Review: Chengdu Airport Domestic Lounge

Filed Under: Airport Lounge Reviews, Other Airlines

Introduction: Visiting Pandas In China
Review: Xiamen Air Business Class 787-9 Los Angeles To Xiamen
Review: Xiamen Air Domestic Lounge Xiamen Airport
Review: Xiamen Air Business Class 757 Xiamen To Chengdu
Review: St. Regis Chengdu
Booking A Panda Adventure In Chengdu, China
Our Amazing “Pandadventure” At The Dujiangyan Panda Base
Review: Chengdu Airport Domestic Lounge
Review: Xiamen Air Business Class 737 Chengdu To Xiamen
Review: Le Meridien Xiamen
Using Didi Chuxing: The Chinese Uber
Review: Xiamen Air International Lounge Xiamen Airport
Review: Xiamen Air 787-9 Business Class Xiamen To Los Angeles
My Experience Traveling With Ben To China


Our return flight from Chengdu to Xiamen was departing at 3:15PM. We got to the airport plenty early, at 12:30PM, given that we were traveling over a national holiday and expected the airport would be chaotic. Chengdu Airport has an impressive exterior.


Chengdu Airport exterior

As is the norm in China, to even enter the terminal we had to have our belongings swabbed for explosives. With this system, they have you walk into a “holding pen,” swab the bags of everyone in it, and after conducting the test they let everyone go.


Chengdu Airport security check

The check-in hall was massive, and reminded me a lot of Beijing Airport.


Chengdu Airport check-in hall

Just inside the entrance were the Lucky Air ticketing counters — I guess I still need to fly with them. 😉


No Lucky Air for us!

We couldn’t easily find the Xiamen Air check-in counter, though we saw a board that listed the airline check-in areas by name. I recognized Xiamen Air’s logo and code (MF), but oddly the airline was listed as SkyAir rather than Xiamen Air. Hmmm.


Chengdu Airport airline check-in counters

We eventually found a check-in counter for Xiamen Air with a long line, though there was no business class queue. When we asked about that, we were directed to the far left of the terminal, where we were told premium check-in was located. The airport has an impressive separate first & business class check-in facility that’s shared between airlines.


Chengdu Airport premium check-in


Chengdu Airport premium check-in

In addition to some sofas, each check-in counter also has seats, so that you don’t have to stand while your check-in is being processed. While only one counter was open, we were helped immediately.


Chengdu Airport premium check-in

 


Chengdu Airport premium check-in

The guy checking us in was competent, and added our Delta SkyMiles numbers to the reservation in no time (which I was expecting might be an issue, since he was a contract worker for many airlines). He also issued us invitations to the first class lounge.


Chengdu Airport lounge invitation

The security checkpoint was to the left of the check-in desks, and as we first approached we saw long lines, and were expecting the process would be chaotic.


Chengdu Airport check-in hall


Chengdu Airport security lines

So we were very pleasantly surprised when at the very left of the area we saw a separate first class line, where there was only a short queue. That probably saved us 30 minutes.


Chengdu Airport security

Security was thorough but efficient, and then we found ourselves in the airside area with signs pointing in the direction of gates. The Chengdu Airport airside is massive, even though the entire area was dedicated to the domestic terminal. Seriously, this was a huge space, and it must have been a 20 minute walk (at a fast pace) to go from one end of the terminal to the other. We turned right, and followed the signage in the direction of our departure gate.


Chengdu Airport airside terminal


Chengdu Airport airside terminal

The airport has many lounges. For example, here are the lounges that just belong to Priority Pass. If you have a credit card with lounge access, you certainly won’t be bored here!

We kept walking, and eventually we stumbled upon a generic First Class Lounge by gate 128, which we ended up entering. All the “First Class Lounges” are operated by the airport, so you can use any lounge (the exception are the lounges operated directly by airlines, though they have different signage).


Chengdu Airport first class lounge exterior

This particular lounge was only open from 10:30AM until 8PM, which sure seems to me like limited hours.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge hours

Upon presenting our boarding passes and invitations we were welcomed in.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge check-in desk

The lounge was reasonably decent — it had lots of natural light and good views of the apron, and wasn’t overcrowded.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge view

I’ll let the pictures speak mostly for themselves.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge seating


Chengdu Airport first class lounge seating


Chengdu Airport first class lounge seating


Chengdu Airport first class lounge seating


Chengdu Airport first class lounge seating

On each table was a decorative plastic bowl of sorts, and at first I was confused about what we were supposed to do with it. But then I observed others, and it appeared as if you’re supposed to put the plastic wrappings of all the packaged snacks in it. The lounge only had packaged snacks, and people seemed to be enjoying them by the handful.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snack wrapper plates

The food & drink selection was inside the entrance and to the right.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge food & drink selection


Chengdu Airport first class lounge food & drink selection

In terms of the drink selection, there were room temperature cans of Sprite and Coke, some sort of drinks in cartons, a fridge with water, soda, and juice, and a coffee machine.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge drink selection


Chengdu Airport first class lounge drink selection


Chengdu Airport first class lounge drink selection


Chengdu Airport first class lounge coffee machine

I’m not sure what most of the snacks were, but below are some pictures of them.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks

I couldn’t help but try one of the “mini lemon sandwich biscuits.” For some reason the concept looked somewhat familiar, I’m not sure why. 😉


Chengdu Airport first class lounge snacks

After spending some time in the lounge connected to the wifi, we eventually decided to walk around a bit and explore the rest of the terminal. When we came across another generic “first class lounge” we decided to stop in and see how it compared. We presented our Priority Pass cards since we figured our invitation only got us into one lounge, but when they saw we were in Xiamen Air business class they invited us in without needing to use Priority Pass.

