Tag Archives: airport lounge

Lounge Review: Etihad Airways First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)

My next stop during my layover at AUH was the Etihad Airways First Class Lounge and Spa. This visit happened just a couple of weeks after this lounge opened.

Entrance to the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa

The lounge isn’t enormous like the Qatar Airways Al Safwa lounge or the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai, but it’s tastefully appointed and has plenty of awesome amenities.

Lounge seating

Lounge seating

Lounging areas

Lounge area

Lounge seating

They’ll serve you food just about anywhere, and they specifically have a bar/lounge food menu. There’s also a limited self-service food station, but there are people roaming around the lounge who are ready to take your order and bring you food wherever you are.

Bar

Self-service food

Self-service food

Self-service drinks

There’s also a cigar room, a workout area, and a spa. During my layover, I had a shave at the spa.

Cigars

Cigar room

Cigar menu

Spa area

Workout room

Workout room

Shower room

The most impressive part of my visit was the dining room. Mostly because the service was impeccable. I was told that during the first couple of months that the lounge was open, they actually had flight crew serve as staff in the lounge to ensure a high level of service.

Dining area

Dining area

Dining area

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

First, I had a snack before I sat in the dining room proper. I asked for the spring rolls vegetarian and some sweet potato fries. Both were pretty good.

Vegetarian spring rolls and sweet potato fries

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

I then had a proper meal in the dining room. I didn’t see much on the main food menu that appealed to me, and the server essentially asked me what I wanted to eat and she’d tell the chef to whip me up something catered to my liking.

First, I was served a confit of asparagus and roasted baby beets. It could have used some salt and acid, but I was impressed by the effort.

Confit of asparagus and roasted baby beets

Prior to the next course, I was served an intermezzo of a mango sorbet palate cleanser. Not really necessary after my first course, but that’s the level of formality of the lounge dining room.

My entree was a vegetable curry with rice and bread. It was pretty tasty! Probably the best savory thing I ate all day.

Vegetable curry with rice and bread

For dessert, I had the chocolate sponge cake with salted caramel ice cream and a fruit plate. Both were presented beautifully.

Chocolate sponge cake with salted caramel ice cream

Fruit plate

And since I’m gluttonous, I also helped myself to a number of the self-serve dessert options. These were all fine and considerably better than the self-serve dessert options at the Qatar Airways Al Safwa lounge.

Dessert

Overall, it’s not the most outwardly fancy lounge, but the dining options are terrific, the service was incredible, and there are cool amenities like a spa, workout room, and cigar room.

Lounge Review: Etihad Airways Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)

My first stop during my transit of Abu Dhabi airport was the Etihad Premium Lounge. This lounge is open to business class passengers flying on Etihad.

Entrance to Etihad Premium Lounge

The lounge has all of the typical amenities of a business class lounge: plenty of seating, a business center, dining area, and bar. In addition, there are also some more novel amenities like a spa (that you have to pay for). The lounge is quite large, so there are plenty of places to sit.

Business area

Six Senses Spa

Sofa seating

Lounge seating

Dining area

Although the lounge isn’t the fanciest business class lounge I’ve been in (that would probably be Cathay Pacific’s Pier or maybe Emirates’ Business Class lounge), I was pretty impressed by the extensive food options in this lounge. The food options just seemed to go on and on. There’s everything from sushi to pandan jelly, so you’re bound to find something that appeals to you.

Sushi

Olives and pickles

Hot food

Hot food

Salads and mezze

Bakery items

Butter

Cheese, yogurt

Salads

Hot food

Bar

Dessert

Dessert

Dessert

Fruit

Dessert

Dessert

Sandwiches

Overall, it’s a solid business class lounge with quite extensive food options.

Lounge Review: Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha Airport (DOH)

I’ve reviewed Qatar’s business class Al Mourjan airport lounge before at Doha, but this was my first visit to Qatar’s first class Al Safwa lounge.

As I stepped off my previous flight from Guangzhou, I was met by a person with my name on my sign. This person escorted me through transit security (and let me cut in front of everyone) and took me to the Al Safwa First Class lounge.

Escalator up to the lounge

The lounge is absolutely stunning. It’s an incredible space, and it feels like a museum. In fact, they even had pieces on loan from the Museum of Islamic Art on display!

Al Safwa first class lounge

The lounge is very large, and it has a lot of different seating areas. When I was there, almost everyone was sitting in the semi-private seats near the (very large) dining room, but there’s a lot more space to the lounge.

First class lounge seating

First class lounge seating

These seemed to be popular seats.

