Review: Ulaanbaatar Airport Lounge

Filed Under: Other Airlines

My flight from Ulaanbaatar to Frankfurt was departing at 10AM, so I got to the airport plenty early, at around 6:15AM. Ulaanbaatar Airport is quite small, and there’s only a single terminal.

Ulaanbaatar Airport exterior

Upon entering the terminal, domestic check-in was to the right, while international check-in was to the left.

Even though the airport is MIAT Mongolian’s hub, they have separate check-in counters for each individual flight. Unfortunately the Frankfurt check-in counter wasn’t open yet. I went up to the business class counter for the flight to Tokyo, and upon explaining to the associate that I didn’t have any checked bags, she let me check in without issue.

Ulaanbaatar Airport check-in hall

Ulaanbaatar Airport departures hall

To the right of the check-in counters was a sign to the “Airport Business Lounge,” though this seemed to be some different landside business class lounge, and not the main one that’s used by most airlines.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Lounge

With my boarding pass in hand, I headed to the security checkpoint, which was a painless process that just took a couple of minutes.

Ulaanbaatar Airport security

Things got a little tricky when I got to immigration. The officer looked at my passport, leafed through it several times, called over someone else, and then told me to step aside. I figured they found something about my passport suspicious (it wouldn’t be the first time), though as it turned out, they claimed it was just “too early” for me to go through immigration for the Frankfurt flight.

I explained that I just wanted to use the lounge if possible, and that was past immigration. Another immigration officer checked with someone else, and then about 10 minutes later I was allowed to pass through immigration.

The departures hall had plenty of seating, though otherwise wasn’t terribly exciting.

Ulaanbaatar Airport departures hall

Ulaanbaatar Airport departures hall

Rather than your typical airport Gucci duty free shop, there was a cute book shop.

Ulaanbaatar Airport book shop

I followed the signage towards the business class lounge, which led me towards an escalator going up a level.

Escalator to lounge at Ulaanbaatar Airport

Much to my surprise, the second floor had more to offer than the first floor. There was plenty of shopping, a nice enough food court, some cool Mongolian displays, and even some day beds for relaxing.

Second floor of Ulaanbaatar Airport

Second floor of Ulaanbaatar Airport

Second floor of Ulaanbaatar Airport

Second floor of Ulaanbaatar Airport

Second floor of Ulaanbaatar Airport

There was also great plane spotting from the second floor. MIAT Mongolian has two 767s in their fleet. The one without winglets is used for their short-haul flights, and features a regional product.

MIAT Mongolian 767 Ulaanbaatar Airport

Meanwhile the one with winglets is used for the Frankfurt flight (which is their only longhaul service, and it’s only seasonal).

MIAT Mongolian 767 Ulaanbaatar Airport

The lounge was located at the top of the escalator and to the right. As you can see, this isn’t a MIAT Mongolian branded lounge, but rather is a shared lounge used by all (or at least most) of the international airlines at the airport.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge

Fun fact — you might see the Turkish Airlines sign in the picture below. No, they don’t operate a nonstop flight from Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar, but rather operate it via Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Talk about a fun fifth freedom flight!

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge signage

Once inside the lounge, one of the attendants took my boarding pass and made a copy of it, and then invited me in. For what it’s worth, this is also a Priority Pass lounge, should you prefer to access it that way if you have a credit card with lounge access.

The lounge was… very basic. It consisted of a single room with a few dozen chairs. As a matter of fact, I think the below pictures tell you just about all there is to know.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge seating

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge seating

On one of the walls was an awkwardly placed TV, though fortunately it was on mute.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge seating

The lounge’s decor was… unique. In addition to the interesting choice in furniture color, there was an eclectic mix of plants along the windows, which almost felt like someone’s personal collection.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge plants

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge plants

The food & drinks were back near the entrance, under a rather modern-looking circular display.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge food & drink selection

The food selection was modest, and included cookies, muesli, pretzels, peanuts, chips, muffins, cake, packaged sandwiches, hardboiled eggs, and apparently miso soup on request.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge snacks

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge snacks

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge snacks

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge snacks

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge snacks

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge snacks

In terms of self serve drinks, there was juice, soft drinks, beer, and bottled water.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge juice

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge drinks

Behind the counter was a small selection of liquor, as well as a coffee machine.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge liquor selection

There were two attendants working the lounge. They weren’t especially friendly or proactive in providing service, but I guess I wasn’t expecting that either. I ordered a coffee and also grabbed a snack, given that I didn’t have breakfast in the hotel. The coffee was quite good.

