United Club Lounge, Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Air­port; Air China In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness Lounge, Bei­jing

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS -

BACK­GROUND

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

VER­DICT

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

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