A handful of weeks ago, Star Alliance quietly unveiled the latest incarnation of its shared lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport (CDG.) The club, situated in Terminal 1, is the home of ANA, Asiana, Egyptair, EVA, Ethiopian, THAI, Singapore Airlines, United, and Turkish Airlines among others. We took a peek at the remodel and the updated experience awaiting passengers departing from the French capital.
The Star Alliance Lounge CDG turns 11
The Star Alliance Lounge Paris has a layered history. The opening of the club in 2008 was the culmination of the world’s largest airline alliance’s efforts to move under one roof and create a mini-hub at Paris Charles-de-Gaulle, an airport heavily dominated by the French flag carrier Air France, and SkyTeam partners. The investment aligned with the onset of an ambituous remodel of the much-maligned Terminal 1.
The beginnings were somewhat rocky. The initial dark and uninspired décor, modeled after the Star Alliance lounges at London Heathrow and Nagoya airports, was a poor fit for the terminal’s bunker-like space. And United, one of the larger Star Alliance carriers at CDG, went rogue: the airline refused to help fund the new facility, and continued to direct their passengers to the aging (and now defunct) United Club.
In 2014, the Star Alliance Lounge received a face lift. The cookie-cutter design made way for a custom décor inspired by the French capital, with Parisian touches throughout and modern conveniences such as readily available power outlets.
The latest iteration of the design is an incremental upgrade. Portions of the space such as the buffet area and bathrooms were left untouched. However, the lobby, seating, and dining areas were completely remodeled.
New Star Alliance Lounge Paris design and layout
While the two-level club has not moved, guests will now find the Star Alliance Lounge Paris on the 10th floor of the terminal, next to the Icare Lounge. The lobby has been relocated from the 11th floor down to the 10th level where the exit used to be located. This inconspicuous change addresses one of the major flaws of the previous design, which required Business Class guests to make their way from the lobby area down a flight of stairs, bags in tow.
First impressions are mixed: the lobby is elegant and inviting, the space is clean and fresh, but the ensemble remains dark and cavernous. While the successive remodels have brought the lounge to international standards, the physical space remains difficult to work with: the floor was originally designed as an office area with low ceilings and little daylight.
On the main floor, the updated décor is an incremental upgrade over the second-generation design. Gone is the central workspace, which was awkwardly located. The new layout is more open, allowing daylight from the single window to flow more evenly throughout the space.
Partitions have mostly been eliminated, though a screen separates the dining area from the seating space. The mesh-like pattern evokes, with a fair degree of fidelity, the web of Paris streets.
The design aims to evoke the feel of a Parisian interior: somewhere in-between a café (with marble tables and booths outfitted with traditional French patterns and textures) and a traditional apartment, with hardwood floors throughout. Black-and-white photography celebrates the many sights of the French capital.
The décor is subtly elegant, if not quite authentic, but the conservative color palette remains a poor fit for a space that’s naturally dark. Perhaps more vivid colors would have been more appropriate.
Guests have their choice of seating options. Near the lobby is a large shared work table outfitted with numerous power outlets. Near the buffet area—which the remodel has left intact—are inviting dining booths. In the center are comfortable couch-like seats, arranged in a smart layout that caters both to solo travelers and couples. Finally, more traditional individual seats are located along the wall opposite the buffet area.
The remodel has done away with the TVs, following a popular trend around the world to make airline lounges quieter and more serene. The layout achieves relatively high density without excessively sacrificing privacy, thanks to the low dividers throughout. All seats come with power outlets and USB ports, and many feature individual reading lights.
Walk towards the window and you’ll spot a more secluded work area under the staircase, as well as an awkward haphazardly furnished nook next to the hallway leading to the bathrooms.
The outdoor patio welcomes guests year-round with cocktail tables, metal chairs that would be right at home at the Luxembourg or Tuileries parks, and complimentary umbrellas. It’s a distinctive amenity, though the space primarily serves as a smoking area, and is enclosed an all sides and thus doesn’t feature views of any kind. The outdoor space is shared with the more modest Icare Lounge operated by Aeroports de Paris, though guests are confined to their respective areas.
