Lounge Review

Lounge Review: Delta Sky Club - Concourse F - Atlanta

Atlanta lies only 2 hours by car from Greenville, South Carolina, by air the flight is an impressively fast 25 minutes. I prefer to fly out of and into Greenville; it's easier for friends and family to pick me up. Greenville also is less of a hassle getting through TSA screening points since passenger traffic is so much lower than at a major airport like Atlanta. Soon after arriving at the airport, we boarded the plane and made way on the first of many legs on my biggest trip of the year.



After landing in Atlanta and deplaning at Concourse T, I had a long walk to the international terminal which is located at the opposite end of the airport. While Atlanta does have a train system to travel between concourses, I decided to walk the long distance between concourses. After all I was about to sit on a plane for 8 hours, seems best to get a little exercise before hand.

Once I stepped into the international terminal, I walked down through the departure gates to get an idea of where things were in the terminal since I’d never flown internationally out of Atlanta. After familiarizing myself with the lower level, I was ready to go check out what is considered to be one of the better of the Delta Sky Club lounges. Only problem is, I couldn't find any signs directing you to where it was. So after looking up the location on a terminal map online, because it also wasn’t shown on the in-terminal maps I saw. I discovered it on the second level that I had not yet visited.

Entering the lounge, the staff was extremely friendly and inviting. After a few moments fiddling with the non-working mobile boarding pass, I was on my way into the lounge. The first thing that struck me was how much smaller the lounge was than I was expecting. In the lounge is the well advertised sky deck (outdoor seating), a large sitting room indoors, a long sitting hall area and a small loft in the main room. It probably is quite large, but the way it is laid out, things seem much smaller than they likely are.

 Main Seating Area

Main Seating Area

After checking out the vegetarian food options, I headed out to the Sky Deck to check it out. The Sky Deck is an open air deck that is one of the few places in the world that you can actually be on the secure side of the airport and be able to go outside. Keep in mind that this is Atlanta, so it was quite hot outside, and I was attempting to charge my phone. Atlanta heat and a charging device do not mix well. Both my phone and my tablet started to get hot.

In an effort to avoid overheating my electronics and myself, I moved inside for the remainder of my time there.



Overall the lounge is certainly better than my other experiences in Delta lounges, but concourse B has actually just opened a brand new lounge that looks to be on par with the international lounge if not better. Despite the concourse F lounge being one of the best Delta lounges I’ve been in, it is still a lounge from a US based airline, so it was a little lackluster, and did get fairly crowded as the evening rush made their way to the airport. 

One thing I do appreciate about US airline lounges is that they tend to do buffets over served food. I've found that served food tends to be difficult to order if only because there often isn't anyone around to order from when you want to get something.

Food at the lounge was pretty standard for a US based lounge. Cheese, fruit, crackers, cookies, other snacks and a few soups and hot dishes.

 Crackers, Chips and Cheese

Crackers, Chips and Cheese

 Soups

Soups

Soups on offer were Italian Wedding and Red Lentil. I did not try either, but it is worth noting that many of the lounges for Delta are now serving a Squash soup that is vegetarian, and it is very good. I was able to try some on my return to the US at the LA lounge. If your lounge offers that option, I recommend that, keeping in mind it is a tad bit on the sweet side.

Back in Atlanta, I made my way to the hot dishes table. There were only two options, the one I chose was the vegetarian pasta. Really it was run of the mill, just sauce and pasta, nothing too exciting. If you're hungry though, it'll do the trick. Personally I didn't go overboard since I knew a meal would be served on my Virgin Atlantic flight. 

 Pasta Dish

Pasta Dish

Once I had some food, I made my way to the main seating area where the views of the aircraft were great. That is certainly one thing going for this lounge, it has one of the better views of the many lounges in Atlanta. I say that because many of the other lounges sit much lower and closer to the tarmac, also the other lounges tend to see rows and rows of Delta planes. Concourse F is an international terminal though, so you get a range of aircraft passing by during the day and variety is the spice of life.

 View From Lounge

View From Lounge

Really the lounge isn't as great as I had hoped. It did get fairly crowded in the lounge, and the food selection didn't blow me away. It certainly has some unique features, but acting as a flagship lounge, it was not nearly as large and open as I had thought it would be. 

Certainly a good spot to spend the hours prior to your flight, but nothing mind blowing.

Lounge Review: Star Alliance - Sao Paulo

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.

Lounge Review: Art and Lounge - Newark

In the last few weeks, I was able to get my hands on the Citi Prestige Card, which has many benefits attached to it. One of the major benefits is the access to Priority Pass lounges. Roughly a week after my Citi Prestige card arrived in the mail, my Priority Pass card came in the mail as well, and just in time for my trip to France.



Since I am travelling with Delta, and not on a OneWorld airline, I actually do not have access to any One World lounges, where normally my Platinum Status would get me into most lounge. Since this was the case, the Priority Pass membership that comes with my new card, was much appreciated. Luckily, Newark has a priority pass lounge (Philadelphia does not) and assuming I had enough time, I was going to pay a visit to the lounge. Things did work out, and while my stay in the lounge was short, I was able to get a feel for it.

Priority Pass has only one lounge in the Newark airport, it is located in terminal B, but oddly enough it is not within the terminal, it’s outside of security. While having the lounge is a nice feature, having to leave the lounge, clear security, and then make it to the gate is fairly problematic in that it requires you to factor in security times. As everyone knows, security is not exactly known for their speed. Though the security lines were virtually non-existent while I was at Newark, it could be a serious issue at higher peak times.

After arriving at the airport, I made my way through the airport to the lounge. Priority Pass has the lounge set up between the security entrance for Gate 51-57 and Gate 60-68. The lounge is named “Art and Lounge” and speaks to the artistic nature of the lounge. Art is a focus being huge on the walls, seating is fairly modern art feel. After arriving, I checked in with the desk and proceeded into the lounge. First thing you notice is that this lounge is small… really small. There was maybe 15 people inside and it felt like the lounge was half full. However, over by food was a little eatery like nook where no one was sitting. Seemed like an excellent place for me to set up shop. I didn’t really pull anything out since there was very little time until I needed to head for security and over to the gate.

The lounge attendants were setting up dinner service. Really the selection wasn’t big, but it’s a small lounge. At the bar there were a number of self serve wines, water and juices. Behind the bar upon request was some hard liquor if that was of interest to you. I’m personally not a fan of the taste of alcohol, so I stuck to some apple juice.

At the buffet, there was a small salad bar setup. Peanuts were my choice, since nuts are a go to snack for me, can’t go wrong with some nut based protein. There were also some water crackers there to snack on. At the other side of the bar, things were starting to be set up for a dinner service. Food was coming out, but much of the bar was unfilled at the time I was there, so I’m not sure what was on offer other than some finger sandwiches. Looking at the sandwiches, they looked anything but vegan, so I avoided them… not sure I would have tried them even if they were vegan, they certainly didn't look too appetizing.

while my stay as short, it was a good place to get away, but the patrons there were fairly obnoxious and unfriendly with the staff. Check-in was met with an unfriendly attendant. It was a little too small, I’d hate to see this place during a peak time. Really, it is a place to stop for a few minutes, but I wouldn't stick around for any period of time.