Arriving into Shanghai’s Pudong Airport in Terminal 1, I made my way quickly through the transit counter and was able to pass through security quickly as I was one of the first transit passengers in line. Back on the departure hallway, I found it to be dark and really a depressing sort of space compared to Terminal 2. What confused me was the numerous China Eastern operated lounges in this Terminal 1. I thought of going into the first Sky Team lounge but that was not possible as my flight departs near the gates in the 20s, I had to use the lounge closest to my gate. Apparently China Eastern operates several small lounges just by the gates so they might have some sort of capacity control.
Having obtained the lounge invite from one of the lounges I visited first, I made my way to the Gate 22 lounge which was scrawled on the lounge invite. Even though it looks kind of new with a nice reception area, the lounge did not have showers when I asked for them. Instead the lounge agents directed me to walk back to the Gate 19 lounge which has showers. Returning to the Gate 19 lounge, I discovered an empty lounge with only one staff operating the counter and a cleaning lady somewhere in the back. With no other guest, I got one of the 2 shower rooms which was clean and spacious enough.
There is a shower cubicle, toilet and vanity counter inside and it was brightly lit. Two wall mounted dispensers contains shampoo and a shower gel but they were not really labelled properly. There was also a basket containing some useful toiletries like a comb and a toothbrush with a paper cup. Towels were also packed inside a plastic bag for guests to use.
One interesting amenity was a rubber slipper that was provided in the shower room. Granted it might be to prevent contact with the slippery floor, but since it is a shared public slipper used by countless guests, I wonder how hygienic it still is.
After my shower in the Gate 19 lounge, I thought of getting some food and drinks in this lounge as it was quiet and empty. However the lounge agent insisted I should return back to the Gate 22 lounge. The logic of how the China Eastern Business class lounges work in Shanghai Pudong is sure puzzling, considering most of the amenities are the same. I find staff members in Asia generally follows the rules far too closely. I sure wished they could be more flexible in certain circumstances.
While I did not linger in the Gate 19 lounge, it was perhaps average in terms of seating and food selection. There is a magazine rack at the end near the shower area filled with Chinese magazines and newspapers covering all sorts of interests.
The lounge even has a massage chair that seems to be absent in some of the other lounges. So that was probably a nice reason to get assigned to this lounge instead.
Returning to the Gate 22 Business class lounge, I went to find a seat to drop my bags. With an open layout and a being a relatively small size, the lounge is visible from the buffet counter located behind the reception area.
There is a bar counter and a magazine shelf that was filled once again with the Chinese publications.
And beside the bar counter lies the beverage fridge that stocks soft drinks, juices, beers, sandwiches and cut fruit platters. It was also nice that there was ice provided from the refrigerator beside the beverage fridge.
The rest of the buffet section has a variety of hot food and snacks. There are 4 choices of stir-fry dishes, with 3 being vegetable based, and one being a chicken and mushroom stir-fry. Having had dinner on the incoming flight, I was not appealed by the food offered in the lounge.
There are also a choice of fried rice and noodles which is probably the safer choice if one is really hungry.
At the other corner of the buffet table, there is a pot of lettuce fish ball soup along with a variety of snacks and candies. I just grabbed some snacks and tried a bit of the soup for the supper.
Located beside the buffet table are some bar tables and stools catering to guests who wants to eat since the lounge seating only has side tables. Even then the space was not large by any means and the whole layout felt like a small North American airlines lounge.
With a somewhat long layover, I was quite disappointed with what was offered in the lounge especially considering Shanghai Pudong is the main hub for China Eastern international flights. The disappointment went on with the wifi signal which is spotty and does not really allow for video streaming as I was hoping to spend the time by watching some videos.
Many of the seating in the lounge also looked kind of dirty with stains all over and just did not make guests comfortable. If there was any investment China Eastern needs to make, it probably should start with consolidating and renovating these pathetic lounges. I find it reflects badly on an airline if they cannot even manage to put on a good show for passengers in their main hub and maybe that is why China Eastern gets a lot of bad reviews even thought their airline offering is not that bad. To be sure, unless China Eastern does something to their facilities in Pudong Airport Terminal 1, I would avoid long layovers with them, and choose one of the other Chinese carriers like Air China or China Southern which has better lounges in Beijing and Guangzhou respectively.