Turn the Heat Down: A Review of The SkyTeam Lounge in Beijing

Mar 15, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

To The Point

The SkyTeam alliance is opening more lounges at major world hubs. The one in Beijing is okay, but could do better. Pros: Variety of top spirits, clean and bright space with sleek decor, hot showers. Cons: Marginal food quality, inconsistent Wi-Fi, uncomfortably warm temperature.

The SkyTeam Lounge at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) opened in early 2017 and instantly gave the alliance’s Chinese members, China Southern and China Eastern, a credibility boost. Including Beijing, the SkyTeam alliance now has seven branded lounges around the world: Vancouver, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Istanbul and London Heathrow. I visited the lounge before my Delta One flight to Detroit on the Airbus A350.

Location

The SkyTeam Lounge is in the international departure area of Terminal 2 at Beijing Capital International Airport, near gate 11. A sign points the way to take one of two elevators up to next level. It’s open 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., but that is subject to change based on airline schedules.

Check-In

All business and first class passengers on SkyTeam flights operating that day may access the lounge, and so can SkyTeam Elite Plus members plus one guest. I arrived around 1 p.m., well in advance of my 5:30 p.m. flight.

Check-in took only 15 seconds as the desk agent scanned my boarding pass.

Layout

Spend any time in the dark and uninspiring common areas of Terminal 2 and you will find that the SkyTeam Lounge is a much-appreciated refuge. The large curved windows help grace the main areas with natural light, but cleaner widows (and less smog, but that’s another story) would do wonders.

The lounge has seating for 160 and features 8,600 square feet of space. When I visited, it was almost empty: I saw about 20 patrons in three hours. The natural wood design matches SkyTeam’s other locations. The green botanical wall is a nice touch.

The dining area was clean and the staff quickly picked up finished dishes.

In the corner of the lounge was my favorite location: The wine bar. The contemporary chandelier added an upscale ambiance to the otherwise simple lounge.

Sofa chairs were comfortable, and peering out the large windows to see tarmac operations was a good way to entertain oneself. This is when I noticed how uncomfortably warm it was; it felt about 80 degrees F. The outside temperature was 35 degrees so obviously it was an overcompensation for the winter weather.

Three rest loungers are available but are not hidden away, which makes it challenging if you seek a quiet hideout to sleep.

However, that day was peaceful with the lack of patrons. A 45-minute nap helped me regain energy for the 13-hour flight. Bring your eye shades, as it’s bright, even with the typical Beijing smog.

 Amenities

The restrooms were clean and modern. Compared to the BGS Premier Lounge in the same terminal, which amazingly does not have internal restrooms, this was enough to make the SkyTeam lounge the clear winner. That said, the public restrooms in the terminal are perfectly clean.

As someone who frequently travels to Asia destinations, I know finding a hot shower can be challenging. The good news is the shower facilities offer a perfect temperature. Sealed clean towels, slippers,  shampoo, hair dryer, razors and toothbrushes are offered too.

Wi-Fi service was the least efficient element of this lounge visit. When I first arrived, the Internet ticket kiosk was down, which meant I relied on the common airport Wi-Fi, which was slow and had frequent outages. Also, to use the airport Wi-Fi you must either have cell phone service (to receive a confirmation text) or a WeChat account. I recommend a WeChat account in China anyway as Facebook and other popular messaging services are blocked (Apple’s iMessage works though.)

To use the lounge internet kiosk, you are required to scan your boarding pass. When I finally printed a password receipt, I experienced slow download and upload speeds (2.94 Mbps and 1.02, respectively). About 20 minutes later, the Wi-Fi speed was better, at 16.5 Mbps download.

Other amenities include two desktop computers with printer and flight monitors. There is also a “VIP Room,” which anyone can access, if looking for a quiet place for a phone call or to work. Looking to charge your devices? There are plenty of US-style power outlets.

Food and Beverage

After a delicious beef bulgogi meal on a Korean Air flight, I didn’t need to eat but that didn’t stop me from sampling what the SkyTeam Lounge offered. That afternoon’s main dish was Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji) and rice. The chicken was tasty with the right amount of soy sauce and rice wine. The white rice, however, wasn’t fresh nor soft.

Dim Sum was satisfactory. Selections included steamed pork/mushroom and red bean buns.

I was pleased with the fruit selection of oranges, apples and grapes. Minestrone soup was also available. Forks and knives were plastic; spoons were stainless steel.

A hearty collection of spirits made up for any inadequacies of the lounge. The variety of Campari, Jack Daniel’s, Tanqueray and Absolut helped me feel less homesick. Carlsberg and Yanjing beer were available along with Coca-Cola, Sprite and Schweppes Tonic Water. The wine options were suspect but the Chardonnay tasted fine.

The Jura coffee machine looks impressive but the buttons were unlabeled and, without a manual, it took three attempts to make regular coffee.

Overall Impression

The SkyTeam Lounge at Beijing International Airport (PEK) is better than most Sky Clubs but far from what you would expect at a major international airport. However, a hot shower, a stiff drink and a place to rest my eyes were enough for me. Service was well staffed and accommodating. For instance, when the Internet kiosk was working again, a friendly staff member fetched me.

I give it a 4 out of 5 for cleanliness, which for me is the most important factor. But someone needs to wash the outside windows. And if SkyTeam executives are reading this: Please put the loungers in the quieter and darker “VIP Room.”

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.