Category Archives: Lounge Reviews

Lounge Review: Finnair Premium Lounge Non-Schengen Helsinki Airport (HEL)

I had previously transited the Helsinki airport, but the Finnair Premium Lounge in the non-Schengen region did not exist at the time (the lounges I did visit include the Finnair lounge, the Almost@Home lounge, and the Aspire lounge). Finnair doesn’t have a first class product, so this lounge was opened essentially for oneworld emerald members.

The lounge was pretty crowded when I visited, but there were tons of seats and electrical outlets, and things were cleaned up quickly. Nothing felt particularly fancy, but I appreciated the general design and furnishings of the lounge.

Seating

Seating

More seats

More seats

Crowded seating area

Crowded seating area

The lounge has a bar with bartenders, as well as some self service champagne and wine options.

Bar menu

Bar menu

Bar

Bar

Champagne

Champagne

Wine

Wine

The food options were pretty decent. There were two soups, a bunch of meaty things (including herring, if you’re so inclined), some cold items (including Karelian pasties), desserts, and fruits. Everything that I tried was pretty good for lounge food.

Fruit and desserts

Fruit and desserts

Salad and cold food

Salad and cold appetizers

Cold foods

Cold foods

Soup and hot food

Soups and hot food

Perhaps the best part of the lounge is that they have a sauna. It’s small (maybe fits about 4 people comfortably?), but it’s an actual Finnish sauna. I’ve used a hot tub in an airport, but this was my first sauna experience in an airport. Now, in Finland, you’re supposed to be naked when you’re in the sauna, and everyone that used the sauna while I was there was naked, but everyone was also male, so I don’t know the norms for when women want to use it, since I only saw one sauna…

Overall, I thought that this was a solid lounge offering, and it’s cool that Finnair has this premium lounge even though they don’t have a first class product. The sauna is also a novel amenity that’s worth trying out if you have time during your visit. One thing that’s also nice about the Helsinki airport is that you can visit this lounge even if you’re arriving on a non-Schengen flight and connecting to a Schengen flight. You can wait to clear immigration and use this lounge prior to your flight, which is a great perk.

Lounge Review: Lounge Pacific Osaka Airport (KIX) North Terminal

Lounge Pacific is the lounge used by the non-JAL oneworld airlines at Osaka Kansai (KIX) airport in the North Terminal (although I think Malaysia Airlines may have since switched to the ANA lounge, but Cathay and Finnair still use Lounge Pacific). Unfortunately, there’s no JAL lounge available in the North Terminal.

Entrance to Lounge Pacific

Entrance to Lounge Pacific

The lounge is pretty basic, both in terms of amenities and furnishings. Depending on when your flight departs, the lounge can also get pretty crowded.

Seating

Seating

More seating

More seating

The lounge offered some wine, sake, liquor, and beer from beer machines.

Drinks

Drinks

Drinks

Drinks

Beer machine

Beer machine

For food, there were some instant soups, cookies, sandwiches, and inari and crab stick sushi. In general, the service in the lounge was good, but it was very crowded, and the food wasn’t replenished quickly enough. The inari was the most popular item, but they only brought out five pieces at a time, so they were quickly snatched up.

Instant soups

Instant soups

Sandwiches and pastries

Sandwiches and pastries

Sushi

Sushi

It’s disappointing that Cathay Pacific and Finnair use this lounge rather than a JAL one, since the JAL lounges in Tokyo are some of my favorite lounges in the world. It’s fine to pass time prior to your flight, but there’s really nothing remarkable about this lounge.

Lounge Review: Korean Air Lounge Osaka (KIX)

The Korean Air lounge at Osaka Kansai (KIX) airport is located outside of security and is accessible via Priority Pass. Go down to the third floor, and look for the lounge sign near Uniqlo. Given that the lounge is located outside of security and immigration, make sure to leave plenty of time to get to your gate on time. On this visit, it took me about 30 minutes to get through security and immigration after leaving the lounge.

Signs to the lounge

Signs to the lounge

Entrance to the Korean Air lounge

Entrance to the Korean Air lounge

The Korean Air lounge offers some seating and some food (theoretically).

Seating

Seating

More seating

More seating

Alcohol

Alcohol

Drink fridge

Drink fridge

At breakfast, there were pastries, onigiri, instant soups, and instant noodles. But all of the food would disappear very quickly. As you can see from the below pictures, there was only one left of many of the items.

Sparse food options

Sparse food options

Some packaged snacks

Some packaged snacks

There’s also a meager assortment of beverages, but this lounge is really not worth a stop. It’s hard to find, the offerings are scant, and it’s located outside of security, so you can’t really relax until your flight.

