Posts Tagged With: Airline Clubs

Review: SWISS A340-300 ORD-ZRH and Marhaba Lounge ZRH

Return to International Travel – Introduction
Review: SWISS A340-300 ORD-ZRH and Marhaba Lounge ZRH
Lodging Review: Sina Villa Medici, Florence, Italy
Our Time In Florence, Part 1
Our Time In Florence, Part 2
Lodging Review: Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris, France
Our Time In Paris, Part 1 (Louvre, Sainte-Chappelle, Arc, Eiffel Tower)
Our Time In Paris, Part 2 (Versailles)
Our Time In Paris, Part 3 (Catacombs, Musee d’Orsay)
Viking Kari and an Afternoon in Montmartre
Our Time in La Roche-Guyon and Vernon/Giverny
Our Time on the Normandy Beaches
Our Time in Les Andelys and Le Pecq
Lodging Review: Renaissance Republique, Paris, France
Review: Air France A350 CDG-ORD

For our flight to Florence I wanted to try an airline I’d never flown while still paying a reasonable price. The SWISS flight from Chicago to Florence via their hub in Zurich fit the bill perfectly. At the time of booking there were two ORD-ZRH flights and only the earlier flight had open economy award space for my friend to use. But that flight was much more expensive than the later one so she booked a long layover in Zurich so we could be together on the final leg into Florence. But a few months out SWISS changed her to the evening flight with me, which worked out great for us.

Our Experience in O’Hare T5

Even though our ORD-ZRH flight did not leave until just after 7 PM, I booked my Memphis-Chicago leg to arrive around 1:30 PM. At a mid-sized airport like Memphis I always take irregular operations into consideration. If there was something wrong with my plane I’d still have time to take a later United flight and still make the connection. If that flight was full there was at least one if not two American Airlines flights that United could have put me on to ensure I made the flight to Zurich. I was willing to wait at O’Hare a bit longer than I had to if it meant I was on the long-haul flight since that was SWISS’s last flight of the day.

The last time I’d flown out of O’Hare’s international terminal (T5) was my flight on LOT Airlines to Vienna via Warsaw in 2019. Back then, while the O’Hare train between terminals was out of commission, I was able to go to one of the American Airlines concourses and catch an airside bus over to T5, thus avoiding the hassle of security again. While I checked for that this time, it seems it’s been discontinued since the train is once again working. That’s a real shame in my book.

So it was that at about 2:30 PM or so I met up with my friend in the lobby of T5. While I could have gone through security at that time, we learned that the SWISS counter only opens two hours before the flight so there was no way for her to check her bag. As there’s not a lot of seating on the departures level, we went down to the baggage claim area and found a quiet space to hang out as we passed the time. Fortunately I’d had lunch in the terminal in Memphis and she’d eaten before coming to the airport so we were able to just sit and chat until the counter opened.

Once her bag was checked we went through security and to the Swissport lounge which serves both SWISS premium cabin passengers/elites and is the Priority Pass lounge. Unfortunately on that day it was not accepting Priority Pass customers. I’ve since learned this is pretty normal in the evenings as there are a number of airlines who use this as their primary lounge.  Since my friend was traveling in economy she had no other lounge access and we skipped it altogether. We ended up buying sandwiches and drinks in the terminal and eating them in the gate area. I knew it would likely be 8 PM or so before we were served dinner on board and knew I’d have a headache if I waited that long to eat. As it turned out my friend slept through both meal services in economy so it was a good thing she ate when she did!

SWISS flight LX 9 – A340-300

Our flight departed from the far end of T5 which is either new or has been completely renovated, I’m not sure which. While there are no services near the gates in the gate M33 area, there are large restrooms and not a lot of people. The ceilings are high and the windows are huge, giving the whole area a light, airy feeling. I look forward to returning at some point when construction is complete in this section.

SWISS A340-300

LX 9 ORD-ZRH A340-300
Departure: 7:10 PM (scheduled) 7:04 PM (actual) 7:18 PM (takeoff)
Arrival: 10:20 AM (scheduled) 10:12 (touchdown) 10:17 (arrival)
Duration: 8h 18m (actual)
Seat: 11K (Business Class)

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Categories: Airline Clubs, Europe, Flight Review, Star Alliance, SWISS, Switzerland, Trip Report | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

We arrived into Sydney about 0620 and followed the signs for transit security. It seemed a little strange that we had to go through that again when we’d never left a sterile area. I thought perhaps I could bring the water bottle given to us on the plane but, nope, that had to go into the recycle bin. The vast majority of passengers on our flight were not transiting and the line was quite short so it didn’t take long at all to clear it. That completed we took the escalator up to the main floor of the airport.

From there we took a second escalator up to the next level where we passed by the Qantas First Class lounge and entered the Qantas Business Class Lounge.

We were greeted warmly and efficiently. At that early hour the lounge was quite empty which was nice after being on a plane with a lot of people for 14 hours! We were also fortunate that it was a sunny day and we had nice views outside. We could have taken an earlier flight to Auckland but our friend who was joining us from LA wouldn’t have been able to catch that flight, so we ended up with a 5+ hour layover in total. Our friend was arriving about two hours after us, so we probably spent about 2.5 hours in the lounge since she didn’t have access.

