Review: Kathmandu Airport Lounge

Filed Under: Other Airlines
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Our flight from Kathmandu to Paro was departing at 9:45AM, and we got to the airport at around 7:15AM. That’s obviously way early, though the night before we were told that there would be big protests in the city that could greatly impact traffic, so we didn’t want to miss our flight. As it turns out, those protests were canceled, so we ended up being way early.

To even enter the Kathmandu Airport terminal we first had to go through a passport check. The armed guard just glanced at the cover of our passports and then waved us through.

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Kathmandu Airport departures hall

After that we had to go through a security check, which took a few minutes.

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Kathmandu Airport security screening on departure

Once inside the terminal we walked to the very left, where the Drukair check-in counter was located.

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Kathmandu Airport check-in hall

At first I was a bit worried by how long the line seemed to be, though it quickly became apparent that a big group was traveling together.

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Drukair check-in Kathmandu Airport

So we got in the right line, where there was just one small group ahead of us.

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Drukair check-in Kathmandu Airport

At check-in I learned that our flight would be operated by an A319, rather than the ATR turboprop that I was expecting the flight to be operated by. I suspect they had an aircraft swap between the time we booked and the flight date, or maybe I just saw it incorrectly when I booked.

I asked about the possibility of upgrading to business class, and was informed that it would cost $90 per person. There’s no way in hell that’s worth it for a 45 minute flight. However, I decided to upgrade so that I could review the cabin, and also so I could board first and hopefully get some good cabin shots. Given that I probably wouldn’t be taking another trip to Bhutan anytime soon, it seemed worthwhile.

The station manager quickly appeared to start processing our upgrades, and I asked if I could pay by credit card. I understood him as saying yes, and then it took them about 20 minutes to process the upgrade.

At that point I handed over my credit card, and he said “cash only, I said.” I guess I misunderstood him from earlier. I didn’t have that much cash, unfortunately, so went to an ATM to try and get some cash. Go figure the ATM didn’t work, and gave me an error message.

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Kathmandu Airport ATM problems

I went back to the counter to explain the situation, and  then he had one of the check-in agents escort me outside the terminal to another ATM. That one worked. In the end the entire upgrade process took 30 minutes, only a bit shorter than the flight itself. Again, I realize the upgrade was impractical, but I’m all about reviewing premium cabin products, and a short Drukair flight is no exception.

Eventually we had our (handwritten) boarding passes and lounge invitations in hand.

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Drukair handwritten boarding pass

We followed the signage towards departures, and then saw a sign pointing towards the airport’s executive lounge. As it turns out, the lounge is past immigration but before security.

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Kathmandu Airport lounge signage

After immigration we found ourselves in what seemed to be a quasi-sterile area. The lounge was just past immigration and to the right. I was also surprised to see that Thai Airways has a lounge here — I wasn’t expecting that.

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Kathmandu Airport terminal

The entrance to the lounge listed all the airlines that use this lounge for their passengers.

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge entrance

There was a ground floor area with seating, though it was unstaffed. If you don’t have access to the lounge itself, I guess this would be a nice place to sit. 😉 The staircase to the lounge was to the right.

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge entrance

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge stairs

At the top of the staircase were signs showing that you can access this lounge with a Priority Pass or Lounge Key membership. So even if we weren’t in business class, any number of credit cards with lounge access could get you in. As a reminder, here are the most popular cards that come with Priority Pass memberships:

Card# of Complimentary GuestsAuthorized User AccessCost To Add Authorized User
Chase Sapphire Reserve®2Yes$75 Per Person
Citi Prestige® Credit Card2Yes$75 Per Person
The Platinum Card® from American Express

No access to Priority Pass restaurants as of August, 2019.
2Yes$175 For Up To 3 People, $175 For Each Additional Person Beyond That (Rates & Fees)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

No access to Priority Pass restaurants as of August, 2019.
2Yes$300 Per Person (Rates & Fees)
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

No access to Priority Pass restaurants as of August, 2019.
2No$0 (Rates & Fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

No access to Priority Pass restaurants as of August, 2019.
2No$0 (Rates & Fees)

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge entrance

The lounge itself was by far the nicest aspect of the airport. Given how much of a mess the rest of the airport was, I was actually very surprised by how nice the lounge was. It featured plenty of couches, located in two separate areas.

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge

Between the two rooms was the self serve buffet and bar.

