This is a review of a lounge at Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) that I’ve visited several times over the years. The Air China First Class Lounge in Terminal 2 is not much of a first class lounge; yet strangely it is a lounge that I’ve always enjoyed spending time in because of the delicious buffet and peaceful atmosphere.
Location, Access and Hours of Operation
This lounge is located in Terminal 2 on the departure level after security and the duty free shops. It is across from the elevators to the Skyteam Lounge. Another and much nicer Air China first class lounge is located in the more modern Terminal 3E at PEK. That lounge, however, is inaccessible to passengers departing from Terminal 2. The Terminal 2 lounge is temporarily closed but normally operates between 06:00 and 22:00 daily.
The lounge shares an entrance with the Air China business class lounge, which is a Priority Pass lounge. Access to the first class lounge is reserved for passengers flying in first class on Air China or another Oneworld airline and passengers having Oneworld Emerald status irrespective of the class of service they are flying. Upon entering present boarding pass and ID and the agents will direct to the left those with access to the first class lounge.
Food and Beverages
The food service and dinning areas are the first part of the lounge after reception. The buffet is definitely the best feature this lounge offers. In spite not having many customers in the first class lounge, the food is always fresh and flavorful. I attribute that to good staff and presenting the hot entrees and side dishes in serving containers that keep the food fresh and steamy.
Hot items are placed in containers that open and close automatically with a wave of the hand. Containers also close automatically after a few seconds if no movement is detected.
A variety of soft drinks, juice, water and beer is stored in a cooler next to the buffet.
The dining area is next to the buffet. I usually elect to take a plate to the main seating area.
Light snacks and other alcoholic beverages are available in the seating area.
Continue past the food service area to find the seating in this lounge. There aren’t many seats but there are never more than a handful of guests in this lounge in my experience. Seats are comfortable although not up to the standards of a good first class lounge. Power is available from outlets along the wall and in the floor.
Light snacks, sandwiches’, pastries and beverages are located along the wall closet to the food service area.
The selection of alcoholic spirits is less than would be expected for a first class lounge. There are three varieties of scotch which I aprreciated.
Amenities are also lacking here compared to other first class lounges. There is no spa just free massage chairs.
Recliners in a private area with TVs.
A small business center.
A nursey and a shower situated off the main seating area.
WiFi is good but the interesting thing is that similar to several lounges in China, you must insert a passport into a machine to get a printed WiFi code. That seems to guarantee that the Chinese government is keeping tabs on your online activity. I assume that is the case, though, even without using one of these machines.
Last, the agents at the reception desk have always been able to speak English and they make boarding announcements for any flights their guest are on.
Other than the excellent buffet, the Air China First Class Lounge in PEK Terminal is more like an average business class lounge than a first class lounge. Still, I’ve always had good experiences there. It was hard to put my finger on the reason for having such good feelings about this lounge. Thinking back on my experiences I realize now that a major reason for that is just the amount of relief in getting through passport control and security. China’s equivalent of TSA has no expedited security screening for frequent flyers.
The security procedures are quite strict requiring removing anything with a battery or power cord, cameras, power cords, chargers, belts, shoes, hats and anything else that might be deemed suspicious. I must remove most of the contents from my backpack and I often still miss an item or two. Unpacking, undressing, scanning dressing and repacking can take a good 10 or 15 minutes. Getting to the lounge feels like a major accomplishment.