Review: Air New Zealand international lounge, Auckland

Whether you choose AirNZ or Qantas for your next 'travel bubble' flight, your premium pre-flight journey begins here.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, May 28 2021
Air New Zealand international lounge, Auckland
Country

New Zealand

City

Auckland

Airport

Auckland Airport

Alliance

Star Alliance

Airline

Air New Zealand

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • Barista coffee and cocktail bar
  • Variety of seating zones
The Bad
  • Miss one small overhead sign, and you've missed the lounge
X-Factor
  • 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 flagship international lounge at Auckland Airport is back in full swing, buoyed by quarantine-free travel between NZ and (most of) Australia.

For the time being, the lounge even opens its doors to eligible passengers departing on Qantas flights, in addition to those of AirNZ.

Glide past reception and the experience that awaits is as close to pre-COVID as you can get, with buffets back, barista coffee pumping, and passengers getting ready to jet overseas.

Here's what to expect when you're next lounging about in Auckland.

Location & Impressions

After clearing check-in and security, follow the path through duty-free – parts of which have barriers up, but the walkway remains clear.

Keep your eyes peeled for a small "Air New Zealand lounge" sign overhead, which directs you down a corridor, and then upstairs.

Inside, the lounge is much as you'd remember it before COVID, offering a variety of seats and zones.

Beyond the 'main' area, there's a sizeable relaxation space towards the far side of the lounge – perfect if you're seeking somewhere quiet.

Head through the glass doors nearby, and you'll also uncover an outdoor-themed space, but with sealed windows keeping the Auckland chill out.

Instead, it's quite a warm and sunny spot – and again, typically quiet unless the lounge is full.

With large windows at every turn, you're sure to enjoy the views, too. 

The lounge seats 375 guests, but be mindful, some departure gates are a 20-minute walk from the lounge, so you may prefer to leave before boarding is called, to avoid a last-minute dash.

Access

For international Air New Zealand flights, and NZ codeshare flights:

  • Business Premier (business class) passengers
  • Airpoints Gold, Elite, Elite Partner, and Elite Priority One members
  • Star Alliance Gold cardholders
  • Paid-up members of Air New Zealand Koru Club, Air Canada Maple Leaf Club (Worldwide), and United Club
  • Etihad Guest Gold, Platinum and Exclusive (only when booked on the Etihad/EY codeshare flight number with AirNZ)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold (must be booked on the Virgin Atlantic/VS codeshare flight number with AirNZ)

For international Qantas flights:

  • Business class passengers
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers
  • Qantas Chairman's Lounge cardholders
  • Qantas Club members

For Star Alliance flights (e.g. Singapore Airlines):

  • Business class (and where offered, first class) passengers
  • Star Alliance Gold cardholders, including Airpoints Gold, Elite, and Elite Priority One (but not Airpoints Elite Partner)
  • Members of Air Canada Maple Leaf Club (Worldwide) and United Club (but not Koru Club, unless booked on an NZ codeshare)

Access for Qantas passengers is a temporary arrangement, in place until the Qantas lounges re-open in New Zealand.

Dining

The buffet is back here in Auckland, with all food being self-serve.

As you'd expect, hand sanitiser is within reach – with this lunch visit finding a selection of bite-sized sweets, sandwiches, and fruit to start.

Add to that, cheese, crackers, and other nibbles.

Continue browsing, and you'll uncover salad ingredients, more sweet treats, and further nibbles.

For a more substantial meal, head to the next buffet counter where hot options are served.

Selections included chana masala with spinach and coriander, beef madras curry with lentils, and steamed rice pilaf – and the beef madras curry (with rice) was quite tasty.

There's plenty of space to enjoy your meal, with communal seating in the centre and individual tables to each side.

Coffee lovers, you're also in the right place, with all-day barista service at the ready.

Orders can be placed via the Air New Zealand mobile app, or via a tablet at the counter.

Both provide a time estimate for when your beverage will be ready, and to help make sure each traveller grabs the right coffee, they're served with an order slip.