First class lounge seating

First class lounge fountain

Pieces on loan from Museum of Islamic Art

Art

First, there’s an outdoor terrace (by outdoor, I mean open to the rest of the terminal). It wasn’t as well air-conditioned out there, which is perhaps why no one was sitting there, but there’s a lot more seating out on this terrace.

Seating

Terrace space

Drinks

Seating

Seating

Seating

Within the lounge, they have private rooms similar to the ones they have in the business class lounge. These rooms have a sofa and seat and TV. This is perhaps somewhere to nap if all of the hotel-style private rooms are taken.

Private room

Private room

There are also rooms for children and nannies. I did not see anyone utilizing these rooms while I was in the lounge, but they are there.

Nanny room

Nanny room

Rooms for children

Rooms for children

It’s not obvious to me that any of these consoles actually worked…

Rooms for children

Rooms for children

In terms of dining, there are a couple of options. First, there’s a very large dining area that has some self-serve options as well as table service.

Bar

Dining table

Dining area

Baklava tower

Arabic coffee

Meat and cheese

Desserts

Fruit

Breakfast menu

I was there for breakfast and lunch. The breakfast options seemed pretty basic for a first class lounge.

Fruit plate and bread

After getting some food, I was able to check out one of the true private rooms. Essentially, these are like hotel rooms in the lounge available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Reception

The private rooms are pretty awesome. It’s like having a transit hotel in the middle of the lounge. One of the best perks to any lounge I’ve visited.

Private room

Private room

Bathroom

Hallway of private rooms

There’s also a business center, which was just as beautiful as the rest of the lounge.

Business area

Work station

A bit later, I grabbed some lunch in the dining room. I started off with some cream of pumpkin soup. This was just okay, as the pumpkin flavor wasn’t very strong.

Pumpkin soup

Next, I tried the spinach fattaya. This was probably the best thing I ate in the lounge!

Spinach fattaya

For an entree, I had some paneer makhni. I thought that this was also lacking flavor.

Paneer makhni

Finally, I had some dessert that the server recommended. This was essentially old pastry in a sweet cream. Not my favorite.

Dessert

If there’s one thing I can fault this lounge on, it’s the food. The food was all very average.

Beyond the main dining area, there’s also more of a “deli” kind of area if you head straight past the luggage room. This area did not seem very frequently visited (the staff member in this area seemed really excited when I wandered over). This area had sushi, salads, and a sandwich bar. This isn’t any sushi bar like the one they have in the JAL first class lounges, but it’s there.

More dining

Sushi

Tea

Salads

Deli area

Bar seating

There’s also a dessert room if you head toward the family rooms. There are cakes, macarons, etc. I sampled a macaron, and it was honestly pretty bad, even for lounge food. The texture was wrong, it was quite irregular, and the filling wasn’t good.

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Desserts

Chocolate art

Movie theater

Overall, this is an incredible lounge for many reasons. The space is beautiful, there are tons of great amenities (including what are essentially private hotel rooms), and there’s lots of food. In terms of the space, it’s probably my favorite lounge I’ve ever visited. But the food seriously needs improvement.

Lounge Review: Premium Lounge Guangzhou Airport (CAN)

This lounge was extremely crowded when I visited because a lot of airlines use this lounge for their premium passengers at Guangzhou. It’s also accessible via Priority Pass, which probably adds to the crowding.

Entrance to the Premium Lounge

Some of the airlines that use this lounge

The lounge is actually deceptively large. It’s pretty long, and there are a fair number of seating areas. In addition, there’s a large dining area all the way at the end of the lounge, so if you keep walking, you’re likely to find a place to sit.

Lounge seating

More seating

Seating

Seating

For drinks, there were sodas, beer, and wine (and soy milk).

Drink fridge

Wine

There were a couple of snack stations throughout the lounge with drinks, fruit, packaged goods, and snack foods.

Fruit

Snacks

Packaged goods

At the end of the lounge was a pretty decent dining room. There weren’t as many people in this area, so there was more space to sit, and the food options were more extensive than expected.

Dining area

Dining area

Dining area

There were quite a few hot food options, but they were mostly variants of fried foods. So not the best if you’re looking for something healthy.

Fried food

One thing that I found strange was the bakery case. It was full of desserts, but you couldn’t access it yourself. There were staff standing near the bakery case, but none of them offered to help me even as I looked wistfully at the desserts.

