Review: China Eastern Lounge 36 Shanghai (PVG)

Jyaga likes (4/5)

China Eastern Lounge 36

Airport : Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
Terminal : Terminal 1
Operator : China Eastern Airlines
Access : SkyPriority Passengers and First and Business Class passengers on select airlines
Date of Visit: October 2023

Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 is China Eastern’s main hub. The airline operates three lounges in the terminal, although only two of which are currently open. This review takes a look at the China Eastern Lounge 36 located in the main terminal. I will be separating this review into two sections, due to the size of the lounge.

Lounge Access Rules

The China Eastern Lounge is accessible to any SkyPriority passenger flying on a SkyTeam member airline. In practice, however, access is limited to First and Business Class passengers on Air France, China Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air, and KLM. Other SkyTeam airlines operate from Terminal 2 which isn’t connected airside. Similarly, SkyTeam Elite Plus members flying on these airlines are also entitled to access the lounge. In addition, the China Eastern Lounge 36 is also the designated lounge for Business Class passengers flying on Japan Airlines, Qantas, Royal Brunei, SriLankan Airlines, and North Korea’s Air Koryo.

Partner airlines

Lounge Location

After passing the departure security checkpoint, turn to the right. Here, you’ll find signs pointing to the VIP Lounges 36 and 39, operated by China Eastern and Avinex, respectively. Follow the directions advised by the signs and head up the escalators to Level 4. You’ll find the China Eastern Lounge 36 just across from the escalator’s landing point.

Location
Escalators
Entrance to the China Eastern Lounge

China Eastern Lounge

Since it was busy at the entrance to the lounge, I went straight to the reception desk to get the attention of a staff member. After noticing me, an agent quickly took my boarding pass and scanned it, before inviting me inside. He pointed me to the left side, where the Business Class section is located. Conversely, on the right is the First Class section, open only to First Class passengers and top-tier Platinum Eastern Miles members.

Lounge Level 4

Past the reception area, the space opens into an expansive seating area, which stretches lengthwise to become a long and narrow room. This space itself is divided into three sections, including a small seating lounge, a dining area, and a food spread area. Showers and toilets are also available at the end, near the food spread.

Lounge map

Lounge Area Seating

To the immediate left is the small and narrow lounge seating area, featuring a limited number of leather armchairs arranged in pairs of two. A console table with a lamp separates each seat pair, which is also equipped with power outlets. There is also a choice of room-temperature soft drinks available at the far end of this area.

Level 4 Lounge area

Along the wall are also storage lockers that reminded me of those you’d find in a high school. I wasn’t too sure how they work or whether they are functional to begin with, although they seem to use a boarding pass as a key. I could be wrong, however, since I didn’t test it myself.

Level 4 Lounge area

Dining Area seating

The lounge’s main dining area is located on the right. This area itself has three kinds of seating options, among which include dining table seating, window-side counter seating, and booth seating. Although a long row of windows lined one side of the lounge, they were sadly curtained – giving a drab look to the space.

Dining area

Occupying the entirety of the dining area’s centre and aisle space are the dining tables. Each table seats two, featuring dark leather barrel chairs arranged facing each other. The tables are placed close to each other, meaning that there isn’t a whole lot of privacy to be expected. In any case, the space is characterised by a strange mishmash of ostentation and utilitarianism, owing to the odd combination of the tightly packed diner tables, the leather armchairs, and the marble walls. But hey, the seats are comfy, so no complaints here! 😉

Dining area
Dining table seats

Extending along the same length are also the window-side counter seats. These seats are in a similar style to the desk-like counter seats you’d often find at Japanese airport lounges. Despite the lack of a view, these seats remain ideal for solo travellers when the dining area is crowded. These seats also have the added benefit of power outlets, making them suitable as a work desk too.

Dining area
Dining tables
Seats in the dining area

Finally, there is also a random assortment of dining tables and booth seats located in two sub-rooms on the interior-facing side of the dining area. These tables seat between four to six people, making them more suitable for families and group travellers. There are power outlets on the walls of the room.

