ROYAL JORDANIAN CROWN LOUNGE AMMAN: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Upper Floor, Queen Alia International Airport

Lounge Rating: 3.5

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The brand Royal Jordanian (RJ) had been largely foreign to me until now. A partner of the Oneworld alliance, naturally one is intrigued on who they are about and what they offer. Surely the standard of the airline had to be good, especially when they throw around the terms ‘royal’ and ‘crown’. TAT had a chance to visit their flagship lounge in Amman Jordan during a transit to Tel Aviv. Was the lounge as shiny as the king’s crown jewels collection or was RJs lounge the Sarah Ferguson of the royal family?

 

Lounge access options

  • Lounge access is available for passengers who are:
    • Passengers travelling in Royal Jordanian Crown Class.
    • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members travelling on Oneworld alliance departures in any class.
    • Priority Pass / Dragon Pass / Lounge Club.
    • Buy access for 30 JOD.

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located above the ground floor of the main terminal and is open 24 hours.

 

Ambience

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The location of the lounge is a standout with the lounge wrapping around the outside of the airport in an open plan mezzanine layout above the food and shopping outlets below on the ground floor. The layout allows the lounge to feel open and sparse, making use of the natural light through the roof line of the airport.

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The lounge is equipped with a range of facilities including laptops, children’s area, magazine library space and some individual television rooms (great for those who prefer a little lounge room style TV viewing experience). Showers and prayer rooms were located on the reception side of the lounge. I have not used the shower facilities here but have been informed that there’s a charge to use these which is disappointing as most lounges tend to offer this facility as standard.

Refresh Me (Bathroom/ spa facilities)

As previously mentioned there’s shower and bathroom facilities. According to some online chats/ forums there’s reports of passengers being asked to pay to use the showers. I did not have an opportunity during my visit to use the showers so sadly I’m unable to confirm or deny that the hot shower rumours are true or false. That said it’d be disappointing if RJ was charging passengers for this.

Toilets wise you wouldn’t want to be there during peak hour with only 2-3 toilets in both the mens and womens. That said the toilets were spotless with an attendant cleaning them regularly.

Bread and butter (food and drink)

One thing I love about lounges is the food and drinks offerings; especially when done well. I state this based on what I’m about to say next,..and for me I was ‘underwhelmed’. Maybe it’s the Qatar or Emirates x-factor but after having visited recently the Qatar lounge in Bangkok, this lounge seemed like a downgrade.

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In the BKK lounge Bollinger champagne flowed and delectable little mezze dishes were in abundance. Here in RJ it’s very simple (little too much simplicity) and basic food offering let it down. On offer was salad, hummus and some individually wrapped plastic sealed wraps and pastries. The majority of this looked largely unappetising but admittedly the hummus did go down a treat with some Turkish bread.

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A wine/ spirits bar is on site but due to the timing of my early morning flight this was closed. Thankfully the non-alcoholic beverages were well stocked but the range of choices again were limited. Expect the usual suspects; coffee machines, tea, soft drink and water.

Verdict

First up the lounge isn’t a Sarah Ferugson but for a flagship lounge belonging to a premier full service airline it was underwhelming. This was namely down to a) charging (rumour) for the showers, b) limited toilet facilities (not good during peak periods) and c) a very basic food and beverage offering.  On the upside the layout of the design and its location with panoramic views of the general airport terminal is eye catching and enjoyable to spend time in. There’s a lot of potential for this lounge to be great and not just average. Sadly at this stage it’s just potential. I can only hope the renovations taking place currently in the lounge will address some of my concerns.

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Comments

Have you experienced Royal Jordanian Crown Class Lounge in Amman? Did you find the space disappointing or was your time more enjoyable? Love to hear your thoughts.

 

 

CATHAY PACIFIC FIRST CLASS LOUNGE TERM 3 LONDON HEATHROW: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: London Heathrow Airport Terminal 3

Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars

 

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The Pier is highly regarded not only as one of Cathay Pacific’s best lounges but also one of the best on the global stage. It really isn’t hard to see why the moment you step into a Pier lounge from the high spec fittings to the quality of the food and beverage. I was recently in London where I had the opportunity before my international flight to spend an hour in the highly regarded ‘Pier mini’ lounge equivalent. Sure it isn’t on the large grand scale of the Hong Kong version but everything in terms of quality is matched. My question was despite its size, was it big on the wow factor?

