Tag Archives: airport lounge

Thailand 2014: Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul Incheon (ICN)

Given that my fake red-eye from Hong Kong on Asiana landed before 5am, the airport was empty when I arrived.

Empty ICN

Empty ICN

It also meant that the lounges weren’t open. The Asiana Airlines first class lounge doesn’t open until 6am, but I even had to wait for the business class lounge to open since my flight arrived a smidge early.

:(

ūüė¶

I thus spent about an hour in the business class lounge waiting for the first class lounge to open (here’s a prior review of the business class lounge, albeit in the remote terminal).

A380!

A380 model! This was more exciting when I took this trip 6 months ago since their A380 hadn’t yet been delivered.

6am soon rolled around and I made my way to the first class lounge where I rightfully belonged. ¬†The lounge is tastefully decorated with a library theme. It’s large and open with private TV cubicles, loungers, and massage chairs. Maybe I just felt cold because I was sleep deprived from the fake red-eye that I took, but I thought the lounge was pretty chilly while I was there.

Good-sized lounge

Good-sized lounge

Seating

Seating

Massage chair

Massage chair

Private-ish lounging area

Private-ish lounging area

Since I was going to get on a long flight to JFK, I took a shower in this lounge. They have three giant shower rooms with Japanese-style toilets, which I love, and they had some of the best toiletries I’ve seen in an airport lounge with things like actual shaving cream and a razor that I would actually use at home.

Shower room

Shower room

Pretty good amenities on offer

Pretty good amenities on offer

The food options in the lounge weren’t super appealing to me, but that’s maybe because the breakfast foods on offer were things like Yorkshire pudding, abalone porridge, and sad-looking dim sum. I think I actually preferred the slightly simpler options available in the business class lounge.

Booze

Booze

Hot food

Hot food

More food

More food

More food

More food

Ice cream

Ice cream

There were a number¬†of things that I had trouble identifying. In particular, I had a hard time understanding what all of the beverage options were since everything was in Korean. Yes, I was in Korea, but the lounge attendants that I asked also didn’t speak very good English. So I ended up just getting some cereal and some Johnny Walker Blue (I was definitely inspired by secret breakfast ice cream from Humphry Slocombe).

Breakfast of champions

Breakfast of champions

While I understand why people don’t rave about this lounge like some other first class flagship lounges, the Asiana first class lounge at Seoul is tasteful and definitely feels premium to me. The nice amenities in the shower room are one example of something that seems pretty obvious but is often lacking in other premium lounge experiences. I also received an escort from the lounge to the aircraft, which is always a nice touch.

Thailand 2014: Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG)

After the Singapore Airlines lounge, I went to the Thai lounge, which is the only Star Alliance lounge I hadn’t yet visited (the other being the United lounge).

Thai Airways lounge entrance at HKG

Thai Airways lounge entrance at HKG

This lounge is located in the same area as a lot of the other lounges, so it’s easy to lounge hop. It’s open to the terminal like the United lounge. There’s also a separate first class section, but it’s very, very similar to the business class section. The furniture is marginally nicer, and it’s of course a bit less crowded, but you’re not missing out on much if you only have access to the business class side.

Computers for use

Computers for use

Seating

Seating

This lounge features some game stations and massage chairs. I’m not a huge gamer, but I’m a pretty big fan of massage chairs, so I pretty much just camped out on a chair for most of the time that I was in the lounge. They’re definitely a little worse for the wear, but I still enjoyed my chair massage.

Massage chair!

Massage chair!

For food options, there was a pretty wide selection including various Thai foods and ice cream bars, but I wasn’t that hungry after eating some in the Singapore lounge, and it didn’t look all that appetizing to me personally.

Booze

Booze

Drinks

Drinks

Food

Food

More food

More food

Hot food

Hot food

Cold food

Cold food

The one thing that I didn’t like about this lounge was the internet access. I could not get the wifi to work, which is a basic necessity of an airport lounge. It didn’t matter a ton as I just used the Hong Kong airport free wifi, but it drives me crazy when the wifi doesn’t work in a lounge.

Of all the Star Alliance lounges at HKG, I don’t think there’s one that’s clearly superior to the others. Some people will like the food at the Thai lounge better, some will like Singapore’s food better (I don’t think anyone would choose United); some will find the lack of bathroom at the Singapore lounge to be a dealbreaker; some (like myself) will love the massage chair at the Thai lounge. You’re not missing out on much by not going to any given lounge, so I’d probably just go to the lounge that’s most convenient.

Thailand 2014: Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG)

My first stop on my layover at Hong Kong was the Singapore Airlines lounge. I went there first largely because the lounge closes at 11pm,¬†which is earlier than the other Star Alliance lounges at HKG, and my flight departed at 12:30am. For reference, I’ve also reviewed the United lounge,¬†the Plaza Premium lounge, and the Pier at HKG.

