Air France IAD Lounge

Author: Mange  |  Category: Air France, Lounges, Sky Team Lounges, Washington [IAD]

Today I visit the Air France IAD Lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport. I am greeted by two nice girls at the counter and is immediately struck by a fresh feel as I step into the lounge. Kind receptionist Isabelle M. Bauvir explains that this particular lounge opened up in may 2010.

Edibles include tuna, ham, cheese or vegetarian sandwiches. Snacks and fruits are available, the apples individually wrapped in transparent plastics that gives them an unnatural but tasty looking lustre. You can also find fruit salad, pastries and cups containing small portions of rice pudding.

I am also glad to find cheese among the snacks. This means that even LCHF fanatics can enjoy a piece of snacks.

Coffee is dispensed by a “WMF Bistro!” automaton but at least the espresso leaves room for improvement. Not really agreeing with me on that point, patron O. Malm says: “It tastes good, and if you are fond of rice pudding, then I can recommend the one served at the Air France IAD lounge.”

Facilities include showers (towels can be borrowed without fee) but no resting areas. Instead first class ticket holders can enter an exclusive area of the lounge where lights can be dimmed on request. In this area a hot meal can be ordered by the select few granted access. Even though my ticket reads economy, Ms Bauvir is kind enough to let me have a peek.

A manned bar serves you stronger liquor. I reject the first couple of cognac suggestions but accepts a glass of Curvoisier. The soft sweet taste feels like cotton in my mouth.

Reading material is dominated by french magazines and encrypted WiFi is freely available. One thing I miss are power sockets. There are some sockets available in certain areas but none in others, eg the dining area. “Our parents raised us not to work while eating” , a member of the staff claims. I smile at this amusement and let my laptop continue drain its battery.

As I am about to leave, Ms Bauvir grants me one more favor by upgrading my seating. Thank you very much!

Sala Pau Casals at Barcelona [BCN]

Author: Mange  |  Category: Barcelona [BCN], Sala Pau Casals, Sky Team Lounges

Barely visible behind a tall counter sits Sara to greet the guests of the Sala Pau Casals. The temperature is a bit too warm for my taste but probably comfortable to natives in Barcelona.

Aeroport del Prat means the airport on the field where Prat apparently is the name of the area which literally means plain or field.

Sara is a little bit shy and reluctant to have her picture taken but after a few tries I manage to get a non fuzzy one that will fit this review just perfectly.

One nice feature I haven´t seen before are real cosy rest places where you can lie down for a little nap. Nice!

Small bread rolls are served along with snacks such as chips and peanuts. Cold beverages can be found in the fridge. The coke is served in cute 250 ml mini cans.

I go grab a Cafe Cortado and a bottle of water and ask Sara if there are showers in the lounge. She says yes and immediately offers to rent me a towel in case I have none of my own. Nice!

Another nifty thing is the mobile charger station where you can lock up your cell phone in a small compartment containing the power outlet. There are different compartments for different types of phones. Very nice but obsolete once the micro-USB becomes the standard form factor of chargers. You can pay with one or two euro coins.

The stationary computers are really good with a splendid Vaio keyboard and a very sharp high resolution Vaio screen. Nice! Your internet session lasts for an hour and then you can request a new one.

The restrooms are adequate however not as clean as one had hoped. Male guests are dripping on the floor…

The small breadrolls are exchanged for cinnamon rolls and I just have to try the ginormous olives. I eat them “sole” but they are apparently meant for martini condiments. They taste good nonetheless.

I found apples! Nice!

Through the panorama window wall you have a great view of the runway where you can see planes land and take off. A television quite loudly shows Spanish news. The rest area is recommended for some peace and quiet.

Now its time for another Cafe Cortado and a cinnamon roll.

Sala Formentor at Palma de Mallorca [PMI]

Author: Mange  |  Category: AENA Lounges, Lounges, Palma de Mallorca [PMI], Sala Formentor, Sala Miró

When I enter Sala Formentor I am greeted by the beautiful Ana at the service desk. I hand her the slip of passage that was prepared for me at the check in counter and is granted access to the lounge.

To my right is a beautiful display of local mallorcan craftmanship, including Majorica perls, Lladró porcelain and Lafiore glass.

