The Worst Airport Lounge I’ve Ever Been To

Filed Under: Hainan, Other Airlines

I’d like to think I have fairly low standards when it comes to airport lounges. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to what I consider to be the world’s best lounges, so I’ve certainly had a taste of the good life. But much of my lounge time is spent in lounges with cubed cheese, Soviet era decor, and more people than seats.

After millions and millions of miles of flying, my lounge experiences have finally hit a new low yesterday, when I flew Hainan Airlines business class from Changsha to Los Angeles. I had low expectations, and figured my lounge experience might be similar to some of the lounges I’ve been to in China, or perhaps some of the lesser awesome contract lounges I’ve been to.

But my hopes were temporarily raised when I passed security at Changsha Airport, only to find a fairly new, modern terminal. Like, this terminal is much nicer than you’d expect for Changsha Airport, no?



I headed to the “No. 7 F/C VIP Lounge,” which is the lounge Hainan Airlines uses for their valued business class passengers traveling on the airport’s new flagship route.

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I think I’ll just let the pictures of the lounge speak for themselves…

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If you want to stay caught up on work while in the lounge, there were user friendly PCs, and best of all, you won’t even sweat while using them.

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The lounge also had an extensive snack buffet, shown in its entirety below.

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Not pictured is the fact that no one in this lounge seemed to have an “inside voice.” I appreciate you want to video chat with your family before getting on a plane, but I at least wish it wouldn’t be at the same volume as a contestant on “The Price Is Right.”

After a few minutes I figured I’d return to the terminal, since sitting in the terminal seemed more pleasant than sitting in the lounge. As I roamed the terminal I saw that I actually had lounge options at this airport, so I visited “No. 6 F/C VIP Lounge.”

As I entered the lounge I said “you accept Priority Pass?” Almost as if she was a salesperson at a night market and wanted to corner me to lock in the sale she said “yes yes yes yes yes you come in.”

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Boy, if No. 7 sucked, No. 6 was even worse. If I didn’t know any better (and on second thought, I don’t), I would have guessed this is a funeral home waiting room. And all that lace, oh my!

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The snack selection at this lounge was equally appealing.

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It’s not often that I voluntarily sit in a gate area when lounges are available to me, but this was one of those instances. These lounges were my personal “worst” ones.

Has anyone been to a worse lounge than the above?

  1. Welcome to Communist China!

    I like the doilies on the chairs. At least those are white so they are probably clean.

    Looks little like the little lounge at JOG.

  2. Don’t know if its worse than the one you went to, but the Egyptian Air domestic business lounge at Cairo was pretty bad. Very small with about 20 seats crammed in it and minimal snacks and drinks. It was definitely better to just sit outside at the terminal.

  3. Try the lounge at Islamabad International Airport, Pakistan. It makes these two look like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal.

  4. Have you been to the Taca Lounge in San Salvador? It was hot and muggy when I was there a few years ago. There were bugs flying around. The furniture looked fine but wasn’t comfortable. The food options were very limited and looked unsanitary. They didn’t have any drinks that you could get yourself, and it took a long time for them to bring me a can of soda when I asked for one. They only reason to stay in there at all was the free WIFI.

  5. But, I love cube cheese!

    I haven’t been to a ton of lounges, but my worst was probably an AA lounge at O’hare (don’t remember which terminal/concourse. It was a just a single room with wi-fi, chairs, drinks, and maybe 3 kinds of dried snacks dispensed from a large plastic container.

  6. I bet lounges 1 through 5 were much better. Lounges are like Rocky sequels — by the time you get to #6, they pretty much suck.

  7. Looks exactly like the lounge at HFE when I flew out of there with my wife last year. At least there were free bottled water.

  8. to be fair, i wouldn’t really expect them to have a lounge in the first place, but the lounge at the galapagos airport (GPS) has free punch, coffee, and chips. on the plus side, it’s a good way to find out the wifi password for the entire airport

  9. Clearly they don’t see many “western” travellers through there, as that looks like some classic Chinese décor (looks familiar from my experience in Chinese hotels). Otherwise, I agree…not a bad looking terminal overall.

  10. Ben,

    Why not spend more time at restaurants and bars at the airport? I like lounges, but I often enjoy sitting at an airport bar and chatting up fellow travelers more. It’s not a choice between sitting at the gate or sitting in a lounge.