Sub-room seating area
Sub-room seating area
Table seating
Booth seating
More table seating

Near the toilets are also a few seats reserved for passengers requiring special assistance. These seats are roped off and feature signs indicating just that. How very thoughtful! As such, though the lounge’s drab look is an acquired taste, I’ll have to admit that the seating options are well-thought-out.

Seating reserved for passengers needing special assistance

Dining

The lounge’s main dining option is located at the far end of the dining area. Located here is a buffet spread, alongside a cooked-to-order noodle bar. Also available are an array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages scattered throughout the lounge.

Buffet spread

The buffet spread consists of a decent selection of hot and cold dishes, as well as several packaged snacks. The selection starts with a fruit and salad bar, with a rather basic choice of fruits and vegetables. Next to the salad bar is also a selection of sandwiches and cakes, which looked quite stale. In any case, I was impressed by the signs indicating that the food in the spread was prepared fresh on the day.

China Eastern Lounge buffet
Fruit and Salad Bar
Selection of sandwiches and cakes

In terms of hot food, there is a choice of six dishes at any given time. During my visit, the entire selection was Asian-style, featuring dishes like fried celery, fried zucchini chicken curry, fried noodles, potato curry, and steamed rice. I personally don’t find the selection appealing, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Hot food buffet
Fried vegetables
Chicken curry and fried noodles
Potato curry and steamed rice

In addition, there is also a selection of dim sum located by the noodle bar, the latter of which I’ll explain in a bit. I found the dim sum to be actually very nice, and it definitely falls under one of the recommended foods from the lounge. A choice of Chinese-style soups also accompanied the dim sum selection.

Dim sum selection
Chinese-style soups

Finally, there is also a basic choice of baked goods, ranging between croissants and ‘Red Velvet Cranberry Meal Kit’. I assume the latter is a kind of bread. Since they looked stale, I did not bother trying either, as much as the meal kit intrigued me. Accompanying the bread are also some packaged snacks like saltine crackers and Chinese confections.

MU Noodles

In addition to the buffet, the lounge also operates a noodle station, aptly called MU Noodles. During my visit, there were two kinds of noodles on offer – a noodle soup and a dry scallion noodle. Both are made to order and feature a variety of self-served condiments and toppings on the side.

MU Noodles
Noodle bar menu
Noodle bar condiments
Toppings for noodles
Fried Shredded Pork with Salted Vegetables and Spicy Diced Pork
Steamed Beancurd Roll and Sauteed Assorted Vegetables

Being partial to all things soupy, I ordered half a portion of the MU Noodles (or literally translated as ‘East East Three Flavours’). I topped this with some scallions, scallion oil, soy sauce, fried garlic, and pickled mustard greens. Honestly, I was very pleasantly surprised by the noodles, which were chewy and pleasant. The broth was light and flavourful, providing a welcome warmth to the otherwise cold ambience of the lounge.

MU Noodles
Drinks

Many beverage stations are scattered throughout the lounge, although the selection is repetitive. Specifically, you’ll find soft drinks drinks like Coca-Cola, Sprite, Schweppes Ginger Ale, Schweppes Soda Water, and Schweppes Tonic Water. There are also many bottles of water available, which is convenient to bring on to your next flight. Nicely enough, San Pellegrino sparkling water is also offered on ice.

Beverage station
Beverage station

In terms of alcoholic drinks, there is a small selection of liquor comprised of Beefeater Gin, Absolut Vodka, Havana Club Rum, and Kahlua Coffee Liqueur. Three wines are also offered, featuring two Cabernet Sauvignons and a Sauvignon Blanc Additionally, there are two choices of beer – Cody’s Bavarian Wheat Beer and the popular Tsingtao Beer. Having never tried Tsingtao, I was really impressed by its light taste and floral notes. Not bad!

Chilled beverage selection
Liquor and wine selection

In addition to the regular soft drinks and water, there is also a choice of Chinese teas that come in loose-leaf cans and tea bags. Two hot water dispensers are conveniently placed next to the selection to brew the teas. Having said that, I really liked the scented tea, which was one of the most fragrant Jasmine teas I’ve ever had.

