Sunday, October 16, 2016

Lounge Benefits


I have always seen these signs to Airport Lounges at domestic and international airports, and often heard reviews about these ‘exclusive’ places , and assumed these were for business and first class travellers. Imagine my surprise , when I figured out even coach travellers can access these lounges, if you have the right credit card. I don’t travel often, and always travel light and prepared. Airports in India are purposefully designed to confuse and make travellers wait in lines. So when I recently had to fly international, I decided to try out and airport lounge using my Priority Plus card I got from a new credit card. And I must say, it took a few problems off my plate rightaway.

There are only two lounges out of Bangalore airport, and the same service providers operate them in the domestic and international side of the airport. It is after security check (and immigration, for international flights) , and the entrances to both are next to each other. I decided to walk into the Plaza Premium lounge for my first time. They accept Mastercard, Visa , and a few other cards as well, providing complimentary service. Did not take any photos while I was there, as it was almost crowded, and felt the other patrons would not like it. And I could see why places like these are coveted.

Free Wifi, free food and soft drinks, lots of space to lounge around, and for  an additional price, alchohol, showers and spa ! For long distance and frequent travellers, its the last place to find some comfort. There was no long style buffet there, but enough food to choose from. And deserts , snacks and tea/coffee as well. I spent almost 2 hours in there without realizing how fast time went.

Ok, rant time. The usual complains about Indian Airports is that they let you in only if you bring a printout of your ticket and an Id card to be let in. Or the fact thay they let you board the plane only if they see that your carry in baggage has a security screened tag.  However, my number one complaint about airports in India is the lack of affordable food options. All the food and beverage stalls on the airside price their products exorbitantly high. There are cases where those suckers charge three digit rupee values for something as simple as idli vada. Even the basic water bottle is charged in that range. During my international travels, I have never seen such a practice anywhere else: Europe, Malaysia, Australia…everywhere the prices they charge airside is the same they charge anywhere else.  But in India, it is truly extortion.  And the flights too now charge extra for f&b onboard, and even check in luggage. In most countries, passengers are allowed to bring in some kinds of home prepared meals for consumption on the plane, but this too is not allowed in India. Only exception if it is baby food.

In such a suffocated travel space, these lounges come as a breath of fresh air. I really enjoyed my meal at the lounge. During my transfer at Kuala Lumpur, again I got into Plaza Lounge there. It was a relaxing experience, and with free breakfast.

Well now that I have bitten this bait, I am hooked. Looking forward to somemore such lounge experiences in the future.

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