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While the lounge was above average it was still the best domestic Priority Pass lounge I had experienced which was driven by the presence of hot food and good hot drinks.
Pros-Good Food, Wide Drink Selection, Good Machine-made Hot Chocolate
Cons-Indifferent Service, Empty Food Containers
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Avianca VIP Lounge
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After we cleared security we entered the San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (SJU) duty free shopping area. This duty free area was smaller than the one that we saw in London-Gatwick but similarly required passengers to walk through it is access the gates.
Once we excited that duty free area we entered the terminal and saw signs pointing us to the Avianca VIP lounge. The lounge is open from 4 am-8pm, located at the beginning of Terminal C near American Airlines flights, and operated by a contractor Global Lounge Network. SJU has four terminals (A,B,C,D) but three of the terminals B, C, and D share a security check point and Jet Blue operates the majority of the flights out of Terminal so this lounge is easily accessible to all flights back to the U.S. except on Jet Blue. We followed the signs for VIP Lounge and saw a large sign naming all of the memberships that the lounge accepts and airlines that grant select passengers access to the lounge. We had access to this lounge through my Priority Pass membership a benefit of my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
We headed up the elevator to the third floor and went through a double doors to enter the lounge. We were checked into the lounge quickly by an agent who seemed bored. The lounge itself is small and had four types of seating. Small white chairs and dining tables at the center of the lounge, high top tables with black chairs near the bar, red chairs and white tables by the windows, and black chairs with white tables in a separate TV viewing area. The lounge had three TVs but they were all on very low volume. The general atmosphere was very casual compared to other lounges I have been seen. However, this makes sense since Puerto Rico is a primarily leisure destination for tourists. The lounge also featured a departures board which is typical of an airport lounge.
One of the things I appreciated about the lounge were cute signs that were all around to label the different areas of the lounge. For example, one near the food said "Grab a bite to eat" and another in the lounge said "This is just a closet". It is nice to see a little bit of light-heartedness in a airport lounge.
Food and Drinks
The food selection in this lounge was the best I have seen in a U.S. Priority Pass lounge. It was the first time I had seen a U.S Priority Pass lounge with a hot meal option. The lounge served penne pasta, which was average, along with chicken with mushrooms which was very good! The lounge also served a salad with apple vinaigrette, parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette as additions.
The lounge also had signs for a soup and fruit but both were empty during our visit. For dessert the lounge served angel food cake. I am not a fan of angel food cake but Christina is a fan and thought it was very good.
The lounge's drink selection included a self-serve bar with a selection of wine and liquor. Below the self-serve bar were three coolers containing beer and soft drinks. During our visit they also were serving a fresh fruit punch which I throughly enjoyed. Another highlight of the lounge was the two Nescafe machines.
The machines served a variety of coffee, including lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos, along with hot chocolate. I really liked the hot chocolate primarily because it served with real milk unlike most machine hot chocolate which are served with is served with hot water. Am I the only one who hates having hot chocolate with water?
I had limited interaction with the lounge staff here but when I saw the staff at work they seem to be indifferent. As I mentioned at check-in the staff members seemed bored. She was not rude but not give us a friendly greeting. The staff walking around the lounge also did not seem to be a in a rush to help or answer question but no one was rude. Overall I would say the staff here was indifferent to the guests in the lounge.
Overall, the Avianca VIP Lounge was an above average lounge which was good enough to make it the best domestic lounge I had experienced. I liked that the lounge's location was near the American Airlines gates and that it had hot food options, some of which were actually good, and a wide selection of alcoholic drinks. If you find yourself waiting for a flight at SJU the Avianca VIP lounge is worth checking out.
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