Lounge Review: Bangkok Airways Domestic Lounge BKK Airport

To get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, I flew Bangkok Airways. I’ve also taken the overnight train, which is a decent way to get between the two cities as well.

Bangkok Airways markets itself as a boutique airline, and one cool amenity is that all passengers get “lounge” access. In some airports, this doesn’t mean much (e.g., Koh Samui, where Bangkok Airways has close to a monopoly), but at BKK, there was a proper lounge.

Friendly bear at the entrance

Friendly bear at the entrance

The lounge is essentially a long room with lots of seats. There were plentiful electrical outlets for the counter seats along the edges of the lounge. When you enter, you get a wifi code printout, and the wifi was decently fast for an airport lounge in Southeast Asia.

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Beyond the typical lounge seating, there was also a children’s play area, although I didn’t see any children using it.

Children's area

Children’s area

In terms of food and beverages, there are lots of small desserts, popcorn, coffee, and drinks. One thing that I do appreciate is that some of the snacks are foods that are more common to the local area like sticky rice in banana leaves. Really, I just like sticky rice.

Coffee machines

Coffee machines

Thai desserts

Thai desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Drinks and snacks

Drinks and snacks

Popcorn and coffee

Popcorn and coffee

Overall, there’s nothing fancy about this lounge, but it’s a place to sit, eat some snacks, charge devices, and get on wifi. Surprisingly, even though all Bangkok Airways passengers get lounge access, it’s not completely overrun like some other lounges that I’ve been to. Perhaps not all passengers realize that it’s a perk that everyone can enjoy!

Lounge Review: Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge Doha Airport (DOH)

At the time I visited the Al Mourjan lounge in Doha, the first class Al Safwa lounge had not yet opened (I have since visited the Al Safwa lounge, but at the rate I’m posting trip reports, it’ll probably take me another… let’s say 6 months to write about it).

The Al Mourjan lounge is quite massive. To the point where maps are genuinely needed to navigate the lounge. There are lots of different spaces (e.g. multiple dining areas, showers, quiet rooms, business center, family spaces) which you might want to check out.

Lounge map

Lounge map

First impressions were very positive. It’s a massive space that’s well decorated. There are a variety of different seating options, although in spite of the size of the space, I can see how crowding can be an issue.

Seating

Seating

More seating

More seating

More seating

More seating

View of apron

View of apron

The lounge has most amenities you can think of. There’s a pretty massive business center with computers and workstations, and there was even a game room with video games, foosball, and arcade machines.

Business center

Business center

Game room

Game room

Games

Games

Games

Games

Pinball

Pinball

Foosball

Foosball

There’s also a family area, which I can imagine is helpful if you have small children.

Family area

Family area

Family area

Family area

iPads everywhere

iPads everywhere

I took a shower in the lounge on my layover. The shower rooms are less grand than the rest of the lounge, but it was perfectly functional. The shower amenities were from Rituals.

Shower

Shower

Shower amenities

Shower amenities

Staircase up to the dining room

Staircase up to the dining room

At 6am when I first arrived at the lounge, most of the lounge wasn’t too busy, except the dining room was packed. I had to sit at the bar (which I didn’t mind). At the bar, they were still serving Krug upon request (I believe this has changed), although they were very hush hush about it.

Breakfast menu

Breakfast menu

Wines

Wines

The breakfast buffet had two sides for food, plus a small made-to-order menu (I am not sure if they still have the made-to-order menu). One side was mostly sweet (e.g., crepes, waffles, porridge, oatmeal, fruit, yogurt), while the other side was mostly savory (meats, cheeses, foul medames, omelettes, frittatas, hashbrowns).

Breakfast buffet

Breakfast buffet

Dining room

Dining room

Cold foods

Cold foods

The food was decidedly mediocre. I ordered some shakshuka off the menu imagining poached eggs in tomato sauce, but instead received scrambled eggs with some diced tomatoes and peppers. I’ve since tried a number of food items at the Al Safwa lounge as well, and the food ranges from bad to meh. This is one area where the Qatar Airways ground experience is a huge letdown in my opinion.

Shakshuka?

Shakshuka?

If you don’t want to deal with the main dining room, there’s a separate food area that has things like sandwiches and antipasti (i.e. cold foods).

Non-dining room buffet

Non-dining room buffet

Other food room

Other food room

Finally, the lounge does offer some quiet rooms, which are a nice idea. I found the quiet rooms to be not particularly effective in practice because they were quite loud. Lots of talking, alarms going off, snoring, and people watching TV too loudly. But you might be able to sleep for a bit if you wear ear plugs.