The lounge is not very big but contains everything you need. Comfortable chairs and couches with functional tables. At the far end there is a lofty space where I park my backpack. I have spotted a power outlet on the wall and since I have only a borrowed laptop with no battery, external power is what I need.

The cleaning lady (Matilde) has a beautiful singing voice that she exercises while sweeping the floors with a proud grace and elegance.

Sitting on shelves is an assortment of alcoholic beverages and water bottles. In bowls you can find small bags of snacks. At one end of the lounge there is a larger counter with more beverages and snacks. The counter is flanked by refrigerators containing cold sodas, beer and sandwiches.

The sandwiches are quite small and there are only three present as I serve myself. A hungry cyclist could probably put all three of them in his mouth and swallow without chewing. You can choose between ham or cheese.

On the cookie front you can find Valencianas, a sponge cake that very much resembles Magdalenas, and Quelis, a local biscuit made in Inca according to the very knowledgeable Lola.

A coffee machine from Saeco (first time I see one IRL) offers you spanish coffee, including cafe con leche, cortado and cafe corto. I choose the cappuccino to see if it whips up a mountain of cream atop, just as in Mallorcan cafés. Nope, it doesn’t.

The lighting is soft and cosy and right above my seat is a spotlight that provides me with adequate working light.

I fetch a bowl of peanuts and a bottle of cold water from the fridge and discuss the spanish name of peanuts with Ana and Matilde. In spanish its cacahuetes but sometimes referred as Jamón de Mono (ham of monkey).

The lounge offers wifi (open) and stationary computers that unfortunately have a spanish locale. I click “Aceptar” in a few dialog boxes and hopes that none of my passwords will be saved on the computer.

The restrooms are clean and odorless. In the handicap toilet there is a nursing table and the only negative thing is the odor automaton hanging loose by the urinoar. Still works though.

I take a quick stroll over to the Sala Miró. I am greeted by the pretty Lola that tells me about local Mallorcan beverages. Sweet liquor before dinner and mixed liquor after dinner. And of course, Saccao, the chocolate beverage of choice, according to Lola and Maria Ángeles. Its the best!

At lunch, some more edibles shows up in the fridge. Small cold pizza slices and traditional mallorcan omelett with potatoes and onions.

The things missing in Sala Formentor and Sala Miró are showers and fresh fruits and vegetables and maybe something warm to eat.

New Senator Lounge at Munich airport

Author: Nick  |  Category: Lufthansa, Lufthansa Lounges, Munich [MUC]

I noticed this week that Munich has got a new Lufthansa Senator Lounge in their Schengen terminal. It was just luck I learned, as I was original on my way to the normal lounge I go to, just on the right side after the security check. As they are re-constructing part of the lounge, which happens to be the Star Alliance Gold card side I was told by the personnel that there was a much nicer lounge further down the terminal.

I thought they just wanted to make sure to spread the load on the lounges, and that this lounge would be the same as all other Lufthansa lounges with gray and yellow interior, and the same kind of accessories. But to my surprise that was not the case. The lounge had a totally different interior, more relaxing, and modern. It has roughly the same kind of food. But they have a open bar with personnel that are more then happy to do you a nice cup of coffee, espresso or if you like me prefer a drink instead. Just ask them and the will be more then glad to help you.

The lounge also had computer stations, TV and shower rooms for does who want to freshen up a bit. I think the best of all was that the environment was much more relaxing then in then normal Lufthansa lounges, even though it was quite crowded at the time I was there. I have a feeling that this is one of the first lounges in a row of new upgraded senator lounges that we will see from Lufthansa.

I checked out Lufthansa’s new on the web and this is what the have to say about it:
“From the end of September 2009 Lufthansa Senators at Munich Airport can look forward to more room to relax in comfort and a welcoming ambience: an additional Senator Lounge with almost 700 m2 of floor area at Gate G24 will double the existing lounge offer in the Schengen Departure Area.

The stylish interior and more than 130 seats will create a welcoming atmosphere, whilst a generously sized comfort zone with TV area and comfortable Relax armchairs will give passengers a chance to unwind. The shower area, with its high-quality fixtures and fittings, will offer you the opportunity to freshen up. In the bistro zone you can enjoy a hearty breakfast or hot and cold regional specialties. Thanks to an extensive choice of work areas, you can use your free time to prepare for your next meeting.

