Category Archives: Lounge Reviews

Thailand 2014: Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong (HKG)

Cathay Pacific has a lot of lounges in Hong Kong, but we decided to just go to the closest lounge with a first class section to our connecting flight, which happened to be the Pier. The Pier is undergoing renovations, though, so the first class lounge is closed, and they instead have a section of the business class lounged roped off for first class passengers.

That being said, the service in the first class area was very attentive. There was a man patrolling the “entrance” to the first class area, and there was a person dedicated to serving the very few of us who were seated in the first class area to get whatever we needed.

Seating in the lounge

Seating in the lounge

Computers

Computers

First class section of the Pier

First class section of the Pier

Sad food spread in the first class section (I'm not sure why they even bothered)

Sad food spread in the first class section (I’m not sure why they even bothered)

The Pier is quite large, and the lounge was pretty empty while we were there at night. I walked around to explore the food options, and they had some decent already-prepared food as well as a noodle bar, where I sampled the dan dan mien again.

Main dining area of the Pier

Main dining area of the Pier

Food options

Food options

Drinks

Drinks

Hot food

Hot food

The dan dan mien from this noodle bar was better than the one I got from the Cathay lounge at SFO, but still not exactly what I was craving…

What can I say, I'm a sucker for anything deep-fried. And dan dan mien.

What can I say, I’m a sucker for anything deep-fried. And dan dan mien.

After a 15-hour flight, a shower was at the top of my mind, and the shower rooms at the Pier are spacious and required no wait when I wanted one.

Shower room

Shower room

This lounge had fast wifi, lots of seating, decent hot food options, and good showers. What more could you want? The service in the first class section was also really top notch. They were constantly clearing plates when you were done, they were willing to fetch anything (like when my noodle buzzer buzzed, I didn’t even have a chance to get up as someone volunteered to get it for me), and they were always using pleasantries. I was definitely impressed with the service in this lounge for first class passengers.

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Thailand 2014: Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco (SFO)

We got to the airport about an hour and a half prior to departure. I’m kinda loving UberX nowadays, since an UberX from my apartment to the airport is now only $25 or so. Considering that BART is $8.50 and takes twice as long, I’m finding myself take Uber more and more frequently…

Anyway, after checking in and going through security (I’m so unused to non-precheck that I had almost forgotten what normal security is like), we made our way to the Cathay Pacific lounge. I had read mixed reviews about the lounge, particularly with regards to overcrowding, but that didn’t seem to be a problem at all the day that we were there.

Entrance to the lounge

Entrance to the lounge. Am I the only one who finds the cardboard people to be a little creepy?

The lounge is a series of rooms with a couple of different seating areas. The lounge features Cathay’s Solus chairs, which I think are pretty cool. In general, I enjoyed the decor of the lounge and found it tastefully designed. There’s no separate first class section of the lounge, but the lounge attendant did seem to be extra friendly to us when we got to the lounge and thanked us for flying first class.

Seating in the lounge

Seating in the lounge

Seating

Solus chairs

Seating in dining area

Seating in dining area

Unlike typical domestic lounges, the Cathay lounge offers a decent spread of food. Since we were taking the day flight, the food spread was mostly breakfast food of things like hash browns, scrambled eggs, and congee, and there’s a noodle bar where you can order made-to-order noodles. At the noodle bar, they’ll give you a buzzer that buzzes once your noodles are ready.

Cold food options

Cold food options

Hot breakfast spread

Hot breakfast spread

Noodle bar

Noodle bar

Drinks

Drinks

More drinks

More drinks

I decided to order some dan dan mien since I love dan dan mien, but I was honestly pretty disappointed with it. This might have just been due to a difference between Taiwanese and Hong Kong dan dan mien, but I didn’t really recognize what I was eating and only took a couple of bites before deciding that I’d rather wait to stuff myself with more caviar on the plane.

Dan dan mien

Dan dan mien

The service in the lounge was good. There were people constantly going around to clear empty plates and glasses. There was also a short delay for our flight, and the lounge attendants went around to each person in the lounge to personally inform passengers of the delay and ask if there was anything that they could do.

Computer area

Computer area

Honestly, the worst part of the lounge was this crazy loud woman who spent the entire 2 hours before the flight talking on the phone. She was so loud that I purposely sat as far away as I could from her in the lounge and I could still hear her yakking away.

Overall, it’s a nice lounge, and it’s definitely much better than most lounges you’ll find in the US. There’s no point in arriving extra early to go to this lounge, but it’s a nice place to wait for the flight and the food options are pretty good. They do have showers available if you want to shower before your long flight, but there aren’t really enough power ports.

Tokyo for the New Year: Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport (ZRH)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


After checking out the oneworld lounge at the airport, I decided to head to the lounge that I could access via my ticket, which was the Swiss Business Class lounge. There’s also the Swiss Star Gold lounge and the Swiss First Class lounge, and the business class lounge is actually the least exclusive of the three.

Entrance to the Swiss lounges

Entrance to the Swiss lounges

There was lots of seating in this lounge with power ports easily accessible, and even though it wasn’t that crowded since I was there relatively early in the day, I could see this lounge becoming quite crowded given the number of passengers it needs to serve.