Ulaanbaatar Airport Business Class Lounge coffee & snacks

The lounge had wifi which was usable but not fast. The lounge didn’t have its own bathrooms, but rather you had to use the public bathrooms right next to the lounge.

When I first arrived the lounge was pretty full, as there were flights shortly departing for Tokyo and Seoul. However, it then emptied out, before it filled up again a bit at around 8:30AM with the Frankfurt-bound fanny pack crowd (I’m not trying to stereotype, but I counted four fanny packs in the lounge).

Boarding was scheduled to start at 9:30AM, so I headed down to the gate at around 9:15AM.

Ulaanbaatar Airport departure gate

Best I could tell, the international terminal has a single main “gate” that the flights board through. Really it’s just a door, and then you walk down the hall towards your plane, and then your boarding pass is scanned at the door to the jet bridge. Sure enough, boarding started at 9:30AM sharp, starting with business class.

Ulaanbaatar Airport departure gate

Ulaanbaatar Airport Lounge bottom line

Not surprisingly, the shared Ulaanbaatar Airport lounge is basic. It’s comfortable enough, the wifi works, and they make a decent coffee, but don’t arrive early to spend any time here. Fortunately the airport as such is easy to use otherwise, so there should be no issues only arriving 90 minutes before departure, or so.

  1. How on earth does a 737 (the Borussia Dortmund Plane) have the range to fly from Istanbul to Mongolia.

  2. @Zoxy

    It doesn’t fly the ULN-IST route. Only TK flies a **direct** ULN-IST. That flight is also direct
    (not non-stop) and makes a stop in FRU (as lucky mentioned). The Dortmund plane is part of Miat’s fleet, and Miat doesn’t fly to Ist.

  3. I’m really surprised to see that Miat has a Borussia Dortmund plane. I originally thought it was a Turkish 737. Does Miat sponsor them or something?

  4. “Meanwhile the one with winglets is used for the Frankfurt flight (which is their only longhaul service, and it’s only seasonal).”

    What plane do they fly to Berlin? I think they fly via Moscow to there, unless I am mistaken.

  5. @Zoxy – The turkish airlines plane makes a stop in Kyrgyzstan (as Lucky mentioned before). The plane that flies that route is a 737-9

  6. Didn’t read the article, just saw the Dortmund plane and assumed it was a Turkish plane as I’ve seen Turkish 737 in Dortmund livery at IST a bunch. Wonder if the partnership between Turkish snd Dortmund is still going on. Would be interesting if it is as I can’t remember a team having multiple airline partners even though airlines oftentimes sponsor multiple teams. Would be interesting to find out.

  7. I love mine fanny pack.
    I put all my things in it.
    More people should do it.
    Do you vant one ben?

  8. @ZOXY Borussia Dortmund currently HAV a sponsorship with EuroWings, they have an A320 painted in their colours. Very surprised to see the TK plane still in BVB colours as their partnership has been over since the end of the 2015-16 season.

  9. Wondering why you got to the airport so early. I know your job is to review travel stuff… but it feels like you could have shown up 2 hours early and still had the ability to do a quality review.

  10. Have you reviewed the Air Canada lounge in FRA? Have heard good things about it but never did the small walk to it.

  11. @James –

    The anxiously anticipated Illuyshin review will be apart of Ben’s Uzbekistan trip reports, which we probably won’t see for a couple more weeks.

  12. Just curious as I’ve seen this in all your reports. You seem to head to the airport way earlier than anyone should who flies first or business. Why is that?
    I mean I get it when you have access to high end lounges with dining and spa and whatnot. But you obviously know that won’t be the case at small or obscure airports that will have a very basic lounge. So why show up so early? It seems to cause you more problems than advantages (eg not being able to check in yet, immigration this time etc)

  13. The beds that you described on the second floor are also common in a number of other airports, just uncommon in the US and Europe.

  14. I visited the business class lounge in UB a few days ago (Friday 16th March 2018). It looks the same. The offerings at 8:00 am were sushi, sandwiches, small salad or ribs. The coffee was very good. One of the young ladies spoke good English and was very pleasant, seeking to refill our cups of coffee. The other young lady spoke no English. I did not try the food. I was pleased and impressed, with the service.

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