Private resting room

Private resting room

Screen in private resting room

Screen in private resting room

Overall, it’s a large, well-appointed, attractive lounge. The service can be a bit strange at times (e.g., there were three attendants in the bathroom, but only two bartenders in the much busier dining room), and the food is generally a letdown. But there are lots of objectively nice amenities, and it’s an impressive space that’s worth checking out. Of note, you only get access to this lounge if you’re flying in business class on Qatar Airways–oneworld status will NOT get you in the door if you’re flying economy.

Lounge Review: British Airways Terraces Lounge Berlin Tegel (TXL)

The British Airways Terraces Lounge in Berlin’s Tegel (TXL) airport is a decently-sized lounge. I used this lounge prior to my flight from Tegel to Doha on Qatar Airways.

Entrance to the British Airways Terrace Lounge

Entrance to the British Airways Terrace Lounge

The lounge has a couple of different seating options: some bar seating, some chairs, and at least one small secluded room. Unfortunately, there were not enough power outlets at the seats.

Counter seating

Counter seating

Seating

Seating

There’s a typical bare bones assortment of lounge beverages. There was a coffee machine, soft drinks, alcohol, wine, and beer.

Coffee machine

Coffee machine

Wine

Wine

Alcohol

Alcohol

Beer and wine

Beer and wine

The food options were also pretty basic. There were some sandwiches, chips, pretzels, pound cakes, apples, bananas, and mini marshmallows. I found it amusing that the chips were “Hungarian” flavored, but I think that just means that they’re flavored with paprika.

Chips and pretzels

Chips and pretzels

Sandwiches

Sandwiches

Cake

Cake

Overall, not a place where I’d want to stay for very long, but your lounge options at TXL are very limited, so you’ll have to make do.

Lounge Review: Cathay Pacific Lounge Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

The Cathay Pacific lounge at CDG is located right beside the American Airlines lounge, and unless you get your access to the AA lounge via an Admirals Club membership or credit card, you probably have access to either lounge.

The lounge is just a large room, but it’s decorated and furnished according to Cathay Pacific standards. It’s the same color palette for chairs, the same solus chairs, the same white marble bar that you find in these lounges around the world. There’s plenty of seating, with both a dining area and lounge area, and the lounge was overall less crowded in the morning compared to the American lounge next door.

Typical Cathay decor with solus chairs

Typical Cathay decor with solus chairs

Lots of seating

Lots of seating

More seating

More seating

Newspapers

Newspapers

Views from the Cathay Pacific lounge

Views from the Cathay Pacific lounge

Besides the dining room and seating, there’s a computer room, luggage room, and showers. There are some nice large windows with good views of the apron, and electrical outlets were plentiful (albeit with European-style outlets rather than universal ones).

Business center

Business center

Dining area

Dining area

The breakfast options in the Cathay Pacific lounge were not quite as good as the breakfast options next door, but there were some fun drinks like Orangina, canned oolong tea, and canned soy milk.

Breakfast foods

Breakfast foods

Coffee

Coffee

Drinks

Drinks

Alcohol

Alcohol

Carbs

Carbs

Desserts

Desserts

Breads and condiments

Breads and condiments

Drink fridge

Drink fridge

There is a noodle bar in this lounge, but it doesn’t start serving food until 10am. I’m just going to come out and say it, but I really don’t think Cathay Pacific’s dan dan noodles are very good… Lots of people seem to like them, but I don’t think they’re very flavorful, and the little flavor they do have just isn’t quite right.

Noodle bar menu

Noodle bar menu

Dan dan noodles

Dan dan noodles

Even if this lounge is slightly lacking in the breakfast department, it’s significantly better for lunch than the AA lounge (mostly because the AA lounge doesn’t actually transition to a lunch buffet). There’s a salad bar and a variety of hot food options, in addition to the aforementioned noodle bar.

Salad bar

Salad bar

Lunch buffet

Lunch buffet

Overall, it’s a solid Cathay Pacific lounge with better-than-average food for an outstation lounge. If you’re choosing between the two oneworld lounges, I’d probably go to the AA lounge for breakfast, the Cathay Pacific lounge for lunch, and the Cathay Pacific lounge for a somewhat quieter experience.

Lounge Review: American Airlines Admirals Club Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

Paris Charles de Gaulle airport has two oneworld lounges: an American Airlines Admirals Club and a Cathay Pacific lounge. Both are located between Terminals 2A and 2C.

Directions to the lounge

Directions to the lounge

Entrances to the oneworld lounges

Entrances to the oneworld lounges

The Admirals Club at CDG is the best and nicest Admirals Club I’ve been to. And that’s comparing to lounges like the one in Narita and the Flagship lounges. The club has a nice space that’s well decorated and designed. There’s plenty of seating, universal power outlets, and large windows where you can some natural light and nice views of airplanes.

