It has been a while (Oct. 2012) since I visited British Airway’s Navigator Club Lounge at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, but I keep seeing people doing searches for British Airways Business Class Lounge at DME (they end up at my review of BA’s First to LHR from DME. See review here; http://patstravelreviews.com/british-airways-first-class-review-moscow-dme-to-lhr/). So I figured it was a good idea to do a review for the lounge. Luckily, I took plenty of photo’s and honestly there are not that many details about the lounge that need to remembered.
The lounge has a very convenient location if you are flying First or Club World. It is located immediately after Passport and Security for Premium Passengers (Fast Track). This line is located to the left in Sector A on the second floor (I was not told about this lane when checking in, fortunately, I knew about it from previous trips). It can be a huge time saver and was for me on this day. The Navigator Club Lounge is the first lounge after you clear security and is in the beginning of the International Departure Terminal.
British Airways shares the Navigator Club Lounge at DME with Iberia and actually considers it as a Third Party Lounge. Meaning it is not run by British Airways. This is not surprising in Russia and further gives you an idea of what to expect (or what not to expect) from this lounge. Lounge access is for passengers traveling in First, Club World, or Club Europe, as well as Silver and Gold Executive Club members and Emerald and Sapphire Oneworld members traveling on BA.
There is no separate lounge or area for passengers traveling in First. This was slightly disappointing as one of the best benefits flying British Airways First Class is their First Lounges. However, since BA had just recently started flying the 747 to DME from LHR and from previous visits to this lounge I kind of figured there wasn’t any extra service for travelers in First. I just hoped that with the elevated service British Airways is trying to establish on this route that maybe it would include the Navigator’s Club Lounge at DME. If flying from LHR to DME then First passengers have full access to the First lounges at Heathrow.
Upon entering the lounge I was greeted by two women at the reception area. I have been a frequent visitor to Moscow for over a decade and have gotten somewhat used to Russian culture as it applies to customer service. It is better to expect to have indifferent service and be pleasantly surprised when you get good service. So, as far as Russian greetings go, this was a warm greeting. But anywhere else in the world, then not so warm (Russians treat strangers very different than their friends – where they are very warm and excepting). I must also say that the overall customer service level at DME is light years better than SVO. After I gave the attendants my boarding pass they welcomed me and told me I did not need a password for the Wifi.
The lounge is more than big enough with plenty of chairs to sit. It is very open with large windows looking out over the tarmac. Opposite the windows, the wall has large photo’s of London depicted on it. Outside of those photo’s, the lounge has more of a Russian feel than an English feel. The chairs, while plentiful, are not the most comfortable to sit and relax. Also, from the photo’s and what I remember, the chairs were made of wicker, which I do remember thinking was an odd choice. I was in the lounge almost two hours and I don’t think there was more than 15 people in there at any time. So it certainly has a spacious feel (maybe too spacious – almost felt like being in a hall). I also remember the temperature in the lounge was quite warm. It was a sunny day, but also October, so it wasn’t that warm outside.
There is a kitchen like area that offered a few choices of hot dishes (more warm than hot). I had the beef stew and a creamy pasta as well as a Russian Piroshki. All were ok, but nothing to get excited about. Also available are salads, nuts, fruit, cold sandwiches, and a few desserts as well. The refrigerator is stocked with water, juice, soft drinks and beer. There is also a small selection of spirits and wine. I think there is another station with a coffee/espresso machine and a selection of tea’s.
Outside of the free Wifi from Beeline (which is slow), there are also a few computer stations. These computers seemed to run slightly faster than the Beeline connection and it is far more comfortable sitting at the desk using a computer than sitting in one of the wicker chairs using your laptop. The chairs sit low to the ground. In addition to the computer area, there is also a smoking room, toilet, but unfortunately, no shower room. There are a few TV’s towards the front of the lounge, but no separate room or area to watch TV. Most, if not all the TV’s had Russian programing airing. Magazines and newspapers were available, but the selection was small and mostly in Russian. There were one or two English newspapers and maybe one Spanish newspaper.
Announcements were made to signify boarding. This was good because there is only one small monitor with flight information. The gate (13) was at the end of the terminal so it was at least a five minute walk from the lounge. The boarding was a little chaotic, but once on the plane you immediately feel this calm that you are now in England (strange feeling I always have leaving Moscow. As much as I love to visit, I always feel a sense of calm when I board the plane back).
As I said the Navigator Club Lounge is not operated by BA, so the experience is similar to other lounges in Eastern Europe and Russia. Nothing close to the British Airways lounges that BA operates themselves and certainly not the First experience for First Class passengers. While the staff was pleasant enough, I can imagine that in certain situations they could be more than unhelpful (example – if you had Emerald or Sapphire status with American Airlines and were flying BA to LHR you may have some difficulty entering the lounge. Just a hunch). That said, it is one of the better lounges I have been in Moscow, either DME or SVO. It is also better spending your time in the lounge than in the Terminal. There is not much to do and the Duty Free prices at the Moscow Airports are amongst the highest in the world.