Review: China Eastern First Class Lounge Shanghai Airport

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I had a long layover in Shanghai, as my flight was arriving from Singapore at around 5:30AM, and I was continuing to Los Angeles at 1:20PM. Upon arrival I made the long trek from my gate to the immigration and transfer area. I think we arrived at the furthest possible gate, and even walking at a fast pace, it was a good 10 minute walk.


Shanghai Pudong Airport Terminal 1

When I got to the arrivals hall I stayed left and followed the signage towards transfers. While there would have been a bit of a wait, I was pleasantly surprised that there was a SkyPriority lane. My passport and boarding pass were verified, and then I had to go through a security check, where there was no wait.


Shanghai Airport transfer process

At that point I found myself in the departures area of Terminal 1.


Shanghai Airport Terminal 1

The terminal has an impressive design, though I can’t say that the signage was very good. It took me another 15 minutes to find China Eastern’s lounge. I figured there would be a prominent display for it, given that this terminal is primarily used by China Eastern, though it was more complicated than that.


Shanghai Airport Terminal 1

China Eastern’s lounge was located along the interior of the terminal. Rather confusingly (though it’s common in China), the lounges are assigned numbers, so this was in the area of lounges 36 & 39, behind a temporary wall.


China Eastern Lounge entrance Shanghai Airport

There I had to take an escalator up a level, where I finally found the China Eastern lounge. This lounge is only a couple of years old. When I flew China Eastern in 2016 they only had several smaller lounges, while this is their new flagship lounge.

This lounge has both a separate first and business class section, with the first class section being to the right of the reception desk. This might just be one of the only exclusive international first class lounges in all of China (for example, Air China technically has a first class lounge in Beijing, but it can also be accessed by Priority Pass members, so…).


China Eastern Lounge exterior Shanghai Airport

Once inside the first class lounge, the main area of the lounge was inside and to the left. My first impression was positive — not only was the lounge deserted, but it was beautifully designed. There’s a main hallway that spans the length of the lounge.


China Eastern first class lounge Shanghai Airport


China Eastern first class lounge Shanghai Airport

The first two thirds of the lounge just has seating arranged in different configurations. This included big groups of chairs around tables, “L” shaped couches, and more.


China Eastern first class lounge seating Shanghai Airport


China Eastern first class lounge seating Shanghai Airport


China Eastern first class lounge seating Shanghai Airport


China Eastern first class lounge seating Shanghai Airport


China Eastern first class lounge seating Shanghai Airport

Past the main seating area was the bar. The design of it reminded me a lot of the bars you’ll find in Etihad’s lounges.


China Eastern first class lounge bar Shanghai Airport

The bar had some wine on display, including champagne, which was Henri Abele.


China Eastern first class lounge drinks 


China Eastern first class lounge champagne

Past the bar was the main dining area. This included two main buffets, as well as a long row of tables along a booth.


China Eastern first class lounge dining area


China Eastern first class lounge dining area


China Eastern first class lounge buffet


China Eastern first class lounge buffet

Since it was still early in the morning they had breakfast out. I’ll let the pictures of the food speak mostly for themselves. I’d say the food was alright, though not much better than what you’ll find in some Chinese business class lounges.


China Eastern first class lounge buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge buffet 

The second part of the buffet had hot options, which didn’t particularly appeal to me.


China Eastern first class lounge hot buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge hot buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge hot buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge hot buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge hot buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge hot buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge hot buffet 


China Eastern first class lounge hot buffet 

Some of the labels weren’t particularly descriptive (at least in English).


China Eastern first class lounge food description 

I wasn’t very hungry, so just ordered a coffee. They had a proper espresso machine behind the bar, though when I asked for a cappuccino they said that wasn’t possible. I had an americano instead.


China Eastern first class lounge coffee

My favorite part of the lounge was in the opposite direction of the dining area, back near the entrance. Specifically, there were four mostly private rooms where you could relax.


China Eastern first class lounge hallway Shanghai Airport

Each of the rooms had a desk.


China Eastern first class lounge workspace

Then two of the rooms had comfortable leather chairs that could be reclined.


China Eastern first class lounge reclining seat

The other two had massage chairs.


China Eastern first class lounge massage chair

I spent virtually my entire layover in these rooms, and alternated between sitting at the desk working, and relaxing in the massage chairs and loungers. The wifi in the lounge was fast and free, and I managed to use a VPN to get around the firewall.

Also in this area of the lounge was a selection of magazines & newspapers.


China Eastern first class lounge magazines & newspapers Shanghai Airport

The lounge’s bathrooms and showers were back near the dining area. The bathrooms were always kept clean.


China Eastern first class lounge bathroom


China Eastern first class lounge bathroom

Towards the end of my layover I wanted to shower, so I requested a shower room, which was quite nice.


China Eastern first class lounge shower room


China Eastern first class lounge shower room

I did find the toiletries to be confusing, as I wasn’t sure what exactly was in the bottles. Oh well, as long as neither of them is like a hair removal solution.