  11. Garuda Indonesia’s Business Class lounge in their Jakarta and Bali hubs. Lack of food offerings, space, and to some extent, privacy. Although I have read news that by May this year they will move to an entirely new Terminal 3 of Soekarno Hatta Int’l. Here’s to hoping there will be a significant improvement on their Business Class lounge. As for the one in Bali, I don’t even know if there’s a scheduled renovation or transfer to an entirely new lounge (last I checked they were still using the “Temporary” lounge).

  12. I’ll see you this lounge and raise you FRA Sen lounge that’s so crowded there’s not a single seat available.

  13. The Executive Bar in TRV has this beat as worst lounge on the planet. The only lounge facility in the airport, it’s actually more like a fast food outlet with leather chairs, mosquitoes, lukewarm questionable snacks, painfully slow wifi and inexplicable disco lights that shine in your face at 3:45 am. (EK leaves from there at 4:30.)

    Also the staff insist on a R500 entry fee for anyone traveling with you, regardless of if they’re on the same ticket.

    This looks like The Pier at HKG compared to that place.

  14. That’s very Chinese, from the carpet to the decor to the doilies to the fan. They’re also very pragmatic with the doilies, which are much easier to clean than the arms and backs of the chairs. Definitely different cultural expectations. Given your travels, I’d assume that you’d be able to see things through a lens other than that of a Westerner.

  15. Contract lounges in China is terrible, can’t say enough of that. My favorite lounges in China are Air China star gold lounges and Shenzhen Airlines lounges.

  16. I echo the Taca lounge in San Salvador above, but also an all-time low was the VIP lounge at the Kathmandu airport. However after spending a few days in Kathmandu, that lounge didn’t seem all that bad until a return to reality hit when we entered a lounge in Hong Kong after landing.

  17. An “inside voice” in China? You clearly haven’t spent enough time in China, my friend. You’ll have better luck finding unicorns in China.

  18. I visited a airport lounge when departing Manila about 5 years ago. It was awful & the experience was topped off by watching a mouse run through the lounge…

    Cant remember the name of the lounge sadly, but it was GRIM!

  19. “Try the lounge at Islamabad International Airport, Pakistan. It makes these two look like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal.”

    I came to say the same.

    Also, try Tripoli, Libya.

  20. The two bad comments about SAL surprise me. As of a few months ago they must have done a major refresh as part of the integration of Taca into Avianca. The lounge was quite large, bright, and climate-controlled relative to the rest of the terminal. Nice selections of canapes, salad, and sandwiches (no flies buzzing around) and several fridges with beer and soda. There was also a media room and a children’s room IIRC.

  21. With the amount of traveling that you have done, you sure are a big complainer without realistic expectations. All the things you described are the norm in China.

  22. the pre security lounge is much better, they will get your boarding pass for you, escort you to the dedicated premium lane and make tea/instant noodles upon your request. Your priority pass or business class ticket would give you access.
    This lounge after security can be accessed by 50 some CNY, what do you expect if lounge access is priced around $5-10?

  23. What do you expect for the price of that ticket?

    Looks no worse than that dump Air India lounge.

    You fly a crappy airline, don’t expect SingAir lounge. Duh.

  24. For all of your travels you seem to still live in your own small little world as if you have never traveled or seen a different culture outside of your own

  25. Did it have a restroom in the lounge (unlike the Air France or Iberia Lounge in FRA, or the BritishAirways /Openskies lounge in ORY)?

  26. Worst lounge I’ve ever been to is the Avianca lounge at SJU. Only lounge that accepts Priority Pass. Crowded, smoky, loud. Opted to buy $12 beers at the bar by my gate rather than spend more than 5 minutes in the lounge.

  27. This is nothing compared to the IASS lounge in HNL. That lounge has the magical ability to actually make you feel depressed while in the state of Hawaii. There’s very little light (it’s in a basement basically), NO food/snacks at all, and a whopping selection of maybe 3 beverage choices. The cherry on top is they kick everyone out in the middle of the day for an hour for a “break.”

  28. the TG lounge at HKT was pretty shoddy last time we were there, carpet stained and ripped up, weird smell in the food service area ( maybe someone did not empty the trash for several days?

  29. I have low expectations of lounges as well but my personal petpeeves are cleanliness, free wifi, and space in a lounge. As long as those criteria are met I’m a happy camper. From the photos, it looks very Chinese, which I think gives it more character than the typical EK lounge that looks the same everywhere. I recall a few years ago you reviewed the LHR BA Concorde room that had most seats occupied, unclean bathrooms, and unfriendly borderline rude staff. To me that sounds worse than the Changsha lounge.