The layout of the remodeled lounge reflects the evolving First Class market. The former iterations of the design dedicated the entire upper-floor area to First Class customers. The new space is more modular, with less of a delineation between Business Class and First Class. The top floor now functions as an overflow space, though it is furnished somewhat more luxuriously and can be reserved for First Class guests when demand justifies it.
Walk upstairs and you’ll find a more serene and sparsely furnished space, along with much more daylight. Near the staircase is an adorable cozy nook with a fireplace, shelves, and a few designer artifacts; perhaps a take on a modern Parisian living room. Behind are a variety of sofas, high-backed chairs, as well as intimate seating options for couples. There’s also a small bar and buffet area which could accommodate a bartender should an airline choose to offer the service.
Star Alliance Lounge Paris First Class area
The secluded room on the lower level along the courtyard, which used to belong to the Business Class lounge, is now permanently cordoned-off for First Class passengers. The intimate area accommodates just about twelve guests, and is seldom used.
While hardly luxurious, the space is sparsely and elegantly furnished. Each passenger benefits from a comfortable amount of privacy with high-backed seats and individual coffee tables. Large photographs of Paris adorn the walls. While the aesthetics of the room are enjoyable, the long window wall along the patio makes all the difference, providing a comfortable amount of daylight as well as relaxing views.
Star Alliance Lounge Paris amenities
The remodel has brought virtually no changes to the already solid line-up of amenities.
In the morning, patrons will find tasty warm French pastries, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, cheese, and other treats. Throughout the day, soups, salads, mini sandwiches and hot dishes are available. While the spread doesn’t quite showcase French gastronomy, it’s nevertheless enjoyable and substantial. A wide selection of self-serve alcoholic beverages is also available.
In the First Class section, patrons can help themselves from a slightly higher-end selection of alcoholic beverages, as well as bottled water to go. There’s also a small buffet with a hot entrees.
Two spacious shower suites come equipped with a toilet, shower, sink, hairdryer, heated towel rack, and baby changing facilities. However, it’s unfortunate that Star Alliance hasn’t bothered touching up the hallway that leads to the facilities as part of the renovation effort—the door between the lounge and the bathrooms could use a fresh coat of paint.
Other amenities include fast Wi-Fi, a selection of newspapers and magazines, and oversized individual bathroom stalls on the upper floor.
Star Alliance Lounge Paris access rules
The Star Alliance Lounge Paris welcomes:
- Star Alliance Business and First Class passengers.
- Star Alliance Gold passengers flying in Economy.
- United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Worldwide members departing on a Star Alliance flight.
In addition, the Star Alliance Lounge Paris accepts Priority Pass, a popular membership scheme that unlocks the doors to over 2,000 airport lounges worldwide. Priority Pass members get in whether departing or arriving, which makes the Star Alliance Lounge an attractive option for a shower and hot breakfast upon arrival in Paris.
The Star Alliance Lounge is located in the non-Schengen zone, after passport control but before security, and thus primarily geared at intercontinental travelers. Star Alliance passengers traveling within Europe’s Schengen zone benefit from lower-key but more convenient options: the Lufthansa Group operates a Business Lounge and Senator Lounge in the departure satellite for Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines and Austrian flights; and SAS runs a small lounge in the departure area for SAS and LOT. The Lufthansa and SAS lounges are located after security, steps away from the departure gates.
The third incarnation of the Star Alliance Lounge Paris brings a few notable updates such stair-free access, an elegant lobby, a more open layout, additional power outlets, more natural light, a rejuvenated outdoor area, and a modular layout that blurs the lines between the Business Class and First Class sections.
Ultimately, though, the new design does not break any new ground. Several parts of the club were left untouched, and while the lounge boasts a few intimate and homely areas, the overall space still remains dark and cramped due to the low ceilings and conservative color palette. The more secluded wing along the courtyard, which benefits from additional daylight, is now cordoned-off for First Class passengers, while the upper floor, formerly reserved for First Class guests, now serves as a hybrid overflow area.
While the physical space is challenging to work with—no remodel can fix the ceiling height and bunker feel from the 60s—Qatar Airways has still managed to create a higher-end club with a striking design right next door. Still, the renovated Star Alliance Lounge at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is a welcome haven at a terminal that was never designed for the demands of modern air travel. Just be sure to leave early enough and allow ample time for security checks at the gate (and passport control if crossing back into the Schengen area.)