With the opening of the new Senator Lounge, you will have a total of three Senator Lounges, the Senator Café and two Business Lounges available to you at Munich Airport.”

I took the chance to take a couple of pictures just to give you some ideas of how it looks like.

KLM Crown Lounge at Schiphol, Amsterdam

Author: Mange  |  Category: KLM, KLM Crown Lounge, Schiphol [AMS]

Gold members are being granted access to the KLM Crown Lounge. Boarding card was required but non-affiliated airlines did not qulify. For instance, my trip booked from Linköping to Florence had first leg under KLM wing but second leg under Meridiana. The latter boarding card not accepted since Meridiana being non-affiliated.

Multimedia: the lounge offered WiFi, TV, stationary workstations with free 30 minute internet sessions (no limit on the number of sessions) and magazines. Unfortunately most of the magazines were french, only a few in english (could have been even only one [TIME Magazine]).

Board: basic snacks, soup, bread rolls and condiments. The offered edibles varied over time. At lunch, a bowl of nacho chips and sallad appeared. An assortment of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages included nice cognac, coke, juice, milk and water.

Staff: the staff offered flight information as well as lounge information.

The most comfortable seats were found in the TV area where the sound was coming from speakers built into the head rests.

Big but not that good at SFO…

Author: Nick  |  Category: Red Carpet, San Francisco [SFO], United Airlines

The United Airlines Red Carpet lounge at San Francisco airport is big, but I wouldn’t say that it’s good because of that. I guess my feeling is based on the fact that I’m used with European and Asian lounges, which is offering a lot more then North American lounges.

The lounge in Terminal 3 is a quite nice looking big lounge, and it has a bar. But it doesn’t offer any real food, the only thing you can get here is some light snacks, as well as coffee and non-alchoholic beverages. If you like to have something stronger you have to buy it, and a beer cost from 5 dollar. So it is a little bit disappointing when you are used to lounges in other parts of the world where everything is free.

United Airlines seems to have a strange policy for Star Alliance members. Normally a gold member would be allowed to bring one guest to the lounge, but United states that they have a non-guest policy. So don’t be supprised if you can’t bring a guest into their lounge even if you think you should be allowed. But it is one thing this lounge have, and it is a good view over what is happening at the airport, everything, even a single bag they drop, can be seen from the windows here.

If you still like to get to this lounge you will find it here.

One of the best places for food…

Author: Nick  |  Category: Frankfurt [FRA], Lounges, Lufthansa Lounges

The Lufthansa lounge in Terminal A, Frankfurt, is one of the best places if you’re really hungry. The Senior lounge there is always well equiped with food, but a little depending on the time of the day. At evening they have things like pasta and hotdogs, not only the light snack which is nothing if you are looking for food at days when you haven’t had a single meal. They even have staff cooking the pasta in the lounge, and not only heating food, as they do in a lof of other lounges. What you also can find here is a smoothie bar. So what ever you might think about Lufthansa, one thing is for sure, they know how to satisfy your hunger.

Security check – quick guide, ehh…quicker guide

Author: Tom  |  Category: Airports

Spending too much time in line for the security check? The tightened security checks do take time, but there are ways to speed things up, even in fast-track. Here are some guidelines to get you and your co-travellers through quickly.

Liquids: You probably know this by know, but it happens all too often so I’ll repeat it: No liquids in containers bigger than 100ml (3.5 fl oz) are allowed. Also, there’s a maximum of 1l (35 fl oz) in total. The containers need to be placed in a clear transparent bag and shown to the personell. If it’s inside your carry-on luggage, you have to take it out and everyone will get delayed.  Want to play it safe and do not need any medications and such? Then just drink up and proceed.

Metal objects: prepare yourself by removing all metallic items from yourself prior to entering security check. This includes wristwatch, belt, mobile phone, change etc. If you carry a jacket, put the stuff in your pockets or put it in a small plastic bag for your convenience. Just throwing all the stuff in a tray means it takes time to retreive later on.

Shoes: Most often, security personell instists on removing your shoes, especially if you wear boots or bigger shoes. The fastest way to get through is to just remove them prior to entering the metal detector.

Laptop: Well ahead of putting your stuff in the X-Ray, remove your laptop and put it in a separate tray.

Other: Remove your Jacket/hood/cap and anything that could possible conceal a weapon or similar. Use your imaginiation.