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge

The other side of the lounge had more seating, a partitioned off room, and then also a smoking lounge.

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge

While I’m not a smoker, I think most smokers would be pleased to see how nice the smoking room was.

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge smoking area

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge smoking area

The partitioned off room in the back was similar to the rest of the lounge, though had no one in it.

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge seating

The lounge had a bar setup with all kinds of liquor and wrapped sandwiches, fruit plates, deli plates, pastries, etc. I’m not sure what was and wasn’t complimentary. I assume there’s no charge for the food, but maybe there’s a charge for the alcohol?

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Kathmandu Airport executive lounge food & drinks

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Kathmandu Airport lounge liquor

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Kathmandu Airport lounge food selection

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Kathmandu Airport lounge food selection

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Kathmandu Airport lounge food selection

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Kathmandu Airport lounge food selection

Then there was also a selection of hot dishes, none of which looked especially appetizing.

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Kathmandu Airport lounge buffet

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Kathmandu Airport lounge buffet

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Kathmandu Airport lounge buffet

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Kathmandu Airport lounge buffet

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Kathmandu Airport lounge buffet

Then there was cereal and a selection of tea.

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Kathmandu Airport lounge buffet

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Kathmandu Airport lounge tea

There was a server roaming around the lounge asking if anyone wanted anything. I ordered a cup of coffee, which was tasty.

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Kathmandu Airport lounge coffee

The lounge’s bathrooms were decent enough.

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Kathmandu Airport lounge bathroom

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Kathmandu Airport lounge bathroom

There was also a selection of magazines and newspapers.

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Kathmandu Airport lounge newspapers & magazines

One odd aspect of the lounge was that it seemed to be operated by Radisson. Based on that I assumed that Radisson also had an airport hotel and ran this as part of it, though after doing some research it doesn’t look like Radisson has a hotel at the airport. So I guess Radisson just operates the lounge independently? Odd.

We left the lounge at around 8:45AM, plenty early for our 9:45AM departure. After leaving the lounge we went through security, which was extremely thorough (which I appreciate). Each passenger had to go through the metal detector and get a pat down, and all bags went through the x-ray and also got searched. Best of all, there was no wait. Good for them.

The airport just has a few “gates” (in reality they’re not actually gates since there are no jet bridges, but rather just different doors through which you walk onto the tarmac).

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Kathmandu Airport gates

The terminal at Kathmandu Airport has to be the worst one I’ve ever seen…

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Kathmandu Airport gates

Like, yow…

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Kathmandu Airport departures area

There was a simple shop with some snacks and drinks past security, but that’s it.

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Kathmandu Airport departures area

Then there were just a couple of big rooms where you could sit and wait.

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Kathmandu Airport gates

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Kathmandu Airport gates

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Kathmandu Airport departures monitor

At around 9:10AM we saw our Drukair A319 arrive from Paro, a bit behind schedule.

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Drukair A319 arriving from Paro

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Drukair A319 arriving from Paro

Passengers deplaned quickly.

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Drukair passengers deplaning

The second the plane arrived, people started crowding the door trying to board, though the ground staff advised everyone to sit down.

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Drukair departure gate Kathmandu Airport

This was also my first exposure to traditional Bhutanese dress, which is pretty damn awesome, in my opinion.

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Drukair departure gate Kathmandu Airport

Finally at 9:25AM boarding was called.

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Drukair departure gate Kathmandu Airport

Kathmandu Airport Lounge bottom line

Kathmandu Airport is easy enough to navigate — it’s pretty small, and there was no line at immigration or security. While Kathmandu Airport as such is probably the least nice airport I’ve ever been to, the lounge was decent, and is a great option for Priority Pass members.

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (Rates & Fees), and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees).

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  1. Interesting article Lucky. You might want to turn on CNN as they are doing some new reporting about laptops on planes including some sources on what the intelligence said.

  2. If the government stoped security screening, took out life insurance for every passenger flying, allowed terrorists to bomb a few planes and paid out the life insurance proceeds to people killed in such bombings, the government would still save hundreds of billions every year.

    Security screening is a false flag. Let a few people die. Stop caring. Stop responding.The terrorists will move on too. Just like trolls.

  3. Do people see you taking pics or urinals and bathrooms? Is there really any reason to have pics or that and water bottles etc
    Why don’t you edit?

