Saudia Business Class Trip Report: Is the CIP Lounge in Lahore, Pakistan the Worst in the World?

Pakistani Correspondent continues her guest post describing the experience flying Saudia business class, which she redeemed using American Express Membership Rewards points transferred to Delta.

Here’s her previous installment:

And now P.C. continues with the CIP lounge in Lahore:

Lahore airport was very chaotic, crowded and possibly a place in hell. The ticketing agent was not helpful, and did not help me pick my seats (which I couldn’t reserve online either). I was also charged an extra airport fee which had “just gone in effect” but was not informed of this charge by Delta or Saudia.

Luckily, I had some local currency because the payment was cash only and no official receipt was provided.

Apparently, these new aviation taxes are only for Pakistani airports and have nothing to do with the airlines, and they are collected when boarding passes are issued. Tip: always carry extra cash in local currency at developing country airports so you can board your plane.

After clearing mindless security procedures (three times at three different locations), I finally made my way to the lounges upstairs. The premiere lounge is apparently only $6 per person (international flight). There was hardly anyone in the CIP lounge sans airport security personnel:

There was no real food besides some stale sandwiches:

The main seating area had a fan and a mosquito buzzer hanging from the roof. The buzzer did zap each time a mosquito was fried. Not charming.

Hopefully, the courtesy tips posted on the wall in the ladies restroom give an idea of the state of the said toilet. Note, the muslim shower was broken:

In a mark of supreme efficiency, my flight to Riyadh boarded an hour early and was ready to go so I’m glad I happened to go to the gate area a bit early because there were no flight announcements in the lounge.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Interesting reading thus far–and of all things, I cannot believe the Muslim shower still has not been repaired.

  2. Pakistan is a non-developed country. It is one of the worst places in the world I have ever been to. The reports here from there actually paint a very rosy picture. The western airlines have no influence whatsoever on standards at the airports.

  3. Interesting about the extraneous “airport fee.” Last year I flew out of KHI and the Emirates agent asked for a few rupees for “Credit Card Fee.” I happened to have just the right amount of cash, so I paid it without thinking much of it, but later realized that it certainly just went into the agent’s pocket. I wonder what would have happened if I tried to argue the fee?

  4. @Andrew she doesn’t have a blog, and asked to remain unnamed.
    @Gene I think I’ll let P.C. handle the Pakistan trips, thanks! But if you want to make the trip YOURself…

  5. I had a similar experience from ISB in August. However there were some differences. I was not charged this fee which might be a new development now. (I was flying on Turkish). The CIP lounge was almost full and to my surprise more than half were foreigners. I thought people don’t travel there much but perhaps this was the capitol so may be a mix of diplomats, UN personal and private NGOs

  6. It looks positively luxurious compared to the old Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Lounge at ADD (the one in the new terminal is decent). I think they shot part of Mad Max there.

  7. …”Apparently, these new aviation taxes are only for Pakistani airports and have nothing to do with the airlines, and they are collected when boarding passes are issued.”

    Certainly I hope -Ms P.C. and Gary- you guys do realize that these “cash only fees” are tips for the check-in, right? LoL

  8. like most immigrants to this country, the trip to the old country is a must bc of parents and close relatives, but other than that it doesnt make sense to go their unless you have to.

  9. @Gary,
    I’ll happily use your CC links in the future to sponsor your trip report to a 3rd world country or “exotic” destination (no I don’t mean Maldives). How about a review of Air Koryo business class? I bet your wife will love that. After reading 100+ reports on Cathay Pacific/Singapore Airlines/Lufthansa 1st class you are bringing something novel to the space. And thanks for leaving out lavatory photos.

  10. You know, everything is relative. I’m sorry to find humor in “Pakistani Correspondent”‘s misfortune in the Lahore lounge, but I’m LOL by myself in front of my computer — grateful that my misfortunes with various lounges around the world have seemed mild in comparison. The only one that came close was the Air Kazakhstan lounge in Almaty in advance of a flight to Astana, and I don’t think even it can beat out Lahore. I’m with @M — I’m looking forward to future reports in the series!

  11. I agree it’s not the most glamorous lounge when I visited. The well-worn cloth couches isn’t much, but I found this lounge to be a quiet respite from the madness in the terminal. Besides, I couldn’t complain too much since my mileage-earning ticket only cost $100 to fly from Houston-Lahore!

    Overall, I found Lahore, Pakistan to be a shockingly fantastic trip for a Westerner, the people on the streets everywhere were so genuinely shocked to see an American and were always so polite, despite what you see in the news. I’ve never travelled somewhere like this where I felt like a celebrity just walking through the streets.

  12. I have throughly enjoyed PC’s reports. I would love to read more about travel to unusual destinations. I have spent hours on the United web site trying to work out the most exotic routings with my miles.

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