This lounge had an identical food & beverage selection, but wasn’t quite as nice and bright.


Chengdu Airport first class lounge


Chengdu Airport first class lounge

Our flight was scheduled to board at 2:45PM, so at around 2:30PM we headed to our departure gate, 139.


Chengdu Airport terminal

The gate area was fairly quiet, and 2:45PM passed without any sort of an announce. Finally at 2:50PM an announcement was made that the flight was delayed by 20 minutes. There wasn’t an announcement in English (understandably), though after the announcement was made, the gate agent saw the confusion on our faces, and said to us “20 minute.”


Chengdu Airport departure gate

Our plane was there, so I figured it was some sort of an air traffic control delay.


Chengdu Airport departure gate

As we waited I noticed that the departure screen had a picture of United’s 767 business class product. Does anyone know what it says under the picture?


United’s business class?!

Sure enough, at exactly 3:10PM boarding started, with business class being invited to board first.


Chengdu Airport departure gate


Civil Trip, Polite Plane!

Chengdu Airport lounge bottom line

Chengdu Airport was easy to use, and I appreciated the dedicated first & business class check-in area and security line. Ultimately the airport run lounges are mediocre and don’t compare to Xiamen Air’s lounge at their hub, but they were still fine. I wouldn’t arrive earlier than you have to, but it’s not a bad airport at which to kill time.

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Comments
  1. A few years ago we flew Thai from Bangkok to Chengdu and then were connecting to Hohhot. I was amazed how big Chengdu Airport was. They said we could pay to take a trolley between the two terminals for our connection but we ended up just walking the 1km as we couldn’t get change for our big bills.

  2. Re: the writing in the picture with the UA 767, it says (in yellow): paid upgrade at boarding gate (blue) first class/business class (red) please wait.

    You can scan the QR code for more information, which likely comes as a WeChat page.

  3. “Scan QR code to get more information: Paid Upgrade at the gate to First/ Business (please be prepared for it)” should be the literal translation on the sign.

  4. @François – Why does Lucky need DL Skypesos? Skypass and FlyingBlue are better programs with better availability and redemption opportunities.

  5. @Paul

    there is free shuttle between terminals

    @Lucky

    are you ashamed to visit a country you have a heated hatred on ?

  6. Bryan Ee has the correct translation. It’s an advertisement for paid upgrades at the gate that’s coming soon.

  7. @H Xu I never got the impression Lucky has a hatred of China. He’s given honest appraisals of many Chinese carriers — some are great, others aren’t. It rather seems that he’s had an excellent time on this particular trip (and others), so I’m not sure where you got this from.

  8. I understand Chinese, but why use a photo of united’s product for advertising? maybe Xiamen has a identical product?

  9. Thanks for this post. My family and I are planning on visiting Chengdu in the spring while travelling through Asia because we love Sichuan food. I think we’ll spring for the business class tickets 🙂

  10. @Lu Probably because they don’t care to get the image or the English names right. I imagine Westerners making up such a small amount of business when it comes to travel in China, that hiring employees with good English skills simply isn’t high up the priority list.

  11. Above the “Civil Trip, Polite Plane!” sign, it says “Military personnel by law may use priority [boarding] lane”. While traditionally this was honored, but not long ago this became a law, so at transit centers (bus/train/airport), there’s usually some priority or special treatment for military personnel.

  12. @Lu – Since XiamenAir is part of SkyTeam, maybe they accidentally translated “Sky” from “SkyTeam” when they were translating the name. They may have been using a translation website or translation software and copied the wrong text. Though the other SkyTeam airlines on that list were translated properly so I’m not sure…

  13. @Andy 11235 He may feel this way because of the stupid things Ben says about Chinese people. How many other checkin agents around the world does he describe as “competent”, as if he was expecting the Chinese checkin staff to be incompetent? What other language does he always always always render in pidgin when describing what airline staff say to him?

  14. Ben, you missed an important feature of Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport — passport holders from more than 50 countries who transit through CTU to another country can stay for up to 72 hours (3 days) visa-free. Unlike some other Chinese cities that offer visa-free transit stayovers (such as Beijing), passengers transiting through Chengdu are allowed to travel through all of Sichuan Province.

  15. @Ben – if you read it in context, the “competent” was meant as a compliment to the employee and the service in general. The employee was a contract employee who has to be familiar with several different airlines, and it’s not uncommon for contract employees to not be trained as well as airline employees.

    I like the panda motif scattered through the airport!

  16. I find it amusing when people of Chinese descent accuse others of discrimination towards them, because as an African who has lived in many countries, currently living in an Asian country I find the Chinese the most discriminatory towards people of darker skin complexion. Anyway I was also surprised to see xiamen air labelled as skyair

  17. Looking at the sign with all the airlines serving CTU, there is just one thing I wonder: when will you review Lucky Air?

  18. @B
    Doesn’t that same thing happen in Africa with Africans complaining about such discrimination? And personally speaking, I’ve never known the Chinese to be major complainers in this department as part of the lay low part of Chinese culture.

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