Review: Qantas First Lounge Auckland

Qantas currently operate a pair of lounges at Auckland International Airport, one ‘Business’ and one ‘First’. Despite the name this ‘First’ lounge bears very little in common with it’s far superior Australian cousins in Sydney and Melbourne. Instead, it is more aligned with Qantas’ offering in Brisbane’s International terminal, as a lounge that is ‘First’ only in name.

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Located past the airport’s own ‘Emperor Lounge’ and up a set of escalators is the entrance to the Qantas lounges – the same entrance for the business and first lounges.

Before entering the lounge If you look to your right you will see the Emirates lounge. If the Emirates lounge is open and you have access (meaning you are flying Qantas or Emirates in business class or hold Qantas Gold or higher status), we highly recommend you make a sharp turn in that direction, avoiding the Qantas lounges completely.

If none of those scenarios apply and you hold oneworld emerald status, then the Qantas First lounge is for you!

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Upon entering the Qantas lounge we were underwhelmed. Whilst it features all the basic elements of an airport lounge – seating, catering, internet and shower facilities, it pales in comparison to Qantas’ other lounges. This is even so when compared to the Qantas domestic business lounges in Australia. Given that there are anywhere up to nine daily services between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (excluding codeshares) from Auckland, we find it odd that Qantas have not touched the lounge in this important port for some time – it feels stuck in a timewarp.

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The seating is adequate and plentiful, though the time we were in the lounge coincided with a lull in international flights out of Auckland so this may not be an accurate representation. Power sockets were not readily available at the majority of seats away from the surrounding walls. This was frustrating.

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The colour palate of the seating is reminiscent of something that would not look amiss in your grandparents house – comfortable, yet severely outdated.

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The lounge is fairly small in size. It is however quiet and clean with very functional internet connectivity. One TV is available at the far end of the lounge, generally displaying Sky News.

A large rack of magazines near the entrance covers off most interest groups. A selection of local newspapers are also readily available.

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A small (seeing a theme here yet?), but functional business centre is available just to your left after entering the lounge. Small booths allow for a reasonably private workspace, though with the size of the lounge it doesn’t count for much. Printers and iMacs round off this section.

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Located next to the business centre are the bathroom and shower facilities.

A reasonable selection of beer, wine and champagne is available at all hours of the day. Soft drinks and fresh juices are also well stocked.

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Surprisingly though for an international lounge there are no spirits available before 11:30am. This is not something practised in the nearby Emirates lounge.

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A selection of some very reasonable NZ wines and a mediocre champagne are available at anytime however for your enjoyment.

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During our morning visit, a small cold and hot selection of foods was available. Scrambled eggs, baked beans and bacon were the hot options, though we decided to pass on these in favour of the meal on our flight.

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There is an excellent selection of T2 teas available, which is a pleasing addition to the lounge.

The standout from the food selection was however the Kapiti ice cream with several delicious flavours, though we did not sample them all.

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Airport lounges have come a long way in the last decade. Unfortunately, this lounge failed to come with them. Qantas operate some of the most highly regarded first class lounges in the world and we feel that this one hallows Qantas’ otherwise good name. We cannot in good conscience recommend this lounge when the Emirates lounge is open and right next door.

Qantas have signaled that it is considering building a new lounge in Auckland along similar lines to Singapore and Hong Kong. This is greatly needed, but will mean the loss of a separate first class lounge in Auckland.

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