Lounge access options

  • first class passengers on any Oneworld airline flying out of T3 (including Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qantas, American Airlines and JAL)
  • travellers holding Oneworld Emerald status in their respective airline frequent flyer scheme (ie. Diamond and Diamond Plus tiers of Cathay Marco Polo Club)

 

Lounge location and opening hours

Cathay Pacific’s London Heathrow T3 lounges sit on the left corner of the terminal.Keep your eyes peeled after clearing security for a ‘Lounge C’ sign. The lounge which is positioned nearby to the British Airways and Qantas lounges is accessible via an elevator. The lounge operating hours are 5:30am–10:30pm daily.

 

Ambience

 

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The ambience of the lounge is striking, warm and engaging. I almost got sensory overload trying to soak in all the grandeur of this lounge. The pocket rocket packs a lot of sophisticated punch with its à la carte menu dining room and gorgeously appointed shower suites which includes Aesop shampoo and body wash (a win for me as an Aesop fan).

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The cosy environment is made possible thanks to its Living Room, which wraps around the lounge to face the tarmac in an L-shape layout. The beautiful wooden tones and greenery creates a sense of tranquillity and harmony – a godsend considering the lounge is situated in one of the busiest airports in the world. The lounge is served well with a lot of natural light from its floor to ceiling windows and for this avgeek, some fantastic runway views.

The only downside if anything is hopping in and out of the lounge to access the bathroom area which is also shared with the Cathay Business Lounge. Fortunately for me I was not here during peak hour but can imagine the traffic issue this bathroom would experiencing during peak times.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

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Like the Qantas First Lounge and BA Concorde lounge, there’s a restaurant dining space for those who prefer to enjoy a sit down meal in the Dining Room. My timing in the lounge saw me quickly obtain a seat but was also sadly at the mercy of the kitchen who were between meal serves (breakfast and transitioning into lunch). I didn’t want breakfast again so worked with what I could order from the menu. Since it was after midday in this part of the world I ordered a glass of Moet and Chandon.

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I wasn’t feeling too peckish but was inclined to sample some of the menu. I decided on a Shrimp Cocktail starter and a Wonton Noodles in Soup. Both were delicious and took my tastebuds back to my Hong Kong trip last year. Yes they were that pretty darn good; especially when paired with one of the best champagnes from France! It’s a shame I didn’t not get to sample any of their dessert menu due to the transition from breakfast to lunch service but based on what I enjoyed the dining experience was still a solid effort.

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For those wanting something more express and easily accessible there’s a small buffet section within the Living Room as well a a self pour drinks station. For those seeking a tended bar and greater food buffet selection I’d strongly recommend you visiting the Business Lounge next door instead.

 

Verdict

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For a ‘scaled down’ Pier lounge equivalent this lounge really wows. Food and drink is limited in the buffet area but then again the First Class lounge experience here is all about the Dining Room.Only negative about this lounge is that the small space it possesses can be a major issue during peak periods with overcrowding and line ups for both the bathrooms and dining space. The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is the best option (Qantas isn’t far behind) in terms of the best lounge offering for Oneworld Emerald travellers flying from Terminal 3.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at Terminal 3 in London? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

EMIRATES BUSINESS CLASS CHRISTCHURCH TO SYDNEY: REVIEW

Flight: EK413, Christchurch to Sydney (11 June 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Skywards (partnership with Qantas FF)
Frequency: Daily
Duration: 18:05 – 19:25pm (3 hours and 20 minutes)
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Emirates has the largest fleet of A380s compared to any other carrier globally and for an Airbus fan like myself the odds of getting a seat on one are extremely high at the time of booking, particularly when the only other option is a B777. Over the Queen’s birthday weekend, I thought I would do a quick trip across the ditch from Australia to NZ to see the South Island. Last year Emirates removed flights between Sydney – Auckland and Sydney-Wellington, instead creating direct flight to Dubai rather than via Sydney and Melbourne.

