Once you are through the security at Ben Gurion airport, and have dropped off your bags (if necessary) and then gone through security, you will be on the long walkway down to the airside area in Terminal 3.
The terminal is a hub and spoke affair, with the main shops and lounges around the outer perimeter of the hub and then concourses and gates forming the spokes.
Dan Hotels (‘Experience the best’) seems to run all the lounges at Ben Gurion airport, and there are at least three of them.
For this flight back with British Airways, at check-in I had been directed to the lounge on Concourse E and given a duplicate of my boarding pass with ‘Dan E‘ written on it.
When I walked from the hub to Concourse E and arrived at around 1330, all the doors of the lounge were locked. I checked by pulling the door, and then pushing, then walked a little further along to peer into what proved to be a prayer room. On my way back to the hub, I passed some other passengers pulling, then pushing the doors.
I walked across the hub to the Dan lounge on Concourse B. This was also shut, but there was a sign on the door saying I was welcome to the lounge at Concourse C.
By now, I was a little weary, but I had time to kill, and I realised it was a sort of 21st century Grail quest, reduced to absurdity, but still requiring my participation. I walked to Concourse C, ready for anything. Thankfully, the door was open and so was the lounge, though it was busy.
I handed my duplicate boarding pass (Dan E) to the lady on reception who told me I should go to the lounge on Concourse E. I told her I had done so, but it was shut. She said it was open. I said it was shut. She said it had just opened. I said, what, like in the last five minutes? She said yes. I said I had rattled the door, along with others only a few minutes before. She said it was definitely open. She then rang the lounge and spoke to someone who confirmed it was open, and then advised me I really would be better off there.
I realised now that I had underestimated the path I would have to walk, and so went back to the hub from whose centrifugal force I was struggling to escape. I thought of films like, The Green Knight and Solaris, and to distract myself, stopped only to tell some fellow door rattlers who had given up and were sitting in a cafe that they should not abandon hope, that the lounge was open, or so I had been told. One of them said to me, ‘You must have ESP’. I don’t know about that, but I certainly have persistence.
On my return to Concourse E, the lounge door was open. I suppose it opens at 1400, at least on Saturday, which to be fair is Shabbat, though if you look at the website it doesn’t show the existence of a lounge on Concourse E. I handed my duplicate pass (‘Dan E’) to the lady on reception, and she waved me in, looking up when she thought she had heard a sob.
If you don’t know that by now, I give up.
Who can get in?
I’m tempted to say anyone who is relentlessly determined, but that would not be true. We have all waited inline for a lounge behind someone as they proffer every credit card in their wallet only to be finally turned away. The Dan lounges are Priority Pass lounges, or you can gain admittance if you have status with the airline or are flying in the business or first class cabin.
What’s it like?
A long rectangular room with floor to ceiling windows looking out onto parked El Al aircraft. When I got there the playlist was American rock, to loud. I didn’t complain because I knew the BA passengers who were coming behind me would would do so and you have to pick your battles. Sure enough they did and it was turned down. Later it was cover versions of popular favourites such as a version of Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ tjhat was so slow it may well be still playing when you visit.
There are some toilets within the lounge (at the far end) and lots of comfortable chairs. There aren’t many places to plug in and power up, but as you walk in, along the right hand wall there are a couple of plugs accompanied by USB charging, so that’s where to head for. These have low tables and a view across the lounge, though if you want to look at the aircraft by the window is the best choice, though I didn’t see any power along there, probably because of the floor to ceiling windows.
Food and drink
At the far end of the room were water bottles, a bucket of ice, and a coffee machine that was turned off (Shabbat).
At the other end, sort of behind behind reception, was the food offering – salads and some biscuits, nuts, crackers and cheese. There was no hot food when I was there, but there was enough to take the edge off my hunger, and I had the economy meal on British Airways to look forward to, so I didn’t want to eat too much. At this end of the room there is also a bar where alcohol and soft drinks were served, including two beers on tap (Tuborg and Heineken). The wine wasn’t bad (I tried the white), but the bar man who served me the second time (OK, third) made a gin and tonic that was half and half and after that I forgave any issues about late opening.
I worked for two hours in the lounge and charged all my various devices for the flight home. Flights are called from the lounge, and the gate was only a two minute walk away, so it is well located.
There was a 50 minute delay waiting for air traffic clearance, though I wasn’t sure if that was at the Tel Aviv end or the Heathrow one, so I watched the beginning of Maverick.
This is a spacious place, with a good bar and some rudimentary food. The staff are remote to the point of distracted, but the place is clean and the bar is a bonus. You’ll need headphones to block out the sound of the music and also people talking on their phones (and to one another), but that’s true of lots of lounges. And people.