Bakery case

Hot food trays

Soups

More fried food

Starchy food

Overall, this lounge has better food options than the Baiyun First Class lounge, but it’s a lot busier (which I guess makes the food more trustworthy since there’s higher turnover), but it’s also much more crowded.

Lounge Review: Baiyun Airport First Class Lounge Guangzhou Airport (CAN)

Transferring at Guangzhou was an… interesting experience. Probably because I was transferring from Royal Jordanian to Qatar at neither of their hubs. When I got off my Royal Jordanian flight, I asked the ground crew how to transfer flights, and they had no idea what to do with me. I ended up finding a friendly woman who called an airport staff member who works for Qatar to come to the transfer desk, and he took my passport and bag tag and then left me alone. But half an hour later, he reappeared with my boarding passes and passport!

My first stop was the Baiyun Airport First Class Lounge. At the time, this was the lounge that Qatar used for their premium class passengers at CAN (this lounge is also accessible via Priority Pass). I’ll note that this lounge is essentially just some make-shift walls carving out a space in the terminal. The lounge is completely open to the rest of the terminal, and the walls aren’t very high.

Entrance to the Baiyun Airport First Class Lounge

The lounge was quite empty when I arrived. And there were never more than a couple of other passengers while I was there. The lounge has large windows overlooking the apron, but I was there at night, and there were massive thunderstorms, so I couldn’t see much out the windows. But there was plenty of seating for the number of passengers who were there.

Lounge seating

Work stations

Another view of the lounge

In terms of beverages, there were sodas and beer. I did not see other alcoholic beverages besides beer.

Drink fridge

Other beverage options

For food, I was simultaneously impressed and a bit scared. There were some packaged foods like sandwiches, muffins, and instant noodles, and there were also some trays of hot food. However, I had no idea how long the hot food had been sitting out, and given the lack of passengers in the lounge, I can’t imagine that there’s much turnover of the hot food. So I would say eat at your own risk.

Packaged baked goods and sandwiches

Bok choy

Some sort of stir fry

Fried rice

Fruit and instant noodles

Overall, it’s a place to sit, and there’s food to eat (if you dare). Not a great lounge by any means, but it’s significantly less crowded than the Premium Lounge, which is where I headed next. So if you just want some peace and quiet, you might want to come here.

Lounge Review: Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 (SIN)

There are two interesting features of the Ambassador Transit lounge in Terminal 2 of Singapore’s Changi airport: 1) it has a gym; and 2) there’s an outdoor seating area near the (accessible to the public) sunflower garden.

Entrance to the Ambassador Transit Lounge

When I visited the lounge, I was one of the only passengers there. But the lounge is actually a pretty large space with lots of seating, although the furniture was a bit old.

Seating

Lounge seating

Seating

Unfortunately, if you want to use the gym, you have to pay extra. I accessed this lounge using Priority Pass, but Priority Pass does not give you free access to the gym.

Gym

Gym

I’m not sure why someone would want to sit outside given how hot and humid it is in Singapore, but if you like, this is a lounge with an outdoor seating area. It seemed to be mostly used by people who wanted to smoke.

Outdoor terrace

Sunflower garden

I guess one final notable thing about this lounge is the number of showers it has. I think there are something like 15 shower stalls in the unisex bathroom.

Showers

Showers

In terms of food, the options were pretty limited. There were hashbrowns, mixed vegetables, chicken, rice, french onion soup, salad, and cake. For drinks, there was juice, coffee, tea, and soda, but you had to pay for alcoholic drinks. The alcoholic drinks were also not cheap, but that is common in Singapore.

Food

Soup

Food

Food

Swiss rolls

Drinks

Drinks

Drink menu

While the SATS Premier Lounge in Terminal 2 was a pleasant surprise, the Ambassador Transit Lounge at Changi was a big disappointment. I wouldn’t come here unless I really wanted to work out during a layover.

Lounge Review: SATS Premier Lounge Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 (SIN)

The SATS Premier Lounge at Singapore Changi airport Terminal 2 is located near the Singapore Airlines lounge and the DBS Asia Treasures lounge (and apparently a defunct Malaysia Airlines lounge). This lounge is accessible via Priority Pass, which is how I got in.

Entrance to the lounge

The lounge has lots of seating with lots of outlets, which is always appreciated. There are some skinny cubbies to work in, there are some sections for groups, there are two massage chairs, there is a dining area with tables and long communal tables, and there’s even a first-class section that was roped off when I visited.

Lounge seating

Seating

Massage chair

Roped off section

More seating

Cubbies for working

There are showers in the bathroom, as well.

