Al Dhabi Lounge, AUH

IMG_0473This is this updated lounge of the Airport Hotel Lounge in AUH, which I have blogged about in 2011.

This lounge went through major revamp and furnishing to reach the true magnificent level of service and recognition that Abu Dhabi is reaching for to represent its image to the world of travelers.

Access to this lounge can be through association of major frequent flyer programs, priority pass and I believe some credit card programs as well. This lounge is still located at Terminal 1 of Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH), right after the e-gate and immigration desks.

Shower facilities, Computer access area, kids area and smoking lounges were added in order to provide the best service and accommodation to AUH patrons. The seating, decoration, furnishing have all been renewed and improved to a level that it surprised me in comparison to the previous set-up of its old version.

I have to add that the choices for the buffet need some improvement, yet it still beats any premium lounges in Europe, where hot food and in almost unlimited portions are as rare as water in the Arabian desert!

While traveling to Abu Dhabi, I would suggest visiting this lounge to experience comfort before taking off on your flight!

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First Class Lounge, DOH

This post is about Doha’s International Airport Premium First and Business class lounges in its Premium terminal. I’ve been to this lounge a couple of times and it is worth writing a post about.

Now, this terminal is dedicated only for Business and First class travelers on Qatar Airways. Business Class has it own lounge and thus First Class as well. The camera snaps in this post are from the First Class side.

This lounge is magnificent. You’re talking about a great breakfast/lunch/dinner buffet with a dedicated steak and sushi bar. I’ve heard that there’s an à la carte menu as well, but didn’t have the chance to try it. On the side there’s a dedicated bar for drinks and fresh juices. There are dedicated lounge staff who would service all kinds of hot drinks upon request. For all smokers, there’s a dedicated cigar lounge with nice leather seats and great view of the airport. The seating area is very big and flight update monitors can be found almost everywhere.

The most remarkable feature of this lounge is the spa. There’s a dedicated spa with jacuzzi and massage services. To enjoy it, your stay in the lounge shouldn’t be around one hour only. I’ve gotten used to their massage lazyboys chairs. For a whole hour, I couldn’t get my ass off it.

Outisde of the seating area, there is a business center for those who need to finish their office work. There is a private room for kids with video games consoles and multiple screens. A praying room with abolition is made available as well.

In general, this is one of the best lounges that I have been to in GCC region. I haven’t tried the Emirates First Class lounge in DXB, but in the meantime this stands as the best in my own opinion.

Cathay Pacific Lounge, BAH

In my last trip to Malaysia in last November, I have used Cathay Pacific for my trip, departing from Bahrain. This gave me the only shot to have the privilege to enter its lounge in BAH airport and review it here, after my first post about it.

Cathay Pacific (CX) maintains a dedicated lounge for their patrons in the upper level in Bahrain International Airport (BAH),across from Dilmun Lounge, which both can be accessed via the escalators at gate 16.

Upon checking-in at the lounge counter, it could be seen that this lounge is the smallest lounge in Bahrain Airport, when it comes to size. Very limited seats that can only accommodate First/Business class travelers on Cathay Pacific or Marco Polo Club Silver/Gold/Platinum tier frequent flyers and One World Alliance high tiers, traveling on Cathay Pacific.

The good thing about this lounge is the view of the runway and seeing airplanes taxing off to their destinations.

The choice of food is limited and less space is dedicated for that, although they share the same supplying kitchen that supplies Gulf Air Lounge and Dilmun Lounge. Of course, the liquor has to be made available!

The reading materials are variant, including Chinese magazines and newspapers as well major international publications.

These are some dedicated desktops for usage, but no praying space and a small bathroom. Only TV monitor is provided for the current news and I don’t remember seeing any dedicated screen for flights updates.

The lounge has been used by Gulf Air during its renovations of its lounge only for its business/first class travelers and it used to get packed to the extent that people started depending on Dilmun Lounge bathrooms for comfort.

