We spent our last day in Buenos Aires exploring the tranquil surroundings of Retiro and Puerto Madero, and at about 5pm, we headed back to the Sheraton Buenos Aires to pick up our luggage and begin our journey to Ezeiza International Airport for our 9:30pm flight to São Paulo. It didn’t take us long for us to be on our way, since the Tienda León airport bus station was right next door.
We arrived at the Ethiopian Airlines check-in desk at Ezeiza’s Terminal C thinking that we were going to have a comfortable three hours or so before our flight, only to run into some significant ticketing issues at check-in. It was one of those situations when the ticketing agent, Aeroplan, fails to communicate properly with the operating carrier, resulting in the airline being unable to process check-in for the flight.
I had to ring up Aeroplan from the check-in desk, and Sergio, the station manager for Ethiopian Airlines, was immensely helpful in handling things from there and working with the Aeroplan supervisor to resolve the situation. The fiasco dragged on for about an hour, and in the end I was just relieved to get things smoothed out.
At about 7:30pm, we were finally on our way through the security check and Argentina exit immigration, headed for the lounges to relax prior to our flight. I visited both the Star Alliance Lounge Buenos Aires and the Centurion Lounge, and found the former to be marginally more worthy of a review.
You can access the Star Alliance Lounge if you’re departing in business class or First Class on a Star Alliance airline or if you’re a Star Alliance Gold member. If you don’t have access, you may want to check out the nearby Centurion Lounge if you’re an Amex Platinum or Amex Business Platinum cardholder.
While most Star Alliance member airlines offer their own branded lounges at their individual hubs, there are a handful of lounges around the world that are run by the alliance itself. These airports – Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Paris, and Nagoya – tend to be serviced by many Star Alliance member airlines but dominated by none; hence an alliance-wide lounge arrangement makes the most sense. These lounges aim to incorporate elements from their home cities into all aspects of the lounge experience, so I was curious as to what the Buenos Aires lounge would be like.
Lounges occupy pretty much the entire second level of the airside concourse here at Ezeiza International Airport, and the Star Alliance Lounge is accessible via a long hallway after taking the stairs or elevator up from opposite Gate 9.
The lounge is a cozy space. Near the entrance you have the dining area, with the rest of the lounge opening up to a large open seating area.
The design of the lounge is inspired by the Argentine countryside. An assortment of earth-inspired materials, such as wood, tall grass, and animal hides, contributes to a quiet and calming environment.
The variety of seating options is truly impressive in this lounge. The traditional lounge seating of upholstered armchairs was dotted throughout, but in-between those seats were egg chairs, butterfly chairs, armchairs with open undersides, and ottomans. It’s a visual feast for interior design enthusiasts and leaves you quite spoiled for choice when it comes to actually finding a place to sit down.
For me, mixing things up when it comes to seating is one of the simplest ways to spruce up an airport lounge, especially when the physical design of the space is otherwise quite basic (as it is in the Star Alliance Lounge Buenos Aires, which is essentially one large rectangular room).
The seats were divided into small groups through the use of natural partitions like side tables, tall grass, and house plants, which made the place feel a little less like a sterile airport setting and more like a welcoming home.
Large shelf-like frames represent the main design elements along the walls of the lounge, encasing a set of notable quotations from local authors – a feature you’ll find in all Star Alliance Lounges around the world.
Sculptures, artwork, and a mini-library nestled in the back of the lounge are available to give you some inspiration during your time in the lounge.
I find it lovely when lounges offer travellers a communal grab-and-go library, and think more locations around the world should take up the practice. It doesn’t seem particularly difficult for a lounge operator to set up, either – simply throw up a sign, stack the shelf with a handful of old titles, and watch the collection transform.
There are a few luggage racks near the entrance as well, where you can store your belongings while you relax. Meanwhile, a small hallway through the back of the lounge houses the restrooms and a singular shower room (which I didn’t get a chance to look at, since it was occupied).
While the physical space was impressive, the Star Alliance Lounge Buenos Aires was mildly disappointing when it came to the food spread, located in the dining area near the lounge entrance. You can either sit at the communal bench – inspired by Buenos Aires's distinctive dining culture – or retreat to the smaller tables.
There were only two hot options – beef wok and potato omelette – and neither was appetizing at all.
The rest of the food options included salad, cold cuts, pastries, and snacks. Meanwhile, the drink selection consisted of juice, fountain drinks, spirits, beer, and an impressive collection of wine from Argentina’s very own Bodegas Salentein winery.
And if you’re seated comfortably in the back of the lounge, you don’t need to go all the way to the dining area to pick up some food, since there are two self-serve stations each featuring a smaller spread of cold cuts, snacks, and drinks.
After enjoying a stay in the lounge that was satisfying for the senses (though not particularly so for our stomachs), we headed to Gate 16 to embark on the next leg of our journey: business class to São Paulo on the Ethiopian Airlines 787.
The Star Alliance Lounge Buenos Aires does an excellent job of making you feel right at home prior to your flight. Drawing upon natural aesthetics and the creative use of interior pieces, it manages to transform an otherwise unremarkable rectangular space into a sanctuary of peace and quiet for its guests. Having said that, the lounge would certainly do well to expand upon its food spread, as what was on offer during my visit didn’t quite meet my expectations for one of Star Alliance’s flagship lounges.