Singapore Airlines lounge entrance

Singapore Airlines lounge entrance

First impressions of the lounge were that it’s very large, but it feels a little dungeon-like because there are no windows, and there’s no bathroom located within the lounge. The decor and furnishings are typical of Singapore Airlines. There was a computer area, several seating areas, a snack area, and a dining area. There was also a separate first class section, but it’s essentially identical to the rest of the lounge. There’s a small sign that says the area is reserved for first class passengers, but there was no one actually checking (unlike the current first class section of the Pier), and the lounge was so empty anyway that it didn’t matter (I think there were 2 other people in the lounge when I left around 9:30pm).

Computer workstations

Computer workstations

Seating options

Seating options

Self-serve drinks

Self-serve drinks

Soft drinks

Soft drinks

There were a number of food options available, including several different hot food options. There was also Haagen Dazs ice cream, and I tried a water chestnut drink that was pretty interesting. The best food, though, is probably the made-to-order noodles, where you can get udon, laksa, or wonton noodle soup. I tried the laksa, and it was very flavorful and a bit spicy. It was a bit seafoody for me to rave about it, but I’d definitely eat it again.

Food options

Food options

More food

More food

More food

More food

Noodle options

Noodle options

Laksa

Laksa

Dining area

Dining area

More dining area

More dining area

Overall, this is a nice lounge. Yes, there’s no bathroom inside which is inconvenient, and there are no windows, so you don’t really feel time passing, but it’s spacious with some decent food options. It’s also located pretty far away from the rest of the lounges (this lounge is near gate 15 while the Thai lounge, for example, is near gate 40).

Thailand 2014: Singapore SilverKris Lounge at Bangkok Airport (BKK)

The last lounge on my lounge hopping tour of BKK was the Singapore SilverKris Lounge. This lounge is located near the A gates, and the windows of the lounge look out onto a small courtyard instead of the apron.

Entrance to the Singapore SilverKris Lounge at BKK

Entrance to the Singapore SilverKris Lounge at BKK

Windows overlooking a small courtyard

Windows overlooking a small courtyard

The lounge has lots of dividers in the room, which creates lots of semi-private seating areas. It feels a bit maze-like, and it’s a big contrast to the openness of the EVA Air lounge. When it’s not crowded, the increased privacy of the Singapore lounge is great, but it can feel claustrophobic when it gets busier.

Seating and dividers

Seating and dividers

Some say that the Singapore lounge has the best food of any of the Star Alliance business class lounges at BKK, but it didn’t seem that appetizing to me as there were flies buzzing around the food. There were a number of hot options, dim sum, and desserts (including Haagen Das ice cream, if that matters to you), and many people were very happily partaking.

Hot food

Hot food

Dessers

Desserts and pastries

More food

More food

Drinks 1

Drinks 1

Drinks 2

Drinks 2

Drinks 3

Drinks 3

Singapore Airlines wouldn’t be Singapore without its service, and even in the lounge, the service delivered. My camera was dying and I stupidly had checked my charger, but a lounge attendant was more than to help me find a spare charger.

Finally, some people fault this lounge because it lacks an in-lounge bathroom. I didn’t stay long enough for that to be a problem, but I can see how it’d be annoying if you were there for a longer stay.

Overall, this is a nice lounge, with some good food options and more private seating options. You can find typical Singapore service, which is always a plus, but it might not be the most convenient place to camp out given the lack of shower and bathroom facilities.

Thailand 2014: Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge at Bangkok Airport (BKK)

BKK has a lot of different lounges, including 4 locations of the Louis’ Tavern CIP First Class Lounge. The one that I visited was near the G gates, and I used my Priority Pass Select membership to get access.

Louis' Tavern CIP Lounge Entrance

Louis’ Tavern CIP Lounge Entrance

The lounge that I went to was just a single room, and it felt relatively small. Given it’s location in the airport, there weren’t any views to speak of, and the room felt pretty dark.

Seating in the lounge

Seating in the lounge

The food options consisted mostly of various kinds of sandwiches, along with some pastries, one hot item, one soup, fresh fruit, Nestle ice cream, and yogurt. There was also the typical selection of beer and liquor, as well as a drink called miracle water.

Sandwiches and pastries

Sandwiches and pastries

Hot items

Hot items

Fruit and food area

Fruit and food area

Booze

Booze

Other beverages

Other beverages and ice cream

The lounge itself wasn’t very crowded, which is possibly due to the fact that they have 4 of them throughout the airport. Each lounge is open 24 hours, which can be helpful for those odd itineraries, but there’s not really any where to stretch out, so I wouldn’t recommend these lounges if you’re looking for a place to sleep.