The biggest losers out of the change were Australians who lost the easiest way to nab an A380 flight for a bargain for what would be deemed a domestic flight in terms of the flight time (it takes longer to fly east-west Australia than it does from the east coast to NZ). That said there is a loop hole (for now) where you can still enjoy the quick A380 hop but it means that you would need to go to Christchurch for the privilege. So how did my flight fare for the handful of hours spent up in the air and in the bar on the second deck?

The Seat

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One thing I love about the A380 business class as opposed to their B777 is that comes in a 1-2-1 layout, providing each passenger with direct access to the aisle. Additionally, the seats feel like a mini private suite, particularly for those along the window and when you are dining or laying down for a snooze, the aircraft noise is whisper quiet. Next to my seat was sizeable side table and a room temperature mini-bar stocked with water and soft drink.

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If there was any gripe about the seat is that it felt a tad dated and I use the word tad loosely as the quality is still strong but when you are comparing it to the newly released Emirates Business Class seats, you notice the difference. Also, be prepared for lots of faux wood. Emirates has a habit of loving bling and may have gone a little overboard here in that area.

As it was a short flight there was no point in trying to use the flat bed service particularly by the time the dinner service rolled through.

Entertain me

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All business class suites come with a 17-inch touchscreen that’s packed with over 2,000 ‘channels’ of movies, TV shows and audio. I struggled with the amount of choice to select a film as there were quite a few good flicks on offer (I ended up investing my time watching The Black Panther). On the other hand, the music selection was rather slim and the choice predominantly Arabic (which is great if your music tastes wonder that way).

There was also wifi on board for a charge but I did not consider this service offering to be able to report on it.

However those forms of entertainment pales in comparison to the inflight cocktail bar and lounge for business and first class passengers. Located at the end of the plane the area is a great place for stretching the legs, enjoying a few mojitos and socialising with fellow passengers.

I’ve been on a few Emirates flights where the bar provided a relaxing space to unwind but this flight was sadly a little different. The bar was overcrowded and standing room only. I blame the fact that many people who were upgraded from the flight being oversold decided to spend the time in the bar as it was their first time ever in business class. There was one woman who was getting a little drunk at the bar and was telling passengers she was on her seventh champagne. Geez how embarrassing! I didn’t know if I was on Emirates or at the local pub. Again, having experienced the bar and lounge on flights prior I know this wasn’t the norm but wouldn’t be impressed had it been my first time.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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I’m greeted before take-off with a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne, the inflight menu and a wine list. Despite the short flight it was still a full service, three course meal like the type you would experience on a Sydney to Dubai leg.

The meal service was awfully slow and took almost an hour before they came to serve me. In fact, I actually had to get their attention as the flight attendant accidentally skipped my seat when taking orders. The attention to detail was seriously lacking here. I didn’t know if it was due to the FAs having to deal with a full flight, particularly in business class as a lot were upgraded last minute or that the crew was understaffed. Nothing was personable about the service which is a shame because my last Emirates flight in business was the complete opposite.

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By the time the dinner was served I was already halfway through my film. The flight attendant brought out bread, a seasonal salad with balsamic and olive oil dressing and a seafood appetiser. The appetiser of smoked salmon and prawns was delicious, fresh and left me wanting more.

For mains there was a choice of salmon massman curry, pan fried beef fillet and grilled chicken with herb butter. I went with the beef. The beef was slightly tougher than I had expected despite requesting it medium rare. That said the thyme jus, potato gratin and mushrooms helped pack this dish with some flavoursome punch.

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With a bit of room left I decided to have dessert and went with not one, but two dishes – the lemon tart and a seasonal fruit platter. The lemon tart was on point and succulent to eat. The smooth texture of it was superb and was my favourite dish of the flight.

Drinks wise, I kept the flow of the Moet coming until the main where I then switched to a lovely but quite heavy red from Chateau Moulin Riche. It was a 10 year old drop that had lovely aromas of blackberry and prunes and was a great accompaniment to my beef.

Other than the slow service, the food itself was quite good.

