One thing Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport doesn’t seem to be in desperate need of is another airline lounge. It’s an already crowded scene with no fewer than 12 airline operated Business Class facilities plus at least 10 third party options in the international departures area alone.
We dropped by the new Turkish Airlines lounge before a recent flight to see if the latest addition at the airport is worth your time.
We first learned of the forthcoming Turkish Airlines lounge at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport in March this year. Aside from the obvious lounges in Istanbul, the Bangkok facility joins other outstation lounges operated by the airline in Moscow, Nairobi and Washington (a strange list!).
Despite only being Turkish’s fourth outstation lounge, it opened in early March to little fanfare. Even the airline never announced it and still doesn’t mention it on their website, nor has the Star Alliance lounge database been updated yet.
Two months in though it’s definitely there and it joins a long list of similar facilities available for premium travellers departing Bangkok.
I managed to stop by last month before a JAL flight to Osaka to check out whether this was one to add to your list.
Opening Times: 24 hour
Multi-standard Power Sockets: No
USB Charging Sockets: No
Turkish Airlines at Suvarnabhumi
The airline currently flies up to two flights to Istanbul from Bangkok, both are evening departures within an hour of each other at 9.45pm and 11pm (the 9.45pm flight currently doesn’t operate every day).
Both of these flights are operated by A330-300s which feature the airline’s rather disappointing 2-2-2 Business Class offering. We haven’t tried it ourselves as we aren’t a big fan of Business Class seats without direct aisle access, however we’ve heard that their soft product, especially the food and beverage selection, goes some way to making up for the dull hard product.
From 9th August 2019 Turkish is increasing flights from Bangkok, adding a morning departure also using the A330. From that date the airline will consistently fly three flights daily on the Bangkok – Istanbul route:
- 9.25am TK59 (A330-300)
- 9.45pm TK65 (A330-300)
- 11.00pm TK69 (A330-300)
In some ways the A330 is currently the better aircraft to fly on in Business Class with Turkish, as the wider 777-300ER has a 2-3-2 layout in this cabin with the dreaded ‘middle seat’.
Turkish will soon receive their first Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which will be fitted with new Business Class seats (the Stelia Solstys III model, also used by Singapore Airlines as their latest 2018 Regional Business Class product). Frankly that’s a little disappointing given they had hyped up the new product to be something quite special, but I suppose they are going from 2-3-2 and 2-2-2 seating currently.
If you’re flying with Turkish to and from the Asia Pacific region you can expect the old product for some time to come, the first confirmed route in this part of the world to see the new seats is Kuala Lumpur from 12th May 2020 according to RoutesOnline.
This lounge is available to passengers flying on a Turkish Airlines or on an international Star Alliance member operated flight:
- in Business class or above (First Class passengers may bring one guest travelling in any class on a Star Alliance flight); or
- in Premium Economy or Economy class and holding Miles&Smiles Elite or Elite Plus (plus one guest flying in any class on a Star Alliance flight); or
- in Premium Economy or Economy class and holding Star Alliance Gold status; or
- in any class holding paid membership to United Club or Air Canada Maple Leaf Club (Worldwide).
The full Star Alliance lounge access policy can be found here.
Also the lounge is accessible to passengers flying in any class, on any carrier departing internationally from Suvarnabhumi:
- holding a Priority Pass, LoungeKey or Lounge Club membership (fees may apply depending on your status level / member agreement).
Note: The domestic section of Suvarnabhumi is separated from the international gates so you will not be able to access this lounge if you are flying on a domestic flight. Turkish Airlines does not operate First Class or Premium Economy, but other Star Alliance carriers do offer these cabins from Suvarnabhumi (e.g. Thai First, EVA Air Premium).
Priority Pass access
With Turkish currently only operating two departures from Bangkok in the evening the 24 hour opening of this lounge is surprising. That is until you realise they accept Priority Pass (additionally LoungeKey and Lounge Club members are entitled to access).