  30. For those of you who are saying Ben complains too much, you do have to remember, he’s like 25, 26 y.o., that’s what young people do, they complain about things that are not up to their standard. Cut him some slack.

  31. At least they had a “sweet” fan in the business center “area”. Much easier to get some hardcore blogging done there I’d think.

  32. Lucky, i think u r too harsh here. I believe Hainan is using a contract lounge here (and not their own flagship lounges), and contract lounges do not match up to flagship standards in terms of f&b offerings.

    As for the lace, i think u shld respect their culture. They may want it for their own reasons which we do not understand, and that airport is mainly regional.

    I see the lounge fully carpeted, fairly empty n the seats are big sofa types. It does not look messy. It is fine really. Definitely not posh or modern, but definitely not the worst. U r too harsh if its the lace issue, though some Chinese do talk loudly in the lounge, but thats not the lounge fault.

    Thanks for the pictures!

  33. “Like, this terminal is much nicer than you’d expect for Changsha Airport, no?”

    Were you expecting a really crappy terminal because it is Changsha? Please explain your logic?

  34. Definitely consistent with lounges I have seen in most regional airports in China. The lace is a common feature. And, yes, mainland Chinese people rarely have “inside voices”.

  35. Ditto to what Carlos, danny and others have said….um, lucky sure youve flown a lot, but apparently not much in China. Excluding PEK, PVG and CAN it’s pretty obvious your miles are thin in the world’s largest aviation market. Your experience is SOP for 50+ other state owned lounges in 2nd tier and 3rd tier Chinese cities. And they’re really not as bad as you make it out once you get used to it. You kinda realize how tacky 75pct of western airport lounges are in perspective. Not saying Chinese lounges are nice, but for perspective you showed pictures in Dubai of 5 or 6 absolute crap wines, but either or you or Tiffany said it was a decent selection. I would rather go outside and pay for real wine than drink that. It shows just how subjective the process is of rating lounges.

  36. You need to do more traveling in Latin America, as noted above the TACA lounge in San Salvador is at least as bad and the VIP lounge in Guayaquil is even worse.

    All I will say is that these are areas that reside in third-world economies and they basically do what they can with what they have. So, I never made fun of any of the offerings in these places because they’re still damn luxurious compared with what 99.999% of the residents of these places see every day.

  37. No contest at all. Hawaiian Airlines – HNL closely followed by Hawaiian Airlines – LAX. Both are truly memorable because they are so awful.

  38. Ben, I have experienced worst lounges in Shanghai. The lounge I was in also has number as naming convention. The seats were put together so tight that you feel like you are a chicken at a chicken farm. You actually have space between seat in your pictures. The Food offering in that lounge was similar to what you show us in your pictures.

  39. You should travel more to not so well known destinations and you would see what you get in smaller airports.

  40. Ben,
    it´s my first post here, but I´ve been reading your site for more than two years now… This is one of your best pots, I must say! I´ve never laughed so hard in my life!!!! Your comments are so hilarious! congratulations!!!
    Much better than Lufthansa FCT reviews… hahaha

  41. I will be at the lounge in Lahore, Pakistan in a few days, will report back with pictures. Spoiler its just as bad as the Islamabad lounge.

  42. It may not fit your particular design aesthetic, but it doesn’t look that much worse than the United Club @ DEN…

  43. Hmmm, I think I like No.6 better than No. 7. At least it’s brighter. I think No. 7 feels more funeral home than No.6…

  44. Try the business lounge at Las Palmas Gran Canaria for a really bad experience. Or Bari Italy where it is always locked and you can’t get in.

  45. My worst lounge experience was about 4 years ago, sitting in the Admirals Club in the A concourse. I had just finished a workout (which is a great perk of this lounge) and sat in a quiet area that I believe used to be the Flagship area.

    Anyhow I was just sitting there and a mouse ran right in front of me. Not even 5 seconds later a second mouse came screaming across the room and back into the staff area. Needless to say, I quickly got up and left the Admirals Club.

  46. Pretty funny Ben remids me of Grandma’s house @stogieguy7 perhaps you should consider a career with Salvation Army

  47. These lounges are essentially the standard lounge for China. I think the rhetoric is a little over the top by Ben – not really worth all the superlatives that he used. Lazy writing more than anything else.

  48. I was in Kunming doing a training session for local media. As part of it, I got VIP transfers and checkin (a drive across the tarmac, a special lounge while they processed me through immigration and security) in both directions. I was basically sequestered (sans passport, mind you) in a room that looked like this. No WiFi (this was a few years ago), no one else and no English, but a similar snack buffet. I can’t tell you how unnerving that whole experience was (I mean, they had my passport!) — but it all ended up well. And I know a lot about those doilies.

