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Plaza Premium Lounge at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport [Review]

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Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith's image

Ryan Smith

Content Contributor

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...
Edited by: Chris Dong
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Chris Dong

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Countries Visited: 54U.S. States Visited: 36

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 ...
& Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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I’ve long labeled the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) in Ethiopia as “the airport most in need of a Priority Pass lounge.” As one of Africa’s busiest airports and the hub of its most far-reaching airline, Ethiopian Airlines, I’ve been through ADD several times.

As luck would have it, the airport finally did get a lounge during the pandemic, but it came during the temporary breakup between Plaza Premium Lounge and Priority Pass. In positive news for travelers, Priority Pass members now once again have access to most Plaza Premium Lounges, so there’s finally a lounge they can visit at ADD.

It’s not the fanciest or biggest of lounges, but it provides standard offerings you’d expect at a lounge. However, its 2 best features may be its operating hours and its location.

Here’s what you can expect at the Plaza Premium Lounge in Addis Ababa.

Location

You can’t miss it. The Plaza Premium Lounge is immediately to your right after passing passport control and the main security checkpoint in Terminal 2, which serves nearly all international flights from ADD. The large sign at the front entrance makes it easy to spot.

If you’re in transit, you’ll find the lounge at the junction between A and B gates, located on the departures floor (top floor). That’s 1 floor above where you’ll pass security while in transit.

While the location makes the lounge easy to find, that means it’s quite a walk to some gates. If your departure flight is from C gates (any of them) or A or B gates with high numbers, you’ll need 15 to 20 minutes to reach your gate. Allow sufficient time to get there.

Gaining Access

There are multiple ways to access the Plaza Premium Lounge in Addis Ababa. This serves as the business class lounge for Badr Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD access methods
Access methods on a sign outside.

For other travelers, you can access the lounge with Priority Pass, LoungeKey, and DragonPass memberships.

Several premium credit cards offer complimentary Priority Pass membership (enrollment required), including The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

It’s also possible to access select Plaza Premium Lounges (including the Addis Ababa location) with annual one-time lounge passes from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Spark Miles for Business.

The lounge also provides access to visitors with certain credit cards from Citi and HSBC that aren’t available in the U.S.

It’s also possible to pay to visit the lounge. The cost is $50 for a 4-hour visit.

Hot Tip:

If you’re a frequent traveler, consider a premium credit card that offers complimentary airport lounge access. Check out our guide to the best credit cards for airport lounge access.

Hours of Operation

The Plaza Premium Lounge in Addis Ababa is open 24 hours a day, every day of the week — likely its best feature.

Considering the many odd hours of arrival and departure flights you might experience at ADD, that’s great news. It’s also welcome news for those with overnight connections that aren’t long enough to qualify for the Ethiopian Airlines free stopover hotel program.

In fact, when I arrived at 6:30 a.m., the sofas were occupied by sleeping passengers who were probably in this exact situation.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD sofas
Sofas and lounge chairs were popular.

The round-the-clock schedule provides reliability, knowing you’ll be able to grab a light bite, drink, or check email while waiting for your flight. And you can do so away from the crowds that often surround gates at ADD.

First Impressions

After entering the lounge, the first thing that jumped out at me was the size. The Addis Ababa Plaza Premium Lounge is smaller than your average lounge. While there are 2 separate seating areas inside, and while it offers the normal features you’d expect, seating could be an issue during busy periods.

I also noticed that extras you might find at other lounges — luggage storage rooms or separate quiet areas/children’s areas — were lacking. There’s only so much you can offer with this small space.

Seating

A large seating area with tables and chairs — plus hustling wait staff — greets you outside the lounge. You can sit out here but still need to check in with staff at the desk inside the main door.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD view from security
View from the security checkpoint with the lounge to the right.

To the right of the check-in desk, you’ll find tables and chairs in a room that reminded me of a cafeteria.

Despite being busy during my visit, seats were available. If a table had 4 seats and only 1 or 2 people, other guests simply asked to join them, rather than waiting for a full table to become available.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD seating area to right
Seating to the right of the entrance.

Up 2 steps from this cafeteria area, there were several sofas and high-backed chairs. These were circled around several coffee tables.

