Review: The Club At SEA Seattle Airport

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I got to Seattle Airport at around 9:45AM, plenty early for my 1:25PM flight to Shenzhen. Seattle Airport has seen so much international expansion lately, to the point that the check-in facility is way too small. I tried to find the Xiamen Air check-in desk, through didn’t see any signs.

I asked one of the employees standing near one of the lines where Xiamen Air’s check-in desk was located. She responded with “huh?” when I said the airline’s name. I figured perhaps the spelling and pronunciation threw her off, so I instead used the cringeworthy pronunciation of “Zhee-amen Air,” which she understood, and then she pointed me to their desk.

SeaTac Airport check-in area

Xiamen Air’s check-in counter is located right across from the Air Canada and United counter, and it’s a fairly tight fit. While they had close to a dozen staff at the check-in counter, they informed me that check-in didn’t open until 10AM. So I walked around the terminal for a bit, and returned 10 minutes later to check-in.

SeaTac Airport Xiamen Air check-in area

The check-in staff were friendly, though barely spoke English. I’m often amazed (impressed?) by many international airlines that find check-in staff that mirror what you’d find at their hub airports. The two ladies who checked me in really struggled with English. Anyway, within about five minutes I was checked in, and invited to use The Club At SEA, which is the contract lounge that Xiamen Air uses for their premium passengers.

Clearing security took a while, especially given that I didn’t have Pre-Check. So it was about 20 minutes until I was through security, even with access to the premium line.

Once through security I turned left and followed the signage towards the “A” concourse, where the lounge is located, and also where my flight was departing from.

SeaTac Airport airside terminal

The Club At SEA is located across from gate A11, which is at the very end of the concourse, and is quite a walk, despite the moving walkways.

SeaTac Airport airside terminal

SeaTac Airport airside terminal

Once you reach the end of the terminal, The Club At SEA is located on the left. The lounge is one level above the main concourse, so you can access it either by stairs or elevator.

The Club At SEA elevator & stairs

There was a special Xiamen Air sign outside the lounge (probably since the airline just started service), though on top of that there was signage indicating that Condor, Delta, Hainan, and EVA Air premium passengers could use the lounge. This lounge is also open to Priority Pass passengers, so can be used by those who have a credit card with lounge access.

The Club At SEA signage

There was also a sign indicating that the lounge is open from 9:30AM until 5:30PM. Those are some limited hours, though it seems like they’re primarily targeted at the airlines operating afternoon flights to Asia and Europe.

The Club At SEA hours

Once I got to the top of the staircase, the entrance to the lounge was located to the right.

The Club At SEA entrance

I presented the associate with my lounge invitation and boarding pass, and was promptly invited in. The lounge is fairly narrow as you enter, though gets wider the further in you go.

The Club At SEA seating

The lounge has pretty traditional seating, with rows of seats lined up facing one another. For the front half of the lounge there are just seats on one side, with the buffet and bar on the other side.

The Club At SEA seating

The Club At SEA seating

There are a few high-top tables in the center of the lounge.

The Club At SEA high-top seating

The Club At SEA seating

The back half of the lounge consists exclusively of seating. In the back left is a large room with several dozen seats.

The Club At SEA seating

Also in the back half of the lounge is a large business center with over a dozen cubicles.

The Club At SEA business center

A couple of them had PCs, but the rest just had empty workspaces.

The Club At SEA business center

I really appreciate this kind of setup, especially as there were two well placed outlets on each desk. I spent my time in the lounge in one of the cubicles getting caught up on work, and I was the only person in that area for my entire stay. The lounge doesn’t have its own Wi-Fi network, given that the airport has free high speed Wi-Fi for all passengers.

The Club At SEA business center well placed outlets

As far as the food and drink selection goes, the buffet was in the center of the lounge.

The Club At SEA bar

The food selection in the lounge consisted almost entirely of packaged snacks. It sort of surprises me when lounges have such a setup nowadays, given how many people tend to take a few (or 10) packaged snacks with them.

Snacks included biscoff, Milano, and Oreo cookies, two types of granola bars, chips, popcorn, pretzels, and more.

The Club At SEA snacks

The Club At SEA snacks

Further down the buffet were instant noodles.

The Club At SEA snacks

Then there was a coffee machine, as well as two types of soup (tomato basil and clam chowder).

The Club At SEA coffee machine

The Club At SEA soup

There was also a fridge with some packaged cheese, as well as soft drinks. I was happy to see that they had bottled San Pellegrino, which you don’t often see in contract lounges.

The Club At SEA drinks & cheese

There was also an alcohol list on the bar. I believe the drinks were all complimentary, though I also didn’t try to order one.

