I have been in my fair share of interesting airports over the years, but Chongqing Airport had to be one of the strangest. Even more surprising was that Hong Kong Airlines actually had a lounge for business class passengers!
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Since we had an 8:10 AM flight to Hong Kong and I was unsure how long it would take us to get to the airport, we left the hotel around 5:30 AM. We arrived at the airport about 40 minutes later, which was the start of one of the more unique check-in, security and immigration procedures I have seen.
The international departures terminal at Chongqing Airport is separate from the domestic departures terminal. While the current airport is old and dated, they are in the process of building a brand new international terminal, which looks quite impressive.
When you walk into the current international terminal, you are immediately met by a security officer who swabs your bag for presumably bomb making materials. After you clear the security officer, there is a small waiting room area with a restaurant. There are no check-in counters in this part of the airport and instead you have to watch a screen to see when you will be let through your first customs queue to go to the check-in desks. That is because there are only about a dozen check-in desks at the international terminal, so the flights are staggered to accommodate this.
We ended up waiting in the restaurant for about a half hour, at which time everyone started queuing up in the customs line. We hopped in line where we wait for another 10 minutes or so. Once we were let through, you are eyed by customs officials as you walk through some double doors. Past the double doors you have to put you bags through an x-ray machine before you continue on to the check-in counters.
The lines for check-in for our flight were pretty long at this point. I walked up to the desk to see if they had a dedicated business class check-in lane and they did. Once we walked up to the business class lane a HUGE crowd of people followed us. This obviously annoyed the check-in agent who repeatedly had to tell the group that this was a business class only lane. No one moved even though the business class cabin was nearly empty on the flight.
Check-in took about 10 minutes at which points we were handed our boarding passes as well as invitations for Hong Kong Airlines’ lounge.
We proceeded up the escalators where there was no line for immigration. After we cleared immigration we had to clear a second tier of immigration where again there was no line. We then passed through the doors where we encountered the most thorough security I have ever seen at an airport. Not only did they x-ray our bags, but you also get a full pat down by a security officer.
After we cleared security, the Hong Kong Airlines lounge was immediately to our left. Hong Kong Airlines uses a contract lounge at Chongqing Airport which is also shared with Finnair, DragonAir, Silk Air, Asiana and Air Macau.
It is also worth noting that this lounge is a Priority Pass lounge, so if you have a Priority Pass membership, you can gain entry to this lounge.
Upon entering the lounge, we handed the desk representative our lounge invitations and were invited in. Since I was not expecting a lounge of any kind at this airport, I was pleasantly surprised by the lounge. It was one decently sized room with a variety of seating.
The leather seat were comfortable, though the pillows featured an odd leather and cow hide combination and were very lumpy.
When you walk in, to the far right side were a few tables for eating, though all of them were taken already despite the early hour and the lounge just opening.
Immediately to your left when you walk in was the food and drinks spread. It was surprisingly decent and featured both Western and Asian style options.
The staff continued to bring out various food items throughout the time we were in the lounge, though I did not get any pictures as the lounge was filling up quickly and the food was being taken quicker than the staff could put it out.
There also was a selection of beer, wine, water and various soft drinks and teas.
They also had a Nescafe coffee machine which made surprisingly good coffee.
We grabbed a few seats by the window as I love to watch the tarmac. The views are largely obscured by a jet bridge, though the views were still decent enough.
After a quick cup of coffee and a pastry, I gave the WiFi a try. The lounge has a dedicated WiFi, though even with a few people in the lounge early on (most of whom were eating), the WiFi was extremely slow. If the lounge was even half full I could see the WiFi being completely unusable.
Before I knew it, it was time to head to the gate to catch our flight to Hong Kong.
Overall the VIP Lounge at Chongqing Airport is a fine place to spend a little time. Since the lounge services so many flights, I can easily see it getting filled up quickly during peak times. With that said, it is not a lounge I would go out of my way to get to the airport early for. However, if you are just looking for a quick snack and a drink though, it is the perfect lounge for that.
If you have visited the VIP Lounge at Chongqing Airport, what were your impressions?
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