mardi 8 mai 2018

ONE FREQUENT FLIER AND HIS LOUNGES


On arrival at Miami International Airport last night from Doha, Qatar, I walked past the Café Versailles coffee shop. A dollop of nostalgia hit me; I used to regularly have a cortadito at this shop before and after my visits to Cuba, if time permitted.
I had left Miami on April 24th and 13 days later I was back. Feeling my wallet in my back pocket I realized that I had eaten well at the airports I had transited through but not had spent a single penny!
Airports used in 13 days:
Miami
San Francisco
Singapore
Kuala Lumpur
Colombo
Bangalore
Doha
Philadelphia
Miami

Miami Flagship Lounge on departure and Centurion Club on return
San Francisco Centurion Club, United International Lounge
Singapore Plaza Premium Lounge, Aerotel, Krisflyer Gold Lounge
Kuala Lumpur Malaysian Airlines Regional Lounge
Bangalore Plaza Premium Lounge
Doha Arrival Lounge, Al Mourjan Lounge
Philadelphia  American Admirals Club
 Flagship Lounge at Miami International Airport. There is champagne on offer and also a nice buffet. I have a friend there who occasionally makes an arepa with eggs for me.


How to enjoy these lounges? It is a Frequent Flier’s tale.

 It was good to have a shower and freshen up after the six hour flight from Miami before boarding the 17 hour flight to Singapore
 Centurion Club at SFO, Centurion Clubs tend to have better food selection than Airlines Lounges but they are improving as well 

 I like looking this artsy arrangements of older travel paraphanelia! I keep as a souvenir a similar suit case used by the late Hollis Stabler Sr.  
The United Club International Lounge at SFO was quite reasonable and they had good service as well. 

 When you are travelling you body clock is messed up, so it is alright to have a flute of Moet at 8 AM!
(the decor at United Club at SFO was nothing out of the ordinary)

I was quite impressed with the SilverKris Lounge in Terminal 2, which caters for regional Business Class passengers on Singapore Airlines. My flight to Kuala Lumpur was a short 40 minutes but I spent nearly 3 hours in the Lounge and had a lovely breakfast.









(I have become a fan of Congee after the visit to the KrisFlyer Lounge!)

American Airlines and Qatar Airways, as well as Sri Lankan and Malaysian Airlines belong to the One World Alliance and you are able to use the Lounges of the other, if you are flying through their hub. This comes in very handy when you fly MH Malaysian Airlines from KL or in transit at CMB Colombo.
The MH Lounge at the Satellite terminal at KLIA is a very good lounge, but on this trip I used the Regional Lounge, which is adequate. Both in Singapore and KL, the Lounge has adequate choices of regional cuisine, so Congee in Singapore and Nasi Lemak in KL were welcome.

(The Regional Lounge of MH in KLIA where the ubiquitous Nasi Lemak is presented well)
 It was good to taste some Ceylonese Curry at the Serendib Lounge of the Sri Lankan Airways
On arrival at Colombo Bandaranaike Airport you are greeted with this serene statue of Buddha and I usually take a few seconds to pay my respects.
 My favourite lounge without doubt is Al Mourjan at Doha Hamad International Airport. Over the years I have become friends with so many of the workers there, especially from Sri Lanka. This visit was no exception: new friends Weydman (a Sri Lankan Burger) and Aysman (a Sri Lankan Malay). Old friend Aksam (a Tamoul speaking Moor from Sri Lanka) dropped by the lounge (he was at al Safwa) to say Hello.


The only way to access this lounge is to fly Business Class on Qatar Airways. Once I came in from Amman on Royal Jordanian and flew out to Colombo on Sri Lankan and I was given access to this lounge. There are other lounges for people flying other airlines or other classes of services.




 My Sri Lankan friends from Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar

American Airlines Admirals Club is just ordinary as far as Airline Lounges in America go but recently they have opened Flagship Lounges. In the USA, entrance to Airlines Lounges have different rules, you are almost required to buy a membership regardless of the class you are flying. But there is a way to enter these Flagship Lounges (I like the ones in ORD DFW and MIA) is to have high tier FF status in one of the other One World Airlines. I have Platinum Status with QR Qatar Airways, so I can enter the Flagship and Admirals Cub Lounges in USA.
Lounges are always welcome in that they offer peace and tranquility in these days when the terminals are so overcrowded and more than that; they offer good quality food and drinks.
At the Philadelphia American Airlines Admirals Club, there was a station for freshly made Guacamole (an Ethiopian Christian was making it and laughed when I requested some Injera bread of Ethiopia)
 USA based lounges lag behind the Asian and Middle Eastern airlines in good food quality and diversity, but I have enjoyed Israeli cuisine at PHL Centurion Lounge and Michele Bernstein’s cooking at MIA Centurion Lounge.
To get into Centurion Lounge you have to have an appropriate American Express Card. I have enjoyed them on many an occasion and in Miami, occasionally a shoulder massage before the trip to Havana is always welcome.
Priority Pass is a system, which you can apply directly or be given as part of your high end Credit Cards. To me, this card has turned out to be a lifesaver in many of the obscure or smaller airports where there are no airline lounges: Bangalore, Cochin in India, Siem Reap in Cambodia, and there are many many Lounges that accept Priority Pass. Recently they have begun adding Airport Restaurants to this list. MIA has one airside and two landside restaurants where you can indulge and the first 28 dollars of the food and fare is free. I am yet to try this but I have enjoyed the privileges of Priority Pass at the Lounges mentioned above as well as Lotus Lounge at CMB.
 attendant at the Plaza Premium Lounge at the Bangalore International Airport.

 Not as sophisticated and not comparable to other Asian lounges but a good place to rest. Meager food and wine offerings. Friendly service 


Having Lounge access is much more than about saving money, that amounts to a good bundle as well, but about being able to relax especially if you are flying often, easy access to Wi-Fi as well as good quality food (especially in Asia)