Lounge review: Air China Premium Shanghai Hongqiao - most underrated lounge??

Recently for an intra-Asia flight in business class, I flew out of the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA), which is the smaller of the two primary airports serving Shanghai.  Although with far less nonstop international destinations compared to Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), SHA's close proximity to the Hongqiao District and downtown Shanghai make it a good travel option.  Since I was going to Taipei, the nonstop flight from SHA-Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA) is the best routing possible as it's essentially city center to city center.

Flying in Air China biz, I had access to the V02 Air China Premium lounge in the international terminal.  Knowing that this is a smaller airport than PVG with far lighter international traffic, I didn't set my expectations high for the V02 lounge.  But upon entering, it was literally seating galore from end to end.

I can't recall ever seeing this many chairs in an airport lounge, not even at the majestic Cathay Pacific the Wing first class lounge or the Malaysia Airlines Enrich first class lounge.  And with the limited international traffic, nearly all the seats were empty.  But perhaps the most impressive part of the airport were the food offerings.

The hot plate covers are motion-sensor and automatically open when you're nearby!

Daikon (left) is a low calorie and nutritious vegetable that is very satiating.

The lounge featured many hot entree options, including an amply supply of Chinese vegetables and protein.  I personally liked how the buffet entrees are all covered and automatically open when you're nearby as they're motion-sensor.  This prevents the issue where the food dries up when someone doesn't close the cover.  There was an a la carte noodle soup bar, and even the beverage selection was decked out.

Noodle soup bar.  I added veggies and ate those instead of the noodles.

Cheater meals on the right

Above all, I was most impressed by the lounge's food service.  There was an agent who walked around the hot dishes and removed any pieces that looked dried or spent!  I can't think of any buffet where I have personally witnessed this.  Sometimes they'll just cover it by adding more fresh food, but removing individual pieces and leaving the best food means that the entire plate will always be fresh.

Air China agent carefully removing dried and less visually appealing pieces of food from the hot plates

Bottom line

Unbelievably, the SHA V02 Air China Premium lounge ranks as one of the best business class lounges I've been to in Asia.  The food selection and quality rivals that of Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines and definitely exceeds that of 5-star carriers ANA and Eva Airlines.  The attention to detail of the food offerings is amazing, especially considering that Air China's in-flight experience carries a poor reputation.  The lounge size was definitely excessive considering the limited amount of international outbound traffic SHA deals with, but made way for ample seating.  Given the choice, I would definitely fly out of SHA again for its convenience and the V02 lounge, which was the most underrated lounge I've ever visited.


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