Reviews

Review: Air New Zealand, Star Alliance international lounge, Auckland

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, March 4 2019
Air New Zealand, Star Alliance international lounge, Auckland
Country

New Zealand

City

Auckland

Airport

Auckland International Airport

Alliance

Star Alliance

Airline

Air New Zealand

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • Barista coffee and cocktail bar
  • Variety of seating zones
  • Freshly-made items from the chef's station
The Bad
  • Can be uncomfortably busy
  • Not every seat provides access to every type of power, and some have no access at all
The Unexpected
  • Head to the terrace to work, dine or relax, with airport views and lots of light
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

Air New Zealand's home hub lounge at Auckland international airport caters for business class passengers and elite frequent flyers taking not only the relatively short hops to Australia and other surrounding countries, but also those jetting further afield to places like the United States and South America.

With a range of food and beverage options, seating zones, an enclosed terrace and more, here's what AirNZ's flagship lounge in Auckland has to offer.

Location & Impressions

Located beyond outbound passport control and security screening – or just security screening, if you're in transit – the AirNZ Lounge can be found along a short corridor (near the Kate Spade store), and up a dedicated escalator:

Even before you ascend and enter the lounge, your expectations are set when it comes to the view upstairs...

... and those views are best observed from the terrace, with seats here allowing for working, dining and relaxing...

... in a space that used to be the airport's observation deck, until it was given over to the Air New Zealand lounge during its redevelopment – and of course, this means the view now comes with the airline's signature Kiwi Martini:

The rest of the lounge is given over to a variety of seating with some colourful bursts...

... but wherever you plant yourself, don't forget to swing past the in-lounge service desk during your stay, where you'll find international arrival cards for a variety of destinations, including Australia.

With seating for 375 guests, this lounge is open daily from 4:30am until the last lounge-eligible departure, but do allow plenty of time to reach your gate, as some are a 20-minute walk from the lounge – and after your pre-flight relaxation, you don't want to be running through the airport with a flight on final call!

Access

  • Business class and first class passengers of Air New Zealand, plus Star Alliance members Air China, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and United Airlines, along with Aircalin and Cathay Pacific by special arrangement.
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints Gold, Elite and Elite Priority One cardholders flying with a Star Alliance airline, or on an NZ codeshare flight, including Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong, among others.
  • Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers, and members of Air Canada Maple Leaf Club (Worldwide) and United Club prior to Star Alliance flights.
  • Etihad Guest Gold, Platinum and Exclusive cardholders travelling with Air New Zealand on an Etihad Airways (EY) codeshare flight number.
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members travelling with Air New Zealand on a Virgin Atlantic (VS) codeshare flight number.
  • Paid Air New Zealand Koru Club members prior to Air New Zealand operated flights, and selected NZ codeshare flights operated by partner airlines: that's Air China to Beijing, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, Singapore Airlines to Singapore and United Airlines to San Francisco.

Oneworld's master lounge directory indicates that Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers travelling with Cathay Pacific from Auckland in premium economy or economy can instead make use of the Qantas lounges in Auckland, rather than the AirNZ lounge, which is only offered to business class passengers.

Following the end of AirNZ's trans-Tasman alliance with Virgin Australia, Virgin Australia business class passengers and Velocity Gold and Platinum frequent flyers no longer have access here, but can use Auckland's independent Strata Lounge before eligible flights.

Dining

It's not hard to spot the dining area here in Auckland, with rows of tables and long bench seating...

... with a buffet counter at the end and a chef's station behind.

For the self-serve options, a mid-afternoon weekday visit found a fresh array of sandwiches, wraps and fruit...

... pre-mixed salads, along with individual ingredients for assembling your own...

... joined by more fruits, along with cheese, crackers and accompaniments...

... and just behind, soups, breads, and nibbles:

Right next to that, the chef's station, where the dish of the day was a tasty steamed bun with pulled beef and Asian slaw, which was great as a lunch bite, joined by an egg and lettuce sandwich triangle from the buffet.

Coffee lovers, you're in the right place, with all-day barista brews on offer which can be ordered via the Air New Zealand mobile app, or via the tablet at the counter.

Both provide you with a time estimate as to when your beverage will be ready, which means you don't need to stand around waiting.

Around the corner, a tended cocktail bar...

... where you can partake in the lounge's signature drink, a Kiwi Martini, or in other classics like an Old Fashioned, Classic Martini and so on.

There's no Champagne – instead, Dulcét Sparkling Brut, a New Zealand wine – while a variety of drinks are also available from a self-serve counter behind the bar:

Work

When your lounge visit calls for some pre-flight work, you could set up at one of these benches, equipped with USB power and wireless charging...

... at the high table out on the terrace, which has AC power instead – albeit only near the centre column, under the flap...

... or, as I did during this peak-time visit when all other options were unavailable, at one of the seats by the window on that same terrace:

Here, I was able to charge my tablet for the flight ahead while keeping it out of the way on the shelf above, yet still easily accessible when I wanted to use it.

This area offered both AC and USB power ports under those hatches – no AC adaptor required for Australian travellers, given the plug type is the same – although I was hesitant to use those USB ports, as the covers were spring-loaded to remain closed, which can easily damage the cables plugged in underneath.

At other places in the lounge, the USB ports aren't obstructed, but can be difficult to locate if you don't know where to look: underneath the cocktail tables, for example...

... but in other places, they're much more obvious.

WiFi is available throughout the lounge, with speed tests revealing average downloads of 4.8Mbps and average uploads of 4Mbps during the busy Friday afternoon rush, which was perfectly usable, although not drastically fast.

