Review – The VIP Airlines Lounge (JAL Contract Lounge) – TPE

The last lounge at Taipei Taoyuan Airport (TPE) that I ended up visiting during my travels was the VIP Airlines Lounge. This used to be the JAL Sakura Lounge a few years ago, but is now owned and operated by a third party. JAL uses this as their contract lounge for their full fare Y and business class passengers on their few flights a day that depart from TPE.

Introduction: Taipei Mileage Running Extravaganza
Review – American Airlines 767-300 Business Class – MIA-JFK
Review – British Airways Galleries Lounge – JFK
Review – Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class – JFK-HKG
Review – Dragon Air G16 Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific The Bridge Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific The Cabin Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific 777-200 Business Class – HKG-TPE
Review – Sheraton Grande Taipei Hotel
Review – The More Lounge – TPE
Review – The Premium Plaza Lounge – TPE
Review – The VIP Airlines Lounge (JAL Contract Lounge) – TPE
Review – JAL 767-300 Economy Class – TPE-NRT/NRT-TPE
Review – JAL Sakura Lounge (Near Gate 61) – NRT

Review – JAL Sakura Lounge (Near Gate 92) – NRT
Review – JAL 777-300ER Economy Class – NRT-LAX
Review – The Club At DFW Lounge (JAL Contract Lounge) – DFW
Review – JAL 787-8 Economy Class – DFW-NRT

Since my flights were all on full fare Y class tickets, I had access to all of the same lounges that business class passengers had access to during my trips. It is worth noting that this lounge is accessible to OneWorld Emerald and Sapphires who are traveling on any class of ticket.

The VIP Airlines Lounge did not open until 6 AM, so I ended up spending the evening in the Premium Plaza Lounge, and then headed over to the VIP Airlines Lounge early in the morning just for a change of scenery.

JAL operates their flights out of the D Zone – usually gates D6-D10 in my experience. The VIP Airlines Lounge is located just outside of gate D6, so it was much more centrally located to my departure gate(s). You will want to follow the signs over the walkway to reach the lounge, which has a pretty nondescript entrance on your left hand side.

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There is a very small sign outside the entrance which explains who can enter this particular lounge, though you will have to get up close to read it.

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Upon entering the lounge I was greeted by the friendly associate who was pretty surprised I was already there as they had just opened the doors. She quickly checked me in though and let me know my flight was on time. At that point, I turned around and made my way into the lounge. The lounge has various rooms, all of which were connected by a long corridor.

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The first room featured a nice selection of seating to the left and reminded me very much of a typical Admirals Club lounge setup.

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To the right, the room was partitioned off into two areas. The first featured some small desks that reminded me of the desks in the stacks of the library from when I was in law school.

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The second area featured the ever popular in Asia leather massage chairs.

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I do not know why, but these types of massage chairs really creep me out. Maybe I am just weird that way.

Continuing on, the next room you reach is the dining area. To the left there was a large selection of table seating.

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On the opposite end was the buffet. They were still stocking up when I got into the lounge, but the selection was actually pretty good. They had a cooler with a selection of wrapped sandwiches and rice balls.

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I had the smoke chicken & ham sandwich and the tuna rice ball and both were pretty good.

They also had a selection of steamed bun, dumplings and rice noodles. I tried just about everything they had on offer and everything was actually pretty good.

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As is traditional for Asian lounges, they also had a selection of powder to add hot water to for miso soup.

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There were also two large coolers that contained a variety of sodas, juices, water and beer. They also had a few sweet cakes in there to select from.

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In addition to canned beer in the cooler, there was a motorized beer tap with Tsing Tao on tap, though it was unfortunately out of order.

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The thing that really made me laugh though was the liquor selection. Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this picture?

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Yes, that’s Johnnie Walker Black and Ballantine’s 12 year old next to Kirkland (a.k.a. Costco) vodka and tequila! Now, I am certainly not someone who is going to sit here and tell you I could tell the difference between Kirkland vodka and Grey Goose, but if you’re going to offer some good mid level whiskey and scotch, at least make the vodka and tequila match for some consistency. Well, that or just pour the Kirkland booze into the nicer bottles ::grin::

At the far end of the buffet was a coffee machine that made fresh ground coffee. The coffee was pretty good in this lounge, which at 7 AM when my body had no idea what was going on was very much appreciated!

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Continuing past the dining area there was one final room that featured an open layout with a variety of seating.

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On the far end there was a small seating area around a television.

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Lastly, along the window were individual seats and desks that overlooked the lovely airport parking lot.

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I opted for one of these seats along the window and was very happy to see that each seat featured its own power outlet.

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I really hate when lounges offer desk space, but you have to fight over the outlets. Having one at every desk eliminates this issue entirely, which is nice.

The restrooms were near the entrance and were small given the size of the lounge, but perfectly adequate while I was there. They were also very clean, which was a nice change of pace from The More Lounge.

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I ended up doing a few hours of work and had a few cups of coffee. One thing to note about this lounge – bring your parka. It was freezing! I think that was probably why I was drinking so many cups of coffee – I was trying to keep warm!

The internet connection in the lounge was good while I was there and closer to the flight the lounge really filled up. Even with more than 50% of the lounge occupied, the WiFi was still working perfectly well.

Final Thoughts

The VIP Airlines Lounge was a pretty good lounge overall and if I had not experienced the Plaza Premium Lounge, this would have received my nod for best lounge I visited in Taipei. Other than the freezing cold temperature, this lounge had most everything I look for in a lounge – a decent selection of tasty food, an ice cold beer, a seat next to a power plug and a desk to work on my laptop from. I would not go out of my way to check this lounge out, but if you have access to it and an hour or two to kill before your flight, it is worth checking out.

What is your favorite lounge in Taipei?

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