  49. I can’t remember the name, but the worst I’ve been to was somewhere in western Europe. There were stains everywhere, food and garbage on the floor, and I saw rats running across the floor multiple times before I left. It was absolutely disgusting. I need to look up the specifics to remember the lounge name and airport, but it definitely was in a nice part of Europe, where this type of lounge was totally unexpected.

  50. Can’t believe it, but it makes the Sky Team lounge in HK look like the Peninsula Hotel – made more painful because DL pax lost the Virgin Clubhouse for the ST prison dungeon in Oct.

  51. Well the lounge we experienced at Guilin airport is even worse – there was no snack, only some soft drinks that were all sugary stuff. Coffee was not from machine but from a flask like you saw in some bank lobbies here. Worse, there was no coffee cup. When I asked the girl where to find a coffee cup, she went look around and found me one – that was DIRTY!

    To be fair, the Air China lounges at PEK were quite decent in food offerings and sitting. Patrons though, were a totally different matter altogether.

  52. I’ve been to No. 7. Really miserable. Checking in requires filling out my info and ID number on a paper form and swiping my PP card with an imprinter. Looking at the decor I didn’t even want to stay there. I took some snacks and a boxed milk tea and went back to the terminal. Big mistake – I got an upset stomach and became really sick after drinking the milk tea. Worst lounge experience ever.

  53. This is on par, or even a step up, from the F lounges I remember in Guangzhao and Xian and numerous other internal cities. Of the cities to which I have traveled, only PEK and PVG and HKG have nice lounges (at least, of the airlines on which I have flown).

  54. Equally bad are the lounges in Danang and in Sanya airports. I think one of them was even called First Class lounge. Disgrace for a proper airline to send passengers there.

  55. I don’t know which is sadder: that Ben is spoiled enough to think this is the bottom of the barrel, or that it seems normal to me (no stranger if you’ve been around Asia outside the mega hubs).

    Anyway, one of the worst lounges I have had the misfortune to be stuck in, is the JAL lounge in SFO right before the HND red eye. Suffocatingly packed while eerily quiet. I felt like I was interrupting someone unless I tiptoed, while being sandwiched between strangers.

  56. Bad? Maybe.

    Surprising, shocking? Absolutely not.

    This is very much in line with the typical lounge at a Chinese airport, outside the major international cities such as Beijing and Shanghai (or Hong Kong, obviously.)

    It gets far worse. See this lounge at Guilin for example:

    It’s business as usual in China. And in my experience it’s often the behavior of a few passengers that makes the experience truly underwhelming, more so than the physical space itself. Go to more minor airports instead of the typical hubs and you’ll get used to it.

  57. You should see the airport hotel China Eastern uses for frequent flyers. Shared room, bath so rusted you could see the floor beneath, I will not even mention the state of the toilet. The room was one floor up, had no glass in the window frame and a mighty big slash right through the metal protective sheet outside. Terrifying. I’d take the funereal lace of the airport lounge any day.

  58. The problem isn’t Ben, the problem is the lounge. It’s not a nice lounge with traditional Chinese decor, it’s a CRAP lounge unworthy of its “VIP” title. It’s bad enough that the Chinese people have to put up with it, it’s definitely not suitable for international clientele.

  59. Seconded on HNL lounge. It’s your old uncle’s backyard with ratty rattan furniture and water and POM juice.

  60. I see you your No. 6 and No. 7 lounges and raise you a Perth International Qantas Lounge.

    It felt like I was in the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I had done a timewarp back to the 1970s. To me, it smells like smoke (no idea how, the terminal has been smoke free for ages now), the food spread was limited, maybe 3-4 snack type items at best and the wifi was slowwwwwwwwwwwww. I was tempted to write a letter, give it to a snail and let the snail deliver it, seriously was going to be faster than email over their wifi.

  61. Any United lounge, because it is open to anyone with their credit card, really s&*ks. Overcrowded, rarely an empty seat (no less two near each other). They do serve rotgut chardonnay, and non descript food substances if you want to test your stomach’s tenacity for digesting foreign objects. If there was an intercom system you couldn’t hear it, so watching your time is essential.

  62. Ben, while in China, I think it is mandatory to ‘Embrace the lace doily’. Better than laying your arm on some manky faux suede armrest that has never been washed.

