GOL Premium Domestic Departures Lounge at Rio de Janeiro International Airport [Review]

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Flying domestically in Brazil can, at times, be frustrating. There are no real premium airline products, airports can be chaotic and unorganized, and short flights can often be quite expensive.

That being said, flying domestically in Brazil can also be quite refreshing! If planned in advance, there are some great deals to be had (paying with cash or miles), many airports have been recently renovated, local airlines like GOL and Azul are comfortable and efficient, and there are plenty of new lounges to check out!

I recently checked out 2 lounges at Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport (GIG) while waiting for my quick flight to São Paulo. First was the Plaza Premium Lounge, which I enjoyed, despite the food, and then I moved on to the GOL Premium Lounge, both located on the domestic side of Terminal 2.

What Are GOL Premium Lounges?

GOL Premium Lounge Sign
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge Entrance Sign

GOL Premium Lounges are a small group of lounges (also known as a “Sala VIP” in Brazil) that are owned and operated by GOL Airlines (GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes), a low-cost Brazilian carrier with an impressive amount of international airline partners.

There are currently 4 GOL Premium Lounges in Brazil and all of them have been renovated within the past 4 years.

They are located at:

  • Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport (GIG)
    • Domestic Terminal 2 in front of gates B36 and B37
    • International Terminal 2 on the third floor of the South Pier
  • São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)
    • Domestic Terminal 2 on the boarding level West
    • International Terminal 2 on the boarding level East

GOL Premium Lounge – Terminal 2 at GIG

Location

Since I was flying domestic out of Rio, I visited the location on the boarding level of Terminal 2 in front of gates B36 and B37. This location is open from 6 a.m. until midnight.

In order to get to the boarding area, you must first get through security and then avoid the temptations of duty-free and other shops.

Rio GIG Duty Free
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – Dufry Shopping

Bypass the food court.

Rio de Janeiro International Airport Domestic Departures
GIG Domestic Terminal 2

Ignore the Plaza Premium Lounge.

Plaza Premium Lounge Rio Entrance
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – Plaza Premium Lounge Entrance

Then head up the escalators to the departures area.

Rio Galeao GIG Escalator
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – Escalator up to the Departures Floor

Once you reach the boarding area, turn left and walk down a few gates and you will see the GOL Premium Lounge on your left.

GOL Premium Lounge Entrance
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge Entrance

Gaining Entry

GOL Premium Lounge Door
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge Door

Thanks to an impressive list of partnerships, gaining entry to a GOL Premium Lounge is quite easy for the savvy traveler.

I gained complimentary access thanks to my Priority Pass membership that I get from a few of my American Express cards.

Priority Pass Select members are allowed to bring in 2 guests with them, and children under the age of 2 don’t pay. If you want to bring in more than 2 guests, the additional guests can pay a discounted rate of $27 that will get billed to the credit card you have associated with your Priority Pass.

With a quick scan of my Priority Pass app and a signature, I was in.

However, there is a whole list of passengers who can also gain complimentary access:

  • Smiles Gold and Diamond members traveling with GOL or partner airlines
    • Includes free access for 1 Diamond member companion and 50% the reception counter price for 1 Gold member companion
  • Customers traveling Premium Economy class with a domestic connection with GOL
  • Customers with a Mastercard Smiles Platinum or Infinite credit card traveling with GOL or a partner airline
    • Free access for the cardholder and 1 companion
  • Priority Pass, Lounge Club, Lounge Pass, Diners, Lounge Key and Dragon Pass cardholders
    • Check the lounge’s admission price or the number of free entries provided by the card directly with the card’s issuer
  • Air France/KLM/Delta first class and business class passengers who have a connection with GOL
  • Delta Air Lines elite plus (Diamond, Platinum, and Gold) cardholders traveling with GOL
    • Free access for the cardholder and 1 companion

With GOL’s new partnership with American Airlines, I wouldn’t be surprised to see AA elites get access as well in the near future.

If you don’t fall into any of those categories, you can also purchase access:

  • Smiles Gold Companion
    • Adult: $22.50
    • Children: $15
  • Smiles Silver Customer
    • Adult: $33.75
    • Children: $30
  • Other Customers
    • Adult: $45
    • Children: $30

Hot Tip: These prices were taken from the English version of the GOL website and are listed in USD. On the Portuguese version of the website, the rates are quoted in BRL and convert out slightly less. If you were to pay in BRL at the lounge, it would likely come out cheaper, especially the way the exchange rate has been lately. 

First Impressions

GOL Premium Lounge Chairs
The Spacious and Long GOL Premium Lounge at GIG Domestic Terminal 2

After checking in and entering the lounge, the first thing I noticed was how big, open, and airy the lounge felt.

The light wood paneling and orange cushions everywhere were very recognizable as a GOL lounge. You would think that combination would be a little tacky, but it actually worked well and gave the lounge a nice vibe.

The lounge was long and narrow with plenty of bright light which unfortunately also highlighted the wear and tear this young lounge has already seen.

Walking around, it was clear that getting any work or doing anything that needed privacy would be difficult as this lounge had a very open floor plan, unlike the Plaza Premium Lounge which was full of quieter seating options.

Seating

As I mentioned above, the seating options seem to be focused on capacity over comfort. This makes sense since this lounge caters to so many people that are often only visiting the lounge for a short period of time before their domestic flight.

GOL Premium Lounge Sitting Options
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Seat Options

There were plenty of couches and chairs available, some of them a bit awkward in some cases due to their random shapes and lack of table support.

GOL Premium Lounge Seating Options
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Awkward Seating Options

Along the perimeter of the lounge, there were plenty of stools and balconies.

GOL Premium Lounge Couch
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Stools

If you were lucky, you could snag one of these individual booths/chairs.

GOL Premium Lounge Chair Pod
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Chair Pod

Since I wasn’t going to be staying long, I just grabbed a plastic chair (probably the worst option) and sat at a table near the food — shocker!

GOL Premium Lounge Table and Chair
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – My Glamorous Choice to Be Closer to the Food

Food and Beverage

I had just come from the Plaza Premium Lounge, which had a terrible selection of food at the time (2 p.m.), so I wasn’t really expecting GOL to outperform in this area.

While it wasn’t hard to do, GOL did actually have a better spread available… barely.

Food

The food was set up like a cafeteria-style buffet which you could access from both sides.

GOL Premium Lounge Buffet
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Buffet

The food was very typical of Brazilian lounges as they often share the same caterers. The selection had a nice variety and was fresh thanks to the number of people constantly passing through the lounge.

GOL Premium Lounge Snacks
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Snacks

Hot food options were:

  • Rotini pasta with red or white sauce
  • Coxinha (fried chicken croquette)
  • Mini baked pastels/empanadas

Cold food options were:

  • Ham and cheese sandwiches
  • Carrot spread and cheese sandwiches
  • Bread
  • Fruit
  • Variety of small desserts

Drinks

The beverage department was simple but surprisingly complete at the GOL Premium Lounge.

There were multiple coffee machines and juice stands located throughout the lounge. Brazilians love their coffee and juice.

GOL Premium Lounge Coffee and Juice
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Coffee and Juice

There was a self-service refrigerator with water, soda, and beer.

GOL Premium Lounge Self Service Drinks
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Self-Service Drinks
GOL Premium Lounge Bar
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Bar

There was also a bar which offered:

  • Red wine
  • White wine
  • Caipirinha
  • Caipiroska (caipirinha with vodka instead of cachaça)
  • Sex on the Beach
  • Campari Orange
  • Cosmopolitan
  • And some custom house drinks named after destinations:
    • Orlando
    • Cancun
    • Punta Cana
    • Miami
GOL Premium Lounge Drink Menu
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Drink Menu

Since it was still early in my travel day, I stuck with a beer.

GOL Premium Lounge Beer
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Beer

Amenities

While the lounge was on the basic side of things, it was large and did offer a handful of amenities in the space.

When you first walk in, you will walk by a small spa room where you can pay for a massage or get your nails done before your flight.

GOL Premium Lounge Spa
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Spa

Prices seemed pretty fair for being inside of an airport lounge.

Massages

  • 10 Minute Massage: R$32 (~$7)
  • 20 Minute Massage: R$54 (~$12)
  • 30 Minute Massage: R$76 (~$17)

Foot Spa

  • 10 Minute Foot Spa: R$39 (~$9)
  • 20 Minute Foot Spa: R$65 (~$15)
  • 30 Minute Foot Spa: R$88 (~$20)

Manicures and Pedicures

  • Manicure: R$27 (~$6)
  • Pedicure: R$38 (~$9)
  • Nail Polish: R$20 (~$4.50)
  • French Manicure: R$30 (~$7)
  • French Pedicure: R$42 (~$9.50)
  • Child Manicure: R$20 (~$4.50)
  • Child Pedicure: R$18 (~$4)

There was also a “home theater” room with a relatively small television.

GOL Premium Lounge Home Theater
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Home Theater
GOL Premium Lounge Home Theatre
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Home Theater

Showers were available, but I didn’t have time to check them out.

GOL Premium Lounge Showers
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Showers

The bathrooms were quite nice and clean.

GOL Premium Lounge Bathroom
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Bathroom

And as a father with a little traveler, I loved seeing a changing table in the men’s room.

GOL Premium Lounge Baby Changing Table
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Baby Changing Table

Final Thoughts

GOL Premium Lounge Coffee and Away Bag
GIG Domestic Terminal 2 – GOL Premium Lounge – Coffee and Away Bag

Overall, this is a basic lounge that is starting to show some age but remains a very solid choice.

With the number of people that have access to the GOL Premium Lounge network and the fact that it is located directly in front of the GOL gates, I am sure this lounge can get very busy during peak travel times.

However, if you are looking for somewhere to sit, grab a coffee and a light snack before your flight, this is a very good option.

The GOL Premium Lounge may not have as many comfortable sitting options as the Plaza Premium Lounge does just 2 minutes away, but it is closer to the gates and had better food when I visited.

If I had to choose between the 2 lounges, I would start at the Plaza Premium to relax and have some drinks, then head upstairs to grab a snack at GOL Premium before my flight — which is exactly what I did!


Frequently asked questions

Does GOL have a lounge at GIG?

Yes, GOL operates 2 lounges at Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport (GIG). 1 is located in the international section of Terminal 2, the other is located on the domestic side.

Do Priority Pass members have access to GOL lounges?

Yes, currently Priority Pass members can visit any of the GOL lounges in Brazil for no extra cost. Priority Pass Select members are allowed to bring in 2 guests with them and children under the age of 2 don’t pay.

Where is the GOL lounge at GIG?

On the domestic side of Terminal 2, the GOL Premium Lounge is located across from Gate 36.

On the international side of Terminal 2, the GOL Premium Lounge is located on the third floor of the South Pier.

Chris Hassan

About Chris Hassan

Chris is from Boston and is currently living in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Shelby. When Chris was in college, he spent a semester abroad studying hotel and business management in Switzerland. That is where he caught the travel bug and met his wife. Quite a successful trip!

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