The Club At SEA bar menu

The Club At SEA bar menu

Boarding was scheduled for 12:40PM, so I headed to the gate at 12:30PM. I was departing from gate A12, located right across from the lounge.

Seattle Airport terminal

Xiamen Air departure gate Seattle Airport

The gate agents all seemed a bit frantic, which I suppose makes since given that it was still the first week of service. Or perhaps it had more to do with Xiamen Air’s president being on the flight. Who knows.

As I waited for boarding to begin I had a look at the Xiamen Air 787. I quite like their paint scheme, which I think can best be described as pleasant — it’s not over-bearing, but also not boring.

Xiamen Air 787 Seattle Airport

Xiamen Air 787 Seattle Airport

Finally at 12:45PM boarding began, starting with first and business class.

Xiamen Air departure gate Seattle Airport

The Club At SEA bottom line

The Club At SEA is bland and lacks views. At the same time, the lounge wasn’t very crowded, and I was happy to have a quiet cubicle with easy access to power from which to work. I had considered visiting the Amex Centurion Studio during my visit, which no doubt has a better food selection, nicer decor, and better views, but remembered how consistently overcrowded it is, so I decided to stay here instead.

So while it’s no frills, this lounge was actually rather peaceful, which I can’t say about my other recent visits to the Alaska Board Room or Amex Centurion Studio. So this place gets the basics right, at least…

  1. I’m not sure why you’d expect someone at an airport where a new airline just started service to know the pronunciation of a Chinese city. Just an observation.

    Helpful review though, Lucky. Thanks for all you do for us. I’m flying through SEA in December and this helps a lot.

  2. Lucky,

    Thank you for reviewing such a variety of new products this year! You’ve really been busy and producing great reports.

    Not that it would have helped at all with the airport staff, but Xiamen is pronounced more like “Shah Mun” (mun rhymes with run)

    There are two “Club” lounges at Seatac – the one you visited at Terminal A and another in the South Terminal. Both are Priority Pass lounges. The terminal A one is bigger and nicer in my opinion.

  3. I’ve been to the other “Club at Seattle” and it’s TINY. Also I was there in the morning before the Emirates flight and I don’t think that lounge even had a bar, but maybe it was just because it was so early. So if you can, I would use the one in the A concourse.

  4. Excellent post Ben! However, if the security line is long, and 20 minutes in the Premium Line is indeed unacceptable, you may wish to go right up to the front since, as a blogger, technically you are a member of the media. I often just show my press pass and media credentials to go right through. It works like a breeze, especially at LAX and JFK, where they understand the importance of the media, and the role that the entertainment industry plays in those two markets. Just a thought! Happy flying! I’m Margaret Grey.

  5. As a Seattlite, I agree that this review and the accompanying photos are quite a fair representation of my dear local airport. Kudos to getting through security in 20 minutes!

  6. Yes I was amazed once when a gal went up with her purse and collected at least twenty packaged items. Come on, the stuff isn’t that great, and you can get it at Target.

  7. The UA Club at SEA is also in terminal A and is quite nice. It too is up above the terminal. This would be my choice from term A.

  8. @John – a new airline doesn’t start service overnight, there is a ton of preparation and you’d expect some of that might be making airport employees aware that said airline now exists….

  9. Hello Margaret

    Using the media elite card and getting better service, in of itself gives someone worse service. Not fundamentally right. No wonder the media have received such bad press. One rule for them and the rest of us just suffer,

  10. @Margaret: While I hold various security & press credentials, I’ve never used them to jump the queue anywhere. That’s a true dick move, and I would say an abuse of said credentials. Such abuses can lead to getting one’s credentials revoked.

    Also, Blogger =! Press. While the quality of journalism in the USA has declined substantially since I started in the field decades ago, many bloggers are orders of magnitude lower. Any anonymous arsehole can create a WordPress blog with a few clicks. There’s no accountability, no peer-review, no vetting process, no need to show research, no credibility. Just write a few sentences, hit Publish and there it goes. The vast majority of bloggers are NOT making a living from them.

  11. The hard liquor drinks at “Club at SEA” are complimentary, at least the one in the A concourse.

    The hard liquor at the Centurion Studio are extremely limited, although when I was in there yesterday, there was signage that they are soon to be opening a “full bar” and “showers”. Just in time to be competing with the next-door Delta Skyclub. 🙂

  12. Looks like the food and drink are the same, but the size is at least double the size of the other Club at SEA that ANA uses at Seatac. I was in there a couple weeks back. Decent lounge, but small, and while I was one of the first people in there, it was chock full before the flight. Looks like this one is much better.

  13. Margaret Grey should be punched in the crotch every time she uses her “press credentials” to jump ahead of the line.

  14. Who the hell is Margaret Grey besides an Anderson Cooper wannabe? In and of itself, that tells you everything you need to know about her.

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