This is the review of the lounge we did not have access to, but still managed to visit and discreetly photograph.
Let’s talk about Dushanbe Airport.
We arrived at 2:30p, yes probably far too early, for our 5:35p flight to Dubai on Somon Air. At first, it appeared like everyone was on a siesta break because the airport was deserted. As in nary a soul outside except for Emomalii Rahmon watching over us (he’s been leading Tajikistan since 1994).
The doors to the terminal were locked. The departure board outside did not display our flight. We really thought our flight had been scrapped or we had booked it for the wrong day.
Inside Dushanbe Airport
Finally, the last door opened and we found ourselves in a terminal glistening in the refraction of the colored glass. After a security check…
Once again, Emomalii Rahmon watched over us.
A few shops were open but the check-in hall was roped off. So we waited. And waited.
At 3pm we heard an announcement in Tajik and followed the herd over to the check-in hall. Indeed, check-in at opened for our flight.
I’ll detail the check-in experience in my review of the Somon Air flight (next installment), but the guy who checked us in spoke no English. Not a word.
We headed upstairs and found the security screening area deserted. One guy was sitting down, clearly annoyed that his break was over, and signaled us to wait (using hand gestures, because he didn’t speak any English either).
It took 10 minutes for a trio of…stooges…to assemble around the security checkpoint and act like they gave a you know what about us. The one who was supposed to be checking the screen for bombs was checking his phone instead.
Efficient Passport Control
Next up, passport control. The guy did not seem to trust Ben and spent a good eight minutes just leafing through his passport…again and again. Finally he got bored and stamped him out.
I was looking forward to my interrogation, but he simply took a quick look at mine and stamped me out.
We were the first two passengers in the terminal. There were not even any workers there yet except a man restocking soft drinks. The cafe was closed. The duty free shop was closed. And that was it.
While the terminal was modern, bright, and clean, it lacked usable internet. That made the long wait for our flight something between waterboarding and sleep deprivation.
I sat down on one of the massage chairs trying to find a stronger internet signal and seconds later a loud alarm rang out. Word of warning: don’t sit on the massage chairs without paying!
The bathroom conveniently served as a smoking room…or at least that is what it smelled like.
Next to the bathroom was an Islamic prayer room. Thankfully, there were no slobs sleeping on the carpet and snoring like a jackhammer like I’d find a few days later in Dubai.
Dushanbe CIP Lounge
Then there was this door at the end of the terminal. It had a “CIP Lounge” sign on it.
Oh, so there is a lounge.
We knocked on the door.
We knocked again.
So we sat down near our gate, watching the paint on the dry wall.
Suddenly the door opened. I darted over and asked if we could come in.
The girl, who spoke virtually no English, said “thirty dollar”.
We showed her our business class boarding pass and she began discussing it (or maybe the weather) with her colleague.
We were invited inside and the two disappeared.
Within seconds we had snapped the following photographs:
Not much of a lounge, eh?
Red couches that were not particularly comfortable and were definitely not real leather. Soft drinks, cookies, and finger sandwiches. $30 for this? Thanks but no thanks.
The lounge supervisor appeared. We smiled. She smiled back. Then she spoke.
“30. No free!”
Uh, but we are in business class!
Is it because Somon Air doesn’t pay you?
How about a discount?
So we left. There was only 20 minutes left prior to boarding and the food looked it had been sitting…for a few weeks.
Strangest. Airport. Ever.
Communication was so difficult, the security theatre ridiculous, and the lounge policy perplexing. Forget about Priority Pass or access with a business class ticket on Somon Air. Nope, $30 is the price.