One of the things I’ve grown a bit accustomed to over the years is airport lounge access. This all started with my mom, who as a Star Alliance Gold member has access to a lounge in most international airports. When you get off a 14 hour flight, I really find it relaxing to go sit in a lounge, with wifi and a free beer (though for good ol’ motion sick me, it’s often ginger ale instead). So when DH and I were heading to Bhutan and Thailand, I made sure we would have lounge access along the way. I’m really not a lounge snob (I know you are out there) and appreciate whatever is available, particularly internationally. More than anything, I like that lounge bathrooms are typically cleaner than those in the general areas. And the chairs are comfier. And I don’t have to pay $8 for some water (I’m looking at you Charles de Gaulle).
What do we use for lounge access? I carry a Priority Pass (though I didn’t use it on this trip), United Club Passes, and in this case we had access to most of these lounges due to our business class return tickets (that’s most definitely not routine).
So here’s the rundown from Tokyo to Bangkok to Paro to Chiang Mai to Bangkok to Tokyo!
NRT: United Club (Tokyo-Narita)
This is actually one of the nicer, though enormous, United lounges that I’ve been in, and I’ve been in quite a few United lounges. They have draft beer machines (cool!), in addition to offering a sushi selection, snacks (like rice crackers), and a hot soup. While the lounge was crowded, the seats were a good distance apart for some breathing room. The toilets…oh Japanese toilets. Heated seats, white noise machines, a million options that I can’t even begin to explain (because bidets and bidet like functions just totally skeeve me out…flying, aerosolized fecal matter? No thanks). But if that’s your thing, check out a toilet.
NRT: ANA Lounge (Tokyo-Narita)
The ANA lounge for business class passengers has tons and tons of natural light and is very open. In addition to the concierge which I mentioned in an earlier post to help with tickets, the ANA lounge had a great food selection with hot soup, sushi, crackers, and fruit. The lounge wasn’t that busy when we first entered, but really filled up as we were leaving. The ambience of the ANA lounge was much quieter than the United lounge, and I think the food selections were better. It was also nice to see the light of day. Obviously, ANA also offered the ridiculously complex toilets.
BKK: Air France Lounge (Bangkok)
Options galore! The AF lounge had tons of food and drink options, and was surprisingly open at the ungodly hour we were there (like 4am). Seats were not super comfortable (is that a French thing?) but there was no one there so we could spread out and do what we pleased. Staff seemed half asleep and weren’t really around (don’t blame them and we didn’t need anything anyway).
BKK: Thai Airways Silk Lounge (Bangkok)
CRAZY BUSY. The staff was constantly going around trying to locate two seats for individuals to sit together. While the food was some of the best out of all of the lounges, it was incredibly crowded. That said, they were speedy speedy at clearing plates and cleaning up after guests that had left. Also constantly bringing out fresh food. Decent, though strange food choices, like a delicious soup and some bbq chicken wings. Totally like a cavernous pit, there are no windows and dim light (thought it was night, too).
CNX: Thai Airways Silk Lounge (Chiang Mai)
It was here I found my precious cup of noodles in tom yum flavor. To say I am obsessed with tom yum would be putting it mildly, and who doesn’t love a good ol’ cup of ramen (which I’m sure contained my yearly dose of MSG?). This was the smallest lounge of all the ones we entered, but was comfortable–despite the stares of some folks across the room who were smuggling the tom yum ramen soups in their luggage (not relevant, I realize, but who does that?). They had some interesting looking buns in a warmer, but I tend to steer clear as I have no idea how long they’ve been in there. Also a marked lack of spoons! Their desk was very helpful when there was a seat goof on our tickets from Bangkok to Tokyo, and made phone calls and printed us new boarding passes.
PBH: Drukair Lounge (Paro)
Pretty much what I would expect in a small, remote airport. Nothing exciting, though they do have some delicious Indian candies and definitely free and fast wifi. I can’t ever turn down a bottle of Fanta in the morning it seems, so that was appreciated. Fun to watch the planes take off and land through the 2nd story windows. Also a vicious air conditioner, which I was convinced was giving me Legionnaire’s disease (yes, studying infectious diseases does make me a weee bit more paranoid than the normal human).
There you have it, just in case you were headed in any of these directions, or just wanted some random lounge trivia!
Have a favorite lounge in Bangkok or Narita? Don’t like airport lounges at all? Tested out those robot-toilets in Japan?