A380 Extravaganza: Araliya Lounge Colombo

Filed Under: Travel

There’s something extremely charming about Colombo Airport, that makes it feel both tropical and straight out of the 1970s.


Since we already had our connecting boarding passes and security is at each individual gate, we headed to the Araliya Lounge, which is the contract lounge Cathay Pacific uses in Colombo. Of course, if you wouldn’t otherwise have access, there are a couple of alternative options in Colombo available to anyone with a credit card with lounge access.

Lounge exterior

At the entrance the Sri Lankan Airlines employee manning the desk ask us for our invitations. Hmmm, we don’t have invitations, so we showed her our boarding passes. She asked why we didn’t have invitations and explained we were transit passengers. She asked where we were transitting from, and we said Singapore. She was so confused that she let out a loud sigh, said “I don’t know what’s going on,” and waved us in.

Lounge entrance

The lounge itself was little more than a bunch of seats shoved closely together.




Computer stations

The lounge had a reasonable buffet selection consisting of cheese, sandwiches, brownies, fruit, salad, etc.





We had a little over a two hour layover, so I used their pre-historic dial-up-speed internet to stay busy as much as possible.

Shortly after midnight we left the lounge and headed to our departure gate to Singapore, gate seven. Security queues are at each individual gate so it took about 10 minutes to clear, but at that point we could board right away.

Heading to gate

Departure gate

Departure gate

I hope to actually spend some time in Colombo next time I’m there, as it seems like a beautiful country. But as far as transit goes, two hours is about all I can handle. 😉

  1. The midriff exposed is a pretty common look for people wearing saris, regardless of their age. It’s their culture…

  2. As mentioned by the previous poster, the traditional dress for women in India and also in certain other parts of South Asia like Sri Lanka is the Sari. I am little surprised that you weren’t aware given your many travels to Asia.

  3. Agree with previous two posters. Lucky, I really enjoy your blog and generally find you’re quite sensitive to new places & culture.

    But your phrasing does strike me as pretty disrespectful: “their employees wear this peacock-looking dress…it’s not a good luck (sic) for the 50+ year old women staffing the counters.” I’ve been to Sir Lanka a couple of times and there are certainly different cultural norms and dress, but that’s the beauty of travelling, no?

  4. Did you happen to see the day hotel within the airport? I believe the sell rooms in 6 hour increments. I’m wondering if it is worthwhile for a 10 hour layover I have there.

  5. @ joe — Anything that will allow you to avoid 10 hours in the airport seems like a good idea, so I’d go for it.

  6. Sorry guys, went back and read that and it didn’t come out how I intended it. I’ve removed it. My bad, certainly no offense was meant…

  7. I did a turnaround SIN-BKK-SIN. At the gate in BKK I was met by a group of security officers who questioned me, examined my passport to check if it was real and just couldn’t understand what I was doing. Maybe a turnaround in BKK isn’t the smartest idea! Lol

  8. Lucky- Just to clarify the hotel that I am talking about is in the airport. I believe it is on the second floor in the transit area. Do you think that is a good place to stay for 9 hours or would you recommend leaving the airport and getting a more traditional room? I’m at a bit of a lose because I can’t find too many reviews.

  9. @ joe — I haven’t stayed there so don’t have any first hand knowledge, though it looks pretty decent as far as I can tell. I’d go for it given your layover length and how far the city of Colombo is from the airport.

  10. @joe I have stayed in the transit hotel, and in your case that is what I would suggest you do. They sell rooms in 6 hour blocks for $55-70. The rooms are newly renovated and totally fine, but the beds are a bit hard (as is the case in most Sri Lankan hotels). Colombo is too far from the airport to go on a 9 hour layover in my opinion. Traffic in the city can be absolutely horrible, and it once took me five hours to get from Kalutara (south of the city) to the airport (north of the city). It’s the crossing the city that takes so long. You could always go to a a hotel in Negombo for the layover, but I’m not sure it’s really worth the effort. I definitely recommend spending some real time in Sri Lanka, however. You can supposedly reserve the hotel ahead of time, but despite a quick response and confirmation of my email request they had no record of my reservation on arrival.

  11. Yes it may be part of the culture, but on some women, bare midriff dresses + muffin tops = Asian Walmart!

  12. Lucky,

    Did you checkin for the CMB-SIN segment in SIN ? since the ex-CMB fare is a separate ticket than the SIN-CMB leg I would have thought you would need to claim your bags, pass customs and check in again?

  13. All thanks to the transfer desk in BKK. Hi can I get my boarding pass for my flight to Singapore. Sure, where have you arrived from? Singapore. You’re going to Singapore and arrived from Singapore? Yes. Tap tap tap on the computer, a number of phone calls in Thai that I didn’t understand. The result: a boarding pass and a whole lot of fun at the gate.

  14. @ Mike S. — Yes, I checked in for it in the lounge in Singapore (if you read that installment you’ll read about how much effort it took to get it). I didn’t have checked bags so no need to claim my bags.

  15. Hi Lucky,

    Usually in countries where I can’t drink the water, I consider uncooked foods such as fruit and vegetables to be risky from a health perspective. Glad you haven’t had any health issues.

  16. @rk I am going to have a short trip in Sri Lanka. It will be only 48 hours. Any recommendation of places to go and to stay? Thanks.

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