Despite the streak of visiting some really fantastic lounges thanks to Priority Pass, I was really disappointed by my experience at the Premier Lounge at Denpasar Bali airport.
In fact, this may have been possibly the worst airline lounge that I’ve ever been to.
Trip Report Series
Self-Connecting to an International Flight: Lessons Learned
Review: Singapore Airlines Economy Class, San Francisco – Singapore (via Hong Kong)
Review: Plaza Premium Lounge, Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok Airport
Review: Free Singapore Stopover Tour, Changi Airport
Review: Tigerair (now Scoot), Singapore to Denpasar, Bali
Review: Premier Lounge, Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport
Review: EVA Air Economy Class, Denpasar, Bali to Taipei
Review: China Airlines Lounge, Taipei Taoyuan International Airport
Review: China Airlines Business Class, Taipei to Seoul Incheon Airport
Review: Korean Air KAL Prestige Lounge, Seoul Incheon Airport
I was returning from a 10-day retreat in Bali to the United States via Taipei and Seoul. I was scheduled to fly EVA Air in Economy Class from Denpasar to Taipei.
This lounge is part of Priority Pass
- PROS: outdoor seating, boarding announcements
- CONS: terrible food, horrible alcohol selection, rude staff, spotty WiFi
First Impressions are Defining
The Premier Lounge is located airside at the International terminal of Ngurah Rai airport. The lounge entrance is visible from the mezzanine floor, and I already sensed there would be trouble when I could see that there was a long line forming outside of it before we ascended to the second level to enter.
The line outside had some people just leaning on a railing. I inquired about whether it was a queue to get in. They said if I was a member, I should go check in.
I proceeded to show my card to the receptionist and she retorted, “we don’t have any space right now.”
No apologies. No explanations. Nothing.
I was somewhat aware of this happening when the priority pass website had listed that, “access may be restricted due to space constraints.” But at the very least, priority pass owes its paying customers a more detailed explanation, if not an apology, for this given the fact that its membership requires several hundred dollars in annual membership fees.
You can see from the list that virtually every major carrier serving Denpasar airport, sans for Garuda Indonesia, uses the Premier Lounge: Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, EVA Air, Silk Air, Malaysia Airlines, Thai, Qatar Airways, China Eastern, Korean Air, Hong Kong Airlines, China Southern, Philippines, Qantas, Jetstar, China Airlines, Royal Brunei, Air New Zealand and a few others.
The agent said that because “some of the business class passengers leaving on these airlines hadn’t even checked in yet,” they were not allowing any more Priority Pass passengers to enter for the next half an hour.
There were still no apologies given.
What Angered Me
I accepted the fact that this could happen given the disclaimer on the website. That being said, it was a frustrating policy, but Priority Pass has recourse, after all.
But what really angered me was that after we turned away, my friend and I proceeded to walk towards the downstairs area when I decided that I would wait outside the lounge and just sit. Bali airport is really not all that exciting (it’s filled with high-end stores like Gucci and Coach, which I find absolutely repulsive given the fact that Bali is not a materialist society) and my friend decided to go use the restroom. While she was gone, I turned my back to see that the line outside the lounge had disappeared.
Literally, in the 2-minute span that elapsed, the eight or so people were gone from the line. They certainly hadn’t left as we’d walked by them on our way out, and there was only one stairwell leading up to the lounges area.
I went up to the same receptionist and she asked to see my boarding pass and then asked for the name of my friend to let her in when she came back upstairs.
So basically, the receptionist had lied to me about this, “wait 30 minutes” policy and if I hadn’t decided to stay on that level, I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
I don’t know who is running the shots at this Premier Lounge, but frankly, they need to get a makeover when it comes to customer service.
The Lounge Itself
It is a pretty basic lounge. There’s an indoor area and an outdoor area. You’re squashed in like sardines and while the decorum is pretty at the entrance with the flowers, the interior design and layout is beyond hideous. The carpet is straight out of the 1980’s and the furniture is just uncomfortable. We were relegated to the outdoor seating area because, well, I guess this stupid lounge must assign its guests to, “tables” as though it were a restaurant. There are two glass door entrances to the, “terrace” but one of the seating areas on the inside blocked the entrance to the outside. This required people to have to go all the way around to go outside because the doors were blocked. Again, horrible design flaws!
The Food and Drink
Never have I ever seen such a piteous attempt at serving food in a lounge before. There is a plethora of space to serve food, but they actually fell short of the deliverable by serving nasty, underwhelming fare (funny how they decide to compromise space to layout a spread, yet can’t even provide anything reputable.
Most of the dishes were cold and rather mysterious. The “Chicken Hawaiian Salad,” looked like an unappetizing heap of macaroni, potato cubes, and chunks of chicken. It was juxtaposed next to a dish of potato, mayonnaise, and corn.
There was one hot plate, which had meatballs, and they kept disappearing very quickly because they were the only semi-decent item on the menu. It was like the hunger games when they came out because everyone rushed to grab them. Servers had to be reminded multiple times to bring them out. Oh, and even when fresh ones were brought out, they were served lukewarm.
There were some pretty mundane-looking fruit and some sandwiches. The sandwiches were actually pretty decent, although pretty basic with just some vegetable filling. I also had a salad which was essentially plain lettuce leaves with some vinegar on it.
For dessert, they had brownies, some green tea sous, and “rainbow cake” which I passed on.
The “bar” was also the biggest joke I’ve ever seen.
There was a self-serve fridge which contained soft drinks and water, and presumably beer, but the “bar” itself contained approximately three bottles of alcohol: a Smirnoff vodka, captain morgan rum, and red wine. And from the sight of it, the contents left within each bottle looked miserably low and were thrown into a corner, hidden from view.
No gin, whiskey, tequila, mixers, anything.
The bar was such a pathetic showing, I didn’t even bother to get a drink. My friend got a glass of the red wine and after a few sips had to put it down because she could already feel like a hangover starting to form, it was so awful.
The hilarious part is, on the website, the Priority Pass website states, “complimentary drinks are limited to two per person, subsequent drinks are subject to payment.”
You’re better off going to the airport bar, my friends.
There was a kids play area, a workstation, and WiFi that basically didn’t work. You would be continually kicked off of the WiFi network for the lounge (and for whatever stupid reason, they had like 3 or 4 networks wired?) so you should just connect to the free wifi offered by Ngurah Rai and save yourself the hassle.
Bottom Line: This is the Worst Airport Lounge I’ve Ever Visited
You’re better off spending money on food or drink at the airport than wasting your time in this lounge. The staff is rude and lazy, the food is terrible, the lounge is crowded (and acts like it is a privilege to use it) and there is hardly anything redeemable about it. Perhaps the one good thing is that they made boarding announcements? But that can be annoying for some.
Pro tip: eat before you arrive at the airport, go to your gate, and enjoy the plane spotting from the runway 🙂