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Avianca VIP Lounge at El Salvador International Airport [Review]

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Ryan Smith
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Ryan Smith

Content Contributor

74 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 197U.S. States Visited: 50

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publicat...
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Chris Dong

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Chris is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd). Formerly full time ...
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Stella Shon

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During a recent trip to Bolivia, I connected through El Salvador International Airport in San Salvador (SAL) on Avianca. I don’t hold elite status with Avianca or Star Alliance, but this lounge is part of the Plaza Premium Lounge network. That was good news for me, as I hoped to grab some breakfast during a 2-hour layover from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. (and coming off a flight that didn’t include any free drinks or snacks).

The lounge had some basics and provided a good spot to rest while waiting for flights, but you might not get everything you hoped for. It’s not a lounge I would go out of my way to visit again, but it has some useful features that you might enjoy.

Here’s a look at my visit to the Avianca VIP Lounge at SAL.

Location

The Avianca VIP Lounge is located near gate 8 in the main hallway of the sole terminal at SAL. The large sign on the wall makes it easy to find.

Avianca VIP lounge SAL sign
The front entrance is along the main hallway.

Gaining Access

Business class passengers on Avianca flights get access, as do those with Avianca LifeMiles Diamond elite status. Star Alliance Gold elites also gain access to the Avianca VIP Lounge. And Avianca elites with lower status tiers can redeem their Elite Points for lounge visits.

Signs near the door indicated that the lounge is part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection and accepts visitors from DragonPass. There was no sign outside to indicate its membership in the Plaza Premium Lounge network, but the lounge is listed on the Plaza Premium website. As such, you can use a card that has access to this lounge network, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, or the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Thus, I used my Amex Platinum card to get in.

It’s also possible to pay to visit the lounge. Plaza Premium sells access for $40, but Avianca sells it for just $25. You also have the option to pay 1,800 LifeMiles for entry — a value close to 1.4 cents per mile, which is typical for the value of LifeMiles. This might be the best option for paying to get in.

Hours of Operation

The Avianca VIP Lounge at SAL is open daily until 9 p.m. What time does it open? That depends on who you ask. I saw a sign stating 5:30 a.m. and another stating 6 a.m.

Amex, Plaza Premium, and Avianca provide a mix of 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. answers. I figured I’d resolve this by asking a few different employees, but again, there was a discrepancy. Just keep in mind that you may have to wait until 6 a.m. for the doors to open.

First Impressions

The agent who welcomed me to the lounge was friendly and efficient, checking me in quickly and with a smile — once he noticed I was there. However, getting him to stop talking to a friend long enough to acknowledge my presence and check me in took a little effort.

By most standards, the lounge isn’t impressive. I quickly noticed the cafeteria-style seating in most of the lounge, that it didn’t have showers, and that standard lounge etiquette was clearly not a standard practice in this lounge. People were watching videos on their phones without headsets and talking loudly with their friends.

However, I also noticed some surprising perks while walking around: a children’s room and a quiet room. More on those below.

Seating

Most seating in this lounge reminded me of a college cafeteria. Formica tables with plastic chairs serve a very utilitarian purpose, but they don’t scream “comfort” or encourage you to stay for a long time.

Avianca VIP lounge SAL seating
Tables and chairs in the main lounge area.

The chairs and tables were to the front and the right after passing the reception desk. At the far side and turning back, as if you’re making a U-shape around the reception desk, you’ll find a quiet room. The lights were off, and several people were sleeping here in the recliner chairs.

Avianca VIP lounge SAL quiet room
The quiet room in the far corner.

There were 4 chairs on each side of the room, and this was a surprising amenity for an otherwise ho-hum lounge visit. If you’re at the airport really early or really late (or have a canceled flight that creates a long connection), this would be your favorite feature in the lounge, I’m sure.

Food and Beverage

Looking at reviews on LoungeBuddy plus seeing what was on other people’s plates in the lounge far exceeds what I could round up. That is, not much.

Buffet

The buffet area was to the left of the main hallway after the reception desk.

The lounge makes only a certain amount of items for breakfast in the morning. When I arrived at 7:30 a.m., a friendly employee at the buffet told me they’d just run out of … pretty much everything. Sandwiches were out, pancakes were out, and the staff in the kitchen were cutting up more fruits to restock.

That was a bit of a surprise, so I figured I’d head to the bathroom, check some emails, and take a few photos. Circling back later, “5 more minutes” was the update. I managed to grab a bread roll while waiting, but I got the same “5 minutes” answer when I made a final check before needing to depart for my boarding gate.

