I wrote before about how I liked Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport, which is the lesser known of the city’s airport as it handles mostly domestic flights. The presence of a transportation hub comprising of city buses, long distance buses, the high speed rail station next to it and a modern airport terminal makes it appealing to travellers who crave the convenience of transferring. However my flight today departs from the smaller and older Terminal 1 which handles the international flights in Shanghai Hongqiao. International destinations are mainly to South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.
Terminal 1, being older has a smaller check-in hall that does not feel as brightly lit. The check-in counters for Shanghai Airlines was quite crowded in the morning, as these are shared with parent company China Eastern. Fortunately, my flight was in Business Class, and there was only a few people in line for the Sky Priority lane.
I checked my bags in as I had my ski boots and other gear inside and obtained my boarding pass. Though there was no lounge invite with entry to the lounge based on the boarding pass. Needless to say there was a moderate queue at security and there was no fast track or premium line bypass, with only one entrance for departing passengers. It took about 15 minutes to clear security which by all accounts is not exactly a long time. The lounge entrance is just opposite the security check area, and considering the terminal is not really large, there was not much trouble navigating around to find your gates either.
Like many domestic airline lounges in China, this one is not much different in terms of the decor. Which is to say, do not expect a lot at all. Inside the lounge it is also very busy so chances are you will be seated with strangers across and beside you. And it was noisy with the clattering of cutleries and people talking on the phone, businessmen holding conversations and the list goes on. As far as I remember, this lounge is not specifically for China Eastern or Shanghai Airlines customers but also for other airlines and holders of certain credit cards so it does get busy.
Inside the lounge, there are 2 sections, one to the right and another to the left of the reception desk. Both are unfortunately as busy and the one of the right side seems brighter though both have views of the tarmac.
For a small lounge, they do serve a variety of food. Since it was early in the morning, there was a couple of breakfast items on the buffet counter just right by the reception desk. They consists of dumplings, some hot buns and dim sum items.
The majority of the items inside the lounge though are packaged snacks, cup noodles and crackers. These are the most commonly found items in airline lounges within China. There are also bottled drinks but they were not chilled. Even those inside the fridge were more or less room temperature. Granted it might be in winter and people do not generally want cold drinks but in summer, these drink coolers are stocked with room temperature drinks too. Lounges in China seem to treat drink coolers as ornamental accessories!
Aside from the food, there was wifi in the lounge which is alright for checking of emails, browsing news and some social media sites but do not expect it to be for watching online videos. There was also some magazines and newspapers but they are all in Chinese language.
The lounge was definitely not the best in terms of comfort especially considering this is the hub for China Eastern/Shanghai Airlines. So it was a disappointment for sure and the airport lounges would be one area to start with if China Eastern is really keen on upgrading its premium product!
Fortunately I did not have a long time before boarding as I did not really intend to stay long in the lounge either. So I actually just grabbed some packaged snacks and head to the boarding gate earlier. See, those packaged snacks does have some usefulness after all.