Review: Cairo Airport Lounge Terminal 2

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It’s funny how this transit worked out. Initially I was supposed to arrive in Cairo at 5:55AM, while my connection on a separate ticket on Royal Jordanian was scheduled to depart at 10:15AM.

Then a few days before the flight I got notice of a schedule change on my Cairo to Amman flight, which was now instead departing at 12:10PM. So I was dreading the layover of six hours, though as “luck” would have it, my Toronto to Cairo flight was delayed by over three hours, meaning my connection would only be three hours.

So you’ve gotta love when stuff goes sufficiently wrong that it actually goes right. 😉

EgyptAir 777 on arrival in Cairo

Upon deplaning we were driven to Terminal 3 (which is primarily used by EgyptAir), and from there I needed to get to Terminal 2 (which is the airport’s newest terminal). I explained the crazy transit process in a previous post, so I recommend checking that out for the full story.

To briefly summarize, there’s no organized airside transit offered between Terminals 3 and 2, meaning you have to clear immigration, take a bus to the other terminal, check-in, and then clear immigration and go through security again.

However, they have a back-alley airside transit opportunity, which involves talking to immigration and then bribing a guy to personally drive you to the other terminal.

Waiting to be taken to Terminal 2

So after sitting and waiting for a while, a guy escorted me through a bunch of back doors so we could get to the car that was waiting for me on the tarmac.

My escort to Terminal 2 Cairo Airport

My ride to Terminal 2 Cairo Airport

Then he drove me to the other terminal.

Kind of cool experience… I think?

By the way, the new Terminal 2 at Cairo Airport is really impressive — it even has an A380 gate.

Cairo Terminal 2 is A380 ready!

Cairo Airport Terminal 2

From there he took me through a bunch of back doors, exchange words with several security/immigration officers, and eventually I found myself in the check-in area of Terminal 2.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 check-in hall

Again, I can’t emphasize enough how gorgeous the new Terminal 2 is, especially in comparison to Terminal 1, which I’ve primarily used in the past.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 check-in hall

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 check-in hall

After being escorted back airside (given that I had technically entered Egypt and gone landside, but didn’t have a stamp to prove it, meaning I also had to be escorted back), I found myself in the main departures area. While the check-in area of the new Terminal 2 seems to be mostly completed, there’s still a lot of work being done airside, as you can see below.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 airside

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 airside

Just past the security checkpoint I turned left and followed the signage towards the lounge. There’s a single lounge in Terminal 2 which is shared by all airlines operating out of the terminal.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 airside

I felt like I had to walk through a maze to get to the lounge. Perhaps the most bizarre part was that there was a metal detector when walking between the terminal and the lounge. When I approached the metal detector I looked at the security officer in a confused way, and he motioned for me to just walk through the metal detector with my bags. Hmmm…

Cairo Airport Terminal 2

Once past that, it was just a couple more turns, and I eventually found myself in the lounge.

Entrance to lounge at Cairo Airport Terminal 2

There was a small reception desk, and then immediately the lounge’s main room. There were maybe a couple dozen leather chairs in the main room, as well as the buffet.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge

There was also a staircase that was roped off, so I’m not sure where it went, exactly. The terminal is still partly under construction, so perhaps there will eventually be something down there.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge

Then behind the main room of the lounge were two smaller rooms, which were roughly the same size. The rooms had several couches, in addition to chairs right by the windows.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge seating

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge seating

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge seating

The room to the right was similar.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge seating

These two rooms had a view of the gates. As you can see, Terminal 2 just recently opened, and most airlines haven’t yet transitioned, so the gate area was empty.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge view

The buffet spread was back in the main room, and consisted primarily of sweet and savory carbs. In addition to all kinds of bread, there were finger sandwiches, donuts, dessert, and whole fruit.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge buffet

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge buffet

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge buffet

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge buffet

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge buffet

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge buffet

There was also a selection of soft drinks, as well as a Nescafe machine.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge coffee

The bathrooms themselves were nice, though as is common in the region, the toilet floors were full of water, since the preferred form of posterior cleaning involves hosing rather than wiping. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever get used to.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 lounge bathrooms

The one issue is that the Wi-Fi in the lounge didn’t work. There was a network, but for whatever reason I couldn’t connect. Frankly I didn’t care too much, since I still had data on my phone.

I only ended up having about 30 minutes in the lounge given how exciting the transit process was otherwise.

My flight to Amman was scheduled to depart at 12:10PM, so I headed towards the gate at around 11:20AM. When I walked towards the metal detector this time, I was asked to actually have my stuff scanned. It’s a bit odd that they have a security checkpoint after visiting the lounge. I think I’ve figured out why, though — the airport’s VIP service (which I’ve used in the past) seems to use a room next to the lounge, so my guess is that some people can access that lounge without having to go through security, which explains the need for a checkpoint.

My flight was departing from gate E03, which was just past the security checkpoint. The plane had a tight turn from Amman, so arrived at around 11:30AM. The gate area was pretty empty, though that was probably a function of the flight only being operated by an Embraer 175.

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 gates

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 gates

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 gates

Finally at 11:50AM boarding began, which was 10 minutes later than scheduled, due to cleaning. There didn’t seem to be any priority boarding, though I managed to be first at the counter, since I was hoping to grab some pictures.

Royal Jordanian plane at Cairo Airport

Cairo Airport Terminal 2 VIP Lounge bottom line

While the overall transit experience was amusing, the new Terminal 2 at Cairo Airport is such a massive improvement over the old Terminals 1 & 3. This is actually a beautiful terminal that’s pleasant to transit. I’m excited for more airlines to switch their operations to Terminal 2.

