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Introduction: Journey To Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, And Kuwait
Review: Air France Lounge San Francisco Airport
Review: Korean Air Business Class 747-8 San Francisco To Seoul
Review: Korean Air Business Class 777 Seoul To Kathmandu
Review: Hyatt Regency Kathmandu
Review: Kathmandu Airport Lounge
Review: Drukair Business Class A319 Kathmandu To Paro
Review: Le Meridien Thimphu
Review: Le Meridien Paro
Hiking To The Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
How We Spent Our Time In Bhutan
Review: Drukair Economy ATR42 Paro To Dhaka
Review: Presidential Suite At The Le Meridien Dhaka
Review: Dhaka Airport Lounge
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class A330 Dhaka To Kuwait
Review: Sheraton Kuwait
Review: Kuwait Airways Lounge Kuwait Airport
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Kuwait To Shannon
Review: Kuwait Airways Business Class 777 Shannon To New York
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.
Once inside the terminal we walked to the very left, where the Drukair check-in counter was located.
At first I was a bit worried by how long the line seemed to be, though it quickly became apparent that a big group was traveling together.
So we got in the right line, where there was just one small group ahead of us.
At check-in I learned that our flight would be operated by an A319, rather than the ATR turboprop that I was expecting the flight to be operated by. I suspect they had an aircraft swap between the time we booked and the flight date, or maybe I just saw it incorrectly when I booked.
I asked about the possibility of upgrading to business class, and was informed that it would cost $90 per person. There’s no way in hell that’s worth it for a 45 minute flight. However, I decided to upgrade so that I could review the cabin, and also so I could board first and hopefully get some good cabin shots. Given that I probably wouldn’t be taking another trip to Bhutan anytime soon, it seemed worthwhile.
The station manager quickly appeared to start processing our upgrades, and I asked if I could pay by credit card. I understood him as saying yes, and then it took them about 20 minutes to process the upgrade.
At that point I handed over my credit card, and he said “cash only, I said.” I guess I misunderstood him from earlier. I didn’t have that much cash, unfortunately, so went to an ATM to try and get some cash. Go figure the ATM didn’t work, and gave me an error message.
I went back to the counter to explain the situation, and then he had one of the check-in agents escort me outside the terminal to another ATM. That one worked. In the end the entire upgrade process took 30 minutes, only a bit shorter than the flight itself. Again, I realize the upgrade was impractical, but I’m all about reviewing premium cabin products, and a short Drukair flight is no exception.
Eventually we had our (handwritten) boarding passes and lounge invitations in hand.
We followed the signage towards departures, and then saw a sign pointing towards the airport’s executive lounge. As it turns out, the lounge is past immigration but before security.
After immigration we found ourselves in what seemed to be a quasi-sterile area. The lounge was just past immigration and to the right. I was also surprised to see that Thai Airways has a lounge here — I wasn’t expecting that.
The entrance to the lounge listed all the airlines that use this lounge for their passengers.
There was a ground floor area with seating, though it was unstaffed. If you don’t have access to the lounge itself, I guess this would be a nice place to sit. 😉 The staircase to the lounge was to the right.
At the top of the staircase were signs showing that you can access this lounge with a Priority Pass or Lounge Key membership. So even if we weren’t in business class, one of my (several) Priority Pass memberships could have gotten us in. As a reminder, here are the most popular cards that come with Priority Pass memberships:
|Card||# Of Guests Who Get Free Access||Authorized User Access||Cost To Add Authorized User|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||2||Yes||$175 For Up To 3 People, $175 For Each Additional Person Beyond That|
|The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN||2||Yes||$300 Per Person|
|The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card||Unlimited Guests||Yes||$0|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card||2||Yes||$75 Per Person|
The lounge itself was by far the nicest aspect of the airport. Given how much of a mess the rest of the airport was, I was actually very surprised by how nice the lounge was. It featured plenty of couches, located in two separate areas.
Between the two rooms was the self serve buffet and bar.
The other side of the lounge had more seating, a partitioned off room, and then also a smoking lounge.
While I’m not a smoker, I think most smokers would be pleased to see how nice the smoking room was.
The partitioned off room in the back was similar to the rest of the lounge, though had no one in it.
The lounge had a bar setup with all kinds of liquor and wrapped sandwiches, fruit plates, deli plates, pastries, etc. I’m not sure what was and wasn’t complimentary. I assume there’s no charge for the food, but maybe there’s a charge for the alcohol?
Then there was also a selection of hot dishes, none of which looked especially appetizing.
Then there was cereal and a selection of tea.
There was a server roaming around the lounge asking if anyone wanted anything. I ordered a cup of coffee, which was tasty.
The lounge’s bathrooms were decent enough.
There was also a selection of magazines and newspapers.
One odd aspect of the lounge was that it seemed to be operated by Radisson. Based on that I assumed that Radisson also had an airport hotel and ran this as part of it, though after doing some research it doesn’t look like Radisson has a hotel at the airport. So I guess Radisson just operates the lounge independently? Odd.
We left the lounge at around 8:45AM, plenty early for our 9:45AM departure. After leaving the lounge we went through security, which was extremely thorough (which I appreciate). Each passenger had to go through the metal detector and get a pat down, and all bags went through the x-ray and also got searched. Best of all, there was no wait. Good for them.
The airport just has a few “gates” (in reality they’re not actually gates since there are no jet bridges, but rather just different doors through which you walk onto the tarmac).
The terminal at Kathmandu Airport has to be the worst one I’ve ever seen…
There was a simple shop with some snacks and drinks past security, but that’s it.
Then there were just a couple of big rooms where you could sit and wait.
At around 9:10AM we saw our Drukair A319 arrive from Paro, a bit behind schedule.
Passengers deplaned quickly.
The second the plane arrived, people started crowding the door trying to board, though the ground staff advised everyone to sit down.
This was also my first exposure to traditional Bhutanese dress, which is pretty damn awesome, in my opinion.
Finally at 9:25AM boarding was called.
Kathmandu Airport Lounge bottom line
Kathmandu Airport is easy enough to navigate — it’s pretty small, and there was no line at immigration or security. While Kathmandu Airport as such is probably the least nice airport I’ve ever been to, the lounge was decent, and is a great option for Priority Pass members.