Verdict

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Being a public holiday, the flight was busy as a result of being oversold. People who were in economy were upgraded for free and in turn made the bar quite crowded for an area that traditionally is a bit quieter and more relaxing. Besides the slow service the experience was overall pleasant and a great way to spend a few hours kicking back with a Moet. Would I do it again? Even with the crowds? Absolutely!

Comments

Have you experienced Emirates business class? Did you love or dislike the product offering? Hit up the comments section as I’m keen to hear your thoughts…

JAPAN AIRLINES ‘SKY PREMIUM’ 787-800 TOKYO (NARITA) TO SYDNEY: REVIEW

Flight: JL771, Tokyo (Narita) to Sydney (11 June 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: JAL Mileage Bank/ Oneworld
Frequency: Daily
Duration: 7.25pm (+9) ATD: 7.35pm (+9) Delayed 10 mins; STA: 6:10am (+10) ATA: 6.23am (+10) Delayed 13mins

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Japan Airlines operates the lowest density 787 Dreamiliner in the world. In fact, the three class configuration of the JAL 787-8 has only 161 seats. That’s comparable to other airlines that have greater than 200 seats on their 787-8s. The seats are split between 38 business suites (Sky Suites), 35 premium economy (Sky Premium) and 88 economy seats (Sky Wider).

I had previously flown the JAL economy seats which frankly feel like premium economy compared to other airlines. Indeed JAL has a 2-4-2 layout in economy, with the only other airline to choose the more spacious configuration being it’s domestic competitor, All Nippon Airlines (ANA). Premium Economy is in a 2-3-2 layout. Business is 2-2-2 layout with each seat having a wall and direct aisle access for privacy. I booked last minute and as economy wasn’t available, I booked the last remaining seat in Premium Economy, hence I was stuck in the dreaded middle seat, 20E.

The Airport

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JAL operates out of Terminal 2 at Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT). Terminal 2 is the terminal used by JAL and its oneworld partners (ie. Qantas, Cathay, American, British Airways). Terminal 1 is split between Skyteam and Star Alliance (including home airline ANA) with Terminal 3 dedicated to low cost carriers like Jetstar and Vanilla Air.

Lounges in Terminal 2 include JAL First and Sakura Lounges as well as Cathay Pacific First and Business Lounge, Qantas Business Lounge, Admirals Club, China Airlines Dynasty Lounge and an Emirates Lounge. As a passenger in Premium Economy, I was entitled to use the Sakura Lounge. The lounge is located conveniently immediately after security, sharing the entrance with the First Lounge (to the left) and the Sakura entrance (to the right).

Down the stairs and inside, there is plenty of ample seating along windows, with nice views of the gates from almost anywhere in the lounge. The main floor of the lounge has drink stations and nibbles, with the main dining area one floor up. Here, there was a modest buffet, drinks, tables and plenty of seating for both groups and singles. Also in the lounge were shower rooms. Originally on arriving I was told that a shower would be an hour wait (which was really how long I had in the lounge. Luckily, my buzzer went off about half hour into my visit. This was perfect timing as I’d just finished eating and meant I could shower right before boarding my plane.

The Seat

 

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As I previously mentioned, I had booked this flight less than a week out and so by this time, all seats other than middle ones had been assigned. I consider myself lucky enough to even be able to score 20E. The seat itself was wide and offered ample legroom. The seat has a fixed shell meaning you don’t actually recline, but rather your seat slides down and the seat base moves forward. In this position, the seat was fairly comfortable though I did find myself sliding down throughout the night. Each seat has a privacy divider between other seats and this made a comfortable place to rest against with my pillow.

Waiting at my seat were slippers, a thin blanket, pillow and headphones. To be honest, everything was fairly economy grade and the cabin felt more like economy plus rather than business minus. Newspapers were offer prior to doors closing and flight attendants came around with immigration forms for Australia. The seat was comfortable, though having sat in a regular economy seat between New York and Tokyo, I have to say it’s an incremental improvement and I’d be happy in either (a testament to how comfortable their economy seat is).

Entertain me

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At the seat are reading lamps, remote or touchscreen controlled IFE screen and small storage spaces beside the seat as well as beside each screen. Power points and USB outlets were also available at each seat.  The screen was large and bright, with the content showing in fairly high definition (though not crystal clear).

