• Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport
    Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying
    Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Passenger Count :
    5,099,391 - 2019
    Runways :
    04/22 - 3,500m (11,483ft)
    Air Astana, FlyArystan, SCAT Airlines, Qazaq Air
    Terminal 1 - Domestic | Terminal 2 - International


  • The VIP lounge at the airport is reserved for business class passengers with an airline invitation, but connecting business class passengers may also be granted access.
  • The lounge offers a variety of seating options, including a traditional Kazakh yurt, and has a limited but sufficient food and drink selection.
  • However, the entire lounge has only four toilets, which may become crowded during peak times.

Flying back from visiting Air Astana in Kazakhstan, I had a two-hour 45-minute connection at Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport in the capital city of Astana. Traveling on a business class ticket, I was eligible to access the international terminal's VIP lounge.

Easy to find

Astana Airport is incredibly easy to navigate. Unlike the complex labyrinth of corridors at Frankfurt International Airport, upon entering the international terminal, you only have three options:

  1. Walk through to the older domestic terminal
  2. Proceed straight ahead to the check-in counters
  3. Head up the escalator to the departure lounge

Upon scanning your boarding pass to enter the sterile area, you are funneled through customs, border control, and the security check.

Boeing 767
Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

After completing the security check, passengers find themselves in one large room with gates on one side and shops on the other. Those heading to the lounge should turn left and proceed toward the VIP sign. Upon entering, a host checks eligibility to enter the lounge before directing people upstairs.


The VIP lounge is reserved for business class passengers. Those originating in Astana will be given a letter of invitation for lounge access by the staff at the check-in desk. As my journey originated at Almaty Airport, I had not been given such a letter, but upon establishing that I was a connecting passenger, the employee happily granted me access.

Initial impressions

My first thought upon entering the lounge was, "Wow, this is huge and empty". At the time of entry into the lounge, there were maybe only three or four more passengers using the facility, though it gradually got busier as the almost full Frankfurt flight with 30 business class seats drew closer.

Main Seating
Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

The lounge is one large open room, with dividing monuments placed between seating areas. However, a huge variety of seating options are on offer. Of course, you have your typical lounge-style seating and a lot of it.

Lounge Seating
Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

In the corner, farthest from the entrance, there is a secluded area with more 'lounger type' seats, perfect for catching some ZZZs before the flight. Next to this were a couple of computers with a printer available.

Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

The corner furthest from this relaxing area had a children's area. Other than the colorful floor and walls, there wasn't so much in the way for kids beyond a small table and a tepee.

Childrens' Zone
Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

Arguably the highlight of this lounge is found in another of the corners. Half of a traditional Kazakh yurt welcomes those not quite ready to leave the country's culture. Anybody is welcome to sit in this area. The only provision is that shoes must be removed upon entry.

Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

I opted for some tall 'bar style' seating adjacent to the wall, aiming to get some work out of the way before the flight.

Food & drink

For an international lounge, the food and drink choices were interesting. Firstly, dotted throughout the lounge were a couple of coolers filled with water that I made good use of. With the lack of humidity in aircraft cabins, and especially at the front of the cabin, it doesn't hurt to top up your hydration beforehand.

Read More: The Importance Of Cabin Humidity On Long-Haul Flights

Water Bottles
Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

At the top of the entrance staircase is the main catering area, featuring a staffed bar and a self-service area. Interestingly, all alcoholic drinks from the bar came with a price list. Of course, soft drinks were free.

A locked caviar fridge was next to the ice cream freezer (with ice creams costing 2500₸ ($5.61)). The food was not the most inspiring that a lounge has to offer. A selection of filled bakery products (sandwiches and croissants) were covered with clingfilm in an open cooler, along with a salad bar and a small range of desserts.

As far as hot food goes, there were seven small porcelain dishes. Three had more exotic dishes, such as noodles and rice. The remaining four could not fit the term 'beige buffet' more perfectly. Think croquet potatoes, chicken nuggets, and mozzarella sticks. Without hesitation, I, of course, loaded my plate with the latter, which wasn't so bad in itself.

Only four toilets for the whole lounge

The toilet setup of the lounge didn't seem the most logical. A long corridor had four cubicles, all almost constantly occupied when the lounge got a bit busier. These cubicles were nearly long enough for a round of bowling.

Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

The cubicles themselves were pleasant enough, offering all the essentials. One point of note was that I noticed no toilet paper in one cubicle. There was no more readily available, and when I alerted a staff member, they didn't seem particularly bothered. Hopefully, the following user didn't find themselves caught short!

No announcements in the lounge

Though there are departure boards, the VIP lounge at Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport doesn't make lounge announcements and naturally isn't plugged into the main announcement system. The lounge walls are open at the top, meaning you can faintly hear announcements outside the lounge.

Departure Board
Photo: Tom Boon - Simple Flying

I thought I heard an announcement asking me to make myself known at the gate, but it was so faint that I thought I must be hearing what I wanted as I couldn't clearly make it out. As such, not wanting to cut my lounge time on a whim, I ignored it. When I did proceed to the gate, my boarding pass wouldn't allow boarding. It turned out there was an issue with the passport information that had been loaded onto the booking in Almaty. Thankfully this was quickly solved, and I was able to board the flight.

What's the most interesting thing you've seen in an airport lounge? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!