Visiting the Salon Air France Lounge at the Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport was a mixed emotion of pleasant service and why did they do that? Comfort and free wifi is provided but initial appearances can be deceiving.
I was flying home from Houston, Texas with one of the partners of Skyteam, Air France. Typically I have flown with their jointly owned airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines , yet somehow Air France crop up cheaper now on flight options.
A possible upgrade before going to the Salon Air France Lounge?
The check-in experience at Houston Bush was certainly a memorable one. My check-in agent enquired if I was interested in upgrading to First Class. Reliving the moment this happened to me with Emirates I was certainly interested (although not revealing too much in my expression). My response was inquisitive:-
I received a rather quick and unappealing response:-
“No, you have to pay $1,500.”
Hmm, I thought. If I wanted to pay to go First Class then I’d probably have done that before I got my ticket. I knew I was in America and they tend to “up sell” many things at burger bars and electric stores, but I wasn’t quite used to this.
It was a short conversation as I quickly dismissed the idea.
Passing through security was not an overly long process, flying Business Class means you can use a priority lane.
The airports of Houston
I then followed the overhead signs for gate D12 which is where the Air France Lounge Houston Airport lay. Well I say Houston airport, there is actually more than one airport in Houston TX.
(I once, surprisingly to me (since our company travel agent arranged my flights) arrived at Houston Hobby rather than Houston Bush airport. From what I can tell Houston Hobby is a domestic airport whilst Houston Bush is intercontinental. They are also a few miles apart in the fourth largest city in the US!)
Salon Air France Lounge or the KLM Lounge?
As I headed to gate D12 I couldn’t help but notice nearby was the Air France Skyteam partner and jointly owned KLM lounge. I remember using this lounge a few times in the past and it is quite a nice place to pitch up.
Not only do they serve KLM and Sky team partners but you can use an airport lounge card too for access such as Priority Pass. (Get a discount off a Priority Pass here.)
KLM and Air France have been under joint owners now as a merged company for a few years yet they have not jointly branded like United and Continental did. I kind of like the idea of them keeping their separate identities.
However, when it comes to paying for flights and them wanting me to voluntarily upgrade for over a $1,000 then I need to think if they are cost efficient? Why, when they’ve been merged for so long do they have 2 lounges (branded differently) beside each other?
I think my thoughts on this were emphasised even more once I saw the entrance door to the Air France lounge.
It can best be described as underwhelming. It looked like a janitor’s door! If you weren’t careful you’d think that you’d gone to the wrong place.
Thankfully it was a heck of a lot more appealing inside. I was greeted by two staff who came across as sincere. One seemed very happy and genuinely interested when asking how I was. That’s the thing with customer service and sincerity, you can often spot it a mile off.
Without asking I was provided with a wifi code for the complimentary service. The wifi was relatively quick and reliable too, so no complaints on that front.
The furnishings were soft and coloured brown or cream. They seemed perfect to slouch into.
I found a business area with a few desks and electrical sockets. There was also a single terminal for those without computers.
At the other side of the lounge you could find what I can only describe as being like a breakfast bar.
High chairs provided an opportunity to look at an uninspiring view outside of the window.
The food selection was okay, nothing more. You could have some cold sandwiches, pasta or carrot and some green veg.
I guess with the timing of the flight not too far away the airline didn’t want to push the boat out and have passengers stuffed before they boarded. You do however tend to find airline lounges for Emirates, Singapore and Virgin provide a good selection of food and drink.
I would say that the Salon Air France Lounge at this Houston Texas airport is fit for purpose. Not too glamorous and not too shabby either. I still think it would be a smart move for them to roll the Air France and KLM Lounges into one and save some cost. But if they do nothing else, please change that entrance door!