Even with three daily Turkish Airlines flights, with a 12 hour gap between the morning TK59 and first evening TK65 departure this lounge would go very empty during the day and realistically it would not be feasible to operate on a 24 hour basis.
That’s where Priority Pass and these other access schemes come in. Opening the lounge up to these travellers means that whichever airline or class they are flying, they can gain access and Turkish Airlines receives a fee for every visitor.
Note that Turkish Airlines reserves the right to deny entry to Priority Pass and other lounge scheme members if the facility is too full of their own Business Class and Star Alliance Gold customers. This may be the case in the evenings from approximately 8pm to 9pm when their own flights are fully booked in Business Class and a number of those in Economy hold Star Alliance gold status.
It is unlikely that the lounge will see many other Star Alliance guests as there are far better options out there available to Star Alliance Gold members and those flying premium cabins, as we’ll discuss later.
There is no shortage of Priority Pass options in Bangkok and we’ve tried the majority of them (14 in total!). Most of them aren’t worth a review, but our personal favourite is the Oman Air lounge that we reviewed comprehensively here (April 2018).
It’s a really pleasant space and about to get even better (presumably) following a renovation, so Turkish faces some stiff competition.
If like many of our readers you’re familiar with the Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge in Bangkok, you’ll find the Turkish lounge is in a very similar location on Level 3 (one level below immigration control and the main departure shopping concourse).
The Turkish lounge is slightly further along from the SilverKris facility, past the Qatar and China Airlines lounges near gate D8 and almost directly opposite the JAL Sakura lounge.
If your flight is departing from the D, E, F or G gates the lounge is well located with all those gates less than 10 minutes walk, but do factor in some additional time if you are leaving from the A, B or C gates (up to 15 minutes walk).
I entered the lounge entrance and was greeted by two friendly and helpful staff at the reception desk.
Since I was flying on a Japan Airlines flight (oneworld alliance), I used my Priority Pass to gain access.
In the corner of the reception area below a flight information screen there are six lockers available for customer use in case you don’t want to carry all your items around with you during your visit.
Main lounge and bar
Entering the lounge there is an area of low armchair style seating to the left side, set up for couples or groups of four with a small table probably only ideal for drinks or small snacks.
To the right side there is a low leather sofa/armchair area and the manned bar.
The decor is bright but the lighting was quite poor in this area. The bar was staffed most of the time but only to serve red wine and spirits. The white wine and sparkling wine were available to self-serve from an ice bucket on the bar.
Here’s how the wines offered rate on Vivino (out of 5):
- Belleville Brut – 3.0 stars
- Villa Sandi Il Fresco Blanc de Blancs Brut – 3.5 stars
- Santoro Chardonnay Puglia – 3.2 stars
- Santoro Primitivo – 3.5 stars
A little strange how they offered two varieties of sparking wine, French (Belleville) and Italian (Villa Sandi), but the Italian gets better ratings.
Overall these aren’t bad ratings, falling only slightly below those served at the nearby SilverKris lounge when we visited in December 2017 and about on par with what you’ll get at a SATS Premier lounge in Changi.
The nearby Oman Air lounge got slightly higher ratings for the wine, especially their Chandon sparkling selection.
Obviously it’s unfair to compare to home base airline operated lounges but once you start looking at the wine ratings in Business Class lounges like the SilverKris at Changi and United Polaris in San Francisco, the scores do start to look wanting.
There was a small selection of bar snacks arranged in a rather haphazard manner at the end of the bar.
Power sockets, or lack thereof
The first thing that struck me after I sat down in this section is the lack of power sockets in this lounge. Only the chairs nearest the walls had any power options and even then it was not consistent. Also, these power sockets were 2-pin Type C standard only, some of which also accepted the 2-pin USA Type A flat pin plugs, not very helpful for the modern traveller.
Ironically it was in the Quiet room where power socket availability seemed best.
It’s really bizarre that in a brand new lounge more attention was not paid to this basic necessity. We would have expected plentiful multi-standard sockets and USB charging options, but this element was either forgotten or omitted to save time/money.