Through an open doorway, the left side of the lounge had different seating. Chairs and tables were lower, more like a waiting room. This area also had a TV (showing CNBC) and a departures board on the wall that showed upcoming flights and their respective gates.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD seating area to left
Seating to the left of the entrance.

Food and Beverage

Buffet

I visited at 6:30 a.m. on a weekday, so the lounge was serving breakfast on the self-serve buffet. When checking in, staff told each traveler that this food is self-service, to avoid confusion.

There were numerous pastries, such as croissants, breads, muffins, and even miniature quiches. There were also several types of jam and a toaster.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD pastries
Pastries on the buffet.

A refrigerator case held salad items and cold cuts. It also had a spot for where fruit should be, but all that was left were the tongs. I didn’t see the fruits restocked before leaving the lounge, and I stayed for over an hour.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD cold cuts salad
Vegetables and cold cuts on the buffet.

Hot dishes included potatoes, sausages, 2 types of eggs, beans, an Ethiopian dish, and both pancakes and French toast.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD hot dishes
Hot dishes on the buffet.

Items also had signs in English to identify them. The signs didn’t contain any allergen warnings, however.

Beverages

At the end of the buffet, under the pastries, a small refrigerator held bottled water and sodas (Coke products). A string attached to the counter held a bottle opener and prevented it from running away.

Plaza Premium Lounge Addis Ababa ADD drinks in fridge
Bottled drinks near the buffet.

I didn’t see any alcohol available here. In fact, it’s available only at the exterior bar, and you’ll pay per drink.

Amenities

Internet

Wi-Fi is available within the lounge. There’s a private network separate from the main airport wireless network, and it’s much more stable. It’s also faster than the main network. That doesn’t equate to great speeds, however.

Average download speeds were under 7 Mbps; surprisingly, the upload speeds are nearly 5 times faster at 34.37 Mbps.

Plaza Premium Lounge ADD speed test
Image Credit: Speedtest by Ookla

During my visit, I had to use a VPN to access Google Docs and WhatsApp. Without the VPN, Gmail was very glitchy, also. The reliability of my connection improved once I connected to a VPN, however.

The Wi-Fi password was available at the check-in desk. There was no posted sign with the password, however; visitors had to ask for it.

No Bathrooms

There were no bathrooms within the lounge. There were bathrooms just around the corner, outside the lounge. Make sure to take your boarding pass and notify the front desk staff if going out to the restrooms. That way, you won’t need to check in again (or chalk up another visit on your lounge membership) on your return.

Service

Other than checking in, I observed very few interactions between staff and passengers. These were mostly limited to those asking for directions to the restrooms. Beyond this, the staff went about their work restocking buffet items and clearing away dishes.

If it was obvious that you were done eating, staff members simply took the dishes without speaking. People will have varying opinions on this efficient method of service (plus not talking to weary travelers early in the morning) that didn’t include any verbal communication.

Hot Tip:

Plaza Premium Lounges typically offer an elevated and comfortable airport lounge experience. Here is a complete guide to the Plaza Premium Lounges around the world.

Final Thoughts

It’s great that the Addis Ababa Airport (ADD) finally has a lounge accessible to those with Priority Pass and premium credit cards. The lounge is easy to find and offers a few typical amenities. Its best features come in a pair: It’s open around the clock and provides sofas for weary travelers passing the night in the airport.

You won’t find bathrooms inside, but you can fill your stomach, quench your thirst, and get a comfortable seat while waiting for a flight in an airport known for crowded, noisy terminals beyond the lounge doors.

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

Information regarding the Capital One Spark Miles for Business was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Plaza Premium Lounge in Addis Ababa?

The lounge is in Terminal 2, immediately past the main security checkout. It’s near the junction of the A and B gates.

What are the hours for the Plaza Premium Lounge in Addis Ababa?

The Plaza Premium Lounge in Addis Ababa is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That includes holidays, also.

Who has access to Plaza Premium Lounges?

You can access the lounge with popular lounge memberships such as Priority Pass and LoungeKey. The lounge also serves as the business class lounge for Qatar Airways and Badr. A day rate of $50 for 4 hours is also available.

Ryan Smith's image

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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