I love airline lounges and regularly spend four or more hours at a time working from them. This series explores some of my favorites from around the world.
On an average afternoon in Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport, you can see all kinds of travelers attempting to sleep on the floor or in chairs throughout the terminal. But there’s a better way!
Many lounges are branded and staffed entirely by one airline. Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal is strictly for their passengers. Cathay’s The Wing is strictly for passengers traveling on OneWorld. Other lounges, though, are run by independent companies who charge various airlines to provide access for their passengers.
Enter the Shongololo Lounge in JNB, where I recently spent seven hours (!) in between coming in on a Cathay flight from Hong Kong and leaving on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha. This lounge is for everyone!
Well, not quite everyone… but with access for Priority Pass holders and also an option to purchase a day pass, there’s no good reason why you can’t visit this lounge if passing through JNB. Don’t be stuck with the sleeping masses outside!
Shongololo is normally associated with wildlife and safaris. The lounge was comprehensive, but there were no lions in sight. Apparently you have to clear immigration to get started on seeing the Big Five.
After stepping off my long Cathay flight, I headed through the transit area and into the terminal. Being back in South Africa, even if only in transit, always makes me smile.
Entering the lounge, I saw a big sign with all the different partner airlines that the lounge worked with. It’s quite the list!
I had a mobile boarding pass, but that wasn’t good enough for the attendant. She asked me to use the lounge computer to print out a paper one. I should have been prepared for this—in many parts of the world, you still need to carry a printout of your itinerary. Mobile doesn’t always cut it.
The lounge is beautifully designed, with an abundance of high-back chairs, couches, and small tables that reflected a striking presentation.
I set up shop in one of the chairs and responded to a few urgent emails that had come in during my 12-hour flight.
I had eaten on the flight, but that was two hours ago… so I had a second breakfast of more eggs and mushrooms, accompanied by homemade yogurt with honey. After the second breakfast I set up shop at a high table near the buffet and got some more work done.
Unfortunately the WiFi wasn’t great, and I had to keep attempting to reconnect throughout my visit. I’ve often thought of this as the paradise tax of South Africa—and come to think of it, they have the same tax in Australia, another place I love.
Another cappuccino? If you insist.
I spent the rest of the morning working from various chairs throughout the lounge. It’s a little odd that there isn’t a proper workstation area, but the fun high-backed chairs made up for it.
Since I had such a long stay, I took a break and walked out to the Mugg and Bean cafe on the other side of the terminal, where I had a latte (why not?) and a muffin. I finally headed over to the boarding gate for my Qatar flight to Doha. Onwards!
How to Get In: As mentioned, this lounge is open to passengers from many different airlines. You can also gain access for free using your Priority Pass card. Lastly, you can purchase a day pass for a $40 fee. $40 might be steep for a shower, but if I had another 7-hour layover I’d happily pay it for a better work area with free food and drinks.