An oasis for the travel-weary AvGeek – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
If you track the lists of the world’s best airport lounges, you’re probably aware of Turkish Airlines’ flagship lounge at its Istanbul hub. It’s pretty legendary among AvGeeks and the frequent flyer elite. So when we planned an around-the-world tour of Star Alliance carriers, we had to travel through Istanbul to see if the lounge could match the hype.
So what makes this place so great? Sure, we found all the essentials that a lounge should have, like snacks, drinks, and comfy seats. There were plenty of bonus features beyond the basics, like showers, luggage lockers, and freshly-made hot meals. And then there were some features that were just downright zany, and left us wondering “who came up with the idea to have this in a lounge?!”
Read on as we take you on a whirlwind photo tour of everything going on in Turkish Airlines’ CIP Lounge.
Yup, you can race slot cars here – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
A view from upstairs to downstairs of the LATAM lounge in Santiago
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of LAN Airlines’ new VIP Lounge in Santiago, Chile (SCL). The new lounge impresses in nearly every way, especially when compared to its predecessor at SCL. As you may recall, AirlineReporter Associate Editor Blaine Nickeson visited the old one back in March and described it as “very crowded and a little dated.” This new lounge is none of that.
Seating area with computers for use in the background
The new lounge occupies two floors at the west end of the check-in concourse. Located adjacent to the Priority Check-in Area, the lounge is up a few steps (or a short ramp) from the priority security screening area’s exit. Alternatively, for passengers passing through the regular security checkpoint, it can be accessed via elevators that are located just past the duty free shop.
I recently had the opportunity to experience the premium product on two major North American (non-US) carriers. I thought it would be a good chance to evaluate and compare the two different products and see how they stack up! I was invited to Buenos Aires, Argentina, by a good friend of mine whose fiancé is Brazilian. They planned a trip to Argentina and invited close friends. Given that going to South America would mean I had visited all the continents (well, apart from Antarctica), I had to agree. In planning this trip, I decided to use miles to make the trip more affordable.
Much to my surprise, there was no point in booking a flight one-way using miles and the return flight paying cash. Interestingly, it cost the same amount (or more) for a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, compared to a round-trip ticket. This just further reinforced my plan to use miles. I was able to use Alaska Airlines miles to fly Aeroméxico on the flight down, and United miles to fly Air Canada on the return. Funny how that can work, right?
Afternoon offerings include hot soup, artisinal bread along with Hummus, crackers and other more refined snack options – Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter
Domestic airline lounges in the USA do not have the best reputation. A place to get a drink and sit out your flight delay in a dark, cigar lounge atmosphere? United does not like that thought, and they have decided to do something about it.
At first they started renovating their clubs, bringing them up to a new standard. Now they have come into the second phase, and are going to be updating the food and snacks on offer. For many frequent fliers, this should be a welcomed change.
The entry way to United Club in Terminal 2 at O’Hare – Photo: United
I have been through my fair share of United Clubs. I have been a Star Alliance Gold member for years, and like many of you, I am inherently familiar with Goldfish crackers, Tillamook cheese, and yogurt (or chocolate) covered pretzels/raisins. I have had my binge sessions while waiting out a delayed flight snacking on those things while powering my devices.
Considering that an annual club membership could run you as much as $500 a year, the meager snack offerings don’t seem all that great. Those days are now going to be history. United has decided to follow the feedback of their guests, and also a similar trend among their competitors, to offer something a little bit more substantial, even palatable.