On our last day at the Marriott St. Kitts, we indulged in a morning of guilt-free sunbathing and a picnic lunch on the beach. Before long, it was time to board a taxi for the quick drive back to Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, where we'd be catching our 4:30pm flight to Miami.
Our flight on American Airlines went by pretty uneventfully, and a couple of hours later we landed at Miami International. The queue for immigration was relatively short (for US airport standards), and customs was a breeze as well. Soon, we found ourselves landside at Concourse D and needed to make our way to Concourse J, from which our Air Canada Rouge flight to Toronto was departing.
I had been to Miami Airport once before, so I knew it was pretty large and there was a tendency to easily become "MIA in MIA". The original North Terminal serves as the main airport building, with the newer Central and South Terminals (the latter of which housing Concourse J, from which a majority of Star Alliance airlines depart) "fanning out" in a U-shape around a central parking structure.
The concourses are linked by an automated walkway, so we hopped on and walked all the way around from Concourse D to J. Air Canada check-in was a smooth process as well – it was nice to be back in Star Alliance territory with Gold status kicking back in.
We had about an hour to kill before our flight was scheduled to depart and we were starving at this point, so we made for the lounges. There were two lounges available to us in Concourse J: the Avianca Lounge and the VIP Lounge. Both lounges are accessible with Priority Pass, whilst the former is also available to passengers with Star Alliance Gold status. Of course, if you're travelling in business or first class, you're entitled to lounge access as well. Both the Avianca the VIP Lounges shared an entrance near Gate J5.
After taking the escalators up a level, turn left for the Avianca Lounge and right for the VIP Lounge.
The lounge consisted of one large open space with a few smaller rooms attached. There was a nice variety of furniture, with sofas, dining tables, and more comfortable chairs for your selection. I thought the decor was a bit on the bland side at first, but the more time I spent in the lounge, the more I felt that the neutral tones and pops of red colour contributed to a clean, efficient feel for a business class lounge.
We hurriedly grabbed some food from the buffet spread. On this particular evening the lounge was serving tomato and basil soup, with a chicken and wild rice dish as the hot food item. The food was pretty average, though we had no complaints given how hungry we were.
The lounge also offered a varied selection of pastries, snacks, and drinks.
There were two smaller rooms connected to the main lounge area: a dining area and a business centre with computer workstations. Both were empty at the time, despite the lounge itself being quite full. The decor in these areas wasn't exactly welcoming either.
We finished our food pretty quickly and stayed in the lounge for about half an hour, before heading over to the adjacent VIP Lounge to check it out as well.
The Avianca Lounge at Miami Airport is a perfectly good lounge for relaxing and grabbing a bite before your flight. The interior decor could use a little bit of work, in my opinion, especially in the dining and working rooms, in which the bright lighting and dull, white furniture can create quite a sterile feel. The food and drink choices are solid, and the seating is relatively comfortable. In terms of capacity, there were no problems when I visited at 7pm; however, most Avianca flights seem to depart Miami around 4pm, so I'd expect the lounge to get quite busy around then.
Overall the lounge is recommendable, though perhaps if I were an Avianca business class customer I'd expect a little more in terms of ground services from arguably the Colombian airline's biggest US hubs. As you'll see in the next installment, for Priority Pass customers who can choose between this lounge and the neighbouring VIP Lounge, I'd say the latter probably wins out by a small margin.