    Just to reinforce some of the comments here. My worst lounge experiences have been at Denpasar in Bali, Cairo in Egypt, and the VN lounge in Saigon – although I think it is a step up from the example here. Having said that – there are a few USA lounges in major cities which I would choose never to go back to. They have become a blur, but no wifi, no free drinks, only packaged snacks, and too many people – are a sample of the complaints of some USA lounges. Living in Sydney Australia, I am lucky enough to have access to some great lounges, including those of Qantas and Virgin Australia – so I guess my lounge palette is already spoiled.

  63. This looks like heaven compared to lounge for business travelers star alliance lounge in Lagos, Nigeria.
    The faint smell of urine, the dirty chairs, the smelly fellow passengers. The only reason to stay is the barely functioning ac, rest of airport resembles Dante’s inferno. Lagos recently voted worst airport in the world and I could not agree more.

  64. No new news in this lounge review. Par for the course in China. Still better than sitting by the gate I would think.

    Not sure where @2PAXFLY went in Bali, but the current (as well as old) PP lounge in Denpasar is fine. Better than a typical lounge in the US any day.

  65. You apaently haven’t been much to Africa yet. Pointe noire Congo is overcrowded as they not seem to check whether you have access so just all passengers tend to sit down here. The whole airport is an experience on its own with corrupt security officers that just have an eye for your left over money rather than safety.
    Lome, Togo was kind of special as well. After I got the exit stamp in my passport I had to leave the departure terminal again, walk outside, through the arrival hall where the lounge was located. This lounge was nothing more than a room with a big white leather couch and one attendant that had to be woken up from her desk to get something to drink. Good thing here though was that they had a special bus for the “VIP” passengers that drove us randomly around the airport for about 5 minutes before getting to the plane as the plane was almost parked right in front of the terminal building. That’s what I call value for money!!:)

  66. @tara
    “It’s bad enough that the Chinese people have to put up with it, it’s definitely not suitable for international clientele.”

    Why is it that it is merely “bad enough” for the Chinese people, and yet “definitely not suitable” when it comes to international clientele? You mean it is ok to deal with your own Chinese people in one way (the “bad enough” way) while treating international clientele (usually, that means “white people”, right?) in another, much better, way (because otherwise, it would be “definitely not suitable”)?

    When I am in China decades ago, that’s the kind of mentality I encountered: the Chinese treats outsiders (“international clientele”) much much better than they treat their own fellow Chinese. Now, decades later, it is sad there are still people like you with such cultural inferiority complex. Feel sorry for you!

    Tara, are you one of those Chinese who suffer from cultural inferiority complex, such that you think

  67. I think you westerners are over demanding too much while you are in Asia. Look the ticket price you’ve paid and the shitty lounges in the US. I think the first class lounge in CSX is far more nicer, much less crowded than your shitty US lounges.

  68. Anyone been to the DCA Business Class lounge at DXB? No.6 or No.7 VIP Lounges do not look half as bad. At least, they turn on their lights:)

  69. Advice to all: try the Air Madagascar ‘lounge’ in Antananarivo. That’s quite an adventure; power cuts incluses!

  70. Lucky, this lounge doesn’t look that bad at all. It seems decently clean and spacious. The food options are quite fine also for Chinese tastes (you won’t find cheese cubes in China, as Chinese people don’t eat cheese). The decor is dated, but this is a very common Chinese decor, and although it may not align with your tastes, I don’t think it detracts from the “comfort” level much.

    As others have mentioned, lounges of this quality are pretty typical at Chinese airports. It’s certainly not a good lounge, but it is far from the “worst” as you seem to imply. I would categorize it as “mediocre.”

    Also, the “voice” problem you mentioned is a cultural problem, and has nothing to do with the lounge. Spend enough time in China and you’ll realize.

  71. Hi Ben,

    In December 2014 I was at the First Class lounge in Havana Airport in Cuba.
    Besides some old plastic chairs and a vending machine for soft drinks there was nothing.
    I could send you pictures if you want me to.

  72. Ben,

    I think the problem is described in the introductory paragraph of this review. You need to spend less time in lounges, airports and aircraft and actually see the world. I am not that much older than you, and I find your activity useful to many of us who are looking for a bargain upgrade or trip, but you are missing out on so much more that you could be gaining from actually traveling the world and experiencing the cultures around the world.

