Skyteam Lounge, Sydney – the living wall is only just clinging to life
The Sanctuary of the Airline Lounge
To me, an airport lounge is the thing that officially says ‘Your journey has begun’. It is the immediate reward for the frantic packing, knowing that you will leave something essential behind, the anxiety about getting to the airport on time, and the usual palaver of check-in, and the discombobulation of security. The lounge is where I begin to relax, usually nursing a glass of champagne – or the perfect drink for any time of the day, including early morning departures – the Bloody Mary.
|Vietnam Airlines Premium check-in branded ‘Sky Priority’ at Sydney Airport. Sometimes you and your Mum just have to repack at check-in.|
Sydney Airport – remember when it was young – during the 2000 Olympics?
I remember when I used to quite like checking in at Sydney Airport . . . back in 2000 when it was all fresh and new ready for the Olympics. Now 15 years later, despite some refreshing of the retail areas, the check-in pens still feel cramped and low-ceilinged compared to the best airports in the world.
Check-in, Security, and Immigration
We checked in for our flight at about 9 am for an 11:50 departure. Pretty much peak time. The economy check-in was way busier than our ‘Sky Priority’ queue.
|Vietnam Airlines Economy queue.|
Check-in was pretty smooth – despite the partial queue jumping of miss impossibly high heels (vulgarly known as ‘hooker’) and her mother. We had way more luggage than usual. Even for a 5-week trip, we usually have an ‘only take what you can carry’ policy which means a 15kg (33lb) checkable suitcase, and about 10kg (22lb) carry on. With this trip taking in London, the Arctic Circle, Vietnam and Christmas presents, you can nearly double that. One of my cases was barely the right side of 20kg (44lb) – which is almost unheard of.
We made it through fast-track security and immigration fairly quickly. As usual, I left wondering if I had gathered everything after being half undressed and half unpacked for security. This was compounded by me forgetting this was an international flight requiring the isolation of liquids in a plastic bag (how often have I travelled since 9/11?). After the obligatory stop at the duty-free (not to save money, just for convenience), we were on our way down to the SkyTeam lounge for our first visit.
Lounge location and facilities
I am more familiar with the Qantas business lounge (One World), and the Air New Zealand (Star Alliance) lounges, which are both ‘up’. For the SkyTeam lounge, you go down – way down on an escalator after the check-in desk. (Airside, International Terminal Pier B, adjacent to gate 24).
There is a full list of facilities at the SkyTeam website, including access to a 360º view of the lounge. But broadly it has self service hot and cold food, seating, work areas, self-service bar, self-service coffee, magazines, TV Room, showers, power access, and wifi. All the essentials.
Given the time (about 10 am), we didn’t sample any food but did have a coffee and a couple of Bloody Mary’s. The first was by necessity – I couldn’t see any champagne, and the 2nd by choice, as they were delicious even if I do say so myself.
|The major seating area – entrance escalator top middle, bar and food fare end top left.|
This is a perfectly adequate lounge but without much soul. Staff are efficient, but thin on the ground, and catering is self service. A little bit too much vinyl in the seating areas for my taste, and a living wall a little past its prime. The standard office ceiling height, makes the lounge seem a little claustrophobic, with the only compensation being the fantastic, almost ground level views of the tarmac. Not a ‘go to’ lounge, but perfectly fine.
|Part of the view of the tarmac from the SkyTeam lounge, to our waiting aircraft|