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Got time to kill while flying through Milan’s Malpensa airport? TPG Contributor J. Keith van Straaten did, so he checked out the Club SEA Sala Pergolesi lounge and reports his findings.

A narrow entry to a narrow lounge at Sala Pergolesi.
A narrow entry to Sala Pergolesi.

One of the most useful perks from my Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express cards is membership in Priority Pass, with access to over 1,000 airport lounges. I use it all the time, and when my flight was delayed coming home from Milan Malpensa (MXP), I was glad to see on my Priority Pass app that there were two lounges that I could access for free. (There is a third, but it was not available to travelers on my route.) One was landside and the other airside, after security.

It
It’s a bit of a walk to Sala Pergolesi, but there are some pretty views on the way.

Arrival and Check-In

After passing through security, it’s easy to see the signs to the lounge. But be careful: SEA, the company that runs Milan’s airports and operates the lounge under their suite of “ViaMilano” services, has more than one lounge, and not all are accessible with Priority Pass. Stay off the path to the Montale lounge and keep going until you see Pergolesi, then it’s up the elevator to the narrow entrance.

Don
Don’t expect a warm “benvenuto” from the desk staff.

Two harried desk agents checked travelers in with neither a smile nor a welcome. My travel companion and I each showed our Priority Pass cards and boarding passes and were ready to enjoy the lounge within a couple minutes. Day passes are available for purchase for 35 euros ($39 USD).

It was hard to spot two empty seats on a weekday morning.
It was hard to spot two empty seats on a weekday morning.

The Layout

Immediately on entering the lounge, it’s easy to see this is not a great place to relax. It’s one windowless room with low ceilings and a tile floor. While a few floor lamps add a little bit of mood lighting, it’s hard to shake the impression that the airport never planned for this space to be used by the public. It was also difficult to find two empty seats.

If you enjoy looking at a wall next to four other people, you
If you enjoy looking at a wall next to four other people, you’re in luck.

Clusters of chairs and varied coffee tables were distributed throughout the room, with a buffet of food and drink along the back wall. A side wall held a counter with five tall chairs.

More seats opened up later as a worker turns over some tables.
More seats opened up later.

On the other side of the wall was a narrow hallway with bathrooms, showers and a tiny elevator. There were many chances to practice saying “Scusi” as passengers and staff navigated the corridor. A closet was provided for storage (no lockers). In addition to the monitors, flight departures were announced and many passengers cleared out after the announcement of a flight to Shanghai.

The showers are here but they aren
The showers are here, but they aren’t free.
Amenities and Wi-Fi
The lounge has two showers, but access is not included with Priority Pass. Certain flights on certain airlines (the agent wouldn’t be more specific) get them free. Otherwise, the cost is 16 euros ($18 USD).
The WiFi worked just fine.
The Wi-Fi worked just fine.

Free Wi-Fi was easy to connect to and tested at an okay speed of 7.35/2.30Mbps. Two TVs were on mute and a selection of newspapers and magazines in Italian and English were free for the taking.

It wouldn
It wouldn’t be Italy without a good cappuccino machine, headlining the buffet.

Food and Beverage

All the food and drink was self-serve, with the buffet offering lots of tiny foods, none of them hot (though a microwave was provided for some reason).

Enjoy a variety of tiny bilingual sandwiches.
Enjoy a variety of tiny bilingual sandwiches.

Finger sandwiches were the closest thing to a main course and I saw more than one person stack them high on a small plate.

Fresh healthy foods
A nice selection of chilled, fresh, healthy foods. I particularly liked the”couscous with vegetables crisp and chicken.”

While nothing was spectacular, I was impressed with the abundance and variety. Cookies, crackers, cereal, chips, cheese, chocolate — all the best “c” foods were there. The packaged salads were surprisingly fresh and tasty and the fruit was ripe and crisp. The size and packaging of many of the foods was perfect for those who wished to sneak some out for the plane ride.

Wines (red, white and sparkling) and liquors from Italy and abroad.
Wines (red, white and sparkling) and liquors from Italy and abroad.

A coffee machine provided small servings of coffees and espressos. Some bottled beers nested with soft drinks in a refrigerator and a few Italian wines (red, white and sparkling) sat on the counter in front of a decent liquor selection. Four types of juice were on offer as well.

Overall Impression
I was always aware that a worker was around, whether she was replenishing the buffet, cleaning the bathroom or clearing tables (I didn’t see a dirty plate survive for more than five minutes). Though the desk staff didn’t have the warmth or professionalism I would have hoped, the staff overall was busy at work — and with the size of the crowds, they have to be.
The lounge is named after Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, who was known for “his ability to handle large choral and instrumental forces,” according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His namesake lounge hasn’t quite demonstrated a similar skill at handling large groups of people in harmony. It’s a nice enough tune, but not one that will have the audience shouting “Brava!”

All images by the author.

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