Location: Beijing International Airport
Lounge Rating: 3/5 Stars
Beijing International Airport is monolithic. So large in fact that you find yourself spending hours either trekking across terminals or sitting on runways. The impression one first gets when entering the airport is the stunning architecture and I can definitely say it is one of the best airports in terms of design globally.
With an airport so large one could a) spend their time pre-flight merely exploring it or b) hit one of the lounges with tarmac views at the end of the terminal. Going with option B I hit up the Cathay Pacific Lounge before my flight to Sydney to see if lounge was the place to be at Beijing Airport.
Lounge access options
- First and Business class flyers with Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and other Oneworld airlines
- Gold, Platinum and Platinum One Qantas frequent flyers travelling with the airlines above
- Marco Polo Club Silver members flying with either Cathay Pacific or Dragonair
- Marco Polo Club Gold and Diamond members travelling with Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair or other Oneworld airlines
- Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members of other programs travelling onwards with a Oneworld airline
Lounge location and opening hours
Once you have cleared customs and taken the second stop on the train line to the International terminal make a detour to Terminal 3E, opposite Gate E21. The opening hours are: 00:30 – 03:00, 05:30 – last flight departure.
The experience from the beginning at the lounge was strange at best. At reception I handed over my boarding pass and lounge invitation, and was promptly admitted before being shown an automated machine that produced me a wifi code. It was from there that I was left to my own devices and didn’t not experience any form of contact from staff for the rest of my stay in the lounge.
Having arrived a few hours earlier to my flight, the lounge was empty and felt rather sterile. The furnishing were pleasant and the setting intimate but the lounge ultimately lacked atmosphere. The lounge has a number of partitions dividing the rectangular space and whilst this allows the creation of more peaceful break out areas it also creates a design issue with some the spaces not even noticeable to the majority of passengers.
The bathrooms were also slightly disappointing with only two toilets each for both the men and women across the entire lounge space. On the occasion that I was in the lounge there was no toilet paper in the men’s room and the liquid soap had almost run out. The neglect of these showed a lack of attention given to the daily upkeep of the lounge.
Bread and butter (food and drink)
In terms of the food and drink I was quite disappointed as Cathay Pacific standards are generally quite high. When I arrived into the lounge I just missed the chef A chef serving up Hong Kong culinary delights like wonton noodles and fishball noodles as the service for these delicious delicacies finished at 8pm. I arrived in at 8:05pm.
With the noodle bar closed I had one of two buffet areas to choose from. There was a small buffet on the right side of the lounge which featured instant noodles, packaged snacks, soda, water, juice, liquor, and wine. Everything in this section was limited and lacked any real diversity nor any hot dishes. I went with the packaed noodles but found after pouring hot water in it, the noodles seemed stale and I questioned how long they had been sitting on the shelf.
On the far left of the lounge (where the noddle bar was) is a larger buffet which contains a handful of soups, dim sum, croissants, and three hot dishes. Again hardly appetising but does hit the spot (just). The dim sim option of the buns was the best of the hot dishes with its doughy meat texture going down well with my green tea.
I was expecting more from the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge after previous experiences with Cathay lounges in Hong Kong. The one I walked into felt like a world away from the brilliance and class leading product that Cathay is renown for. Perhaps it is something to do with the fact that the lounge was formerly a DragonAir Lounge and that the product offering was merely an update rather than a total renovation. Whatever the case the lounge interior was basic at best.
In addition the lack of customer service and personalisation is almost non existent once you walk through the lounge doors. Again this is something Cathay prides itself on and would be seen as the norm at their Hong Kong lounges.
If there were any positives to the lounge it was the sense of privacy thanks to the partitions and small break out spaces. Sometimes some lounges can often feel more like shopping centre food hall than a premium business and dining space and this lounge certainly puts the ‘quiet workspace’ into this space.
Have you experienced the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at Beijing PEK International? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – was it a star or was it a dud?