In general, this is a very minimal lounge and doesn’t offer exclusive privileges and maintains a very quiet resting area till boarding time. I think Cathay Pacific could do more with this lounge.

First/Business Class Lounge, RUH

Departing from Riyadh after my stay there, I had to use the RUH airport International terminal to go back to Kuwait. Now, I have never been to RUH before and I did have some high expectations about it.

RUH had three terminals. Each is designated for a type of traveling purpose. Saudi Arabian Airlines had their own terminal, the local low-cost carrier had their own terminal and I was to travel from the International terminal, where all other airlines are allocated to. Upon entry for luggage inspection and checking-in, the whole place seemed like a disaster. Chaos and disorder were the main characteristics of the place. I mean I couldn’t have made it through to the check-in counters with the help of some low-wage worker who feverishly fought to get my attention in handling my bag and making it through all the way to the Gulf Air counter.

Upon checking-in, I directed towards the First/Business Class Lounge near gate 18 if I remember correctly since I was traveling on J class and it was the only available lounge in the whole terminal! I have heard stories about this lounge but I have decided to ignore it and give the place a shot. Upon arrival, there was no one available to admit me for entry. I had to wait till this staff person who was mingling with some hot food buffet bar to come and help me. Very bad start. The place was so small, it was the smallest lounge I’ve ever been to till now.

I wouldn’t recommend using the toilet down there, because it was as bad as any over-used toilet in an international airport in the Middle East: Nasty! The hot food bar looked bad visually and wasn’t promising at all. I had to resort to stale sandwiches which were hidden in the lower part of the buffet for unknown reason!

The WiFi service was pretty weak and you had to find the receptionist to get the password, which wasn’t available onsite and I resorted to ask some fellow lounge users about the access password. I have witness some rude treatment from the receptionist towards a fellow lounge patron wen he was rudely asked how he got in there and to show his boarding pass immediately, while the patron was enjoying his drink and food. The patron was patient enough to tell him that the receptionist’ colleague is the one who let him in after inspecting his boarding pass. I didn’t even hear a word of apology from the receptionist.

In the end, if you ask me what I heard about this place beforehand was the following: “don’t think about going there, just chill at Starbucks next to it near the gate and avoid at all costs!”

Cathay Pacific First & Business Class Lounge, KUL

Last November was pretty hectic for me. I had multiple tasks at work plus some meeting to attend and so. I was almost forced to take up this training program about supervision and leadership skills in Malaysia. I decide to take my favorite Asian airlines for that which is Cathay Pacific! Note that I have never boarded any Cathay Pacific flight before but I’ve heard so much about and decided to give it a shot for review, which will come next after this one!
Now, on the way back from KUL to BAH, I decided to rest in CX’s lounge in the departure side of Malaysia’s international airport. It was a bit crowded upon entry but unoccupied seats can be found easily. Their snacks and beverages section was very minimal and consisted of some dumplings, mee noodles, cold sandwiches and mostly fresh juices and beer.
The seating area is pretty decent and it could offer some privacy at the far left end. English and Chinese newspapers and international magazines are provided at the entrance. A sealed section in the lounge is designated for PC units and some work-related activities. The whole lounge overlooks the tarmacs/departure gates and I couldn’t find our plane there.
At one point, it got so empty, I enjoyed the serenity. Then, all of a sudden, all kinda of people just rushed in! It was the call to go!

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Gulf Air Lounge, BAH

Since Gulf Air has decided recently to close down its lounge in BAH for renovations and a new look, I’ve decided to share with all of you some images I’ve taken from there before the closure and review it in hope that the new design would be a lot better in comparison. You can also compare this lounge review with my visit to Gulf Air lounge in DXB.