Be prepared that the lounge seems to struggle with keeping the buffet stocked in the mornings. I can’t speak to how it is during other times of the day, but it led to me buying something to eat next to my gate while we were boarding.

Bottom Line:

I saw other people with food, but I couldn’t get any because they’d run out of everything and were making more. Know that this is a possibility if you visit this lounge.

Beverages

Despite the food shortage, there was abundant coffee, hot water for making tea, and orange juice. The same employee who told me the food would be ready in “5 minutes” told me I could have Coke or Sprite if I wanted, and she would grab one from the back.

Avianca VIP lounge SAL drink options
Drink options before breakfast was set up.

She said these aren’t typically available during breakfast time, but she felt bad having nothing else to offer.

Amenities

Internet

Signs with the internet password were available throughout the lounge, including at the reception desk, near the buffet, and in the TV room. Speeds were solid, around 35 Mbps downloads, and the signal was reliable.

Children’s Play Room

Past the buffet, there was a children’s playroom. This brightly-colored room had a few toys, a TV with children’s programming, and leather sofas lining the wall — presumably for the parents.

Because there were young children playing here during my visit, I didn’t take photos.

Quiet Room

As mentioned above, there was a quiet room. While much of the lounge felt noisy, with people watching videos or talking on the phone loudly, people respected the concept of a quiet room religiously. I never heard a peep from this corner of the lounge.

TV Room

Past the buffet (to the left of the main hallway), there was a large TV room and relaxation area. This was much more comfortable than the cafeteria seating in the larger room outside.

Avianca VIP lounge SAL TV room left side
The left side of the relaxation area.

This room was essentially mirrored from one side to the other, though the TV on the left side was on. The TV being off on the right side was the only difference.

Avianca VIP lounge SAL TV room right side
The right side of the relaxation area.

Leather couches lined the wall all the way around this room, and there were a handful of colored footrests.

Work Space

Near the reception desk, a hallway to the left led to a large room with desks, chairs, and dividers on 1 side and bar stools with a counter on the other. Desks had both 3-prong outlets (U.S. plug style) and USB ports for charging your devices.

Avianca VIP lounge SAL work space
Workspace near the restrooms.

Bathrooms

Past the workspace, bathrooms were at the end of the hallway. These were fairly standard and did not include showers or any notable features.

Avianca VIP lounge SAL bathroom
Inside the men’s restroom.

Service

Service needs improvement. Yes, the employees were all very friendly when I spoke to them. And I love that a smiling employee offered me a Coke, but that was to make up for the fact that they’d let all the food run out on the buffet. Since food service is part of the overall service, that’s a major negative.

I also have to point out that the employee at the front desk ignored me for a few minutes while cracking jokes with his friend (it didn’t appear this other person worked there) until I finally said, “Excuse me?”

Once I got his attention, he was really friendly. And the same goes for the woman who kept telling me the food would be ready in “5 minutes.” They were friendly, full of smiles, and really nice. However, that’s not all that counts when evaluating service.

Having an empty buffet and ignoring guests who want to check in counts more than some smiles. If the employees could be friendly and keep the buffet stocked as well as not ignore guests, that would be a winning combination.

Final Thoughts

In comparison to other lounges in the world, the Avianca VIP Lounge at SAL isn’t anything special. It has a few positives but also has several negatives. The children’s play area (if you’re traveling with kids) and the sleeping area were highlights among the amenities. The inconsistent service definitely brought down the experience.

If I’d paid to enter the lounge, I’d be really bummed about this experience. Since it didn’t cost me anything extra to enter this lounge, it ranks as just “fair.”

The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the hours at the Avianca VIP Lounge in El Salvador's airport?

The lounge is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Where is the Avianca VIP Lounge located within SAL airport?

The Avianca VIP Lounge is located near gates 8 in the main hallway of the sole terminal at SAL. The large sign on the wall makes it easy to find.

What amenities does the El Salvador Avianca VIP Lounge have?

The lounge has food and drinks, a children’s play room, bathrooms, a quiet room, and a separate TV room. There’s also a work space with desks, charging stations, and dividers to help you focus.

Can I get into the Avianca VIP Lounge for free?

Yes, you can. The lounge is accessible for Avianca and Star Alliance elites, those flying in Avianca’s premium cabins, and those with numerous lounge memberships, including Plaza Premium and the American Express Global Lounge Collection.

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About Ryan Smith

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.

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