Large room

Large room

Seating

Seating

More seating

More seating

Work stations

Work stations

Counter seating

Counter seating

Tables

Tables

International outlets

International outlets

Views of apron

Views of apron

The food selection is also great for an Admirals Club. This club is only open in the mornings (6am to 12pm), but they have a great breakfast spread. They have all of the typical American-ish hot items (e.g., omelets, frittatas, eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, tomatoes), as well as a good cold selection of breads, salads, meats, and cheeses. Food seemed to be replenished relatively frequently, so things seemed fresh.

Drink fridge

Drink fridge

Coffee machine

Coffee machine

Alcohol

Alcohol

More alcohol

More alcohol

Yogurts and parfaits

Yogurts and desserts

Savory dishes

Savory dishes

Sandwiches

Sandwiches

Croissants

Croissants

More breads

More breads

Cheese, meats, salad

Cheese, meats, salads

Cereal

Cereal

I didn’t stick around too long in this club because I also wanted to check out the Cathay Pacific lounge next door, but the Admirals Club wasn’t too crowded just before 11am (which was right after a bank of flights had just departed). The two lounges are literally right next to each other, so you can take your pick, but I’d probably choose the Admirals Club for breakfast and the Cathay Pacific lounge for lunch. The Cathay Pacific lounge is also probably a tad less crowded in the mornings.

Lounge Review: Platinum Lounge Budapest Airport (BUD)

The third lounge that I visited in Budapest Airport was the Platinum Lounge serving Schengen flights. This lounge is located amongst the A gates, so you can only get to it if you’re flying somewhere in the Schengen region. Again, I accessed this lounge via Priority Pass.

Entrance to the Platinum Lounge

Entrance to the Platinum Lounge

This lounge was the saddest of the three that I visited. It wasn’t well lit given that it has no windows to the outside world, and it’s just a large room with some sad food options. There were only three other people in this lounge while I was there.

Also, I just walked into this lounge. When I entered, there wasn’t anyone at the front desk, so I waited for a couple of minutes. I got tired of waiting, so I just sat down, and then only maybe 5-10 minutes after that did two women come out of the back room and go to the front desk. Neither of them said anything or ask me for credentials to enter the lounge.

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Work stations

Work stations

There is a salad bar with cheese slices, salami, corn, iceberg lettuce, and mayo packets. Given the lack of traffic in the lounge, I’m not sure I’d want to eat any of those things (then again, cheese and cured meats can sit at room temperature for a while). They also had Sport bars and Turo Rudi (another Hungarian chocolate bar; it’s like a curd with a chocolate coating), and the breakfast options were perhaps better because they did have yogurt and cereals.

Salad buffet?

Salad buffet?

Dairy products and turo rudi

Dairy products and turo rudi

Fruits and cereals

Fruits and cereals

Drinks

Drinks

More drinks

More drinks

Bar snacks

Bar snacks

Turo Rudi and some sparkling water

Turo Rudi and some sparkling water

That being said, I would not recommend coming here. Just spend more time at the other lounges and budget a smidgeon more time to get to your gate. This lounge was sad and depressing. I guess if you really want some Turo Rudi or some yogurt, then it might be worth a visit.

Lounge Review: SkyCourt Lounge Budapest Airport (BUD)

The second lounge that I visited at the Budapest airport was the SkyCourt Lounge. This lounge is also accessible via Priority Pass, and it’s also above the main entrance right after you pass through security.

Entrance to the SkyCourt Lounge

Entrance to the SkyCourt Lounge

One notable feature of this lounge versus the Menzies lounge is that this lounge has toilets! No need to pee with the common people. The lounge is also a bit larger than the Menzies lounge with a variety of different seating areas. I’d say the furniture was less interesting but more comfortable compared to the other lounge.

Seating

Seating

Tables

Tables

More seating

More seating

Charging station

Charging station

Coffee and milk

Coffee and milk

Drink fridge

Drink fridge

Alcohols (with Unicum)

Alcohols (with Unicum)

This was the first time I’d ever seen a sandwich fridge in an airport lounge. So many packaged sandwiches. But the sandwiches did not look or smell very appetizing, and it seemed a little excessive given how few people seemed to be using the lounge. But I guess it’s nice to have if you’re super hungry. Beyond the sandwiches, there were also a variety of pastries (both sweet and less sweet) as well as some cereal crackers. There was also a typical assortment of drinks with Unicum making an appearance.

Packaged sandwiches

Packaged sandwiches

Food

Food

Desserts

Desserts

Packaged sandwich

Packaged sandwich

The wifi was blazingly fast for an airport lounge. I got something like 15 mbps both up and down. Some of the signs also say Malev Ground Handling, so I wonder if this space used to be the old Malev lounge before they went under?

Again, this is a solid Priority Pass lounge, but I might hit up the Menzies lounge instead if I wanted some Hungarian chocolate bars.