Cathay Pacific’s Shekou lounge is decidedly different from its siblings: rather than being an airport lounge, this is the carrier’s first ‘seaport’ lounge.
The view is not over a tarmac and runways but of Shenzhen Bay, while the adjacent boarding gate serves high-speed catamarans instead of Airbus or Boeing jets.
Around a dozen ferries each day whisk travellers directly to Hong Kong International Airport in just 30 minutes, from where they can connect to hundreds of international flights.
The Shekou lounge is also the smallest lounge in Cathay’s global network, with seating for around 60 travellers – yet this compact size belies its significance to the airline.
As China’s third-largest urban population centre after Beijing and Shanghai, Shenzhen is the heart of the teeming Greater Bay Area, which boasts a population ten times that of Hong Kong.
And Cathay Pacific is determined to embrace that opportunity by extending its ‘home market’ into the GBA and “connecting the Greater Bay Area to the world” with Hong Kong airport as the GBA’s global gateway.
Shekou, and specifically the Shekou lounge, is part of Cathay’s spearhead into the Greater Bay Area as it delivers a smoother sea-to-air connection.
The ferries can be booked under a codeshare CX ‘flight’ number as part of a combined Cathay ticket, with a dedicated Cathay Pacific counter at the Shekou Cruise Home Port to issue onwards boarding passes and through-check luggage, while the Shekou lounge provides a taste of the experience they’ll enjoy at Hong Kong airport.
Cathay Pacific Shekou Lounge: Location
Cathay’s Shekou Lounge is perched at the end of one of 12 ferry piers at Shenzhen’s Shekou Cruise Home Port – specifically, the pier used by the powerful CKS SeaCat twin-engine catamarans which make the half-hour dash to Hong Kong International Airport.
This ‘seaport’ is like an airport in that there are security and immigration checks (holding an APEC Business Travel card or a passport registered to use Hong Kong’s automated e-Channel gates is a real timesaver).
Shenzhen’s Shekou Cruise Home Port Centre even has its own three-letter ‘airport’ code (ZYK), which appears when you book a combined ferry+flight ticket with Cathay Pacific.
And you can only take one of these CKS ferries to the airport if you have an onward connecting flight from Hong Kong, where the airport’s unique SkyPier Terminal provides a quick transit – without going through immigration – through to Terminal 1 and the Cathay or Oneworld lounge of your choice.
Cathay Pacific Shekou Lounge: Access
Open daily from 7am to 8.15pm to suit the departure timetable of the CKS ferries to Hong Kong International Airport, the Cathay Pacific Shekou lounge has quite different access rules to Cathay’s airport lounges because it falls outside the realm of Oneworld.
And as noted before, you must hold a boarding pass for an onwards flight from HKG to use the CKS ferry and the Cathay lounge.
- Cathay Diamond and Cathay Gold members are welcome to visit the Shekou lounge when travelling on any airline – and yes, we double-checked this with Cathay, any airline – departing from Hong Kong
- First class and business class passengers connecting to a Cathay Pacific flight
- Cathay Silver, Oneworld Emerald and Oneworld Sapphire members connecting to a Cathay Pacific flight
The ‘any airline’ allowance for Cathay Diamonds and Golds is a very generous way for Cathay Pacific to reward the loyalty of these top-tier frequent flyers, in acknowledging that nobody can always fly with their airline of first choice.
At the same time, Oneworld Emeralds and Sapphires are admitted to Cathay’s Shekou lounge only if they are flying out of Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific – not Cathay’s Oneworld siblings such as British Airways, Finnair, JAL, Qantas or Qatar Airways, among others.
Cathay Pacific Shekou Lounge: First impressions
Drawn from the same elegant Ilse Crawford design as most other Cathay lounges – most notably Hong Kong’s The Pier First and The Pier Business – the Cathay Pacific Shekou Lounge wraps regular CX flyers in warm, welcoming familiarity.
If anything, it’s like a smaller version of The Deck, where the core elements – apart from the Noodle Bar and showers – are funnelled into an elongated footprint.
Directly after the reception desk (with luggage lockers off to the right) travellers enter the dining area where they can enjoy some delightful pre-cruise bites.
Further along are a variety of relaxed seating areas, including a large ’living room’ room which can be closed off for privacy, plus a series of the comfortable Crawford-designed Solo chairs inviting you to sink in and tackle any last-minute work on the password-protected WiFi, which strolls along as a leisurely 15Mbps.
But the star of the show is the enclosed ‘terrace’ at the far end of the wide corridor, with a wraparound 270° view over inner Shenzhen Bay, including ferries arriving from Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai – on a clear day, passengers can even catch a glimpse of Hong Kong in the distance.
Visitors to Cathay’s Shekou lounge can pre-board their CKS ferry up to five minutes ahead of the crowd to settle into their seat, or spend a little extra time relaxing in the lounge and take advantage of a VIP Courtesy Channel for an express route to the gangway.
Before long Cathay intends to offer direct boarding from within the lounge via a stairwell located just across from the welcome desk, which at the time of our visit was still roped off for final work.
Cathay Pacific Shekou Lounge: Food and drink
Cathay’s Shekou lounge has been shaped by a unique proposition: travellers from Shekou to Hong Kong airport turn up less than an hour and as little as 30 minutes before their ferry departs.
Dining at Cathay’s Shekou lounges is aligned with this ‘short stay’ proposition: there’s no signature Noodle Bar or elaborate buffet spread.
However, ahead of a 12pm ferry to HKG my visit to the Cathay Pacific Shekou lounge certainly filled the gap between breakfast at the hotel and lunch at Cathay’s The Pier lounge at Hong Kong airport, with the likes of
- BBQ Pork pastries (think ‘sausage roll meets char siu’)
- delightful bite-sized roast pork bao
- chicken panini with pesto and roast vegetables
- roast beef sandwiches
- egg tarts, cheesecake, mango & passionfruit mousse and Movenpick ice cream
That can be washed down with Chandon Sparkling Brut Champagne, French chardonnay and pinot noir, beer, soft drinks, juices and mineral water, along with push-button coffee and Jing teabags.
It’s definitely worth trying a few of the mocktail-style drinks such as the Ginger Forest (ginger ale, fresh ginger, mint and fresh lime) and the Orange Dream (grapefruit juice, honey, lime juice and orange juice).
Cathay Pacific Shekou Lounge: Summary
Cathay’s innovative approach to the premium passenger experience guarantees your journey from Shekou to Hong Kong airport and beyond will be off to a relaxed yet delightful start, especially given the generous ‘all access’ provisions made for Cathay Diamond and Gold frequent flyers.