There are two ways to reach the CIP Lounge building. Ideally, your taxi driver will drop you off — ask them to use the off-ramp at the end of the main terminal road. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by a cheerful CIP agent who will process your checkin on the spot and promptly direct you to the lounge area immediately behind — a smooth and effective process which allows you to bypass all crowds. Unfortunately, though, some taxi drivers are not aware of the CIP building. If for any reason you end up at the main terminal building, just check in normally at the airline’s counter (which does entail waiting in line through a preliminary security screening.) At check in, a CIP agent will offer to drive you to the CIP terminal. They will escort you back outside and drive you in a comfortable Volvo. The process may take as few as two minutes, or much longer if multiple eligible customers are checking in at the same time.
Either way, you will relinquish your passport as you enter the CIP terminal building: immigration procedures are handled behind the scenes, and your passport will be returned, stamped, as you board your flight.
The CIP Lounge at Tehran International Airport is a standalone terminal building, located approximately 600 yards from Imam Khomeini Airport’s main terminal and dedicated to VIPs and premium passengers.
The CIP Lounge building consists of two floors. Officially, the ground floor is for business class passengers, while the top floor is for First Class passengers only. The front desk agent will direct you to the appropriate floor. In reality, though, the separation is not enforced — and perhaps for good reason: the two floors are mostly similar. Most amenities (souvenir shops, banks, etc.) are located on the ground floor, while the First Class floor boasts a more open layout and better views. Both floors benefit from plenty of sun light and views on the tarmac and mountains.
The CIP Terminal features a modern, pristine, efficient, but perhaps a bit bland and uninspired design. Air conditioning is effective, a blessing in the blistering summer. The seating area includes a variety of armchairs, sofas, and lounge chairs. A water feature enhances the décor of the Business Class floor, while the First Class floor features recliner chairs by the window, art, interior plants, and carpets. While both floors have an open layout, they are still very private thanks to the low number of patrons.
With Samsung as a prominent sponsor, the space feels pretty high-tech – expect a flurry of flat screen TVs, logos, and product catalogs. Wi-Fi is complimentary and reliable. On the flip side, power outlets are sorely missing, which is perhaps the main flaw of the lounge.
The buffet offers a modest selection of cold items and snacks, including fruit, olives, pastries, hard broiled eggs, and mini-sandwiches. In addition, cooked to order omelets are available at breakfast time from a station nearby. The drink selection is a mixed bag. Soft drinks are available, however this being Iran, the lounge does not serve any alcohol. And when it comes to coffee, we suggest that you stay away – the overly sweet liquid that comes out of the machines is just vile.
There is no dining area per se, perhaps as a hint that you’re not here for a culinary experience, but the seating area includes numerous large coffee tables.
On the ground floor (Business Class zone) are located souvenir stores, banks, and an ATM (for Iranian card holders only.) Tins of caviar sell for an equivalent of approximately $130 USD, though you will need to pay cash.
A highlight of the First Class floor is the several private bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Each hotel style bedroom comes with a full bed, nightstands, and a desk. Inquire with the reception desk about availability.
Other amenities include prayer rooms, a smoking room, VIP rooms, and meeting rooms. The bathrooms feature western toilets, though unfortunately no showers.
When it’s time to board, you will be notified in person by a friendly staff member. Make your way to the immigration and security line on the lower floor, where your passport will be returned and you will go through a friendly and efficient security check. Then, you’ll enter a holding room, equipped with seats and drink coolers, but no usable Wi-Fi signal. (Tip: go through security as late as possible.) A heavily air conditioned mini-bus will then drive you to the bottom of the jetway. While you will need to climb a flight stairs to the plane in the heat, the staff does their best to help with carry-on bags.
Overall, the CIP Lounge at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini international Airport offers a smooth, relaxing, and exclusive experience to VIPs and premium passengers, with a few high end touches such as the private bedrooms for First Class passengers. Unfortunately, the remote location makes boarding the aircraft a rather time consuming process, and if you arrived from the main terminal, you may find the amount of shuttling a bit excessive. That being said, it is well worth using the CIP terminal, if only to bypass all lines.