Location: Terminal I, second floor
Hours: 10:00AM until the departure of the last Thai Airways flight
Cost: n/a – admission for Star Alliance Gold, Thai Airways Platinum/Gold and Royal Silk passengers only
WiFi: Yes, free
Food: Yes, served buffet style. Mostly finger food (small sandwiches, kebabs, pastries)
Beverages: Yes, wine, beer, and liquor is complimentary
Table Service: For drinks yes – upon request
As is normal at the beginning of any trip, especially one to your second home followed by a beach in Thailand, the mood was very light post check in. Post check in and with boarding passes in hand I cleared the secondary round of security before being allowed to proceed to immigration. Immigration was a quick affair before entering the general holding pen before security check which is unfortunately where the Thai Airways lounge is located.
Having to clear security post lounge is always a pain and not ideal – but given the layout of Tribuvan International Airport, having any sort of premium facility after the checkpoint is simply logistically not possible. To Thai’s credit, they do leave Business Class passengers till the last minute and only call for them once the aircraft is ready for boarding (usually towards the end of the process). A recent addition is that the airline now has staff escort premium passengers as well, allowing all of us to bypass the usually very long security lines at this time of day.
Thai Airways is the only airline to own a dedicated lounge at Kathmandu – which is a little odd given that they only operate one, albeit 777, flight a day. Compare this with Qatar Airways who flies in four times daily, twice with widebodies, but yet still uses a contracted lounge, as does every other airline. The TG lounge occupies prime space on the second ‘departures’ level, whereas the other contract lounges are located up a long flight of stairs which is rather cumbersome for those with heavy hand baggage.
I was welcomed into the lounge warmly as usual, boarding pass scanned and I was let into the room. The lounge itself is a rather small but clean affair, which makes sense that it caters to essentially a maximum of 30 business class passengers per day plus however many frequent flier elites are booked on the day. Today the lounge was rather full as it usually is, but had enough seats for all. The photo below was taken after the initial call was made for boarding, so the lounge seems deceptively empty.
The lounge has no real focal point but there’s a television that has CNN playing continuously which is either a welcome distraction for some and an annoyance for others.
The seating is basically all the same, leather chairs with a marble table between them, so there’s no real ‘preferred’ section or couch to speak of. Though the area further away from the television section tends to be better air-conditioned than other parts of the lounge.
The buffet is located at the rear of the lounge. It is sectioned off and offers a pretty basic selection of snacks – some local and some flown in from Bangkok. Chips, pretzels and other savoury bits of the like. A small hot snack section is also there, though it doesn’t seem like it’s replenished that much. On the day samosas and kebabs were on offer but it seems as though these options are rotated out depending on the day. Some light cold sandwiches were also laid out but looked far from fresh.
The beverage section fares much better – a full self service bar was laid out with various options of gin, vodka, bourbon, rum and scotch were available. Ice, limes and other accoutrements were located right next to the bar. It’s always nice to have a self pour bar at a lounge so plus points for this feature.
Wine is also on offer – one red and one white – and it’s different from what’s offered on board. I haven’t tried the selection as yet so I can’t comment on quality but the option is there. No champagne, however.
A cold fridge with a wide array of juices, soft drinks, tonics and waters was kept well stocked. A nice range of tea was also available with iced milk, sugar, honey and three-in-one. Coffee unfortunately was only of the instant variety – a pot of coffee sitting the boiler plate of a coffee maker was also at hand, though I’m not sure who’d voluntarily opt for burnt lukewarm powdered coffee.
The bathroom is unfortunately located outside the lounge, the one that serves all passengers in the general holding pen. While cleaner and larger than before, it’s still not ideal and can get quite dirty at peak times. Acceptable, but it’d be a stretch to call it anything else.
The bottom line is that on an objective standard of judging a lounge, the Kathmandu Royal Silk Lounge ticks all the boxes. It’s clean, it offers a decent variety of food and drink and has free WiFi. Recent changes to how the airline handles boarding (there’s actually priority boarding now) also racks up extra marks. How well all of it’s done and executed is a different matter but one has to keep in mind that we’re in KTM and not a world hub. The very fact that Thai has their own lounge at the airport is already a massive bonus and you have to give the airline props for even operating the lounge to begin with. Having been to the two other shared ‘executive’ lounges at Kathmandu (flying on Silk Air and Malaysia Airlines) I’d have to rank Thai’s as the best between the three of them, which makes this lounge the best at KTM. Take that for what you will, but I’ll gladly take TG up on their lounge as a nice sanctuary outside of the chaos and bustle of an airport bursting at its seams trying to handle 150% of its intended passenger capacity.