Friday, December 12, 2014

The Iggy Itinerary: Lounge Report - Air China Business Class Lounge, Shanghai-Pudong

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Despite being the transport hub for one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, Shanghai's Pudong International Airport's lounges are terrible.

Or so I thought.

For years, Star Alliance carriers used a contract lounge (i.e. not owned by an airline) - a dark space with some leather chairs and dim sum that looked weeks old. Certainly no reason to arrive early at the airport.

But earlier this year, Air China (Star Alliance's PRC-based carrier) opened new lounges in Beijing and Shanghai. The lounge in Shanghai is a huge improvement!



There was a short check-in line for Asiana Business Class. (There was no First Class counter, as almost all of Asiana's flights out of Pudong are on two-class aircraft. The check-in agent apologized that she couldn't give me my Vancouver > San Francisco boarding pass as she handed me my Shanghai > Seoul, Seoul > Frankfurt, and Frankfurt > Vancouver passes along with a lounge invitation.

Security was quick despite there not being a lane for business / first class, and I was off to Lounge 71 (the Pudong lounges are named after their nearest gate).

 Lounge 71 Airlines

Unlike most of the Pudong lounges, the Air China Lounge doesn't overlook the terminal itself; it's an enclosed space set away from the terminal.


Air China Lounge Check-in

I tried to use the First Class Lounge, handing the lounge agent my boarding pass for Lufthansa First Class from Seoul to Frankfurt. But the lounge agent turned me away, gesturing emphatically toward the Business Class Lounge entrance.

Technically, she's correct - under Star Alliance lounge-access rules, passengers only get First Class Lounge access when they are "departing from the local airport in International First Class." I thought the lounge agent would be willing to make an exception, but there's something to be said for technocratic application of the rules.

The lounge is two floors. The first floor has seating and drinks, but no food.



First floor seating 

First floor seating 


Drink fridge 


The second floor (accessible by both elevator and escalator) is considerably larger than the first floor.

 Second floor bar

Second floor seating 

Second floor buffet 

The breakfast buffet was fairly typical for what you'd find at a Chinese hotel - eggs, bacon prepared in a style with no resemblance to Western techniques, sausages, dim sum, fruit, etc.

 Eggs


"Bacon" 



 Pineapple and watermelon


Beans

Sausage 

 Dim sum

 Juice and cereal

 Day-old juice?

 Mantou (馒头) (Chinese buns)

Congee

Instant noodles and wine (a winning combo!)

There were lots of seating options throughout the lounge.

Theater room 

Massage chairs 

Computer room 


Secret seating area

More seating

The lounge also had showers and sleeping rooms although both of those were locked.


And this mysterious room (which was, unfortunately, locked).

 Weak Electricity Room

I only spent about 45 minutes in the lounge before it was time to board my short hop to Seoul-Incheon. Pudong Airport's Terminal 2 is a great airport - high ceilings; great tarmac views; and relatively quiet.

Pudong Airport, Terminal 2

Pudong Airport, Terminal 2 

Pudong Airport, Terminal 2

Conclusion
The Air China Lounge near Gate 71 is a huge improvement over the old Star Alliance contract lounge near Gate 77. I still wouldn't bother arriving early at the airport just to use the lounge, but it's a great space to spend an hour or so.


The Iggy Itinerary
1. Introduction
2. Booking

Outbound (LAX-NRT-SIN-PVG)
3. Lounge Report - Star Alliance First Class / Business Class Lounge, LAX
4. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Los Angeles > Tokyo-Narita (A380-800)
5. Lounge Report - ANA Suite Lounge, Tokyo-Narita
6. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Tokyo-Narita > Singapore (A380-800)
7. Lounge Report - The Private Room, Singapore
8. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Singapore > Shanghai-Pudong (A380-800)

Inbound (PVG-ICN-FRA-YVR-SFO)
9. Lounge Report - Air China Business Class Lounge, Shanghai-Pudong
10. Asiana Business Class, Shanghai-Pudong > Seoul-Incheon (767-300)
11. Lounge Report - Asiana First Class Lounge, Seoul-Incheon
12. Lufthansa First Class, Seoul-Incheon > Frankfurt (747-8i)
13. Review: Hyatt Regency Mainz
14. Lounge Report - Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt
15. Lufthansa First Class, Frankfurt > Vancouver (747-400)
16. Lounge Report - Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Vancouver
17. Air Canada rouge - Premium rouge Class, Vancouver > San Francisco (A319)

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