BAH mainly has three lounges: Gulf Air, Cathay Pacific, and Dilmun. For those who are traveling on business/first class on Gulf Air or are of Silver/Gold status of Gulf Air’s Falconflyer frequent flyer program, you can access the lounge for your leisure. Otherwise, most of the flyers would be redirected towards the common Dilmun lounge.  All of the lounges in BAH are located in the upper floor and they accessible by escalators/lifts. Gulf Air has the best view of the airport runway and the parked planes due to its strategic location in the upper floor. The lounge is equipped with a business center, wireless internet connection, prayer hall, quiet room for rest, children’s playground and on-site nanny, hot food buffet, snacks and appetizers as well all variations of soft drinks, hot drinks and liquor.

The mood here is usually laid back unless there are the typical middle eastern families who are not attending to their kids’ behavior, so you can hear them running all around the hard wood flooring of the lounge in a disturbing way. Gulf Air lounges are famous for the Arabic tent in it where you can chill and relax with your family members or friends. Unfortunately, on many occasions I’ve witnessed solo travelers hugging the tent to himself and laying all over the seating and it was distasteful.

Unfortunately, the area allocated to the lounge is not as big enough as Dilmun lounge, and finding seats could be a problem when it gets crowded during afternoon/evening trips. Recently, I’ve noticed that the quality of the furniture is dropping down due to overusage and it needed replacement. I guess Gulf Air sensed that and started with the closure early this season. According to their email, it would take around two months to finish and re-open the lounge. We’ll have to wait and see what Gulf Air is promising us in the newest improvement to their local lounge.

First/Business Class Lounge, DMM

Back to blogging! well, since I have moved out of Kuwait last April I’ve relocated temporarily in The Eastern providence in Saudi Arabia. From there, I really hated driving the usual 4 hours drive back to Kuwait since the quality of the road and the available services till now are not of the convincing levels that would induce me to use it regularly. I had to use King Fahad International Airport a couple of time either flying directly to Kuwait or through Bahrain. So, during my business trips I had the privilege to try out the First/business class lounge in DMM and I’m reviewing it here for all of us. Please note that DMM airport was built mainly around the late 80s and was used primarily during the Gulf war for the military aviation services. We’re talking about a very huge set of architecture covering big mass of land. The airport itself has as I remember three levels or more.

Upon checking in the lounge which is right after immigration, you take a left and walk for a few minute to see its entrance.

After the admission which is being handled poorly through manual fill-in of the guest details on a single leaf of paper. The seating area is OK, although the signs of decay on the furniture is noticeable and its a sore to the eye. This is the main hall. Note for international flights terminals, this is the only available lounge. I have not been to the domestic terminal but I know that there’s another lounge there as well.

As you can see, this is used to be very luxurious back in the day. But due to poor management and maintenance, it was reduced to this current stage of retardation.

Now honestly, I don’t really recommend going for the food in this lounge. This lounge by far is the weirdest I have encountered yet. The type of food offered are mainly sandwiches and pastries which are kept inside a glass counter you can’t reach for, and the lounge staff are the ones who are assigned to help you. This is not usual since it does feel like it’s limiting your movement and portions because on some occasions, there was no one at the counter and you just couldn’t access the food. Of course, the quality of the sandwiches is one of the worst I have ever tried. Flat taste and the cold meats taste like paper board! The drinks are not offered usually in cold status so you have to request ice, that is if you found one of the staff to help you. I’m pretty sure there’s no wireless internet connectivity here. The newspaper stand consists mainly of Saudi newspapers in almost all of its formats, excluding the foreign newspapers except for an Egyptian newspaper or two.

Another negative note is the public announcements of flights and the live updates on the designated monitors. DMM airport is really not helpful in their public announcements since it’s not repeated or even considerate in frequency. The flight updates monitors are something from the prehistoric age. I mean they still use the old blue screen with the white typing, looking like something out from MSX DOS! and it’s not even updated regularly.

Overall, I can’t recommend this lounge or even boarding from DMM airport since even if you decide to skip the lounge, there’s no other suitable place to have food and relax. Unfortunately, you’ll have to stick with this one.