    Honestly, this lounge looks better than many of the lounges that I have stayed in throughout my journeys around the US (just to name a few terrible lounges: Delta Skyclub, O’Hare; Swiss Int’l Terminal Lounge, Zurich; United Club, Denver; the list can go on). At the end of the day, it’s a lounge… expectations are low to begin with and this one is hardly the worst considering I have been to remote airports around the world with no lounges or terminals for that matter (yet those trips are the most memorable).

  73. @ Jared — I appreciate the feedback, but I think you’re missing the point. My work is visiting airline lounges, airports, and aircraft. That’s my niche, and it’s a business which has worked out quite well for me (in addition to being something I’m passionate about). I do travel, and I do see places. I just choose not to write about that aspect of my travels as much.

    Why? Because there are a million better resources out there for destinations. A “local” expert can always give you a better rundown of what to do in a city than I can, no matter how hard I try. And for that matter I could never build a business around “reviewing” cities.

    With airlines and their lounges, I’d argue there’s no one in the world who reviews them more extensively than I do. And the traffic I get on my trip reports reflects that.

    So while I appreciate the idea behind what you’re saying, telling me to spend less time in lounges, airports, and aircraft, is telling me to basically give up on my job/career. I couldn’t afford to travel if my business weren’t successful in the niche it does so well in.

    Hopefully that gives you some insight as to why my writing revolves mostly around the journey rather than the destination…

  74. @John-I think you mis-interpretated Tera’s comment. The point is that standards as to what is “nice” or what is “luxury ” are very cultural. In my experience, most Chinese travelers have much lower standards than a typical American. It is probably rooted in what we have in our everyday lives and therefore take for granted. Compared to most of the world, Americans are spoiled rotten.

    @Anyone who knows: why is it that Chinese do not find it inconsiderate to speak loudly when others are around? I am really curious. Do they not care that they are bothering others, or do they really not realize it?

    Lastly, for all the “you need to travel more” critics: Lucky is a young urban American who makes a living by finding and sharing deals on luxury travel. He is not trying to be a cultural anthropologist. Many of us want a luxury plane flight, amazing suite, and recognizable food. We have no interest in seeing how everyday people live in the third world, or staying with a local family in their charming B&B. You are more than entitled to your opinion that we are really missing out. You are not entitled to blame us for our conscious choice. Lucky is “our” blogger. You don’t have to follow him, but it’s just plain rude (and stupid ) to order steak and then complain that it tastes too much like meat. If you want cultural immersion insights, I’m sure there are tons of blogs you can follow, but this isn’t one of them.

  75. 1. Its no different from the Air China F/C Class lounge in Beijing or the Air India domestic lounge in BOM or many other Asian lounges.
    2. So what’s better? Going to the United Lounge at say EWR and finding that there is no place even sit down. Or at ORD? Or at SFO? And talking of “privacy” – how much of it does one find in those lounges even if the volume of conversation is not akin to the “Price is Right”?

    Air travel is getting more ‘common’ and its not that often one finds the kind of bespoke or exclusive experience that only a few airlines can deliver in F (LH, LX, SQ for example) and less so in C….

    Recent travel on TG (BOM/BKK/BOM and BKK/KBV/BKK) was an eye opener! At BKK the lounge was so full that – again – there was not a seat to be had. The wife and I went to the gate to sit in peace and quiet. And the On Board service in C was a far cry from the TG I remembered from the 80s and 90s.

    Air travel is changing and expectations need to be lowered….And as ASIA rises the priorities and expectations of the traveling public are also culturally variant from what the WEST expects.

  76. @Ben , if you’re a “certenly had a good taste of life” Chinese flyer, i am pretty sure your next blog will be like this:
    The worst lounge in the world!
    Blahblah here…
    I can’t believe that in the 21st century USA, they can’t even afford fast noodle in their best business lounge! They’re eating some kind of cubed white stinky dice. And they called themselves international airport!
    And this picture will tell you everything! There’s no cover on the armrest! Not at all! You can feel the sebum secretion from previous people. Is that so hard to find something to cover the armrest? I think It is their lazy attitude! U.S is definitely not really for the international travellers yet!
    Blahblah about the decor here…
    Oh, last but not least, they were trying to fool me with something called tea-bag!!! And told me I had a lot of selections! What the hell, I just wanna some cheapest 1-RMB tea! And they can’t provide that in their first class lounge!
    Seriously ,Ben , the world is huge, Come and have a look! Enjoy the real travel.

  77. Try the Altialia lounge in Vienna. Not even the coffee machine was working.

  78. @Frank
    If “Louisiana people think new Yorkers are rude, because they do not have alligators in their backyard” , don’t you think it is funny?