Nearby, there's a tended cocktail bar, which also pours Dulcet sparkling wine, among your other choices.

While you can order classics like an Old Fashioned, if you're looking for some different, give the lounge's signature drink a try.

The Kiwi Martini blends 42 Below Vodka with muddled kiwi fruit and a dash of sugar syrup, served after shaking.

Work

Being a modern lounge, you'll find a variety of power outlets throughout the space.

At these working benches, set up with a laptop and recharge gadgets via USB or wireless charging:

Enjoying a meal in the dining area? There's power here too: just look below the counter.

Out on the terrace, you guessed it, there's power as well:

It's not just walls that provide outlets either – you'll spot one at the centre of this communal bench, on the terrace also:

Inside, outlets are also tucked away in the hollow centre of most cocktail tables, offering both AC and USB ports:

Other cocktail tables provide these at the side, within easier reach.

WiFi is available throughout the lounge, with speed tests revealing averaging 9.7Mbps on both download and upload, which was perfectly usable and fast enough to support basic HD video streaming.

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:

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

That's also where you'll find these suspended chairs – perfect when there's no work to do.

The funky fuchsia banquette seats are also a good mix between work and relaxation – and again, power points are never far away.

The lounge also features a dedicated TV room, but just as on previous visits, it remained completely vacant the entire time.

At the far end, 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.

For Qantas passengers, it also represents a significant upgrade to the outdated Qantas lounges at Auckland Airport, while these temporary agreements are in place.

One more thing...

If your passport wallet packs Air New Zealand's by-invitation Elite Priority One card, your private lounge-within-a-lounge is hidden here at Auckland Airport.

Tucked away behind a blackened glass door labelled "by invitation only" lies the AirNZ equivalent of the Qantas Chairman's Lounge – but it's not a lounge ordinarily open to Chairman's Lounge members.

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

Also read: AirNZ Boeing 787 business class review

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 603

I'll be using this lounge in July hopefully. Looking forward to a change from the Qantas 'First' lounge and sample how the other half live ;). 

Chris, any word on when Qantas will reopen its lounges in NZ?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jan 2015

Total posts 69

Thrilled to see the Buffet style back

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 488

I was there yesterday..! 

This is a great lounge - I hope Qantas borrows heavily from the design of this space.  

I was there yesterday too.  I agree it is a great lounge and much better than the Qantas business lounges.  It also caters much better for Coeliacs or others who have to eat gluten free for medical reasons.  There are a lot more GF options available and they are clearly marked as GF (also dairy free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.)

12 Feb 2012

Total posts 1

I was there recently for breakfast and the food was truly dreadful. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Mar 2014

Total posts 2

The Air NZ lounge is always bright and fresh and I love fact the airlines are working together.

When you say "it's not a lounge ordinarily open to Chairman's Lounge members", is the Priority One lounge inviting CL members in as part of the temporary arrangements?


28 Apr 2021

Total posts 3

I will be using this rather spectacular facility mid September and perhaps what Air NZ has to offer will be a wake up call to Qantas that great deal will have to be done when again the doors open with their 'First Class' Lounge.

Also most pleasing to see the word "Passenger" being used in this article, whereas QF is still clinging onto the inappropriate term - 'customer'. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1262

Passengers are customers.

28 Apr 2021

Total posts 3

Yes indeed one is indeed a customer when buying or purchasing a ticket to travel, however whether it be in a car, train, bus or on board a plane, you are a "Passenger"!!.

I get that 'customer' vs 'passenger' is clearly a thing for you but to an airline, anybody purchasing its services is also a 'customer', in the same way that I am a customer of my local cafe when I buy lunch there. Airlines generally call them 'customers' or 'guests' to try and emphasis to staff the commercial connection between the airline as a business and the paying guest as more than just a 'passenger'.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Apr 2018

Total posts 2

Be aware the hot lunch buffet offering usually stops at 2:30pm, so then it is sandwiches & salads & soup so most of the 4pm flights (NZ149 to BNE & NZ109 to SYD) will just miss it & the dinner offering on Air NZ is tasty but very small (I prefer Qantas for this reason).


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