On my return flight, I had reserved a flight out of Lyon Airport as my initial plan was to ski in the French Alps. Due to the changes, I had to purchase an additional ticket from Zurich to Lyon. The cheapest fare turns out to be from Air France with a connection through Paris. With an afternoon departure, it gave me time to take the morning train from St. Anton to reach Zurich Airport.
Check-in for my Air France flight was in the lesser section of the terminal which is dark with lower ceilings, unlike the check-in counters for the Swiss and Star Alliance flights. Fortunately there was no queues but travelling in Economy meant I had to juggle a bit of my stuff around, though with Sky Team Elite Plus status, I was able to check all my luggage and ski gear without additional charges.
The Sky Team Elite Plus status granted me lounge access as well past security. As usual, Zurich airport security was very strict and with my backpack filled with batteries and gadgets, it required me to take out nearly everything for a second pass through the scanner. The lounge I was able to access was the Aspire Lounge near the B Concourse which was a bit of a trek from the security screening. It was located on the mezzanine floor, right above the gate level with access via stairs or elevators.
A common reception was shared with the Dnata lounge and I had no problem accessing the Dnata lounge as well. I will include some photos of the Dnata Skyview lounge, noting that more or less the same food and beverage was found in both lounges. Most of the airlines aside from the Star Alliance carriers uses the Aspire lounge with the Dnata lounge providing access to lounge clubs and certain credit card holders.
By the entrance of the lounge, there was a coat hanger and circular dining tables are placed here. On the right side of the lounge, there was 2 sets of rectangular tables that function as communal work tables. This section of the lounge has less people with dim lightings and seems to be the more private quarter.
At the end of this lounge was a sofa with a printer and copier machine placed in the corner. The setup here makes it look like this part of the lounge was dedicated for travelers who need a space to do some work.
Running the length of the window at the opposite end of the lounge, there was a bar table. The window overlooks the terminal below and thus do not receive much natural light. This section of the lounge has a coffee machine with fresh fruits and water served from the console.
Towards the left section of the lounge, there was a cabinet painted in white that functions as a magazine shelf along with a flight information display. Newspapers are placed separately on the black cabinet that acts as a partition to the rest of the lounge.
Past the partition, guests can find more dining space with tables set for groups of 2 people. Along the windows, there are more bar stools with a ledge table for additional dining space in case the other tables are filled.
An island buffet console can be found with cooked food served here including pre-mixed salad and soup. Salad choices was corn, penne, carrot and mixed greens.
Soup choices was different in the Aspire and Dnata lounge, with tomato being offered in the Aspire lounge and vegetable in the Dnata lounge. Hot food was vegetable stroganoff and macaroni with minced meat, so the choices were decent and adequate for a light lunch or dinner.
Carrot cake and apple tarts were served from the buffet console for guests with a sweet tooth.
On the side console along the wall, guests can find the bar with 3 varieties of white wines and 3 varieties of red wines. There is a California Zinfandel Rose wine as well. Canisters filled with crackers, gummy bears and mixed nuts complete the bar area.
Other alcoholic liquors are placed separately on the shelf with bowls of packaged cookies placed below it. There was a box of tea bags as well along with condiments to make your own cocktail.
Beside the bar console, there was a chilled compartment that holds cold sandwiches and yogurts. Soft drinks like apfelsaft, rivella and bitter lemon were available from this compartment as well, though they are served from large bottles that guests have to pour out themselves. Bottled beers were available from this compartment.
Further inside the lounge more sofas can be found and there are metal trays that can slide horizontally for guests to place their drinks and snacks while lounging. The space was furnished beautifully and made for a nice place to sit down and relax before the flight.
There was more conventional armchairs turning into the corner. This has more space for individual travelers since the long sofas were meant to be shared amongst groups.
Washrooms for the lounge was located outside beside the reception and are like any airport toilet. There did not seem to be any shower rooms around so guests should not expect too much. While heading to the washroom, I checked out the Dnata Skyview lounge for a comparison.
Dnata Skyview Lounge
Similar to the Aspire lounge, there was a magazine shelf by the entrance. Next to the shelving cabinet was an open rack with hangers for guests to hang their coats.
Next to the shelves and coat racks, there was an alcove seating area comprised of several bar tables and stools around a TV. A window on the side opens out to the terminal as well though there was some partial views of the tarmac from this lounge.
Continuing along the window, there was more comfortable leather armchairs where guests prefer to be seated in this lounge. Small side tables set between pairs of armchairs make it easy to place your plates and glasses while seated here.
The layout and design of the Dnata lounge is more open and straightforward with a rectangular layout. As the half by the window was for lounging, the other half by the wall was for dining with the buffet and bar console set along the wall.
Tables in the dining area was more default cafeteria seating with a circular table with 4 wooden chairs. Meanwhile the food and beverage served in this lounge has less variety so I would definitely rate the Aspire lounge to be the better one to visit.
Both lounges are basic in terms of amenities offered and only 2 hours of free wifi was provided so guests with long layovers would have to pay for internet which makes it a huge inconvenience. This is something to consider when flying through Zurich on any airlines not within Star Alliance since the Swiss lounges provide free unlimited wifi. Thus while the food and beverage are alright and decent enough, these lounges need to improve on their amenities and services to be on par with the Swiss lounges.