On a recent trip to Tokyo I explored the United Club and the ANA lounge (review to follow) in Narita terminal 2. Although I wasn’t overly impressed with either lounge, I began to wonder whether having been spoilt with lovely lounges (comparatively speaking) in Australia, are Australians too harsh in their critique of lounges overseas? Read my review below and let me know what you think on the question, Are Aussies too harsh lounge critics?
Location: The United Club is located just before Gate 31 on the Star Alliance side of Terminal 1 of Narita International Airport in Tokyo. This location is relatively handy as its between immigration and most gates that United and Star Alliance carriers use, meaning little backtracking (unlike the ANA lounge which is at the end of the pier resulting in backtracking for almost all gates.
Entry: Having purchased my ticket as a Virgin Australia codeshare on Singapore Airlines I found myself in the odd position of not technically having lounge access in Tokyo as Singapore surprisingly don’t operate their own lounge here. Fortunately, my Star Alliance Gold on Turkish Airlines had a few months remaining, which provided me access to both the United, and ANA lounges. The United lounge allows access to Start Alliance Gold level frequent flyers and passengers flying in Business and First on United Airlines.
Space and Comfort: The United Club is situated on the terminal concourse level with the Global First lounge on the floor above and takes up a decent amount of airport real estate with several sectioned areas containing numerous chairs. The layout is done quite well with Japanese style paneling between the sections giving it a semi local feel, however the seating itself looked a little dated. The window facing the tarmac provided small couch clusters for those wanting a tarmac view, and the other main window provided a long workbench for those wanting to catch up on work. The remainder of the lounge is divided into sections with, you guessed it, more chairs. Within each section were plenty of charging points and telephones available for use.
Food and Beverage: I must say I was really disappointed (although not that surprised) with the quality and presentation of the food and beverage in this lounge. If it were solely for economy passengers, maybe, however this lounge is also for business class passengers and high tier frequent flyers. Stale bagels were the best item available on the menu this morning, which was pretty appalling for an international lounge. There was some tiramisu cake and some assorted cereals but overall not the standard I’d expect from an international lounge. Alcohol wise, drinks included spirits, wine and beer was available from the automated machine. There was a limited range of non-alcoholic beverages available. Needless to say, there didn’t seem much point in coming into this lounge early just to eat.
Staff Service: The reception staff were welcoming providing access to the lounge and the staff cleaning up after guests were friendly and efficient. With very little interaction between the staff and guests, it was hard to judge the service levels with much objectivity. However, my brief encounter was efficient and effective, although not overly warm.
Airport Views: A long window faced the 16R/34L runway providing decent views of aircraft taking off and views onto the tarmac of surrounding gates, so if you’re an #avgeek (which you’re likely to be if you’ve stumbled to this blog) you’ll find the views of planes entertaining. For variety however, take a walk around the terminal which provides great photo opportunities at almost every gate.
Amenities: There were shower facilities available in the lounge, with a dedicated desk available during peak times and standard restrooms available for all guests. Having just arrived at the airport direct from my hotel I didn’t see the need to try out the showers.
Business Facilities: WiFi access was easy with no password required and there were plenty of power points and telephones available within the lounge. Newspapers and TV news were available in various sections of the lounge enabling you to keep up to date with world events. This was probably a plus for the lounge, good connectivity and plenty of power.
Overall: I’m yet to experience any “wow” factor in an airline lounge operated by a North American carrier and this lounge was no exception to this rule. Perhaps as I am used to the service levels in the Qantas, Cathay and to a lesser extent Singapore international lounges, it’s hard to find quality in North American lounges when measuring against a high benchmark. None the less, the food and beverage really let this lounge down, coming no where near what I expect of an international class lounge. If space and connectivity are all you are looking for, then this lounge could work for you.
If you enjoyed this review or want to add some feedback please feel free to tweet me @carlousmoochous . Thanks and I hope you enjoyed the blog!