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- Noodle bar allows for a proper dinner on a ground, to maximise sleep on your flight
- An upgraded lounge for Qantas passengers, versus the previous T2 lounge
- Dated style with an odd layout, placing the buffet in a tight corner
- WiFi works, but speeds aren't impressive
- Escape the crowds by heading upstairs, as many passengers overlook this area
Whether jetting home from a productive business trip to Shanghai or connecting onwards with China Eastern to a variety of international destinations, there's a good chance you'll spend time here at China Eastern's business class lounge in Shanghai Pudong Airport Terminal 1.
Shared by Qantas passengers too, as well as those from a host of other airlines, here's what awaits for business class flyers jetting through China's financial capital.
Location & Impressions
After passing through outbound passport control at Shanghai Pudong T1, flash your business class boarding pass for access to the red "VIP" security channel over on the far right, as you'll find the entrance to the lounge just beyond:
If you've taken the chance to explore some of the shops in the terminal first, you can instead find the lounge by looking for 'lounge 36' on the overhead signage. Yes, it'd be far clearer if the signs read "China Eastern lounges", but as long as you remember that magic number, you'll be set.
Once inside, you'll emerge into the main lounge space, which generally serves as a dining area and the 'main lounge', generally remaining quite busy...
... but if you look closely over near reception, there's another level to this lounge as well, via this escalator that's tucked behind the wall...
... taking you upstairs to a space that's often considerably quieter.
There's some signage downstairs to remind that the upper level is available, but given you'll only find hot food items downstairs – and these all being tucked over in the far corner of the space – most travellers tend to stay on the ground floor, explaining why that section remains rather busy.
With an onward flight to catch, there's a handy notice posted at the lounge entrance advising how long it takes to reach each gate, with the flight information screens also showing handy reminders like "boarding soon".
With a flight departing from one of those further gates, I left the lounge as soon as I noticed the on-screen message change to "boarding soon", and by the time I approached the gate, boarding was just about to begin.
This business class lounge opens daily from 5:30am until midnight.
The following guests are welcome prior to international flights from Shanghai Pudong T1:
- Business class passengers of China Eastern, Qantas, Air France, Air Koryo, China Airlines, Delta, KLM, Korean Air, Royal Brunei Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers prior to Qantas and China Eastern flights with a QF or MU flight number.
- Qantas Club members prior to Qantas-operated flights when booked on a Qantas (QF) flight number only (no access when flying China Eastern, or with Qantas on an MU flight number).
- China Eastern's Eastern Miles Silver, Gold and Platinum members prior to China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines flights, and for Gold and Platinum members, prior to Qantas flights with a QF or MU flight number as well.
- SkyTeam Elite Plus frequent flyers (including Eastern Miles Gold and Platinum) prior to SkyTeam flights.
- Other Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers prior to Qantas and SriLankan Airlines flights.
Qantas Platinum members and above can also visit the separate China Eastern first class lounge next door: as can China Eastern first class passengers and selected members of the Eastern Miles scheme prior to eligible flights.
The main dining area is found on the lounge's ground floor, being a buffet zone towards the far end of that level...
... offering a variety of hot dishes – some vegetarian, such as beans with 'knife burn potatoes'...
... joined by options such as grilled fish...
... rice, meats...
... and fresh salads with dressing on the side.
Continue walking around that buffet space and you'll find refrigerated sandwiches, soups, and a staffed noodle bar:
Given how busy the lounge was, the staff member here prepared the base soup of noodles and broth, and handed the bowls over to each traveller for them to top with meat and vegetables from a nearby counter, which I did, and enjoyed:
Sweet and savoury buns are also served here, with a subtle reminder that 2019 is Year of the Pig in China...
Further along in the main dining space, you'll find a self-serve beverage counter offering wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, juices and water...
... along with facilities for making tea and coffee.
With plenty of time to spare until my late-evening China Eastern flight to Brisbane, I prepared a latte, which was acceptable...
... and for those passengers who'd prefer a drink at room temperature rather than something refrigerated, there's a selection of drinks on a shelf nearby.
When I first arrived, it was rather difficult to find a solo seat downstairs, particularly as many tables here provide four seats yet were commonly claimed by just one or two travellers...
... so I ventured upstairs instead, and found another small servery, offering the same non-alcoholic drinks, spirits...
... red wines...
... and white wines as downstairs...
... but with a much more limited range on the food front, centred around snacks rather than substance. Sandwiches were the hero item, but unlike downstairs, these weren't stored in a refrigerated cabinet – and with no assurance as to how long the beef and chicken filling had been sitting out on the bench, it's fair to say that I left them untouched.
Otherwise, the lounge also offers "leisure food", which proved to be dried orange segments, although these weren't to my taste as the orange flavour was lost beneath the product's exterior coating.
After observing fellow frequent flyers, it seems the best approach when you get to the lounge is to head straight to the buffet with your bags in tow, collect a tray, grab your noodles, and take everything upstairs to find a seat.
This avoids staking out a table downstairs or leaving your belongings unattended, and provides the best of both worlds: the lounge's signature dish, and a relatively quiet place in which to enjoy it, with drinks and other snacks still conveniently nearby.
When there's serious work to do, head upstairs and pull up a chair, either at a computer terminal or a working bench for your own laptop...
... or for something a little more casual, set yourself up at the benches lining the dining room wall, if noise isn't a bother.
Otherwise, the upstairs section offers AC and USB power at every seat.
Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the lounge, with downloads averaging 5Mbps and uploads around the 3.5Mbps mark during my most recent visit.
That said, don't be perplexed by the WiFi portal splash screen, which looks to require a Chinese mobile number for access – you can swing by the lounge service desk for the day's password, with no mobile phone (or passport) required.
If your visit calls for some downtime instead, you can relax... in much the same area, as almost the entire upper level looks like this, with rows and rows of the same seats:
There are also a few daybeds up here, but these remained in use during this visit, with the TV room on the ground level also proving rather popular. Restrooms are available on both levels, with showers on the ground floor.
All things considered, this lounge is far from 'wow' on the design front, particularly when it comes to the sea of beige seats upstairs, but does offer the basic amenities that travellers expect when flying abroad in business class.
For Qantas passengers taking QF130 from Shanghai to Sydney, China Eastern's lounge is also a significant step above the contract space that Qantas was using over in Terminal 2, before shifting its flights here to T1 when the Qantas+China Eastern alliance was expanded.
That said, the layout of China Eastern's business class lounge leaves much to be desired, given many passengers have to wander from one side of the lounge to the other just for a plate of food, or even between levels for something other than a room temperature sandwich.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Shanghai as a guest of China Eastern Airlines.