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#TBT: Phnom Penh Airport Plaza Premium Lounge – Dragon Air to Hong Kong

#TBT: Phnom Penh Airport Plaza Premium Lounge – Dragon Air to Hong Kong

‘Overthinking it’ is one of the things I do best, especially where travel is concerned. I usually obsess over stupid little things, like what is the transit route through the airport? Does the lounge have wifi?

On this trip, I completely neglected to research what lounge I might have access to at Phnom Penh Airport, and boy, did I get a pleasant surprise.

a group of people in a terminal


I’m going to concatenate a review of the Plaza Lounge, the Airport, and the flight to Hong Kong here. Each part of the journey doesn’t really justify its own review, except the surprise of the Plaza Lounge at the airport does.

I had spent one night back in Phnom Penh at La Rose Suites, on my return from a week-long stay at Knai Bang Chat in Kep, on the southern coast of Cambodia. Now I was heading off to Hong Kong to meet my husband for about 6 days to be spent in Macau and Hong Kong, before returning together to Sydney.

I was on a 12:30 pm (delayed ahead of time from 11:30 am) flight from Phnom Penh to Hong Kong, while my husband was due to arrive in Hong Kong from Sydney at about 3:05 pm. An airport rendezvous should be possible since I was due to arrive at about 3:10 pm. The one hour delay actually worked well for me. I know this sounds mushy, but this was the first time I had travelled internationally without my partner in over 20 years, so, you know, love.

Phnom Penh Airport

Phnom Penh International Airport is about 10kms to the west of the city. Its a modern spacious bustling airport, with the current terminal built in 2003 and expanded in 2016-2017 to accommodate around 5 million passengers per year. There is talk of a 1.5 billion new airport to be built, but lets see if that happens.

I arrived the prescribed 3 hours ahead of departure. I had no idea what Phnom Penh traffic would be like, nor what scale of chaos to expect at the airport, so I erred on the cautious side for my arrival time.

The airport check-in and security were very efficient, and I was soon working out what lounge I could access at the airport. When I say ‘what’, I mean ‘the’ lounge, as there are only two lounges – a Plaza Premium and a Bangkok Airways lounge. I wasn’t travelling on Bangkok Airways, but fortunately, my Qantas/OneWorld Gold/Sapphire status got me into the Plaza Premium Lounge. Well, I asked, showed my ticket and they let me in.

a room with a row of chairs and a wall with lights

Plaza Premium Lounge

Business and First Class passengers are eligible to use the lounge as are Gold and Platinum airline members as well as VIP credit cards. You can also pay for entry at the rate of US$39 for 2 hours, or US$55 for 5 hours. You can even just get a shower and a complimentary drink for US$17.

The lounge was a total surprise. It was beautifully designed by the Hong Kong designer Kinney Chan of KCA Associates. Spacious and with many areas for seating, it all felt plush, private and comfortable. The place was fairly deserted, just the way I like it.

a room with chairs and lamps

The interior design plays with rich dusky maroon chairs, deep gold carpet, grey painted wood dividers, dark marble table tops, and pale yellow mottled work pods. The lounge is studded with lamps, plenty of international power outlets, the occasional plant and a bar and noodle kitchen. I didn’t venture to the showers or private rooms you can see screened off in the image below.

a room with chairs and a plant
Loved the copper skirting boards of these work pods.

i spent around an hour here, a bit in not-quite-sure-where-I-am mode. Airports and lounges are such in-between spaces. I was in-between my party and friend-filled week in Kep, and being reunited with my partner in Hong Kong and then on to explore Macau. I couldn’t quite settle. An hour didn’t seem enough time to do some work, but too much time to just sit.

I contented myself with my book, a coffee, a drink, and then some . . .

a group of chairs in a room

. . . quiche, bruschetta and pizza Hors d’oeuvres. I had already eaten a hearty breakfast, so wasn’t up for a bowl of noodles.

a plate with food on it

It didn’t take long for the time to pass. I could even see my plane from the lounge.

a plane parked at an airport

We boarded our A320 at about midday via quite a long sky bridge, and were on our way, on time.

a group of people walking down a hallway

The glass on the sides of the skybridge were covered with signage, but I quite liked the way the perforations played on the view back to the airport.

a black mesh with many round holes

It was the usual story of orderly scramble for seats inside the aircraft.

a group of people on an airplane

I got an aisle seat, a little further back in the plane than I like, but who’s complaining.

a person standing in an airplane

The seat was supportive and comfortable, with a good headrest.

a seat in a plane

I endured the nearly 3-hour flight mostly in a bit of a daze. I read a bit and snoozed a bit, and before I knew it we had arrived in Hong Kong.

a seat belt on a seat

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

The Plaza Premium lounge at Phnom Penh airport was the highlight of this trip back to Hong Kong. It was unexpected, very comfortable and beautifully designed. A good place to spend an hour.

At the time of this flight, I wondered why Cathay Pacific chose to have two distinct brands, seemingly one for regional flights (Dragon Airlines, Cathay Dragon, or Dragonair), and one for international (Cathay Pacific), when if you discounted the uniforms and livery, they seemed the same for service and attention to detail. Now, 4 years later and with COVID-19 as the excuse, Cathay has ditched its secondary ‘Dragon’ brand.

I met my now husband at the baggage carousel in Hong Kong Airport. He had arrived about a half hour earlier. We progressed through customs and were soon into our car to be whizzed off to the Grand Stanford, Hong Kong.

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