Entertainment content was rather good, with a fair number of western films including some quite recent releases. There were a few TV series with a number of episodes of each series though the variety could have been better. In addition there was a decent selection of English music. While adequate, it was certainly not extensive.

Wifi was available on board this aircraft with prices starting at $10.95 USD for 1 hour to $18.96 USD for the entire flight.

The Bread and Butter (food and drink)

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Once in the air, flight attendants came around with hot towels which were then followed by drinks and a packet of rice snacks. I chose the JAL Signature Drink which is called ‘Skytime’. It’s a kiwifruit based cordial which was quite refreshing.

Menus had been handed out prior to take off and there were two meal choices available. On tonight’s flight between Japan and Australia, these were either a beef or chicken dish. The Gyudon was a beef bowl done in Sichuan style, accompanied with pumpkin. I chose the chicken dish which was Chicken Kuwayaki, soy-glazed and sautéed accented by yuzu-citrus flavoured chili paste. The main dishes were accompanied with chilled Winter Melon, savoury Okara Soy Pulp with anchovy, fresh salad with dressing, lychee pudding and finished off with Haagen Dazs ice cream (custard pudding flavour). Everything was served on one dish and would have been identical in economy. JAL catering is usually pretty good and this was no exception – basic food but done well.

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Roughly 90 minutes prior to landing, I awoke to find myself surrounded by those sitting next to me eating breakfast. One thing I love on JAL is that if you’ve missed a meal service, they’ll actually place a post-it note on your IFE screen which lets you know you’ve missed a meal. I wish more airlines did this! On request, I was given my meal promptly and this consisted of a seven vegetable quiche, pumpkin salad, yoghurt, bread and butter. It was again a solid meal, if not exceptional.

Verdict

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JAL’s 787-8 is the lowest density configuration out there in the world. As such it delivers a premium experience. Boarding commences 20-30 minutes prior to departure, which isn’t long for any international flight but it’s simply all part of the experience. No matter which seat you’re in, its comfort all the way. Premium economy had just that extra personal space compared to those found in economy. That said it was incremental rather than leaps and bounds ahead the economy product.

Japanese service as you’d expect is exceptional and polite, with nothing being too much or too difficult. The touches throughout the flight are thoughtful and considered like the rest of Japanese culture, and I found the entire experience relaxed and calm. What more could you ask for on a red-eye flight?


About the writer

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I’m a well travelled 30 something who blames it all on his father (though really, I’ve taken it to the next level). Travelling from a young age and continuing to do so independently from the end of high school, I am happy to step on a plane headed anywhere. Indeed my colleagues at work don’t ask me if I’m going away in holidays, but where I’ll be headed. They don’t even bat an eyelid when I pop down to Melbourne for the weeknight just to see some show that takes my fancy.

All of my travel is self funded. Through a mixture of great fares and frequent flyer points I’ve developed a penchant for sitting at the front of the plane. However let’s be honest; I’ll just about sit anywhere if it means I get to fly somewhere.

 

QANTAS DOMESTIC BUSINESS LOUNGE SYDNEY: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Sydney Domestic Airport

Lounge Rating: 4 Stars

 

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Sydney Domestic Airport is one of the busiest hubs in Australia and is key to two of the top ten most frequently flown routes in the world. With such patronage comes the need for corporate facilities that meet the needs of hundreds of frequent flyers who take off out of Sydney daily.
Qantas is fortunate to have its own domestic terminal at Sydney Airport and the experience is generally seamless from check-in to take off. In Terminal 3 are two lounges; Qantas Club and the Domestic Business Lounge. The Australian Traveler regularly uses the Domestic Business Lounge but is yet to give its verdict…until now.
Lounge access options

  • Passengers with an onward Qantas or QantasLink business class flight
  • Travellers connecting to or from an international business or first class flight with Qantas, Emirates or a Oneworld airline, even if the domestic leg is booked in economy
  • Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers before or after a same-day Qantas, QantasLink, Emirates, Jetstar* or Oneworld flight
  • Other Oneworld Emerald members when their next onward flight that day is with Qantas or QantasLink and carries a QF or other Oneworld flight number (no access when flying Jetstar)
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum cardholders where their next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas or QantasLink.