Relax

Quieter areas of the lounge provide compartmentalised seating suitable for duos and small groups travelling together – look for the "autumn canopy", not far from the terrace...

... and of course, there are plenty of seats out on the terrace, whether it's the view you're there to enjoy, or simply the natural light.

That said, with the lounge getting fuller with every passing minute and people beginning to occupy every single seat throughout the space, the atmosphere during this visit wasn't particularly relaxing, and all the other 'relaxation'-type seats were already fully occupied and thus unavailable.

This included the suspended chairs – shown here from an earlier visit at a quieter time...

... the funky fuchsia banquette seats, again shown from an earlier visit...

... and the day beds – which, you guessed it, were occupied, too:

But despite the limited available seating throughout the lounge, the TV room remained completely vacant the entire time: space that could be better-utilised with more inviting seats and lighting, to become more of a multi-purpose area and ease the squeeze in other parts of the lounge.

At the opposite end of the lounge, you'll also find an area for kids, with seating for parents nearby, and the lounge's shower facilities not far away:

All things considered, there's much to like about Air New Zealand's Auckland lounge, with ample dining and beverage options, a range of seating types and features, and of course, that closed-in terrace where sunlight is plentiful.

However, the lounge isn't a particularly pleasant place to be during peak periods – there's nothing relaxing about sitting a crowded room, or having to join a queue to get near the buffet, but at quieter times, would be much more enjoyable.

Some changes to the design are well in order to unlock more usable space, whether that's a rethink of the TV area to provide not only more seats, but seats that travellers will actually use and not walk past, or in time, another expansion.

One more thing...

Although space in the 'main' lounge can be at a premium, for AirNZ's by-invitation Elite Priority One members, that's unlikely to be a problem, thanks to a separate, private lounge here at Auckland International...

... tucked away behind a blackened glass door simply labelled "by invitation only".

As to what's behind that door, shhhh, it's a secret!

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Auckland as a guest of Air New Zealand.

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

This is ABT at its best, with terrific photos complemented by well written, pithy observations. The grammar is flawless.

Placing a power point under a cocktail table is odd. Many travellers would assume there was not one.

 

While airlines must be careful that power points aren't where they might damage pants/trousers or a lady's dress that came into contact, and water from spilled drinks and electricity is a disastrous mix, one wonders if the designers fail to put themselves into a passenger's mindset.

Flying High

Flying High

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 38

Although it's odd to read comments about how crowded it is, only to be presented with all photos showing a completely deserted lounge...

RTWFF

RTWFF

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Sep 2011

Total posts 84

Standing room only at peak periods ie. most of the time

krisdude

krisdude

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 158

I agree. I was directed to Strata Lounge (the old Air NZ lounge), as the lounge was full. Air NZ uses the Strata Lounge as an overflow.

tommygun

tommygun

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 79

No champagne, just a NZ sparkler. Typical Air NZ nickel and dime behaviour.

Yarki

Yarki

07 Jan 2014

Total posts 39

The Oneworld lounge finder is wrong. Cathay's designated lounge at AKL is the Air NZ lounge so all eligible pax on CX flights (Business, Marco Polo, OW) are issued a lounge invitation for the Air NZ lounge.

DrSK

DrSK

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 49

This lounge is serviceable, but nothing more. The shower facilities are its best feature, and have been surprisingly readily available in my experience, despite the crowds elsewhere. The food is acceptable, but the booze is decidedly pedestrian. Investing a bit more in this lounge would enhance AirNZ's appeal as an option to the USA.

jakewilliamsjrw

jakewilliamsjrw

25 Oct 2012

Total posts 10

With the new codeshare deal with QF, do QF FF get any access to the lounge?

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2321

No, as this is an international lounge and the Qantas/Air New Zealand partnership applies only to each airline's domestic network. See

https://www.ausbt.com.au/qantas-platinum-gold-frequent-flyers-get-airnz-lounge-access for more.

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 147

Apparently another one is being developed in the Gate 15-18 area, but it is some time away. Demand has simply outstripped the extra capacity that it offered when it was opened.

krisdude

krisdude

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 158

Whilst I like the lounge concept, its usually full and noisy and the seating is not that comfortable.

The Auckland Airport company had told Air NZ that the current lounge was going to be to small and talks are under way to build a second lounge in the new boarding gates extension.

If this does happen, there is speculation that the new lounge could be a Star Alliance Lounge operated by Air NZ or a dedicated Air NZ branded Business class lounge available to Air NZ partners and Star Alliance Gold.

Gerbu

Gerbu

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Apr 2018

Total posts 2

There is large selection of cold food but it is mostly relatively tasteless. There was no hot food/dish of day 2 weeks ago. The view & the coffee were the only good things. The Qantas lounge has a smaller selection of food - but it is tasty food & there is usually a hot dish. Of course Emirates lounge is best if you can get in.

David1

David1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2015

Total posts 6

I too have found the lounge very crowded but apart from that full marks to Air New Zealand

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 147

The Barista coffee (especially ordering via the Air NZ app rather than queuing up) and the freshly cooked food are the highlights, and the views are quite good. However, the cocktail bar depends very much on who is serving. One bartender really didn't know how to mix drinks, half and half gin and tonic is quite something!

Time of day matters here, and after the main LAX/SFO flights are boarding in the evenings, it becomes quite pleasant, but the morning rush to Australia and early evening are seriously overcrowded. Late mornings and late evenings are fine. There isn't a compelling reason to come to this lounge early, as it is hit and miss on the hot food options and the alcoholic beverages are almost all standard fare on Air NZ in international economy class. No champagne (just a local bubbles). However, good showers for those transiting between flights.


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