After X-Ray: Remove your items as soon as your allowed to. Clear the area and repackwhen your not obstructing your fellow passengers behind. Too many times people start dressing at the end of the X-Ray belt and is causing delays. Often there is a area nearby where you can put on your shoes and pack your bags. Use it.

Finally, arguing with the security personell does not get you or anyone else through quicker. Just do as your told and everyone will be on their way to the lounge in no time.

Diners lounge have had a face-lift

Author: Nick  |  Category: Airports, Copenhagen [Kastrup], Diners Lounges, Lounges

I haven’t been on the Diners lounge in Copenhagen airport for quite a while, mostly because of the gold card I have in Star Alliance, which have given me what I need when traveling. But this journey I was in hurry and the closest lounge was the Diners lounge in Copenhagen. So I thought I pop by to see if they still were offering both beer, wine and hard liquor.

And actually they still did. But the whole lounge had got a little bit of a face-lift. The old chairs and quite boring look had been refurbished into something much more fresh. Of course the premises were still the same, which means a quite long and narrow room, but they could still offer what everyone need if being a little bit thirsty. So if you have access to the Diners lounge and want something to drink in the transit hall, between pier A and pier B, then this is an okay place.

I only had time for a single beer this time, but I could have stayed there for a couple of more drinks.

Diners Lounge Cph

Diners Lounge Cph

Diners Lounge CPh

Diners Lounge CPh

Leaving for Madrid…

Author: Nick  |  Category: Copenhagen [Kastrup], Spanair, Stockholm [Arlanda], Travel Stories

I woke up this morning, slightly late, looking forward to a short business trip to Madrid, at least short from a distance perspective. My route was based on a train journey from Linköping to Stockholm, then to catch a flight to Copenhagen and transfer in Copenhagen to a flight to Madrid, pretty simple. Well, it didn’t start out that good.

My first mistake was trying to change my train ticket in the last minute. I noticed that our travel agency didn’t book the kind of ticket they was suppose to do. So I called them up about 15 minutes before the train was about to leave, and asked them to change the ticket. The finally did, and I picked up a new ticket in the machine at the train station.

The train to Stockholm was 30 minutes late before even leaving Linköping, and this was just the beginning. When the train finally arrived, 30 minutes late I was freezing after having waited outside in 2 degrees Celsius. I got on the train and was looking forward for a nice ride up to Stockholm, spent with a book. Unfortunetly it turned out to be someone already occupying my seat. I thought he was on the wrong seat, but it turned out that the travel agency re-booked my ticket to the wrong date; my new train ticket was for tomorrow.  Well, not much to do, just to try to find an emtpy seat, which wasn’t possible. I spoke to the personnel on the train, explained the situation, and it turned out to be a fully booked train, so guess what, I had to spend my time in the train restaurant. Not what I was planning. 

Before even getting to the next train station, in Norrköping, we had increased the delay with about 20 minutes. Well this kept happening during the whole journey, up to the situation where the train was 1 hour and 20 minutes late. I was quite bored of drinking coffee and trying to read in a crowded train resturant by the time the train got to Stockholm central station.

Well, I managed to catch a train just 15 minutes later to Arlanda. Checked in and exchanged some money in a hurry, just to be able to get some breakfast at the SAS lounge. The had some really good salmon, which did make the day slightly better. Got me some drinks as well, and then about an hour later I cught the flight to Copenhagen. This went without any bigger problems. FInally I Copenhagen I didn’t have much of time to do something, but I hate to wait, so instead I run by the Diners lounge, which was the closest one. Got me a beer and the straight back, had about 30 minutes in between the flights.

Got on the flight to Madrid, which was with Spainair, not my favourite. The flight was really boring, and it takes almost three hours. The weather in Madrid was poor, so on the way in to Madrid airport we caught some turbulence, which was really bad. The plane was going back and forth, up and down. The pilot was on the way to touch down with the plane when we it caught a really bad side wind, and just with like 20 meters before touching down he had to interrupt the landing and put the enginees on max just to avoid hitting the ground with one of the wings. The plane went very steep back up again in the sky, and we had to make another try, which took about 30 minutes. This time it went better, eventhough it didn’t feel like the pilot had much of margins this time either. This was one of the few times I have heard the crowd cheer and applaud a landing.

Well, after all I got there eventhough it was not a short trip and not an easy one either.