Another view of the lounge (it's not that big)

Another view of the lounge (it’s not that big)

Overall, it’s definitely better than waiting in the airport, and it’s a solid Priority Pass-accessible lounge, but it’s nothing special. I would also probably not recommend these lounges for people who are trying to overnight at the airport, as I imagine it wouldn’t be very comfortable.

Thailand 2014: EVA Air Evergreen Lounge at Bangkok Airport (BKK)

The first lounge on my lounge hopping itinerary was the EVA Air lounge. Given that I’m Taiwanese, I have fond memories of flying EVA to and from Taiwan when I was younger, but I haven’t flown them in 15 years.

The lounge is located near F1, so it’s very, very far from the Thai First Class Lounge and Spa. I’d say it was at least a mile, as it took me about 25 minutes to walk to the EVA lounge from the Thai First Class lounge.

Entrance to the EVA Air Evergreen Lounge

Entrance to the EVA Air Evergreen Lounge

The lounge is basically a large, spacious room with some good plane spotting opportunities as the windows provide a view onto the apron. The lounge was moderately busy as EVA has a number of flights out of BKK (including one that goes on to LHR), but there was plenty of seating.

Lounge is one long, open room

Lounge is one long, open room

The food options were actually pretty good for a business class lounge. There was Swensen’s ice cream, pizza, pad thai, and dim sum, and I thought the quality of food was quite good for what it was. Then again, I have weird food tastes, but I enjoyed everything that I tried, including the pizza with BBQ sauce. They also had Thai iced tea and Johnny Walker Black, which I did not mix but tried separately.

Food options

Food options

More food

More food

Ice cream

Ice cream

Drinks

Drinks

More drinks

More drinks

There’s nothing flashy or fancy about the EVA Air lounge, but I think it’s a solid choice, and if my flight were departing from a nearby gate, I’d definitely stop by. Of all of the business class lounges that I visited, I think the EVA Air lounge had the best food, as there was a good (although eclectic) mix of offerings and everything was reasonably tasty. I also enjoy watching planes, and this lounge was one of the better ones for that.

Thailand 2014: Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge at Bangkok Airport (BKK)

My previous flight from Koh Samui to Bangkok was purchased on a separate ticket (at the time I was making my reservations, I couldn’t find award space on USM to BKK on Thai), which means that I had to check in again upon arrival to BKK. I didn’t particularly mind, though, as I’d heard great things about Thai’s ground service for first class passengers at Bangkok airport.

I walked to the end of the terminal where first class check-in is located, and my roller bag was immediately taken from me upon saying that I was flying first class. My bag was tagged all the way to my final destination, and I was soon escorted to the private security and immigration lines. Then there was the buggy ride from immigration to the first class lounge, which requires you to pass through the business class lounge. To all other airlines, this is how you do it! The Thai Airways check-in to lounge experience was just about as good as you can get. Minimal effort required on the part of the passenger.

Seating in Thai First Class check-in

Seating in Thai First Class check-in

At the lounge, I got a private room, although it’s really not a big¬†deal if you don’t get one unless you want to watch TV as the furniture is nicer outside of the private rooms, and the private rooms aren’t particularly private anyway. Someone came by to take drink orders and provide a food menu. I ordered a couple of the Thai food options and made an appointment for my complimentary massage.

Private room

Private room

General seating

General seating

More seating

More seating

Unused dining area

Unused dining area

The food in the lounge wasn’t great compared to the wonderful food I had been eating throughout Thailand for the previous two weeks. I’d say it was comparable to a mediocre Thai restaurant in the US, which is a little disappointing given how great food in Thailand is, but hey, it’s a lounge, what can you expect. I did enjoy sampling a lot of the Thai desserts, which included a number of things that I had seen but hadn’t eaten throughout my trip.

Self service options

Self service options

Lots of desserts

Lots of desserts

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but the massage was also¬†not great. I opted for an oil massage instead of a Thai massage as I had been pummeled enough from all of the massages I had gotten during my trip, but this was probably a mistake, as the oil massage felt like she was just moving oil around my back rather than actually massaging me (on a later trip through BKK, I opted for a Thai massage instead and it was significantly better). The massage facilities are great, though, and I had a nice hot shower afterward. Pro tip: there’s a robe in the closet for you to put on (as for the disposable underwear which Ben at OMAAT has commented on multiple times, I might not wear it in public, but I didn’t feel like I was indecent or anything; maybe Ben is just very well endowed for everything to be hanging out?).

After my massage and sampling some more desserts, I decided to go lounge hopping, which I’ll write about in subsequent posts. Overall, I think the Thai Airways First Class check-in experience is impeccable, and the hour-long massage is a great benefit (multiple other lounges offer shorter massages like the Emirates First Class Terminal¬†and the Amex Centurion lounge at DFW). Definitely a great reason to depart out of BKK in Thai Airways First Class.

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.

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.