Check-in was quick and simple and security was a breeze. We were at the lounge within about 10 minutes.
Check-in at the lounge was a bit weird, there were way too many members of staff (as tends to be the case in China) and none of them really seemed to know what they were doing.
It seemed that people were just flashing whatever card or pass they wanted, in their vague direction, and just quickly walking by the receptionists without any questioning.
This has to be the only airline operated First Class Lounge on Earth that accepts Priority Pass.
So I guess it says a lot that under this set of extremely loose admission criteria, the Air China F Lounge was still basically empty…
The Air China F lounge is built around a central atrium featuring the bar and buffet area
The first part of the lounge that you pass is an area with lockers and computers. I like being able to store my bag at a lounge without having to deal with an attendant. I like being able to grab a camera, use it for a while, put it away, grab my laptop, put it away, get showered etc. Having to make multiple trips to a manned cloakroom can get tedious pretty quickly, so kudos to this lounge for making things simple.
Coffees made to order. These were pretty good. I guess the addition of syrups is a nice touch for people who hate coffee and just want an excuse to drink a hot milkshake ?
The buffet area had quite a diverse selection of hot and cold options… none of which were particularly great
I didn’t much fancy the idea of desserts for breakfast. The presentation looked nice though
A few cold savoury options
Cereals and toast. There was something quite sad about this section. All the containers looked like they needed replenishing and the fridges were rammed with cellophane wrapped sandwiches (unlabelled) and unbranded local mineral water. Decidedly un-First Class
Design-wise the lounge was great in some respects and downright weird in others. This shot paints the lounge in quite a good light. Some thought has gone into the design, I quite like the idea of the wooden slatted ‘wall’, which opens the space up nicely
However, the seating arrangement is absolutely obscure
Why pile so many chairs into an F lounge, especially without placing some dividers in between them? It honestly had more of a feel of a furniture showroom than a relaxing lounge
One redeeming feature of the lounge: natural daylight
This section reminded me of the old Priority Pass lounge in LHR T1 (this is not a good thing)
Nice vase. To be fair, this shot could easily have been taken in the hallway of a Park Hyatt
More cool Chinese vases
Kamara and I initially settled down in the dining area and ordered from the a la carte menu. We supplemented this with some cold starters. My hot and sour soup was markedly worse than my local takeaway in East London. It also ran a grotesque temperature range from tepid to almost frozen. The cold starters were ok though
The Laksa was… salvageable. It could be eaten. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about the dining options at the flagship Air China First Class Lounge in Shanghai
After that dining experience I felt quite dirty, so figured I’d have a shower. Surprisingly the shower room was spacious, very clean and had absolutely everything you would need. As a point of comparison, JL’s F lounges at HND and NRT don’t have shaving foam or moisturiser and the rooms are very cramped. Conversely BA’s shower rooms at The Concorde Room are spacious but also look like the ideal location to shoot a movie about a haunted and unusually filthy asylum. So in that respect Air China wins
Freshly wrapped towels and slippers are provided
In addition to being clean and spacious the shower had excellent pressure
All in all, the Air China lounge doesn’t have a lot going for it. If you’re connecting it’s worth heading there to use the showers. Otherwise, given the quality of F&B available in the terminal, I’d probably skip this lounge and go in search of some xiao long bao (Shanghai dumplings) in the main terminal area.
After our breakfast I walked Kamara over to her gate, she was flying to HKG to pick up her flight to LHR as her final leg of the US Airways First RTW First Class ticket. (A trip which I’d already completed a week earlier, flying JAL : First Class – Tokyo to London)