United Club Lounge, Hong Kong International Airport; Air China International Business Lounge, Beijing
Hong Kong is one of just two destinations in Asia to have a United Club Lounge (the other is Tokyo’s Narita Airport) serving the airline’s three routes to the US mainland: San Francisco, Chicago and New York (Newark).
One of these – the San Francisco route – features United’s new Polaris business class seat product, and both San Francisco International and Newark Liberty airports this year saw the opening of new Polaris Lounges specifically for passengers travelling in its newest seats.
Unfortunately, the Polaris Lounge concept has yet to roll out beyond the US, though United has hinted that a new separate mini-Polaris space within the United Club Lounge at Hong Kong airport is on the cards.
WHERE IS IT?
Near Gate 60 in Terminal 1, alongside (among others) the American Express Centurion Lounge and Plaza Premium West Hall Lounge. Being near Gate 60 means that the lounge is midway through the airport terminal and is best reached using the shuttle, though it is possible to walk the distance. Once you reach it, you can head upstairs either by lift or escalator to reach the front desk. The Global First Lounge is located behind closed doors on the right, while the business class lounge is straight ahead.
WHO CAN ACCESS?
Both business and first class passengers are able to access the lounge; however, only the latter are able to bring a guest. Business and first class passengers on other Star Alliance-operated flights can also enter, as can Premier Gold MileagePlus and Star Alliance Gold members.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
This is a decentsized lounge, though you may not immediately realise it when you first enter. It’s divided by multiple floor-to-ceiling partitions – cabinets, magazine racks, food stations and the like – that help give the different spaces a varied and quiet feel. The only downside is that it can be a little confusing to navigate when you first enter.
Once you’re inside, you’ve got two main choices of which side to sit on – overlooking the tarmac or the terminal. Seating is quite plentiful with ample choice in format: there are small tables and chairs, armchairs with side tables, or stools. Power outlets are available by some but not all of the seats, so you may need to scope the area out a bit to find a seat with a socket.
The Club Lounge has a reasonable selection of food for breakfast, with the buffet choice mainly comprising Westernstyle eggs, sausages and bacon, alongside a few noodle and dim sum dishes. The pastry, bread and cheese section is also worth trying, as well as the cereal, fruits and yoghurts.
On the drinks side, there are a number of refrigerators with soft drinks, juices and beer scattered throughout the lounge. There isn’t a manned bar – a selection of spirits is available for guests to help themselves to – and coffee and tea are offered from machines. Overall, the selection is enough to tide one over but could definitely do with being a bit more comprehensive.
I only had a relatively brief visit; however, for travellers with a longer stopover there are also shower rooms – these were unfortunately occupied when I was there – and if you need to get some work done in solitude there is a business centre with a photocopier, group seating and three individual rooms/cubicles with a desk and chair for more private work.
It’s a far cry from the Polaris Lounge in select US destinations, but all in all a very pleasant lounge with a comfortable ambience
Undeniably, this lounge is a far cry from the Polaris Lounge passengers can experience in select US destinations, especially when flying on the opposite leg of the airline’s Hong Kong-San Francisco route. All in all, however, this is a very pleasant lounge to visit with a fair number of facilities and a comfortable ambience. Space is plentiful and the lounge didn’t feel crowded, though some aspects such as the F&B offerings could do with being more extensive. Craig Bright