Rolling out the red carpet from Saturday May 23 is Air New Zealand's brand new Sydney Airport lounge, catering for almost 300 of the airline's business class passengers, those of its Star Alliance partners and also Virgin Australia.
Australian Business Traveller stopped by for a sneak peek ahead of its official opening, and it's quite a step up from the temporary lounge that has been filling the gaps for the past six months.
Inside, the space is very open and welcoming with plenty of natural light during the day, and views out onto the tarmac:
That's especially so behind the bar, styled to complement that of Air New Zealand's Star Alliance business class lounge in Los Angeles:
AusBT Review: Star Alliance business class lounge, Los Angeles
You'll also find hints of similarity to LAX in the cafe area with lighting provided by 228 hand-blown glass spheres, yet designed to reflect the waves of the Australian coast.
Adjacent to that: a 'food theatre' station with chefs preparing the daily specials such as freshly-shucked oysters and both pork and vegetarian dumplings, with both hot and cold dishes also available at the buffet.
These are flanked by a variety of seating areas: some casual and relaxing, others for solo or duo dining and longer benches for groups and families to remain together.
At the unveiling, Air New Zealand's Chief Sales and Commercial Officer Cam Wallace told Australian Business Traveller that "it’s taken about six months to generate the new lounge – it’s been quite tough for us… everyone wants it to open really quickly and you’ve got a temporary lounge which is obviously less comfortable for customers, but we’re really quite delighted with the end product.
"What we tried to do was make it really contemporary and open but also with a hint of New Zealand and Air New Zealand... balancing those priorities has been a big challenge but the team has done an amazing job of bringing it all to life."
The drawcard for business travellers will naturally be the business zone, with tables suitable for laptop work...
... directly next to a new 'quiet nook' for more solitary work, again with power points at the ready:
Speaking of power points, they're everywhere – whether in those laptop benches, against the walls or even built into the cocktail tables, where you'll find both AC and USB outlets handy...
A variety of chairs occupy the centre of the lounge space – again, with power available at almost every seat...
... and within arm's reach of a self-serve beverage bar.
Children aren't forgotten in this new lounge, enjoying their own colourful, treehouse-inspired room that's behind glass walls and a closing door – keeping noise disruptions to a minimum for those outside.
As you'd expect of any international-grade lounge worthy of the title, private shower suites are available...
... with adjoining bathroom facilities and the necessary amenities provided.
As one last surprise, members of Air New Zealand's by-invitation Elite Priority One tier can dodge the crowds and retreat to a 'secret' lounge, as can other airline VIPs.
Tucked away behind the lounge entrance yet relatively small in size, we'd expect its biggest drawcard is privacy – à la the Qantas Chairman's Lounge and Virgin Australia's The Club Lounge – followed closely by the lack of noise that a bustling lounge can otherwise bring.
VIPs aside, the lounge proper welcomes the following travellers:
- Air New Zealand business class guests, and Works Deluxe passengers who booked their flights prior to June 17 2015
- Airpoints Gold, Elite and Elite Priority One members
- Paid-up Koru Club, Virgin Australia Lounge, United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members
- Star Alliance Gold cardholders
- Virgin Australia's international business class guests, excluding on Abu Dhabi flights where the Etihad Sydney Lounge is offered
- Virgin Australia Velocity Gold, Platinum and The Club members
- Etihad Guest Silver and Gold members prior to EY455 only
- Business and first class passengers of Star Alliance airlines including Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Asiana, Thai Airways and United
- Singapore Airlines business and first class guests, although these members could instead use SQ's own Sydney Airport lounge
- Business class passengers of Sichuan Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and Delta (Delta frequent flyers in economy can instead use the SkyTeam Lounge)
- Any airline passenger who can pay $55 for visits under four hours or $85 for longer stays
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