Only two lounges operate at Clark International Airport in the Philippines. Finnoy Travel visited one of them, the VIP Lounge which is located in Terminal 1 after the security control. Read our review to learn how we rated this lounge.
Covered in the Article
Our Flight from Clark International Airport
Finnoy Travel had a flight departing from Clark International Airport. Our flight bound to Hong Kong was scheduled to depart at 15:10 in March 2019. Due to infrequent direct bus connections from Baguio City to Clark International Airport, we opted to take the first direct bus trip (4 hrs, 17 mins) of Genesis which departed Baguio City at 3:55 AM. This resulted in a much early arrival at Clark International Airport at exactly 8:20 AM. Once check-in of Cathay Airlines opened at noon, we had check-in quickly at Cathay Airline's counter and then passed through immigration and security checks.
Lounge near the Depature Gate
Initially, there was not any plan to visit the lounge at that time. But it is because of the proximity of the VIP lounge to our departure gate that prompted us a quick decision to have a relaxing break at the lounge before flights. Our connection flight to Hong Kong International Airport was leaving from Gate 5 located on the second floor of Terminal 1 of Clark International Airport in which the VIP and smoking Lounge is located (note: the closest gate to the VIP Lounge is Gate 6).
After passing the final security check on the first floor, it is needed to walk straight a little and an escalator will lead you to the second floor. Once you have reached the second level, you will easily find VIP Lounge at your right, about 7 feet away. The reception is located just in front of the two-glass doors of the lounge. You may also access the lounge through an elevator. Once you exit the elevator, it is needed to proceed to your right and you will notice immediately the lounge premises. The smoking lounge is at the right side door.
VIP & SMOKING LOUNGE
For clarity reasons, the lounge has an official name of VIP Lounge as listed in Loungebuddy's site. We couldn't find information about VIP Lounge on Clark Airport's website at the time of writing this review. However, if you visit the lounge, you will notice signage that the management is using which reads, CAD VIP & SMOKING LOUNGE.
The lounge has two separate rooms, at the left side is labelled as VIP 2 LOUNGE, a non-smoking area, while on the right side is the VIP 1 LOUNGE or the smoking lounge. There are different rates for entry to each lounge.
VIP Lounge was open only from 8:00 AM – 2:00 AM daily during the time of our visit.
VIP Lounge is a pay-in lounge that admits customers who are clients of Priority Pass, Asiana Airlines, Asiana Lounge, Lounge key and Collinson Group. For walk-in guests, this lounge admits guests at the door for a rate near PHP 800.00 (US$18.00) per person with payments acceptable only by credit cards issued by Visa and Mastercard. For admission to the smoking room, the rate is about PHP 300.00 (US$7.00).
Unfortunately, VIP Lounge does not accept Diners Club or DragonPass membership cards.
Easiness to Find the Lounge
We give 5 stars for this category. It may be a benefit for the lounge to be easily located as Clark Airport is just a small airport. To repeat, the VIP Lounge is located in Terminal 1, International departures after the immigration and security check. You need to walk a little and take the escalator to the 2nd floor, VIP Lounge is located on the right side near Gate 6.
At the time of visit around 12:37 PM, we were the first customers to come in at VIP 1 Lounge since the foods at the catering table remained sealed and untouched. However, a few customers came in already at the neighbouring smoking lounge. It was so peaceful inside VIP 1 Lounge as what would you expect being the only customer in a large room. Two other customers came in later before we exited the lounge premises. When asked the staff why the lounge is so empty, she gave a wise response:
It is not busy hours yet, more customers are coming later.
The lounge has all brown leather single chairs spread along with the corners of the lounge which were clean and comfortable. Also, brown wooden chairs are positioned in between every two chairs. On the left wing of the lounge, all 8 rows of single chairs are arranged in the same way facing all upfront towards the entrance door of the lounge. Additional same furniture is arranged in the same manner on the right wing of the lounge. Upon entry, the staff ushered us to sit on the backside whereas accordingly, it is well-ventilated. To attest to this, we went right through as directed and it was indeed true that it's cold on that side because the air conditioner is placed at the back, left side of the lounge. We chose to sit on the 3rd row, window side not to be too close to the air conditioner. Additionally, two electric fans were working well which are attached to the ceiling lamps. At first, a male staff asked us if it was OK to let it like the lamps are off and we said we do not mind because there is much daylight anyway penetrating through the big glass windows. Later on, we noticed that the supposed owner of the lounge came to instruct his staff and the lights were switched on same time creating a more pleasant atmosphere.
