After a 10-day trip in Israel, I was excited to be back home with my family — but less enthused for the 13-hour flight to get there. To soften the blow of my upcoming economy seat experience on El Al, I spent a relaxing hour or so enjoying the Dan Lounge at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.
How to get in
I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, whose annual fee of $550 includes free Priority Pass Lounge membership. As a Priority Pass member, I had the option to enjoy the amenities in the Dan Lounge or use a food and drink credit worth about $28 in U.S. currency at The Schmoozy Bar, a wine and tapas restaurant.
The Dan Lounge is operated by Israeli company Dan Hotels, which owns several luxury properties, so I figured the lounge would be pretty plush. The concourse at Ben Gurion isn't that large, and finding the Dan Lounge was easy with signage around the airport and at the entrance. I was greeted warmly by the staff, who checked my Priority Pass card and allowed me in.
The lounge is also open to business and first class passengers on select airlines, as well as authorized members of the Dan Club loyalty program.
» Learn more: How to make sure you have lounge access before departure
Food and drink
After a week and a half of indulging in delicious Israeli food, I was expecting to see a decent spread in the lounge. But instead of the fresh breads, produce and Mediterranean fare I anticipated, I found a lackluster buffet that looked like something you could buy premade at the supermarket.
There were bowls of hummus, matbucha, corn salad, beet salad and a mixed green salad. The breads and pastries were on the stale side, and the alcohol selection was limited to a few already-open bottles of wine. I considered trying to go to The Schmoozy Bar instead, but I wasn't sure if I still could take advantage of my credit. It was also 11:30 p.m. Israel time; I was tired and ready to sit and chill.
I made a plate with a hummus and cheese sandwich plus two pieces of toast, poured a healthy preflight glass of wine and settled in.
The Dan Lounge was shaped like a long hallway — fairly narrow, but stretched out. It was a perfectly serviceable area, and I found it pleasant enough, in a “generic chain hotel lobby” sort of way.
When I visited, there were plenty of seats, and the lounge was about half full. The seating arrangement was similar to a restaurant, with long booths along the wall on one side and chairs around low tables on the other. I had to move a few times to find a seat with access to a charger.
Two restrooms were available for lounge guests. There was also a newspaper and magazine rack with a number of complimentary international publications.
Although I appreciated the opportunity to grab a seat and have some free food and drink before my flight, my experience in the Dan Lounge was just OK. I had expected a slightly more upscale vibe out of this international airport lounge in cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. Next time, I'll be checking out Schmoozy's offerings.
Photos by Robin Saks Frankel
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Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you Snag these hotel loyalty perks, even if you’re disloyal Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies