After landing in Sao Paulo, the next step was the dreaded clearing of customs… or so I thought. After all the flak from the United check-in agent, combined with the uncertainty of the United phone agent, I wasn’t entirely sure that Brazil wouldn’t take one look at me, turn me around and put me on the first plane back to the US. Despite everything that I had read saying that there was no need for a visa, I was still a little nervous about entering Brazil.
Quickly walking over toward the connecting flight area, a sign directed everyone with an international connection to make their way into terminal 3. In order to do so, you were required to re-clear security. Half expecting a pat down, and a thorough review of my documentation, boy was I surprised when the longest look my passport received was the time it took the agent to throw it on the conveyor belt to go into the x-ray machine. Yep, they didn’t check my boarding pass, they didn’t even look at my passport, let alone open it up and see if it was correct. None of that… so much for worrying about getting deported… talk about blowing things out of proportion there United.
Quickly I was back in the terminal, and awaiting my next flight.. 9 hours away. It was a very long layover, but the perks of business class are certainly not lost on me. Up the elevator I went, making it to the Star Alliance lounge before anyone else… FIRST!!!
Seriously though, I like empty spaces, fewer people and being by myself in public spaces. So getting here nice and early was great for me. No one to bother me, and I hoped that this would last. Shortly after this people started trickling in one by one. This was fine though as the place is quite large and the open space feel is great. While the attendance was still sparse, I decided to check out the food bar area.
Food offered in this lounge was fairly extensive compared to the options I’ve seen in many lounges up until now. There was some apple tart things… super tasty. Some sandwiches of the meat variety, some cold cuts, salad fixings, and quiche in a small refrigerator. Also some other random sandwiches that appeared to have mayo or something else I wasn’t about to put in my stomach. Also on the side was some pasta and regular tomato sauce. Pasta would become my mainstay while here, seeing as the vegetarian/vegan options were pretty few and far between.
Salad options were available, but wasn’t really all that appealing to me. So I stuck with some crappy pasta and sauce, it wasn’t bad, but also was definitely not exciting either. There is only so much pasta one person can eat before they get a little tired of the stuff, luckily my next flight would feature… pasta!!... Blarg!
It’s worth noting that the Star Alliance lounge does feature showers over by the bathroom area. While they were available, and I could have gone for a shower at this point in my journey, I didn’t try them out. Showers at the lounge were an extra cost, running around $20 if I remember correctly. If you are a Priority Pass member as I am, there is another lounge across the hallway that offers showers for free. This lounge is only open to Priority Pass member for a few hours each day, and they were focused on the slower time in the morning. So take advantage of those showers while you can get into that lounge, otherwise you’re stuck in the Star Alliance lounge like I was, as the timing didn’t line up by the time I realized I could use that lounge.
As the afternoon dragged on and the evening rolled around, the lounge got more and more busy. Once it was busy, it decided to keep pulling people in to make it loud and uncomfortable. Getting around became problematic, as did finding a seat away from any people. At a certain point, about 1.5-2 hours before my flight, I decided to leave. It was far more comfortable out in the normal terminal then it was in the super crowded lounge. If you pass through Sao Paulo in the morning this is a fantastic lounge, if you hit it at night, it’s borderline uninviting. For the majority of my time though, it was perfect, internet was fast and reliable, and overall the food was decent.