VIP Lounge has separate toilets for each gender. They were spacious and well-maintained. At least three maintenance staff were spotted trying to maintain the order and cleanliness of the lounge despite VIP 1 Lounge being almost empty.
On the walls of the lounge, there is a NO SMOKING sign repeated a few times. However, because just beside VIP 2 Lounge is the VIP 1 Lounge or smoking lounge and the rooms is separated by a glass door, it is inevitable that smoke leaks into this lounge at times. For example at some point, it was quite uncomfortable to breathe in cigarette smoke while fetching food from the catering table as the glass doors to the smoking lounge were kept open so that cigarette smokes gets in easily to VIP 1 Lounge room.
Another problem is the lack of power outlets. We noticed only a few of them on the walls but not any close to the chairs or tables. For comfort and security reasons, it is not a good idea to plug any device away from your eyesight. The lounge should add the availability of charging sockets to enhance the comfiness of customers. After all, a traveller's number one need is to charge handheld devices before flights. They have Wi-Fi networks, one is working poorly and the other one is working well. Password is written on a small piece of paper which you can pick from a glass jar at the snack table.
A view of the tarmac is one good thing about visiting this lounge. You can do plane spotting of planes taking off and landing. Though it is not the best area for plane spotting because the window view is not clear, in some structures, a part of a ceiling is somehow blocking the tarmac view from the windows.
There is a flight monitor and airport announcements are also clearly audible inside the lounge.
Food and Drinks
Fresh fruit salad was served at the time of visit. These included thinly sliced carrots, cucumbers, pineapple slices, mixed fruit salad and corn. Also, sweet bananas were served. The warm soup is freshly prepared. They had 3 types of loaf bread that can be enjoyed with any of their 4 different flavours of marmalade. Warm meals including two among the traditional Filipino dishes Pork Menudo and Chicken Adobo were served with fried rice. Desserts included cookies, cupcakes and choco bars of different flavours. Snack options included chips, nuts and cup noodles.
Though the lounge claims to be offering unlimited food and drinks, they have limited options for drinks. For example at the time of visit, the fridge had only bottled regular coke and cans of beers limited to a maximum of 2 cans per guest. Additionally, a water dispenser is in use where you can take warm and cold water. Three types of juices are also served. For hot drinks, Lipton tea and instant coffee are the available options. Unlike other lounges, VIP Lounge has very limited options for alcoholic drinks. They only had canned beers at the time of visit wherein each customer can consume a maximum of two cans only.
Friendliness of the Customer Service
Filipino hospitality was felt during the visit to VIP Lounge. The staffs were friendly and accommodating. There is nothing to explain.
VIP Lounge at Clark International Airport is one of the simplest lounges we had visited. Overall, for a rate of US$18.00 it is worth the money with the good services it offers. it is worth paying a little more than airport restaurants will charge because of the good quality of food and variety of options to select from. The tranquillity of the lounge, easy location and comfortable chairs to relax in before flights. It is, however, not to be forgotten that the lounge will invite more people to visit if improvements shall be implemented. To summarize, the lounge should improve its selection of alcoholic drinks, and add up power outlets, to ensure cigarette smoke is not leaking to VIP 2 Lounge. After all, VIP 2 Lounge is called a non-smoking lounge.
Clark International Airport is a small airport but is undergoing constant development. Being located in a small airport, VIP Lounge Clark is worth the visit taking into consideration its proximity to the departure gates and the amenities you can enjoy. It is worth it to pay a little more than what those expensive restaurants are asking for - in exchange for a peaceful atmosphere before your flights.
About the Author
Ceasar, an immigrant in Finland, co-founded Finnoy Travel out of his passion for exploring new horizons. His content primarily centres around immigration, travel, and life in Finland. An avid road tripper, Ceasar also shares insider tips on car driving abroad.
When not embarking on adventures, he meticulously proofreads every article before it gets published on the Finnoy Travel site. His responsibilities also extend to managing the social media channels of Finnoy Travel.