Around the World on 90k Part I: Warsaw and Beijing with Nothing But a Passport and a Dream(liner)
Around the World on 90k Part II: Blowing Through the Horn of Africa
Korean Air Lounge New York JFK
LOT Polish Business Class 787 New York To Warsaw
LOT Polish Business Class Lounge Warsaw
LOT Polish Business Class ERJ-170 Warsaw To Zurich
Swiss Panorama Lounge Zurich
Swiss Business Class A330 Zurich To Beijing
Grand Hyatt Beijing
Ethiopian Airlines Business Class 787 Beijing To Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine Business Class Lounge Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Airlines Business Class 767 Addis Ababa To Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Class 747-8 Frankfurt to Washington
Park Hyatt Washington DC
Africa is the one continent I’ve totally neglected in my travels. Not by design, but probably because there aren’t many great airline products flying there, and that’s a large aspect of what factors into my travel decisions (after all, airlines and hotels are primarily what I write about).
I’ve only been to Africa once before — specifically South Africa. And that was eons ago, like back when I wanted a Furby for Christmas… so probably like 15 years ago? I had no clue what to expect, which made me all the more excited about our four hour layover.
Upon deplaning we walked down a long arrivals hall, which was quite empty. Not only was the arrivals hall empty, but I was surprised by how empty the tarmac was as well.
In the arrivals hall we followed the signage for connections, which brought us up an escalator and into the main terminal.
The main terminal was actually quite nice. It had a warehouse feel to it based on the ceilings and tiles. The one thing that stood out to me is just how many cots were set up in the terminal, and that they were all occupied with people sleeping.
We immediately saw the Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine Lounge, though it looked horrible and was for Star Gold members only, so we were directed to the Ethiopian Airlines “Lounge 2,” which was just on the other side of the terminal.
Enroute we briefly browsed the duty free selection, which was quite unique. It wasn’t your usual duty free selection with nothing but high end brands, but rather had actual stores with local souvenirs, which I thought was pretty cool.
Andrew ended up buying some souvenirs, which was an interesting experience. When he went to pay he was told by the shopkeeper to follow another person to their store so he can pay there, so we followed the lady to her store. Then once his credit card was swiped he was brought back to the original store, so he could sign the receipt in front of the shopkeeper. Very interesting.
Eventually we checked out the Cloud Nine Lounge 2, where we were admitted by the friendly agent at the desk.
The lounge was actually quite a bit nicer than I was expecting, based on the horror stories I had heard from others. It was quite large, and for the first hour we were there, almost completely empty. It featured tons of comfortable seating.
In addition to the lounge chairs, there was an area with small dining tables, which is where we eventually hunkered down to get some work done.
There was also a business center, which looked more like a storage closet.
And a storage closet (with an open door), which looked more like a… well, I’m not sure.
There was a buffet as well, though I really wasn’t hungry.
I stuck to water and Diet Coke.
In terms of food, there were several types of packaged sandwiches, including beef, veggie, and chicken.
Then there were croissants, toast, and muffins.
And then a surprising number of hot dishes, though I’m not sure what many of them were.
My aspirations of taking a shower were quickly shattered when I saw the bathroom setup, which gives the GOL Smiles Lounge Sao Paulo a run for its money.
The lounge also had a rather large relaxation room, which no one seemed to use. There were both massage chairs and angled day beds.
The wifi in the lounge was surprisingly fast, so I was thrilled to be able to catch up on work without waiting for five minutes for a page to load, as was the case in China.
Our connecting flight was at 10:40AM, so at around 10AM we left the lounge for the gate. There are two security checkpoints — one main checkpoint, and then one for premium passengers, which was a nice touch.
The queue in the premium line only took about five minutes, so we were quickly through and headed towards our departure gate, Gate 8.
While walking there we passed some gorgeous Ethiopian planes, including one of their brand new 777-300ERs, as well as a couple of 787s.
We made it to Gate 8 by around 10:10AM, though oddly there was no plane at the gate. The best part had to be that there was a German Ethiopian Airlines captain that was very concerned by the whole situation, and was quizzing the gate agent on what was going on, even she clearly had no clue either. I couldn’t tell if he was the captain of the flight or just commuting home (there are a lot of “commuter” Ethiopian Airlines pilots).
Eventually an announcement was made that our flight was actually leaving from Gate 7. And by “Gate 7” they meant bus terminal 7, as we were put onto a bus to the plane.
There was a special Cloud Nine Business Class bus filled with a surprising number of German passengers, and if there’s one thing you’ve gotta love about Germans, it’s how direct they are. After realizing that they had been sitting on the bus waiting for 15 minutes for a 100 meter drive to the plane, they all started shouting sarcastic comments “Sir, sank you so much for za ride to za plane, ve could have never valked all zis distance on our own.”
Ethiopian Airlines Business Class Lounge bottom line
The whole transit experience was much better than I was expecting. The lounge had fast (enough) wifi, which is all I wanted after being disconnected for a couple of days. And it was actually reasonably pleasant. No, it’s not the Air France First Class Lounge Paris or Emirates A380 First Class Lounge Dubai, but I wasn’t expecting that either.