China Eastern first class lounge shower room amenities

Also near the bathrooms was a room with a mirror, that reminded me of the tailoring area of a department store. I can’t say I’ve ever seen that in an airline lounge before.


China Eastern first class lounge

For the first several hours the lounge was empty, though eventually if filled up a bit. There was an interesting variety of passengers, including some people who did a lot of duty free shopping.


Lots of duty free shopping

Up until now I haven’t even mentioned my favorite part of the China Eastern lounge, which provided me with endless entertainment. Specifically, I’m talking about the lounge’s robot. OMG I had so much fun talking to the robot (yes, apparently I got that bored during an eight hour layover). She was hilarious.

Every time someone walked into the lounge she’d say hi to them and compliment them, and she gladly engaged in conversation. It was so, so, so cute.

As someone who knows very little about robot technology, my assumption is that there was actually a human somewhere saying these things, given the obscure questions I asked, and customized answers I received. Does anyone know for sure?


China Eastern lounge robot

I only had one real criticism of the lounge, and that’s the lack of natural light. It’s not the end of the world, but I do love a lounge with natural light and apron and runway views.

Boarding for my flight was scheduled for 12:35PM, but I left the lounge way earlier to wander the terminal. I saw a Starbucks and waited in line there for 20 minutes to get a drink, which I rarely do, but…


Shanghai Pudong Airport Starbucks

My flight was departing from gate 23, which was about a 10 minute walk away. The terminal was much busier at this point.


Shanghai Pudong Airport terminal


Shanghai Pudong Airport terminal

The China Eastern 777 was already at the gate, though it was tough to get a good picture of the plane, due to the design of the terminal.


China Eastern 777 PVG Airport

The ground staff only showed up at 12:25PM, which I found surprising.


China Eastern departure gate

Despite their arrival time, boarding began at exactly 12:35PM, as scheduled. First and business class lined up right in front of the gate, while separate queues were formed for other passengers to the side.


China Eastern boarding

China Eastern first class lounge bottom line

China Eastern did a great job with their new lounge, and this is easily the nicest lounge I’ve visited in mainland China. The lounge was quiet, had several private areas, the decor was beautiful, and I loved the robot. While I wouldn’t voluntarily replicate what I did and spend nearly eight hours here, this is a solid lounge that’s worth a visit, in my opinion. It’s still nowhere close to making my list of the world’s top first class lounges, though.

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Comments

  1. Maybe you can specify that it’s Pudong airport in the title?
    I can infer it by the pictures, but still…

  2. The Business Class side of the lounge gets PACKED right before MU583, by the way. Lots of long haul leaving around that time, apparently? I enjoyed the food there when I was there in January, though.

    Also Lux = body wash and Rejoice = shampoo; Think of Rejoice as the Chinese Pert? Is Pert still around? I recall at one point the bottles were very similar… Though perhaps I’m wrong.

  3. You’ve mentioned before sometimes the English translations of things aren’t that descriptive. Many apps like Google Translate provide translations via the camera function.

  4. One fun fact relating to the duty free bags…the Sunrise Duty Free shops in Beijing and Shanghai offer the best price of cosmetic products across entire Asia

  5. Am I the only one who thinks the color of the chair upholstery is too 1980s with its dark browns and tans?

  6. PVG T2 also has a few good lounges. T2 77 is managed by Plaza Premium which accepts Priority Pass. IIRC T2 71 Air China Lounge has a la carte dining area. MU’s lounge is always crowded unless you have access to the first class side since most SkyTeam airlines are at T1.

  7. “The design of it reminded me a lot of the bars you’ll find in Etihad’s lounges.”

    If the Chinese excel at anything, it’s at being knock-off artists.

  8. The part where you complained about the signs lacking description in English, to be completely fair, the Chinese text also translates to leisure food. It’s not like it was a language problem.

  9. You didn’t mention this, but in addition to the hot food shown they have a noodle bar (in both Biz and F lounges)

    The noodle bar is great!

    The Business class lounge can get pretty busy, especially in the dining area. But upstairs is much quieter. Even when busy there was plenty of open seating.

    I don’t thunk people realized that the lounge was 2 floors

  10. Why didn’t you ask the robot what the food items were and the different brands of shower products?

  11. This review doesn’t give justice to the Chinese food options, which would probably be much better than the bad looking western options.

    You just showed a picture of the toppings, which I presume are for porridge. There are buns in the steamers on the top right of the picture, but you didn’t open them. And as others mentioned, there’s a noodle bar (although maybe not for breakfast?).

  12. “While there would have been a bit of a wait, I was pleasantly surprised that there was a SkyPriority lane.”
    Skyteam member China Eastern is based in Shanghai, so that’s their homecourt. Specifically, Shanghai Pudong T1 and Shanghai Hongqiao T2 are conquered by China Eastern, so you can find many facilities with Skyteam Priority service.

    @Kyle yes, so one can eat it more easily.

  13. I think the new MU lounge in the brand new International Terminal (T1) at Shanghai Hongqiao (SHA) is definitely the best lounge in Mainland China. It can easily be accessed by premium passengers that fly MU/FM/HX/JL/NH (not sure about KA) out of SHA.

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