The lounge was also a significant improvement over the Terminal 1 lounge which I’ve always previously used. Cairo is a popular airport for cheap fares, and this new terminal makes traveling through there significantly more pleasant. Even if you aren’t traveling in a premium cabin, Cairo thankfully has other lounge options available to those with a credit card with lounge access.

  1. Lucky wrote: “which involves talking to immigration and then bribing a guy to personally drive you to the other terminal.”

    So how much did you bribe the guy?

    Egypt’s Airport look better now that the Muslim Brotherhood/Facebook/Google terrorists are in jail.

  2. Loved your comment on posterior cleaning.

    Luckily I was wondering what you you would do if your EgyptAir flight was significantly delayed and you missed your connection on Royal Jordanians separate ticket. Do you purchase travel insurance or rely on your credit cards?

  3. As a Cairo resident/expat, I feel quite nostalgic about T1. I usually fly out of T1 mostly traveling to the Gulf (QR F, EY F/J, Gulf Air J). Actually I am still quite fond of T1 (and its lounge) and personally I don’t feel any particular need to change terminal. Lounge buffet offering looks pretty same with that in T1 (so-called) First class lounge. Btw looks like EY A346 (with F) in CAI route is replaced by A332 (no F), is it a temporary or permanent change? In any case, CAI now has a chance to receive QR or EK A80? 😉

  4. Hmm bribing an airport guard for the purposes of a trip report. Is that a violation of your Foreign Corruption Act.

  5. @747always

    The facilitating-payments exception to the FCPA provides an exemption for payments to foreign officials “the purpose of which is to expedite or to secure the performance of a routine governmental action by a foreign official.” 15 U.S.C § 78dd-1(b).

  6. @Lucky / anybody – would you say that T2 reduces the need to use the Ahlan VIP Service? I’ve got two one-night stopovers in Cairo next month having never been previously. Having read about T1 and T3 I was fully sold on using the Ahlan service. However, I now see that T2 looks much more orderly and that is the terminal I will be using. What do you reckon? To Ahlan, or not to Ahlan? Thanks.

  7. There is a very large Saudia lounge upstairs, above the general lounge in T2. It doesn’t require the silly pass through security again and is fantastic. Great food and very quiet- huge difference to the mess in the other lounge. The distances to cover in new T2 are quite large and I find they may have 20-30 immigration counters for departure and arrival, but still only staff them with 2 or perhaps 3 agents.

    I wouldn’t bother with Ahlan service if using T2. It is a simple, well sign-posted terminal. You now need to pay 10 or 20LE for a trolley at the luggage area, which is a pain for those arriving without small EGP bills.

    I didn’t mind using T1, small terminal with a few gates meant I was able to arrive late- no need to waste time with the sad lounge. The long walks and poor staffing of security and immigration at T2 means heading to the airport much earlier for me.

  8. @John That’s interesting. Who can use the Saudia lounge? When I’m there for departures next I’ll have a BA business class ticket and a Priority Pass. Will either get me in?

  9. I much preferred T1 to T3. Not having access to business class lounges, I loved the Starbucks with the comfy chairs. Hated the food area at T3. It was miserable and expensive. However being able to remember the old T2 (my first experience of an Egyptian airport) I am sure the improvement is remarkable.

  10. There’s no need to bribe anyone to get an airside transfer from one terminal to another at Cairo Airport. The “official” process may feel very disorganised and involves waiting in a small transit area without your passport until someone comes from your departing airline to print/validate your boarding pass. So while you may have sped-up the process, it’s certainly not mandatory to pay a bribe to do this.

    I travel through Cairo Airport every month or two and have never been solicited for a bribe by any officials there.

    There are a multitude of metal detectors, but sadly that’s replicated throughout Egypt. At the airport, officials are desperate to pass foreign checks on the level of security so I imagine their approach is the more the better!

    Thanks for the trip report – it’s good to get a view of the main lounge in T2!

  11. Sadly …This new terminal is quickly becoming a victim of slack management. Just months old, the place is filthy – dirt everywhere, escalators gunked up for months, rabid cat strolling around the duty free, carpet stains, sofas falling apart in the lounge, fallen over lounge rollup boards, black marble with dirty mop streaks, stashed of cigarette butts in the washroom. For a place as nice (and much needed) as this, you’d think they’d damn well take care of it. Idle staff are all around but too lazy to take care of it.

  12. Don’t worry, the “no smoking” signs will be all tarred-up by the end of the month.

    Here’s to hoping that this is a marked improvement over EVERYTHING at CAI. CAI, the only airport where I was pushed by a taxi tout from baggage claim into a taxi (not into the taxi, but into the door).

  13. The place looks deserted.
    The pastry shop is offensive.
    And, the impunity with which the airport authorities can get away with not having a working transit system so you have to bribe your way from one terminal to another is disgraceful and so is smug Lucky’s gloating.

  14. Okay, as someone who grew up in that part of the world, I have to clarify this one thing you mentioned about cleaning the posterior by hosing as opposed to wiping. I grew up doing just that. In fact, it is far superior to wiping. We do not make our bathroom floors wet by doing so. It is possible to, very very easily hose without getting a drop of water on the floor. There are also modern toilets with built in bidet jets that are immovable and thus are not possible to hose anything. The misconception that cleaning requires washing down the whole bathroom is exactly that, a misconception. But people are disgusting, and I don’t know why.

  15. I just had THE WORST macchiato in the world for 50EGP at segafredo in terminal 2 gate 3.
    Highly recommend you don’t even get close to it!!
    PS writing this here because this coffee place is not only unable to make good coffee, but also doesn’t have a place to review it!

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