While Qantas doesn’t operate its own lounge at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport, business class travellers and frequent flyers on the Red Roo's daily flight to Sydney are instead given access to the No. 69 Shanghai Airport Authority lounge.
Shared with other airlines such as Qatar Airways and China Southern, it’s a far cry from what international jetsetters have come to expect when travelling on business, with many of the basics falling short or absent altogether.
We stopped by before jetting home on QF130 to Sydney – here’s what we thought.
Location & Impressions
Just a short walk beyond security and passport control, the lounge is incredibly easy to find with clear directional signage…
… and if that’s not clear enough, eligible travellers also receive a map when checking-in:
Once inside, it’s rather ordinary and has quite a monotonous layout.
In Qantas’ premium Singapore and Hong Kong lounges, travellers have the option of dining on the ground before maximising their rest in the sky – which encourages heading to the airport in plenty of time to enjoy the lounge.
Here, you’ll find only a basic buffet with a limited alcohol selection, which realistically makes the lounge an ideal place to down a quick drink and catch up on a few emails rather than a true international-grade space that deserves an early arrival.
Without a lounge of its own in Shanghai, the Red Roo sends its business class passengers, Qantas Club members, Qantas Gold and Emirates Skywards Gold frequent flyers plus other Oneworld Sapphire members to the business class section of the No. 69 lounge.
Platinum and Platinum One members plus other Oneworld Emerald flyers can use the adjacent and seemingly identical first class space, while Priority Pass cardholders can use either the business or the first class areas regardless of which airline they’re flying with.
Premium passengers on Aeroflot, Air Macau, Garuda, Hong Kong Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways and China Southern are also sent to the No. 69 lounges.
Greeting travellers at the buffet are two hot mains – noodles and rice – plus mushrooms and broccoli…
That’s really nothing when compared to the Red Roo’s newer lounges in Asia, which spoil travellers with restaurant dining, cocktail bartenders and table service.
Nonetheless, also adorning the buffet were bananas and cups of noodles…
… chocolates and nibbles…
… and packaged sandwiches, fortunately kept individually sealed and refrigerated:
For a pre-flight nip, the spirit menu is wholly comprised of Russian vodka and Jack Daniel’s whiskey:
You’ll also find one red wine – a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon…
… and one white aside the pastries and oatmeal cups:
Fans of bubbly will find Abbazia Prosecco Spumante Extra-Dry sparkling, yet no champagne flutes from which to drink it…
Traditional wine glasses (such as that pictured) have a greater surface area at the top of the glass compared to a flute, allowing the bubbles to escape considerably more quickly – rendering our glass completely flat within five minutes.
Soft drinks and bottled water are also available.
The space is divided into smaller areas with just two chairs in each section – greatly superior to longer benches with seats for any number of travellers, which can be quite a loud environment in which to work.
While there aren’t any desks to balance your laptop on, the communal tables in between seats are fine for minding your drinks and snacks:
Behind each table you’ll also find one power point tucked away. While the lamps occupy the two-pin plug at the top, there’s a spare plug underneath for phones, laptops and other gadgets:
It’s also an Aussie-style three pin outlet, so we were able to plug in and recharge without an adapter (above).
There’s password-protected wireless Internet available throughout the lounge, although once you’re connected to the access point, you’re presented with the same login screen as the free network available to all travellers throughout the terminal:In theory, you enter your mobile number, receive a text message with an access code and then use that to finally access the Internet.
Despite being connected to the local mobile network and successfully sending and receiving SMS messages to and from other numbers, we’re still waiting for that SMS to arrive – even after requesting it several times and from three different devices.
Lounge staff are unable to assist with connection issues: if the SMS fails, you'll have to pack up your gear, leave the lounge and trod to an internet assistance desk out in the main terminal with your passport and boarding pass.
That was more trouble than it was worth, so we instead relied on mobile roaming data to stay connected.
Travelling without your own gear? There are two Windows XP desktop computers close to the lounge entrance for general word processing and Internet browsing…
… but as with any public computer, we’d advise against entering passwords or credit card numbers for security reasons.
We fortunately weren’t confronted with the same Internet login system on the desktop computers – having to leave the lounge to arrange access to a fixed desktop computer would be a little too ridiculous.
There aren’t any boarding calls made in the lounge, so consider setting a reminder on your phone before you kick back.
If you’re jetting about with colleagues or in group, there’s an ideal ‘conversation space’ on the left as you enter…
You’ll also find two massage chairs tucked away in the far corner, but these were a little too dirty to tempt when wearing a clean white shirt…
If you're hoping to do a little plane spotting during your visit – or even just take a peek outside – you’ll oddly need to do it standing up.
While the lounge is in a great spot for runway views, opaque glass stops you from looking out:
With nothing to look at, no working internet and a limited choice of food and drinks, you could instead grab a little reading material to tide you over before boarding, with several English titles available:
By domestic Australian standards, we’d consider the lounge to be on the lower side of ‘average’, but at an international level, it’s simply poor.
Wireless Internet access is a basic staple of airline lounges, and in one of Asia’s biggest business and financial hubs it’s something we’d expect to be both available and working.
Unless you unplug the lamp and work in darkness, it’s also not ideal to have one power point shared between two travellers who may both wish to charge their laptop, phone or tablet for the flight ahead.
All things considered, it’s not surprising that Qantas prints “we would like to point out that the lounge is not under Qantas Management control and facilities and standards may vary to Qantas Club lounges” on the lounge invitation.
Rather than leaving your hotel early to spend hours here, try instead for a late check-out and then head to the airport a little later than usual. After a quick drink and snack, you’ll be more than ready to depart.
Heading to China on business? Also read:
- Review: Pudong Shangri-La, East Shanghai hotel
- Global roaming options for China
- Qantas, China Eastern plot new joint venture for mid-2015 launch
- 8 secrets to doing business in China
- Visa-free stopovers in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT