This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
Heading to an airport lounge isn't just for those travelling in first or business class. At Calgary Airport, you can actually pay to use a lounge for a taste of the high life.
Calgary Airport's Aspire Lounge is open for any passengers to use for a price of $39.90, but it might not be quite what you bargained for.
When I decided to try the lounge ahead of a recent flight from Calgary Airport to London, U.K., I was pretty excited to get my trip off to a relaxing start. I went in ready to get comfy and score the lounge out of five in four different categories: service, food and drink, facilities and value.
The Aspire Lounge at Calgary Airport.Charlie Hart | Narcity
Honestly, service at the lounge was pretty much non-existent. I spoke with a lady at the front desk who took my payment, and that was about it. There were a few other staff members clearing plates and changing out hotel pans of food, but other than that, guests were really left to their own devices.
When I did speak to the staff though, they were friendly enough. If I was buying a meal elsewhere in the airport, I feel like I definitely would have gotten more from it in terms of service.
Food and drink: 2/5
Some of the food at the Aspire Lounge.Charlie Hart | Narcity
One of the things I was most excited about when trying out the lounge was being able to sit down with a hot meal ahead of boarding my overnight flight. When I looked on the Aspire Lounge website, there was even a menu with plenty of delicious-sounding dishes to try.
However, when I actually arrived, not only was the food nothing like the options on the menu, it was pretty bland too. They had a chicken pasta dish and a vegetarian chilli on offer, with a side of carrots. It seemed weird to me that none of the dishes really went together and it kind of felt like they were just using up ingredients they already had.
There was a selection of meats and cheeses, and baked goods were nicer than the hot meals by far.
The bar had a ton of different drink options like beer, wine and spirits, as well as soft drinks and hot drinks. It was also self-service, so there was no waiting in line for drinks which was nice.
The bar at the Aspire Lounge.Charlie Hart | Narcity
Part of the appeal to using a lounge is not having to fight other passengers to find a decent seat to relax in the terminal so I was excited to see how Aspire Lounge compared to the average experience.
However, when I arrived at the lounge, it was actually super busy, and finding a comfortable seat wasn't as easy as I'd hoped. Once I did, the seat was nice and roomy, but it wasn't a huge improvement on seats you'd find by the gate.
It did have a charging point to charge up my devices before I got on the plane, which was handy.
The lounge did seem to have a shower room, which I didn't get to check out. The washrooms were clean but absolutely tiny, and I expected more from them.
Seating at the Aspire Lounge.Charlie Hart | Narcity
The Aspire lounge at Calgary Airport is priced pretty reasonably at $39.90 if you're booking at the airport, and it's even cheaper if you book online in advance.
That being said, if I compare what I got in the lounge (the sub-par food especially) with what I could have got elsewhere in the terminal, I could have easily paid less than $40 for a way nicer meal and a drink.
I'd rather pick from an entire menu instead of choosing from two mediocre dishes.
Personally, I don't think the Aspire Lounge at Calgary Airport is worth the money. I'd rather pick my own meal at another restaurant and find myself a seat at the gate afterwards.
The lounge was also pretty busy, so if getting a comfier seat is a priority, you might not have much luck. Having a decent chair was nice, but it really didn't make the almost $40 price tag worth it.