Beverage station
Tea selection
Hot water dispenser

Coffee is a decidedly much less special affair. All there are are a couple of regular coffee machines, which brewed just alright drinks. Interestingly though, between the machines, there was a sign that said ‘Ice Milk’. Since milk wasn’t otherwise offered, is that where you get your milk or…?

Coffee machines

Finally, there are also two choices of juices – orange and apple – as well as two of what seemed like traditional Chinese herbal drinks. While one was clearly a plum-flavoured beverage, I really wasn’t sure what the other was. Since there were no signs in English, I tried both. They were fine.

Juices and traditional drinks

Funnily enough, there is also an enormous machine next to the drinks, which I thought looked very intimidating and out of place. Embarrassingly, it took a while for me to realise that it is an ice machine. In any case, the words ‘please contact the staff if you need to use’ definitely didn’t instil any confidence in me. Hah!

Ice machine

Toilet

Located on the corridor just before the noodle bar are the toilets, which are separated by gender. The toilets are regularly serviced, which ensures that they are always in a clean state. Curiously, the urinals in the men’s bathroom were filled with ice cubes. Upon doing a quick Google search, this is done to reduce odour. Interesting!

Men’s toilet
Men’s toilet
Toilet stall

Showers

Several shower rooms line the corridor past the toilet area. However, you’ll notice that the showers are locked without an attendant nearby. To get a shower, you will have to notify the reception and provide your boarding pass for verification. Someone will then escort you to your shower room, carrying a basket containing various toiletries and a hair dryer.

Shower at the China Eastern Lounge

The shower room is spacious and features its own toilet, sink, and closet. There is also a small bench, under which are a pair of reusable rubber slippers like those you’d find outside toilets in a Japanese inn. Frankly, I had no idea what purpose it served, although it did come inside a plastic cover that said ‘Sanitized’.

Shower at the China Eastern Lounge
Amenities at the China Eastern Lounge

The shower stall itself features both a rain and handheld shower head. I found the water pressure to be quite mediocre, although the temperature was good. Provided alongside are what looked like store-bought shampoo and shower gel bottles. During my visit, these were Lux and Vidal Sassoon branded. Either way, I found that the shower does its job well and nicely, too.

Shower at the China Eastern Lounge
Toiletries at the China Eastern Lounge

WiFi

WiFi connection permeates nearly the entire lounge, apart from the toilets for some reason. As you’d expect, China’s Great Firewall is in full play, meaning that many basic websites like Google are inaccessible without a VPN. The network is protected by a user login page, the credentials of which you could get from the reception. The speeds weren’t amazing, though not slow enough to be bothersome.

Lounge Level 5

Next to the Level 4 Seating Area, a pair of escalators connects the dining area to the main lounge on Level 5. The escalators are sort of hidden in plain sight. Even so, I was surprised to see how empty Level 5 was for the entirety of my 8-hour stay at China Eastern Lounge 36.

Escalators to Level 5
Escalator landing
Level 5 map

Curiously, there is a reception desk right at the escalator landing on Level 5. I wasn’t sure as to its purpose but it did look quite nice. There was a brief moment where someone attended the desk, although it was mostly unmanned during my visit.

Level 5 reception desk

Seating

While Level 4 mostly serves as a dining area, Level 5 is the lounge’s dedicated seating and relaxation area. In that sense, it is no surprise that the majority of Level 5 is occupied by rows and rows of lounge seats. I’ll add that the ambience on Level 5 feels a lot cosier, thanks to the carpeting and the absence of the cold white marble walls adorning Level 4.

Level 5 seating area
Level 5 seating area

All seats on Level 5 consist of brown-coloured leather armchairs arranged on two sides. On the left-hand side, the armchairs are organised in pairs facing each other in a typical airport lounge arrangement. On the right-hand side, the seats are arranged in cubicles, each with six armchairs. Due to the partitions between the cubicles, these seats are a bit more private than the other seats on Level 5.

Level 5 seating area
Level 5 seating area
Seats arranged in cubicles

In addition to the armchairs, there are also a limited number of swivelling sofa chairs at the end near the escalators and the relaxation area. These chairs are taller than the armchairs, which leaves them a bit out of place. Regardless, it is a nice variation to otherwise uniform look of the leather armchairs.

