ATH: Athens Swissport Lounge
The curious thing, is that some passengers just donít like it. Maybe itís the hard Ėvery hard Ė seats. Maybe itís all a bit sterile. There is no warm welcoming sofa. Passengers with a choice of this or the Aristotle lounge used to go there for the food Ė at least until Olympic downgraded their food. British passengers invariably head for the BA lounge, with a choice of UK papers and more comfy surroundings. Never the less, the Swissport lounge is certainly a talking point.
For a start, the Swissport lounge is the only one of the 3 lounges (6, if you include the Schengen side) with views of the tarmac; there is a great view of the abandoned Satellite terminal and redundant aircraft, and you can see aircraft movements.
As you walk in, you get a view of most of the lounge. Computers are on the left, food is on the right Ė in a kind of strange triangle Ė and the fishtank is straight head, behind which are the dining room tables. Beyond the room break, there is a separate smoking section on the left, behind glass screens. Beside this is the Massage Room. Donít get too excited: there is complimentary use of massage chairs, but there are only two, and they sit in splendid isolation in the room all on their own. This room tends to be used by people who want to make private phone calls, so it isnít very relaxing at all.
At the far end the lounge splits into two. On the left is a great big white curving sofa (it is very comfy for sleeping on) and a large TV. On the right are four high-backed swivel chairs, an x-box and separate TV, and a great view through to the apron.
On the left hand side you can see through the glass door (donít open it!) to gates A12/13, so you can see if your flight is actually boarding. When the time comes to board, the Swissport lounge has a direct fast track line through security (just exit the lounge and turn immediately right). The "normal" security line can get pretty frantic when more than one flight is departing, so you can check the line up right from the lounge entrance, and then use the fast track when you need to depart.
In short, the lounge is calm, relaxing, and trendy: just what you want for a lounge, and although it lacks facilities like showers and a better business centre, there are far worse lounges.
FoodFood in the Athens Swissport Lounge is remarkably good.
Hot food is in the large silver tourine at the far end of the food Ďtriangleí. The hot selection is a bit of mixture: there is everything from hamburgers to spinach pastries to fried fish balls. They are only there at lunchtime 12-2 and 5pm onwards.
There are sandwiches in the fridge: they are in plastic packets with labels for ham, cheese, and pork. On the lower shelf there are also cheeses.
Sweet pastries are on the main worktop: the selection here is excellent, with a decent selection of Greek delicacies.
There is even a large icecream cabinet, which has a dozen types of everything from Cornettos to choc-ices. Alas, this freezer gives an annoying hum throughout the food area.
In the fridge beside the ice cream cabinet are carrots and celery with Ranch Dip, which are brought out especially for the Delta flight: odd, but these dips are in all Delta Skyclubs, and the Athens Delta Lounge has exactly the same.
Beer is in cans, and is either Mythos or Amstel. Wine is on the worktop, and is Greek. Eeeek. There is one bottle of Greek white, and another of Greek Red, which are an interesting experience. There is sparkling wine Ė which is Greek as well. It is of lousy quality. If you want decent beer, head to the Lufthansa lounge: the British Airways lounge meanwhile has much better beer.
However, the spirit collection is remarkable, with no less than 18 different bottles including Baileys, Contreau, three types of Ouzo, and pre-mixed Margarita in a bottle: I kid you not. With this lot going, the lounge staff often struggle to keep up the supply of clean glasses.
Incidentally, spot the special Ouzo display cabinet, high on the wall above the hot food section. Alas, you canít actually get at any.
BathroomsThere are no showers or spa, and the bathrooms are tiny with only room for two people at a time.
Incidentally, check out the digital clock inside the mirror: at the time it was installed, it was the very height of technology.
Business FacilitiesThere is a great business area with free internet access, on six computers. If only they actually worked, it would be even better. The problem isnít so much getting them functioning, as getting the internet to talk to the browser, which is, believe it or not, no less than IE5. Yes, a browser released in 1999. Only a few sites still work with this browser, but for web developers it is fascinating checking the sites to see if they still function: you can often see several testing sites in this lounge.
There is of course free Wifi.
Newspapers are poor with just 4 Greek newspapers. There is also the International Herald. These are kept on poles, on a rack by the door, to stop you taking them out of the lounge. If you think these are poor, wait till you see the magazine rack, which just has one or two copies of the inflight magazine of the airlines using the lounge. There is also a fascinating display of airline publicity material on the triangular end of the bookcase near the food area.
AccessThe Athens Swissport lounge is not the Athens Swissair lounge. Swiss Air use the Lufthansa lounge in the Schengen section.
To gain access to the Swissport lounge, you need a pass from the check-in counter, regardless of travel class or frequent flyer card Ė the lounge staff donít want to mess with looking at Boarding cards or membership cards. IF you forget, you need to exit the non-Schengen area, which can take some time.
The lounge is after the boarding pass check, and after passport control but before security. When you leave the lounge, ensure you take the direct fast track line through security, which is much faster to gates A11-A13.
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