    Also, good job burning $180 for what looks like increasing your check-in wait by 30 mins in exchange for …. nothing really, since surely the lounge wasn’t worth it, and getting earlier on a tiny plane isn’t worth it either. If you think that’s worthwhile, seriously reexamine your financial habits

  4. @ K — There was no one there, and personally I find it useful since many lounge bathrooms are disgusting. This one wasn’t that bad.

    As far as the second point goes, sorry you don’t understand how my job works.

  5. …also, nice review. I don’t know that I would expect anything different from such an airport, but it’s nice to have pictures. Bhutan is on my short list.

  6. They didn’t charge me for alcohol. November 2015. If you just ask, they would have given you whatever you wanted. There were internet codes but I think I had to have a different code for each device.

  7. Oh, I just saw where you said there was no one there. When there was no one there, I’m afraid I helped myself. I was early too, eventually for my flight somebody did show up and put out some really nice food, open more bottles of wine, etc. But that was KTM to DOH, so they knew to expect tons of business class pax for that one.

  8. Well it certainly looks like you had a typical experience in a developing country airport. It’s always so fascinating to see how different airports work. I was surprised to see that Thai Airways had a lounge there too.

  9. Travel blogging is a real job. It involves work and generates an income – how on Earth is that NOT a job?

    As to the laughably ludicrous suggestion that all airport security be scrapped and governments just let us die until terrorists get bored, I sure hope that’s a weird joke but given your posting history…

  10. @ James — Good to know, thanks. I was under the impression that a job was doing something that generates income, even if it’s also your hobby. Or are you defining a job as something you have to go to every day from 9-5 and be unhappy about? If so, you’re right, I don’t have a job…

  11. great job on the write up! I’m from Nepal (born) and not the least offended when you say it’s the ‘least nice airport’ you’ve ever been into, in fact I’ll say it might even be the worst. nothing that hasn’t been said about it before. one constant is that despite the shocking appearance of it all, it probably won’t change anytime in the near future- the govt. doesn’t seem to give a damn, par for the course for them. despite these things, there’s a charm to Nepal that can only be experienced first hand and I’m glad you did Lucky. next time, do the Lukla flight and maybe do a little trekking, you won’t regret it.

  12. @ Lucky — All booze and food is free in this lounge. Can’t believe how empty it is in your photos. Both times I was there it was packed, all seats taken.


  13. It’s a bit sad how jealous people are that someone can travel the world in premium cabins and call it their job. Like many, I’m part of the “go to work 9-5 every day and be unhappy” crowd, and it’s a depressing proposition. However, instead of acting like a jealous 12 year old, I appreciate that some people are lucky enough (no pun intended) to make money doing what they are truly passionate about. Am I jealous? Of course! But that doesn’t give me a reason to be bitter when people actually get to make money doing what they love…what a strange concept, right!?

  14. I was there a few months ago and the lounge was packed…. and the lines to get through security were massive. Also, the cold sandwiches and cakes, though they look okay from your photos, were so stale that they were hardly edible. But as you say, it’s the nicest place (by far) in that airport.
    FYI, for anyone traveling to KTM, Hyatt Regency is incredible value on award redemption (5k points/night).

  15. You were actually only in the International terminal of the Nepal airport. This is only the worst terminal you’ve ever been in because you’ve never gone to the Domestic terminal!

  16. Everything is complimentary in the lounge, just fyi.
    And if you really think the International part of the airport in KTM is one of the worst, you obviously have not been to a “bad” airport, e.g. the domestic terminal in KTM…

  17. Hi all,
    Travel is an adventure, for fun or business I always enjoy! Recently I took some time out and spent a few trips as on board courier, movies booze planes – awesome plus added mileage!

    I was in Nepal a couple of years ago in town and up to EBC via Lukla, Its not LHR, ORD LAX or HKG but its just perfect and as I expected and enjoyed! Seriously if you cannot handle Neal airport then how on earth are you going to handle the streets of Nepal -lol!

    Im heading back in October for a long weekend ad thanks Lucky I will be using my Priority Pass!


  18. If you think the KTM domestic terminal is bad, please don’t fly into Varanasi. Years ago I did so from KTM on now-defunct Cosmic Air. The terminal was basically a big shed in which all the arriving passengers are herded, at which point the door was locked behind us. There was exactly one immigration officer handling passports manually. Once officially accepted you crossed to the other side of the shed to claim bags. The only other facilities at the airport were a currency exchange booth and a prepaid taxi stand out on the road.

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