guess we were arriving early. I’m used to Terminal 1 being super crowded, though in this case the terminal was almost deserted. That’s the benefit of flying earlier in the day, before most of the transatlantic flights depart.

The people working the Azerbaijan check-in desk were friendly, and processed our check-in pretty quickly. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t ask us if we had our visas. While Americans ordinarily need visas to visit Azerbaijan, there’s a special exception for passengers taking this flight. I was fully expecting they’d be unaware of this policy, so we had printed out all kinds of documentation, etc. Suffice to say I was very pleasantly surprised when they didn’t even ask about a visa.

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Review: Air Serbia Lounge Belgrade Airport

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We got to Belgrade Airport at around 9AM, plenty early for our 12:55PM flight to New York. Based on our arrival at Belgrade Airport a few days earlier I could tell it was a fairly small airport.

Once in the check-in hall we turned left, where we found the signage for Air Serbia check-in.

Air Serbia is a reasonably small airline, so even though this is their hub airport they only have about a dozen check-in “stations.” At the very right of their check-in area was the premium check-in, for business class passengers and elite members.

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Review: Aeroflot Lounge Moscow Airport

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We arrived from Los Angeles at around 3:10PM, and found ourselves in a long hallway. At the end of the hall you could either turn left towards immigration or right towards international transfers. Since we were connecting to Serbia, we turned right.

At the end of the hall was an immigration officer who checked our passports and confirmed our onwards boarding passes, and after a stamp we were let through. Then there was a quick security checkpoint, where there was no queue.

Less than 10 minutes after being off the plane we found ourselves in the departures hall, so the process was painless, and significantly easier than a transfer at any other major European airport.

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Review: No1 Lounge Gatwick Airport South Terminal

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The No1 Lounge Gatwick South is located on the top floor of the main terminal area. It took me about five minutes to find the lounge, as its entrance was a small door between two stores.

Once I made it through the short hallway, I arrived in a much nicer lobby area, where a lounge attendant was seated behind a No1 Lounge desk. All Norwegian premium passengers receive free access to the lounge, although you can also buy a pass for £28 (or for only about £20 for Norwegian Reward members – more on that in another post).

The lounge isn’t big and the lounge attendants outside made that clear. There was a long line of people who wanted to purchase access, but they were all rejected. Apparently they were fully booked for the rest of the day – and I arrived at 9:30am.

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Review: Shenzhen Airport Lounge

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I got to Shenzhen Airport at around 9:30AM for my 12:45PM flight to Seattle. I arrived extra early because I wanted to pay to upgrade to first class, which is offered on a first come first serve basis.

The Shenzhen Airport terminal exterior is super impressive. While a lot of major Chinese airports are impressive architecturally, this airport takes the cake.

The mesmerizing architecture continued inside — Shenzhen Airport has the most jaw-dropped terminal I’ve ever seen.

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First Look: Delta’s Gorgeous New SkyClub At SeaTac Airport

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Delta’s $21 million new SkyClub at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport opens tothe public today between Concourses A & B, and at 21,000 square feet, not only is it enormous, but it’s a stunner.

This club supplements and largely supplements Delta’s existing SkyClub in the South Satellite gates at Sea-Tac.

I was invited to the opening preview yesterday, and it’s clear Delta is very proud of this particular SkyClub. And they have every right to be. The new-ish SkyClub at SFO is pretty roundly regarded as wonderful. The new Seattle SkyClub is another league above.

Words won’t do it justice, so I tried to include as many pictures as possible, though of course the uniquely Pacific Northwest mix of gloom with bursts of sunshine doesn’t quite let on just how airy the space is.

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Review: The Club At SEA Seattle Airport

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I got to Seattle Airport at around 9:45AM, plenty early for my 1:25PM flight to Shenzhen. Seattle Airport has seen so much international expansion lately, to the point that the check-in facility is way too small. I tried to find the Xiamen Air check-in desk, through didn’t see any signs.

I asked one of the employees standing near one of the lines where Xiamen Air’s check-in desk was located. She responded with “huh?” when I said the airline’s name. I figured perhaps the spelling and pronunciation threw her off, so I instead used the cringeworthy pronunciation of “Zhee-amen Air,” which she understood, and then she pointed me to their desk.

Xiamen Air’s check-in counter is located right across from the Air Canada and United counter, and it’s a fairly tight fit. While they had close to a dozen staff at the check-in counter, they informed me that check-in didn’t open until 10AM. So I walked around the terminal for a bit, and returned 10 minutes later to check-in.

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Review: Singapore Airlines Lounge London Heathrow Airport

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There are four Star Alliance lounges at Heathrow Terminal 2, operated by Air Canada, Lufthansa, Singapore, and United. Due to Star Alliance regulations, all first class passengers can use all Star Alliance first class lounges, while all Star Alliance business class and Star Gold passengers can use all business class lounges.

Given the high standards that Singapore Airlines is known for, I was curious to check out their Heathrow lounge.

The Singapore Airlines Lounge London is located just a short walk from the United lounge, right next to the Air Canada lounge.

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Review: United Lounge London Heathrow Airport

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As I mentioned in the previous installment, I got to the airport way early. I arrived at around 5:30AM for my 12:20PM flight. I couldn’t sleep and the wifi at the Sofitel was unusable, so I figured I might as well lounge hop at the airport and take some pictures before the lounges filled up.

Terminal 2 has a fairly nice check-in area, though I already had a mobile boarding pass, so didn’t need to go to the check-in counter.

Security was an absolute breeze, which I don’t often say at Heathrow. There’s a Star Alliance fast track lane, so not only was there no wait, but the security process was painless, and they weren’t even especially strict about liquids.

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Review: Air Astana Lounge Astana Airport

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My flight from Astana to London was scheduled to depart at 3PM. I decided to get to Astana Airport at around 1PM, so I’d have plenty of time to review the lounge.

The drive from the Marriott took about 15 minutes, and I was dropped off at the central departures area. Much like the rest of Astana, the terminal had a pretty cool design.

I apologize for the photo quality with some of these pictures, because I didn’t feel especially comfortable taking pictures. There were armed guards everywhere, and I saw some “no photography” signs, though I’m not sure if that applied to the whole terminal, or just parts. Regardless, I was cautious.

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Review: Air Astana Lounge Almaty Airport

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I got to the airport about two hours ahead of my 2:30PM flight from Almaty to Astana. Before this flight I had heard that Air Astana’s lounge in Almaty was a bit underwhelming. Well, that’s an understatement…

The Almaty Airport terminal was quite small, and upon entering I turned right to follow the signage towards the domestic area.

Once there I saw a sign pointing towards the business class lounge, and I was a bit surprised to find that it was landside (before security).

I figured the signage was just incorrect, and that this was referring to business class check-in, given the counters near the entrance. I already got my boarding pass for the flight to Astana when I checked in at Incheon Airport. So I presented my boarding pass, and then they invited me to wait in the “lounge” until the flight was ready for boarding.

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