Seating area

Seating area

Three outlet options

Three outlet options

More seating

More seating

The food and drink for this lounge seemed identical to the food and drink at the oneworld lounge, so it looks like all of the lounges share the same catering. That meant that there weren’t any hot food options available at breakfast in the business class lounge, and I couldn’t find any Nutella.

Drinks

Drinks

Boozy drinks

Boozy drinks

Breakfast foods

Breakfast foods

More breakfast foods

More breakfast foods

The biggest highlight of the lounge is supposed to be the bar, as the Swiss lounge at the Zurich airport boasts the longest attended bar in the world. It seemed like more of a novelty than anything else, and it actually wasn’t particularly pleasant to hang around there as this was also a smoking section of the lounge, so the only people there at that hour were people who wanted to smoke.

The longest attended bar in the world

The longest attended bar in the world

Overall, this lounge is an adequate business class lounge with lots of seating and power ports. The food selection could be improved, but perhaps the selection was meager because I was there during breakfast hours. The bar could be fun later in the day, and it’s slightly novel, but be prepared for smokiness.

Tokyo for the New Year: Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport (ZRH)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


Through Priority Pass, you’re supposed to have access to the oneworld, SkyTeam, and Dnata lounges at the Zurich airport. All three lounges are right next to each other, and it seems like they share a lounge dragon. Since I had a little bit of time to spend at the airport, I decided to check out these lounges, although the lounge agent was very reluctant to let me use these lounges when I held a business class ticket on Swiss Airlines.

Sign to the lounges

Sign to the lounges

Eventually, she relented, and she let me into the oneworld lounge (the three lounges seemed pretty much identical). You’re supposed to get a wifi code at the desk, and it’s only valid for one hour, but the lounge dragon didn’t give me one, and I didn’t want to annoy her further, so I just  went into the lounge to check it out.

Seating in the oneworld lounge

Seating in the oneworld lounge

The lounge isn’t huge, but it had tons of seating, which is always appreciated in any lounge. There were a couple of different seating options, and it all seemed clean and well-designed.

More seating

More seating

More seating

More seating

I was there quite early in the morning, and I didn’t eat anything before getting to the airport, so I was hunting for food. There were two holders for hot food, but there was nothing in them during the time that I was in the lounge. I’m not sure what they get filled with later in the day, if anything.

Empty hot food holders

Empty hot food holders

Instead, I satisfied myself with some breads and jam, but I really wanted Nutella, which was nowhere to be found.

Breakfast foods

Breakfast foods

Breakfast foods

Breakfast foods

They did have a reasonable drink selection, but I just stuck with water given the early hour.

Drinks

Drinks

Liquors

Liquors

Wines

Wines

Overall, the lounge was good for a lounge accessible via Priority Pass, but the biggest issue I could see with the lounge was the limit on wifi use. What kind of airport lounge doesn’t offer free unlimited wifi? Otherwise, it seemed like a nice place to rest and catch up on some work, provided that you only need 60 minutes of internet.

Tokyo for the New Year: Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul (IST)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


The Istanbul airport feels like one of the most crowded airports I’ve been to in recent years because Turkish Airlines seems to be growing like crazy, and I’m not sure that the airport has the capacity to serve all of its current needs. I feel like trying to walk quickly through the terminal is a lost cause because there are so many people milling about, and you see people just sitting or even lying down on the sides of the hallways trying to get some sleep.

But Turkish Airlines has a great lounge at this airport. I’d say it’s probably the nicest business class lounge that I’ve been to, which means that it’s accessible to people with Star Alliance gold status (this also means that it’s quite crowded given that so many people have access).

Turkish Airlines lounge entrance

Turkish Airlines lounge entrance

This lounge is quite large with numerous seating areas, multiple food and drink stations, and amenities like a movie theater, children’s playroom, self-playing piano, and luggage lockers. I’ve never had a problem leaving my luggage unattended in most lounges (in spite of the announcements that leaving your bags unattended is a security risk), but it’s nice to have a place to store your belongings if you have a lengthy layover and want to leave your bags in the lounge and explore the airport.

Pool table and library

Pool table

Airy open sapces

Airy open sapces

Luggage storage

Luggage storage

The food and drink options were extensive, and there were many Turkish foods on offer. For drinks, they had Ayran, a salty yogurt beverage, and for food, they had things like pide (Turkish pizza), grilled meats, a selection of cold mezze, and baklava for dessert. While none of the food was gourmet, I’m hard-pressed to think of a business class lounge with more extensive food offerings, and I would’ve happily eaten more had I not been eating constantly already during my flights.

Non-alcoholic drinks

Non-alcoholic drinks

Alcoholic drinks

Alcoholic drinks

Dessert buffet

Dessert buffet

Food buffet

Food buffet

Salad buffet

Salad buffet

Pide station

Pide station

Nuts buffet

Nuts buffet

While I was there, the least crowded part of the lounge was the atrium, which had large windows and a self-playing piano, but there was also very loud construction going on. I saw that there was some construction work going on near the shower suites and day rooms for passengers with long layovers, but I hope the construction is to expand the lounge itself.

