Update: Air New Zealand have opened a new international lounge in Auckland, which we have reviewed here.
Air New Zealand is in the throes of building a new lounge at its hub, Auckland (AKL). Unfortunately that lounge is not open yet, so passengers flying on Air New Zealand and its partners such as Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines continue to use the existing lounge.
Allowing in economy passengers flying on ‘Works Deluxe’ tickets, as well business class passengers and an extensive range of paid lounge memberships and elite frequent flyer members and their guests (including top tier AIr New Zealand Airpoints Elite members with five guests a pop) – the Air New Zealand lounge is well known for its crowded atmosphere. Finally, we managed to catch it at a quiet moment to get some pictures.
We’ll start with the lounge’s strong point. That is the old first class lounge. Located in a corner (keep turning right after the buffet) and inexplicably closed off by a curtain sometimes, this area is great.
Inside, this area is sparsely furnished. However, one of the big selling points is that it has natural light from windows looking straight outside.
This is as close as this lounge has for being somewhere to work in privacy or to make telephone calls. This is a regular omission in airline lounges around the world that ostensibly cater for business travelers.
We do wonder why this area wasn’t turned into a separate lounge that caters just for top-tier members (and first class passengers on its partners such as Singapore Airlines), much like the Qantas First Lounge Auckland.
While there is no food buffet in this area, it does have its own self-service bar.
The area also has its own bathrooms and showers.
After Air New Zealand stopped first class service, this area had previously been turned into a crew briefing room. Now it is back to being part of the lounge. When we visited, it looked like no-one has bothered to remove the posters aimed at Air New Zealand staff in the bathroom (the Korunet is Air New Zealand’s internal intranet).
The Air New Zealand lounge also has a number of other distinct seating areas. All seem to be packed in together, even though most passengers in airline lounges seem to be traveling solo.
Unfortunately most of these seating areas do not have power points.
Eagle-eyed readers will make out the two computers which form the lounge’s business centre.
The lounge has a central buffet and self-service bar (which we neglected to take a picture of), as well as two additional separate self-service bars throughout the lounge.
There is also a children’s area, which has an Xbox with Kinect and various other things to keep the kids happy.
In the lounge there is a door marked ‘By Invitation Only’. This is the for members of Air New Zealand’s exclusive Airpoints Elite Priority One tier. However, don’t expect to find a separate high quality lounge behind this door along the lines of the Australian domestic lounges offered as the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge or Virgin Australia’s The Club. The area used to be occupied by a small sitting area to watch television, so there isn’t much that is going to fit in there.
We’ll say one thing about this lounge. It makes the Qantas First Lounge Auckland seem amazingly peaceful. We look forward to Air New Zealand opening its new Auckland International Lounge in September 2015. Do you?