Food and restaurant
To the right of this section and further through the lounge were the food offerings. There is an open kitchen with a traditional oven offering live hand made Turkish pastries, pide, savoury Middle Eastern breads and snacks. This is a nice touch and all the things I tried here were very tasty.
The only point I would note is that they didn’t seem to be able to keep up with demand. At the time I visited it was rather busy with their evening departure imminent and the food was disappearing as fast as it was presented.
The rest of the food selection was rather limited and not terribly appetising. There was a small selection of hot and cold, Western, Arabic and Asian options.
Salads, fruit and sandwiches were available.
Hot dishes were French Beans in tomato sauce, Chicken Stroganoff and Chicken TomYam.
Self-service beverages were available from a counter alongside the open kitchen and featured the usual range of soft drinks, a pleasing selection of beer and both western and Turkish tea and coffee.
For whatever reason there were two coffee machines.
The four beers offered were Singha, Singha Light, Tiger and Heineken.
There is a small number of dining tables just off this section.
Off the restaurant is a quiet room that is dimly lit and features 8 loungers with footrests where you can rest or sleep.
Past the restaurant there are additional low down seating options, some televisions and some large individual comfy chairs in front of the window, looking out over the apron.
In fact these practically run the length of the lounge on the window side, with good natural light expected during the day.
If you’ve got some work to catch up on then good Wi-Fi is likely essential during your visit. We recorded a fast download speed using the lounge network, even though it was moderately busy, but upload rate was a little more challenging.
It compares quite similarly to the EVA Air, Oman Air and Singapore Airlines lounges in the same terminal, which probably indicates the network is provided centrally by the airport operator.
Business centre and prayer room
To the left of the main entrance is a business centre equipped with a couple of workstations and a boardroom table for up to 8 people.
One of the workstations is equipped with a printer, and the desks are a good size if you need to spread out a few documents or use your own laptop.
There are two prayer rooms (one male, one female) available on request.
Toilets and shower
The toilets are rather basic and indeed the shower was quite unluxurious. It’s behind a basic cubicle door with a gap above and below. When I visited the shower room it also didn’t seem particularly clean.
A hairdryer is also provided.
The towels were thin, but the amenities from Thai brand Nature Touch, were good quality.
The basic cubicle door with a gap above and below was also quite off-putting.
Having only one shower for each gender is likely to mean availability is going to be limited during peak evening times. Expect to wait!
If this were simply another Priority Pass offering it would score reasonably well alongside its competition. But it isn’t – this is a Premium Airline lounge designed for passengers who have paid thousands for their seat or are frequent flyers who pass Turkish (or another Star Alliance carrier) a significant amount of custom each year.
As such it’s quite disappointing. We had high hopes, given that their Istanbul lounge is extremely impressive. The lack of suitable charging sockets alone borders on unacceptable for a brand new Business Class lounge.
When you compare this against the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Bangkok lounge, only a stone’s throw away – that is by far the best option available to you (unless you happen to want a shower).
There is also the EVA Air Lounge near gate F1, which we reviewed here, a very pleasant place to be with good food and good showers.
If you only have Priority Pass, then we’d be heading to Oman Air’s very respectable Business Class lounge (equipped with a much superior shower, but currently closed for renovations until 1st June 2019).
It would seem that Turkish designed this lounge with economising at the forefront of their mind (the lack of useful power sockets is bizarre), and without considering the many other (largely superior) options available to travellers at the same airport.
Bottom line? For Priority Pass members this isn’t a bad option, though personally we would still lean towards the Oman Air lounge near Gate E2 on the same level. For Star Alliance gold or premium cabin passengers, there are better options at BKK.
|Review:||Turkish Airlines Lounge Bangkok Suvarnabhumi|
|Summary:||Good for a Priority Pass lounge, but disappointing for an airline-operated Business Class one. There are better options for Star Alliance Gold and First/Business Class passengers at BKK.|
|Among airline-operated Business Class lounges:|
2.5 out of 5
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)