Air New Zealand scores own goal (publicity for the Elite Priority One tier)

On 23 May 2015, Air New Zealand opened its new Sydney International lounge, after nearly seven full months of passengers having to put up with a temporary facility in the basement which was widely regarded as overcrowded.

Despite the lounge being finished, Air New Zealand continued to prioritise publicity over passengers by leaving the new lounge empty until there could be an opening ceremony and the media could run their paws over it. So in the picture below of the new lounge entrance, you can see the entrance roped off from customers, despite the new lounge ostensibly being finished.

NZSYDWhile the new lounge is now open, a Miles Down Under reader e-mailed in to tell us that upon last entering the Sydney temporary lounge, they encountered a facility that was standing room only. In fact, it was so full that there were apparently people sitting on the planter boxes in the entrance so that they could use their computers.

Our reader was shocked when, having immediately turned on heel to head for elevator to the Singapore Airlines lounge, they were pursued by (what was described to us as) an obnoxious Air New Zealand staff member with a ‘supervisor’ badge, who tried to stop them using the elevator by telling them that the Singapore Airlines lounge was closed. Our reader informs us that they gave this individual an earful and went upstairs to a (completely open) Singapore Airlines lounge, where they were warmly welcomed in.

The story does beg the question why at least one Air New Zealand supervisor at Sydney International Airport is going out of their way to actively lie to customers.

Media latch on to Elite Priority One

The mainstream media coverage of Air New Zealand’s new Sydney lounge has (probably unhelpfully from Air New Zealand’s perspective) focused on the fact that an “Elite Priority One lounge sits behind locked doors at Air New Zealand’s new Sydney Airport international lounge”.

This particular article went on to say that “an industry source confirmed there was also one at the… Star Alliance Los Angeles Lounge in the new Tom Bradley International Terminal”. This is misleading. There are two small private rooms available in the First Class lounge, which are available to Elite Priority One members on request.

Elite Priority One members get access to the Star Alliance First Class Lounge, LAX when flying on Air New Zealand

Elite Priority One members get access to the Star Alliance First Class Lounge at LAX when flying on Air New Zealand

Meanwhile the country’s Prime Minister was in the press announcing that he was “gutted” not to be a member of Elite Priority One.

The New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Union also publishing an article damning the “secret elite Koru Club”, given the revelation that one university vice-chancellor is an Elite Priority One member.

The simple fact is the lounges for Elite Priority One members aren’t that great. They are located in a converted television viewing area in the back of the airline’s Auckland International Lounge and marked with a discrete ‘By Invitation Only’ sign…


In at least the Wellington and Auckland domestic lounges, former meeting rooms have also been converted into ‘By Invitation Only’ lounges for Elite Priority One members.

3 Comments on "Air New Zealand scores own goal (publicity for the Elite Priority One tier)"

  1. What exactly is the point of this article? other than as a snarky and thinly veiled rant, presumably because they turned you away from their lounge, which you had unilaterally decided was ‘finished’ and therefore should be open.

    • Hi Matt

      This post highlights what we see as a disappointing lack of focus by Air New Zealand on its customers. It reports comments by a reader that they were lied to by an NZ lounge supervisor at Sydney. Should we take from your comments that you find that sort of conduct by senior airline ground staff to be completely acceptable?

      The post also highlights the own goal the airline caused by delaying the opening of their new lounge in order to run the press through it, which just resulted in a pile of publicity about a status they are presumably trying to keep quiet.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Fair enough. I appreciate the response. But unfortunately the whole thing ends up just coming across rather bitter and petty. It is of course completely unacceptable for a senior employee to lie to a customer like that, but anecdotal and isolated examples such as those are hardly article worthy, and are a regrettable reality when dealing with organizations of 10,000+ staff. I could think of similar experiences with practically every carrier I’ve ever traveled with.

    But to clarify my original point, what makes you so certain the opening of the lounge was actually delayed to pander to the media? (not that soft openings / press events / launch functions are even an unusual occurrence anyway) Just because the construction has ceased, and a venue appears ready externally to the casual observer, doesn’t mean it actually is. There could be numerous behind-the-scenes reasons, like staff training and familiarity, or minor compliance technicalities that need to be inspected and checked off first (such as health & safety, fire and liquor licensing)

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