Seating on Level 5
Seating on Level 5

Each seat is separated by a small console table, which features power outlets and USB ports. Most seats feature Type A and Type I outlets standard in China, although there are also a few with EU Type C plugs. Additionally, while not individually controlled, I liked the individual lamps on each console. I thought this helped make the seats feel more cosy and library like.

Armchairs in the seating area
Armchairs in the seating area

More seats were available past the escalators, featuring desk seats and rows and rows of armchairs. However, this section was roped off during my visit, which isn’t a surprise given how empty the lounge was. Interestingly, the lights in this area were kept on the whole time, though.

Roped-off seating area

Relaxation

Across from the escalator landing is a dedicated relaxation area with massage chairs and recliners. The area is separated from the rest of Level 5 with a nice floral-patterned partition wall. Despite that, there is not much privacy afforded in this space since there are multiple openings.

Relaxation area

Despite the spacious real estate of the area, the space is only occupied by eight seats. This comprises four reclining chairs and four massage chairs, like those you’d find at Japan Airlines Lounges. Notably, the relaxation area doesn’t have its own lighting setting separate from the rest of the lounge. This leaves the relaxation area rather bright for those trying to catch a few winks. As such, I’d recommend bringing an eyeshade if you’re hoping to get some sleep on the recliners.

Massage chairs in the relaxation area
Reclining chairs in the relaxation area

Business Centre

Level 5 also has a small business centre of sorts, which is labelled on the map as an internet area. The space does feel a bit like an afterthought since it doesn’t look efficiently used. Specifically, there are three office desks, each with an ergonomic swivel chair, alongside four coffee table seats. Remarkably, there weren’t any special provisions like printers or the like.

Business Centre
Business Centre

Reading Room

Finally, there is also a reading room located next to the relaxation area. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what made this a reading room since there weren’t any books to speak of. In any case, it looked more appropriate as a conference room given its solitary table with six seats.

Reading room

Refreshments

Next to the seating area is the small refreshments area. Offered here is a choice of food which pretty much mimicked the selection on Level 4. Noticeably absent were the various hot food choices, as the spread here focused mainly on snacks and finger foods. In particular, the same selection of sandwiches, cakes, fruits, pastries, and packaged snacks were available here as on Level 4.

Level 5 refreshments area
Refreshments spread
Refreshments spread
Cake selection
‘Comprehensive fruit’
Sandwich selection
Refreshments spread
Pastries and dry snacks

It is the same for the drinks selection, which looked entirely identical to that available downstairs. Specifically, there was a choice of tea, coffee, soft drinks, water, and alcoholic drinks. Since the choices are the same, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Tea selection
Hot water dispenser
Coffee machine
Wine selection
Alcoholic selection
Soft drinks and beer
Soft drinks selection

Toilet

A pair of toilets is available at the far end of Level 5, separated by gender. It looks pretty much the same as the toilets on Level 4, though larger and brighter (thanks to its window). In any case, I found the male toilet to be very clean, thanks to regular servicing.

Level 5 male toilet
Level 5 male toilet
Urinals in the male toilet

Overall

Overall, I found the China Eastern Lounge 36 in Shanghai to be a pleasant enough flagship lounge for the airline. Despite its relatively drab look, I liked how comfortable the space was for those with prolonged layovers. Additionally, with its decent food and attentive service, I managed to enjoy my stay at this lounge. A faster WiFi connection and more sunlight would probably make the lounge more comfortable, although I’d say I was a pretty happy camper!

Read more from this trip here!

2 responses to “Review: China Eastern Lounge 36 Shanghai (PVG)”

  1. Mohamed

    Do MasterCard Credit holders have free access to Lounge 36, or is there a cash fee to be paid? Will he travel to Tokyo by China Eastern Airlines Shanghai Transit? Can you please answer me?

    1. Hi Mohamed, I don’t believe MasterCard credit card holders are eligible for entry. Unfortunately I don’t have any information about paid entry, although I’m sure there are a few paid lounges at Pudong Airport.

      Best,

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