Atrium

Atrium

Self-playing piano

Self-playing piano

Children's playroom

Children’s playroom

I also took a shower during my time at this lounge, and I had to wait about 45 minutes for a shower to open up. I’m not sure if this is normal, or if this was due to the fact that some of the showers were out of commission because of the construction.

Two things that I felt were a little strange about this lounge: 1) the acoustics of the rooms made it so that I could sometimes hear the conversations of people seated far away from me; and 2) there were lots of staff in this lounge, but it felt very much like a college mixer for the staff as most seemed more interested in chatting away with each other than actually providing service to passengers. But overall, this is a great lounge with incredible offerings for business class and Star Alliance Gold passengers.

Tokyo for the New Year: Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna (VIE)

Austrian Airlines Business Class Chicago to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Schengen Lounge Vienna
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Vienna to Prague
Turkish Airlines Regional Business Class Prague to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Tokyo Narita
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel
Ushigoro
Hilton Narita
Narita-san Shinsho-ji
Swiss Business Class Tokyo Narita to Zurich
Park Hyatt Zurich
Oneworld Lounge Zurich Airport
Swiss Business Lounge Zurich Airport
Austrian Airlines Regional Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Airlines Business Class Vienna to Chicago


Since I was connecting to a Schengen flight, I cleared immigration and security and then headed to the Austrian Airlines Business class lounge in the Schengen area.

My first order of business, as it usually is after getting off a long-haul flight, was to take a shower, and I was glad to see that a Schengen lounge had multiple showers available. It seems like a lot of people had the same idea as I did, though, as there was a waiting list for the shower by the time I was done, and it looked to be all people who were on my same flight.

The shower room was perfectly functional, although it didn’t have a toilet. But it was clean, not too stuffy, and the water temperature and pressure were good, which is all I really need in a shower room.

Shower room (1 of 2)

Shower room (1 of 2)

After showering, I explored the lounge. It’s worth noting that there appeared to be separate lounges for business class, Senator (Star Alliance Gold), and first class, with business class being the “worst” or least premium. But for a business class lounge in a relatively small airport, I thought that the amenities were pretty good. Beyond the showers, there were work stations, a relaxation room, plenty of seats, and fast wifi.

Computer stations

Computer stations

Recliner in relaxation room

Recliner in relaxation room

TV area

TV area

Lots of seating

Lots of seating

Bar area

Bar area

The biggest thing that I found lacking was the food options. I was there during breakfast hours, and all there was to eat was some breads, yogurt, and cereal. I didn’t partake as I had eaten the pre-arrival meal on my flight to Vienna and thought that they would probably feed me on my next flight as well, but you’re probably not going to find anything too satisfying within the lounge.

Cold drinks

Cold drinks

Alcohol

Alcohol

Breads and snacks

Breads and snacks

Breakfast

Breakfast

Overall, it’s good for what’s essentially a business class domestic lounge as there are showers, plenty of seating, and fast wifi. But it’s not a place I would go out of my way to visit by any means.

Review: United Club Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT)

The United Club in Tokyo Narita was actually the very first airport lounge that I had ever visited. At the time, I was amazed that you could shower at the airport and that there was free food (although the food was devoured almost instantly whenever a server would put out more food as the lounge was extremely full).

Returning to this lounge on my most recent visit, my expectations weren’t very high as I’ve since been to some awesome lounges like the Emirates First Class Terminal in Dubai, the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, and the Qatar First Class Premium Terminal in Doha. This lounge offers some great tarmac views, and it’s a pretty large space, but it’s often ridiculously crowded, and it can be hard to find a good seat.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by my visit to the United Club this time. It’s definitely showing its age, and the lounge was still crowded, but there were definitely seats available, including some coveted seats by the windows.

Seating

Seating

Coveted window seats

Coveted window seats

One thing I was a little surprised by was the fact that there were very, very few Asian people in the lounge. It honestly felt like I was back in the US. Is this just because all of the Japanese people go to the ANA lounges?

Even though I had already showered at the United Club in Hong Kong, I figured I might as well take another shower in Narita. The United Club in Tokyo has many showers, and this time I didn’t have to wait at all to get a shower room.

Shower

Shower

I was glad to see that there are more food options than there were when I last visited the club. The first time around, people were stalking the servers waiting for the one plate of sushi to come out, and it would be gone almost instantly. Now, in addition to sushi and edamame, they have things like noodles and soups. For what it’s worth, there are two main food stations, one with more savory foods and the other with more sweet foods, so definitely check out both stations.

Beer machine

Beer machine

Alcohol

Alcohol

Sushi

Sushi

Edamame

Edamame

Noodles

Noodles

Soups

Soups

Desserts

Desserts

This United Club is a little old and could use some updates, but the amenities offered are better than just about any other United Club. It can get quite crowded at times, but it’s still a good place to take a shower, grab a beer, and eat some food. That being said, I would almost always choose the ANA lounge over the United Club, so unless you’re getting lounge access through a day pass or a United Club membership, I would probably head to an ANA lounge instead.