The lounge is quite large and stretches in both directions from the entrance. There’s loads of seating in many different forms. It was a bit surprising that not all seats had electrical outlets. I assume next time there’s a refresh that will be rectified.

Qantas Business Class Lounge Seating

Qantas Business Class Lounge Seating

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Categories: Airline Clubs, Australia, Oceania, OneWorld, Qantas | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

SAS Business Class Review: EWR-CPH-EWR

On a recent business trip to Copenhagen I had the opportunity to fly SAS (aka Scandinavian) Airlines between Newark and Copenhagen. I would have preferred to have flow from Chicago but apparently the EWR-MEM legs are codeshares while the ORD-MEM legs (both on United) are not and thus the price would have been much higher. I’ve actively avoided Newark in the past but my other choices were two-stop flights on Delta/KLM or American and BA/FinnAir. Since I have Silver (low-level) status with United I wanted to help get that re-established for next year.

SAS Lounge Newark

I don’t have any photos because it was already fairly busy when I arrived. I had a feeling I’d enjoy the decor in most places on this trip as I love Danish Modern design and that was definitely the theme for this lounge. It was light and airy with big windows looking onto the tarmac though you really couldn’t see much outside as there was a walkway from a gate out to the jet bridge in between.

I arrived around 3 PM for my 5:40 PM flight and the only food in evidence at that time was the salad bar. The soft drink fountain was not working but there was a cooler with lots of cans, a full self-serve bar as well as still and sparkling water on tap. Around 3:30 PM lasagna with meat sauce found its way to the food service area. I got just a little snack since I had skipped lunch. It was nothing special but it did take the edge off until dinner.

The lounge could use a kids area as I didn’t see anywhere for them to play and not all of the children were using their inside voices.

As the afternoon progressed the lounge filled up even more. There are three SAS flights each day and the lounge is used by Emirates as well, so I was glad to move on. Continue reading

Categories: Airline Clubs, SAS, Star Alliance | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

Since Narita Airport is so far from downtown Tokyo (over an hour’s drive on a good day) and traffic is always a question mark, Viking arranged for me to leave the hotel at 6:30 AM for my 11:15 AM flight. As it turned out, traffic was light and we made very good time. Another couple from our cruise was in the same van but they were flying KLM so there were two Viking assistants there to meet us at the airport. One took the KLM couple to the south check-in point while mine loaded my bags on a cart and guided me to the north check-in.

As I was in ANA First, we walked back to the Z check-in area which is a private area for ANA, United and other airlines. There were about 4 ANA reps inside and I was the only passenger at that point so it felt a little strange (but nice!) to be doted on so much. Check-in was very efficient and I was directed to the dedicated security lane, the one that can only be accessed directly from the First Class check-in area. Naturally that process was speedy as well.

Then it was down the escalator to Immigration, where, of course, I picked the line that didn’t move. But I had plenty of time and once the one person holding up the line finally got through, our line moved efficiently as well.

I turned left and walked past a number of shops and one gate before coming to the escalator leading to the airline lounges.

ANA Suites Lounge Narita Lounge Entrance

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Categories: Airline Clubs, ANA, Asia, Japan, Star Alliance | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: United Polaris Club, Chicago O’Hare Airport

I had arrived in Chicago in the morning and spent the day with friends before returning to the airport that evening. My friend dropped me off at O’Hare around 6:15 PM in advance of my 9:10 PM flight. I was excited to be able to spend some time in the relatively new Polaris lounge before my flight.

The lounge entrance is just to the left of the escalators when entering Concourse C from Concourse B/Terminal 1 check-in. There is a first checkpoint where it is verified that you’re entitled to enter the lounge. Then walk through these double doors followed by a left turn into the lounge.

Polaris Club Main Entrance

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SPB Fiji Air Business Class to Los Angeles

SPB Trip Planning
SPB Qantas First Class to Sydney
SPB Park Hyatt Sydney
SPB Sydney Opera House
SPB Around Sydney
SPB Flying to/from Uluru
SPB Emu Walk Apartments
SPB Uluru and Kata Tjuta
SPB Park Hyatt Melbourne
SPB Around Melbourne
SPB Flying to Fiji
SPB Hilton Fiji
SPB Snorkeling Trip
SPB Fiji Air Business Class to Los Angeles
SPB Hyatt Regency DFW

Our flight back to the US did not leave until after 9:30 PM, so we had a full day to enjoy Fiji. Of course we still had to check out well before it was time to leave for the airport but the Hilton has some rooms that are not suitable for overnight guests but are a nice place to lounge until the proper time. Most importantly they’re air conditioned – something not available in the open-air lobby. I really appreciate that because I don’t want to be all sticky from perspiration when I’m about to fly for 10+ hours!

Our driver from Rosie Holidays came to pick us up in plenty of time to get to the airport. This was such a lovely experience compared to Sunbus in both Sydney and Melbourne. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our flight. Since two of us were in business class and there were very few passengers around just yet, the rep at the premium line took care of all of us, which was nice.

From there we wandered through to the Fiji Air Tabua Lounge.

Fiji Lounge Entrance

Fiji Air Tabua Lounge Entrance

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