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located on the Departures level opposite Gates 4 and 5 in Terminal 3. After security turn left and walk for about 30 seconds until you see the lounge entrance on your left.The opening hours are from 5am – 10pm.

Ambience
Compared to its newer interstate counterparts like Perth, Brisbane and soon to be Melbourne, the Sydney Lounge does feel somewhat tired. That said, the nice touches and choice of furnishings is still a cut above the quality of those in the Qantas Club lounge next door.The lounge offers 180 degree views of the busy Qantas domestic operations at Sydney.
For an avgeek like me this is addictive viewing watching Qantas’ B737s and 717s taxi out. The north facing position of the lounge also provides the lounge with an abundance of natural light so at no point throughout the day does it feel cold or dark.
Bathrooms within the complex were probably the only real let down and don’t have the elegance or fine touches of its Sydney International counter part. There was even some noticeable wear and tear on the walls and ceilings of the bathroom. I assumed they were not being addressed as the lounge was touted as the next lounge to get given the new Qantas Lounge look treatment.
Bread and butter (food and drink)
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In terms of the food and drink there was not a lot on offer in the lounge. I had entered the lounge at almost 8pm at night and the majority of hot dishes at the buffet had either been cleared or were running low.
In fairness I know this lounge at other points of the day when I have used it has offered quite a lot in terms of choices but there was no denying for a flagship domestic lounge in Sydney, this visit was rather disappointing.The lounge has one main buffet area where a mix of hot and cold food options are on display. Opposite to the buffet section is Island Dining area, where each seat comes with already-configured place settings.
This area is great for those who want an a more refined, restaurant style experience.On the menu was a beef stroganoff which wasn’t displayed well but surprisingly tasted very good. Considering Australia was on the cusp of winter at this point, it was the perfect dish to warm me up.

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Drinks wise, the lounge shone with a great selection of alcoholic options from elf-pour white, red and sparkling wine, as well as a good selection of beers, spirits and mixers available from the staffed bar. That said the real x factor was is the Qantas barista service. I have always found the Qantas barista-made coffee fantastic quality and unlike  Qantas Club coffee is served in pyrex glasses.

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Verdict
The Qantas Domestic Business Lounge is a pleasant way to spend time dining and wining prior to flying or for those wanting to get some work done, a good space to sit down and focus. Compared to other interstate lounges like Perth it does feel a bit worn and there is some noticeable wear and tear but overall this lounge is of a quality standard.
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Comments
Have you experienced the Qantas Domestic Business Lounge at Sydney Domestic Airport? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – was it a star or was it a dud?

Alaska Airlines opens new JFK lounge

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Alaska Airlines this week debuted its new Alaska Lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The latest NYC addition builds on the existing Alaska lounge network where the airline already has a presence in Anchorage, Los Angeles, Portland, Oregon and Seattle.

The lounge, the first Alaska one for America’s east coast, features a fresh, modern yet homely design with multiple break out seating areas. At hand for lounge lizards will be Starbucks-trained baristas who will create some of the coffee brand’s signature espresso beverages and full-leaf tea beverages.

Food wise there will be oatmeal and yogurt bars in the morning and salad and soup in the afternoon and evening. Also to be enjoyed are a wide-selection of microbrews, West Coast wines or wait for it…that signature Alaska Airlines cocktail from the lounge’s welcoming bar.

The Alaska Lounge is located on the mezzanine level of Terminal 7 at JFK and is now open to Alaska guests traveling through or out of Terminal 7 who are either a first class passenger or have purchased a day pass or lounge membership.

Judging by the pictures from the airline this definitely looks like a nice little part of the world (or in this case JFK) to whittle away a few hours before the next flight.

To find out more about the lounge visit the Alaska Airlines website.

CATHAY PACIFIC BEIJING INT BUSINESS LOUNGE: REVIEW

Lounge: Cathay Pacific Business Lounge

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Beijing International Airport

Lounge Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

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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 are00:30 – 03:00, 05:30 – last flight departure.

 

Ambience

 

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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)

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

Verdict

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.

 

Comments

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?