Shower

The food options are pretty good for a Priority Pass lounge. There was dim sum and congee, a variety of hot foods like stir-friend noodles, curries, and self-serve laksa. I tried some of the fried noodles, tofu stir fry, vegetable curry, and rice, which were all edible (albeit salty). There were also sandwiches, salads, yogurt, cereal, fruit, and breads for breakfast. For drinks ,there was the typical selection of soda, beer, wine, liquor, coffee, and tea.

Hot food options

More hot food

Self service laksa

Self service laksa continued

Drinks

Drinks

Sandwiches

Salad

Dim sum and congee

Seating in eating area

Dessert and fruit

Coffee

Cake

This lounge isn’t fancy, but it’s very functional and a good Priority Pass lounge. Lots of seating and electrical outlets, decent food options, and they even have massage chairs. The one critique is that I found the wifi to be slow, but everything else was pretty solid.

Lounge Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Langkawi Airport (LGK)

To depart Langkawi, I had booked the 8:55am Air Asia flight to Singapore, which was the first flight of the day to depart out of LGK. Given that I had a rental car to return, I got to the airport a  little early and ended up in the terminal at 7:15am, but nothing was really open. You couldn’t get past bag check to check bags until around 7:25am, and the immigration checkpoint didn’t open until around 7:40am.

According to the Priority Pass website, there’s a Plaza Premium lounge and cafe prior to immigration, although really it’s just a cafe, so I’m not sure what the lounge aspect is. But past immigration and prior to security is an actual Plaza Premium lounge. I got access via Priority pass.

Entrance to the lounge

The lounge is just a small room with plenty of seats. There were lots of outlets near the seats, and there were a couple of computers to use as well.

Seating

More seating and food area

Computers

Security line in front of the lounge

There’s also a shower in the bathroom. I don’t know when the last time someone used it is, but it could be useful?

Shower

The food options were a little sad. In the fridge, there was yogurt, disgusting-looking salad, soft drinks, soy milk, and water. There was no alcohol in sight, which I guess makes sense for Langkawi.

Drinks

For food, there was congee, some fried noodles, baked beans, bread, and fruit.

Hot food

Food

Congee

This lounge is not at all worth spending extra time to visit, but hey, it still beats sitting at the gate.

Lounge Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Penang Airport (PEN) Domestic Terminal

The Plaza Premium lounge in the domestic terminal of Penang airport is accessible via Priority Pass, and it’s located just past where you clear security.

Entrance to the lounge

It’s a relatively small lounge, but there’s a fair amount of seating, and it wasn’t crowded at all when I was there.

Seating

Work stations

Tables

For a domestic lounge, I thought there was a surprisingly decent food selection. There was fish ball noodle soup, curry, mixed vegetables, pasta with Alfredo sauce, barley soup, and congee. Definitely enough to have a filling snack before a flight.

Fish ball noodle soup

Hot food

Cold foods

Desserts and drinks

Soup and porridge/congee

The wifi worked okay, and the lamps scattered throughout the lounge had USB chargers, but I couldn’t seem to find any normal outlets, which I found confusing. But overall, I found this to be a very pleasant domestic lounge with pretty good food options and comfortable seating.

Lounge Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG) East Hall

My flight from Boston landed just before 5am, so the first lounge I checked out was the Plaza Premium lounge in the East Hall, which is open 24 hours and was one of the few lounges in the Hong Kong airport that I hadn’t been to before.

Entrance to the lounge

Now, I’m not sure if it’s normally this dark or if it was just this dark because it was just past 5am, but this was the darkest lit lounge I’ve ever been to. Also, because I was there at just past 5am, there were very few people there, but it also meant that there was very little food out. So even though the lounge is technically open 24 hours, there might not be much stuff going on.

Seating

Center bar/food area

More seating

Seating

That being said, there was a ton of seating. The lounge is quite large, although there aren’t really any places for someone to take a nap. You could move two chairs together, but there’s no designated relaxation area like there are in other Plaza Premium lounges (including those in HKG).

Instant noodles and snacks

Snack mixes

Drink fridges

Hot food area (but none at this time of day)

Again, at the time of my visit, there wasn’t really any food out, but they did have malted soy milk to drink, which I enjoyed.

Eating area

Closed seating area

In general, I think I enjoy the Plaza Premium lounge in the West Hall more than this one, although that could just be because I visited this lounge when nothing was going on. But this lounge is also pretty dark and closed to the outside (i.e. no windows), while the other Plaza Premium lounge is not a cave. But both are accessible via Priority Pass, so you could go to whichever you like if that’s how you get lounge access.