  79. I just wanna say that a lot of Chinese new terminals’ third party lounges are like that. They have no idea what a good lounge is. And they did tried their best. Even PEK CA’s exclusive platinum member lounge is this kind of decor, plus tons of nice looking waitresses.

  80. Thanks for the report. I’m in Changsha now and will fly out tomorrow. So I’ll make sure to show up at the airport with just enough time to check in, clear customs and board. The Hainan BC from LAX was nice. I hope it’s equal returning. The lounges look like ones I’ve been in in Vietnam and Cambodia. Sparse with plenty of fans.

  81. For the price we paid $1,358 for a non-stop RT, BC tkt LAX-CSX, I found Hainan Airlines to be an excellent value. The flight over had excellent food, service and included a complimentary limo to our hotel. We will return tomorrow and while the lounge is not very inviting in Ben’s pictures and our hotel is very comfortable, we’ll have the limo drop us off just in time to clear customs and board. However, as long as the lounge is not crowded and is clean I’ll be happy. Had we paid $4000-$6000 for the BC tkt, I’d expect much more from the lounge. Since we fly to China every year and then continue on to Thailand, Vietnam or elsewhere, Ben’s cheap BC find helped us immensely.

  82. @Lucky, there are nice lounges in China. They all belong to Shenzhen Airlines, a star alliance member. I think there is no good lounge other than Shenzhen Airlines Lounge in China. Maybe some Airchina lounges in Shanghai Pudong are acceptable.
    You should for sure check out Shenzhen Airlines, especially its lounge.

  83. @mbh

    Don’t see any problem with what Jared was saying; I think one of the recent additions to this site that has been very intelligent is the addition of the life-style segments by the likes of Tiff and other guest bloggers. To be honest, there is not shortage of luxury travel blogs out there and it’s easier than ever now a days to travel in luxury. However, getting an entire package deal of the travel, stay and cultural immersion experience, is rare. I for one do not have a lot of time in my life to be visiting ten sites to get fragments of a trip from the flight, to the hotel, to the destination, etc. So, I think Jared has a valid criticism.

    Ben, I visit your blog during my down-time for the humor; considering that I have my personal jet, I don’t seek travel advise and frankly let my secretary take care of reservations and such when necessary. However, it’s not a bad idea to try out some more cultural immersion type articles in your blog – especially when the growing population with large disposable incomes in the world is changing rapidly from Westerners to Easterners. I think it is wise to be sensitive to other cultures and their expectations since the west is more dependent on the east now a days and greatly influenced by the happenings in the outside.

    What’s the worst that can happen with trying it out? All businesses need to take a strive and try something once in a while.

  84. @Lucky, you need to do travel to more developing and third-world countries (i.e. in Africa) to gain broader perspective. The lounge you featured in this actually isn’t bad at all, relatively-speaking. I guess it’s all a matter of reference point.

  85. @LouisianaPoBoy

    We all have our preconceived notions about others. Most intriguing comments compare with lounges of some small airline in some poor country with tiny aviation market.

    China is wealthy, large aviation market, rich in food, culture and tradition. That local FCL in a new terminal doesn’t represent any of those unique characteristics of Chinese culture.

    Most examples given here are from Africa, South Asia and one comment about a AI dump at LHR T4. I went back and looked AI’s T4 dump had relatively nice interior and hot meals. One stained rug, lack of food presentation and one in-op toilet no way makes it a dump.

  86. well, in your opinion, “China is …. rich in food, culture and tradition……….doesn’t represent any of those unique characteristics of Chinese culture.”

    Trust me, in Chinese tradition, doilies are much more “elegant, luxury and clean” comparing to the nasty armrest in any other lounge.

    Trust me, in Chinese tradition, those weird cookies are much more “elegant, luxury and clean” comparing to the stinky cheese in any other lounge.

    And these are the real Chinese “food, culture and tradition”, not the ones in Hollywood movies.

    The world is huge, Come and have a look!

  87. I’ve only flown business class once and had access to China Airlines Lounges at Narita and then my connecting flight in taipei this past NYE. It was only 13k more for their business/first to manila redeemed through aa for china airlines and I sat in row 1 for both flights.Never used the free united passes Ive had. Both of those lounges seemed pretty nice, showers,beds,sushi in narita etc; I slept in taipei’s. Since I have no experience with other lounges, how do those two lounges rate comparably to the rest of the worlds?

