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Following an excellent flight in United Airlines Polaris from ORD to Brussels International Airport (BRU) we had an almost five-hour connection before our final flight to Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU).
First a bit about Brussels International Airport. The airport currently provides service to more than 85 global destinations including 17 in Sub Saharan Africa. Africa is such a focus for Brussels International Airport that there’s a designated section – T61-T74 just to accommodate all these flights and passengers, many of whom are connecting from around the world. Given Brussels Airlines membership in Star Alliance, many of the flights to/from BRU are to hubs for Star Alliance Carriers – United, Lufthansa, Air Canada, etc. From North America there is direct service on United Airlines from ORD, IAD, EWR, and JFK and on Air Canada from YUL and YYZ.
After arriving a little after 9:00 am in the B Gates for non-Schengen flights we went through an incredibly easy passport control between the Non-Schengen and Schengen area in the A Gates where the lounges (marked in the red box on the mezzanine level) and our connecting gate were located.
We first attempted to enter Brussels Airlines lounge – The Loft by Lexus (is this a weird partnership, or is it just me?). The friendly check-in staff scanned our arriving boarding passes and let us know that would not work as they did not allow business class passengers entry upon arrival. We then tried our coach boarding passes on Brussels Airlines and unsurprisingly these too did not work. The agent then let us know that the only other option would be if we had elite status on Star Alliance. As Delta “double diamonds” we have both focused our flying almost exclusively on Delta until this year when we’ve started to explore “free agency status.” So no Loft for us…
What was interesting is that Brussels Airlines lounges advertise the ability to purchase access for €42,50 or a bit over $46 at current exchange rates, per passenger on site. I’m assuming that due to crowding, they did not extend this offer.
Conveniently there is the Diamond Lounge directly next to The Loft. We made our way over there and used our Priority Pass membership and the Priority Pass app to gain immediate access. I love the Priority Pass app because I don’t have to remember to bring my card, and it’s easy to look for airline lounges through the app along with hours of operation, services, amenities, and more. Our Priority Pass membership came from our American Express Bonvoy Brilliant Card.
This lounge was VERY crowded making it impossible to take pictures; however, we were able to secure two comfortable seats, access power ports to charge our devices, and wait out our connection while trying not to fall asleep and risk missing our connecting flight. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit this lounge, but it offered ample food, beer, wine, and limited alcohol selection, and a serviceable self-serve coffee machine that made all of the common espresso-based beverages.
We decided to spend our last hour at the airport walking around before boarding our flight to Ljubljana, Slovenia. Brussels International Airport is, not surprisingly, the home of Brussels Airlines. Brussels Airlines is the smallest of Lufthansa Group’s four-network airlines including Lufthansa, Swiss, and Austrian. Brussels Airlines is also a member of Star Alliance (along with United). For a mid-sized European airport connecting at Brussels International Airport was extremely easy to navigate and well signed making for a simple and quick connection. If you have longer there are a number of restaurant options as well as the expected Duty Free extravaganza, in this case offering some of Belgium’s famous beer and chocolates in addition to the typical liquor, cosmetics, etc.
Tip: Something to watch out for on multi-leg points redemption itineraries is to make sure your class of service is what you want for each leg of the journey. Our three-flight itinerary, booked through United Airlines MileagePlus, included first/business class for the ATL:ORD and ORD:BRU legs, but for whatever reason it booked us in coach on Brussels Airlines for our BRU:LJU leg. I attempted, without success, to pay to upgrade these tickets, but that was seemingly impossible both online, via a phone call (never picked-up), and at the airport. The first-class experience aboard Brussels Air was typical for Europe with blocked middle seats, a modest lunch served on a single-tray, and included alcoholic beverages. Not having first class seats from BRU:LJU meant that we would not have had lounge access at BRU. – Michael
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