While my flight home to Singapore only departs at 4.40pm, I headed to the airport much earlier than expected. After returning from a little walk in the morning, we took a cab slightly after noon to the Airport. The journey was smooth, although still took about an hour. Beijing Capital Airport is one of the most gorgeous one out there, the design definitely made it look airy and spacious. There was a little queue for check in although it definitely didn’t took long given the amount of counters that were open! I even managed to get an Extra Leg Room Seats at upgrade, which was so awesome. How impressive was the airport when you have a dragon sculpture at the Airport. I was really excited to check out the Air China First Class Lounge! I was impressed that it is a Priority Pass Lounge since this is like the flagship lounge of an airline in their own hub!
Security was smooth and we were airside in a matter of mins. In fact, you do not even need to pass by customs while leaving Beijing, in fact just use the electronic kiosk, I really have to give China kudos for this. Priority Pass have an assortment of lounge offering in PEK, but definitely the Air China First Class lounge is the best. The lounge is located in Terminal 3E and open from 6am to 11pm in the evening. There are signs clearly indicating the lounge, which is located a level above the main floor.
My first impression was great, I was surprised by the sheer size of the lounge. It was huge, spacious and airy. In fact the lounges actually is “open air” in fact it opens up to the Terminal and you also have views of the apron outside. It is bright and awesome. There was a host who was waiting upon exiting the escalator, who direct us to the reception. There was no wait and I sign in immediately after informing that I would like to use my Priority Pass. It is pretty funny since, they didn’t have one of the usual digital machine, but instead I was given a hand written receipt for the entrance.
The area of the lounges were located to the right. I love the views of the control tower in the far distance. Sadly the air aren’t that clear in Beijing. There were plenty of seating in the lounge with are spacious separately. Space is definitely not an issue in China. The two sides of the lounge consists of usually lounges couches in sets of 2 or 4 around the edges, with one side facing the terminal and the other facing the apron. However the whole airport was very stuffy and warm, I was actually sweating a bit there, it aren’t the fault of the lounge but rather the airport!
In the centre of the lounge consists of a refreshment set up, some private rooms as well as the toilets and showers. It seems that these private lounges were reserved for their own airline frequent flyer members, which I saw the room being label with a sign for Platinum Card Members. Which is Air China Phoenix Miles highest status! The room consists of a rather cosy rooms with 5 couches. I’m unsure if Star Alliance members and people flying in premium cabin are able to use it. But it seems that no one is guarding the access at all?
Located on the end and along the apron side of the lounge are where the main buffet line is located. Here you can find a couple of more formal dining tables as well.
There are a couple of hot dishes including of both western and chinese options. There were dimsum, pasta, soup. They doesn’t look luxurious but definitely edible. Since I did not have lunch, I took the opportunity to dine here.
Perhaps the best food offering is the noodle station in the lounge, where you can order hand-made noodles to order. There were Beef Noodles, Zha Jiang Mian as well as Tomato Noodles, there is surely something for everyone.
Drink wise, the alcohol offering is rather limited and underwhelming, for a First Class lounge and of an airline hub. Some normal spirits and a china made Red Wine. I didn’t partake in any of them. There were also juices, soft drinks, coffee and bottled water which seems more fancy that the alcohol. Given that this is China, there are a good selection of tea on offer in the lounge. I will share more on this later on.
I love that they had a couple of refreshment and snacks station located in different part of the lounge, given how huge it is.
The highlight of the lounge was in the front of the lounge, a little circular pavilion that looks amazing. The main attraction here is having chinese tea. There was a nice little corner that is staffed by one of the lounge attendant. It is located around a fancy classic tea log table. You can sit right here and appreciate chinese tea. I spend quite abit of my time over here. It was a very delightful space. Here are some of the tea on offer.
I tried quite a few and spend some time talking to the lady as well as another passenger who was pretty funny. He was complaining how his money was spent on Air China and the quality was not there. The lady was lovely and told me she loves drinking tea and how it is a great job since she could drink tea and work at the same time. It is nice to see that even for her young age, she had a lot of knowledge on tea as well. I had a good insight into tea preparation as well.
I was really impressed and mind blown by the lounge, since my guideline was a Priority Pass lounge. Food and drinks is good, noodle station, spacious places, there is even a tea appreciation area. Definitely the best Priority Pass lounge I have been to! The lounge was barely 20% full when I was there the whole time! Now I understand why they open up to Priority Pass, 28 USD aren’t too bad to cover the expenses.But I wonder is it always this way or just more quiet in the afternoon? However there are no restriction timings with Priority Pass though! Soon before it is time to board the aircraft and this post pretty sums up my short trip to Beijing. I will not be sharing on the return flight since it is rather similar to my outbound flight. Stay tuned for the next trip report which is coming very soon.