  88. Oh Ben – if you think this is bad, you should check out CZ’s VIP lounge at URC. Let me put it this way… I had a better experience when I LEFT THE LOUNGE and sat at a fast food outlet in the general concourse. Abysmal! Bless their cottons!

  89. I have always found that when the word ‘servisair’ appears, the lounge will be dire. Once used a servisair lounge in Amsterdam airport that looked worse than the one above.

  90. Earlier today/yesterday I used the CSX Hainan VIP #6 Lounge. Terrible. Nothing cool to drink and no alcoholic beverages. The beige carpet was worn, torn and extremely dirty (possibly never cleaned). The packaged snacks were out of date by at least six months. Doilies are fine with me especially if they’re used in a traditional setting and are clean, these weren’t. The furniture was also filthy. Thought for a minute I’d awaken ed in India.

    I just arrived back in LAX on Hainan BC and it was a very good flight, food was very good and service was excellent. This time I watched them pull the bedding from sealed bags. And I agree with Ben, the comforters are very comfortable.

    Two of us were traveling Hainan based upon Ben’s original $1,350 BC tip and I overheard another guy mention OMAAT to his seat mate that that was why he’d purchased the ticket. Don’t tell Ben though or he’ll figure out away to better monetize his tips.

    I believe Hainan will change/update their premium lounge once they begin getting negative feedback from passengers to CSX. It’s one thing to have disillusioned passengers riding on extremely discounted tickets and yet another to maintain loyalty to passengers paying $4000-$6000 a pop. I’m sure they want their LAX-CSX to be a success.

    The Chinese know how to go upscale as well as stylish when they want to compete. Meanwhile, does anyone want a warm Coke and a package of year old stale chips?

  91. A bit surprised at your comment regarding the snacks. I LOVE Asian snacks, and would take them any day over cubed cheese (I also hate cheese, but that’s beside the point…). In fact I would try to slip some of those Asian snacks into my bag if nobody were looking…I’m not a fan of dollies but I go to lounges for the free food and snacks, not the aesthetics. 😛

  92. @ABC Girl, If you like Asian snacks that went out of date in June 2015. I saved one for you. It’ll even be better when it arrives in June 2016.

    I use lounges for rest and relaxation mainly. After a 14 hour flight from China I’m stuck at LAX AA Admirals club for a 4 hour late flight to TUS. Luckily they have a shower and a few cubes of cheese.

  93. Typical lounge in a second or third tier city in China. I have had many experiences like that before domestic flights. But what surprises me is that HU – as a “Skytrax 5-star airline” – does put its international travellers into this kind labour canteen. Shows me once again that Skytrax is just as corrupt as the FIFA….

    My worst ever lounge experience was actually the Emirates First Class lounge (opposite gate 123) in Dubai. From the atmosphere it was better than the Chinese domestic lounges but from the service terrible from A to Z! Yes, it was at 2:00 in the night, ahead of a First Class flight to Beijing. The receptionist was sleepy and unfriendly, no staff inside (later I found out they were hiding inside the kitchen), no a-la-carte as I do expect in a First lounge, the buffet was actually a massive downgrade from the BUSINESS lounge!!!! I took a salad from the buffet and finally got a waiter to ask for oild and vinegar (none of those on the buffet or tables). He disappeared into the kitchen after promising to bring it to me. After 10 minutes he came out empty-handed. I was upset when I heard they changed my gate to 221 and I could have used the other First Class lounge which I had better memories from. And I was even more pissed when I wrote this story to Emirates and after several reminders and eight!!!!! months they sent me this computer generated nonsense – not one word dealing with my complaint!!!!

  94. If you thought those lounges were bad, my absolute worst experience was Shenzhen lounge used by Hainan Airlines.

    The aiport terminal is totally awesome. The lounge was so tiny, but what drove me out of there in less than 5 minutes was the awful stench of whatever congee they had in the buffet at 7:30 in the morning….. Ended up having a great breakfast sandwich and coffee at the starbucks outlet.

  95. If you have not had the chance to try the ‘luxury’ of ANY Ethiopian Airlines lounge across Ethiopia, then you have not experienced even the cusp of desperate airline lounge fodder. The fact that this disastrous airline is allowed to remain part of star alliance is beyond me. I have more stories than I care to relate about their frightful customer service both on the ground and in the air… but that would be OT.

  96. Experiencing now the Shity business lounge in shanghai with Hainan airlines. The place is under construction, sound of the grinder for 2 hours. Hot water and Aiki chinese noodles. Hot beers in a hot fridge and loudly people around. I won’t talk about service because their is not. Btw I recommend Air china.

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