Which is the best Star Alliance lounge at Sydney Airport?

Business class travellers and frequent flyers can choose between two lounges – in fact, they can even visit both!

By David Flynn, May 2 2024
Which is the best Star Alliance lounge at Sydney Airport?

Nine Star Alliance airlines fly to Sydney, and two of those – Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines – maintain their own lounges, which in turn are available to any eligible Star Alliance passenger.

Thankfully, both the Air New Zealand Sydney International Lounge and Singapore Airlines Sydney SilverKris Business Class lounges are quite decent in their own right, as well as being very different – each is fairly cast in the brand image of its partner airline.

The Air New Zealand lounge is a spacious streamlined modern affair with a tended bar...

Air New Zealand's Sydney International Lounge.
Air New Zealand's Sydney International Lounge.

... while the Singapore Airlines lounge is a smaller, more intimate space with a softer, more relaxing vibe.

The Singapore Airlines Sydney SilverKris business lounge.
The Singapore Airlines Sydney SilverKris business lounge.

 

Star Alliance lounge access at Sydney Airport

The following Star Alliance member airlines fly to Sydney:

  • Air New Zealand
  • Air india
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • United Airlines

Access to the Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines lounges is available to the following passengers on all of those Star Alliance airlines:

  • first class travellers
  • business class travellers
  • Star Alliance Gold-grade frequent flyers in economy or (where available) premium economy 

Most Star Alliance member airlines which don’t have their own lounge at Sydney Airport’s T1 international terminal – such as ANA, Air Canada and United Airlines – will direct eligible flyers to the Air New Zealand lounge, which is large enough to easily accommodate all those travellers.

Most Star Alliance airlines flying from Sydney direct travellers to the Air New Zealand lounge.
Most Star Alliance airlines flying from Sydney direct travellers to the Air New Zealand lounge.

(Note that Singapore Airlines also has a first class lounge, which is secreted away next to SQ’s business class lounge.) 

However, as savvy travellers including Executive Traveller readers are aware, you do have a choice.

Business class passengers and those with Gold status in the frequent flyer program of any Star Alliance member are entitled to use either lounge.

Business class passengers and Gold-grade frequent flyers on any Star Alliance member airline can visit either or both of the Sydney lounges.
Business class passengers and Gold-grade frequent flyers on any Star Alliance member airline can visit either or both of the Sydney lounges.

Indeed, they can flit between both lounges if the mood takes them – this isn’t an either/or decision (the only caveat is the lounge’s respective opening hours: in pre-Covid times, the Air New Zealand lounge was open until very late evening).

It certainly helps that these lounges are located literally next door to one another at Sydney T1’s southwest pier, which is home to gates 51-63 – an the escalator to both the Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines lounges is just behind the Starbucks kiosk.

The SilverKris lounge is handily located right next to the Air New Zealand lounge.
The SilverKris lounge is handily located right next to the Air New Zealand lounge.

Just show your boarding pass, and where relevant your airline’s frequent flyer membership card, at the lounge’s reception desk.

So how do these two Star Alliance lounges at Sydney Airport compare?

Food and drinks

Because food is such a subjective issue, we’re pleased to report that the Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines lounges have a very different take on pre-flight dining – and one of the two is certain to hit the spot.

This live cooking station is the centrepiece of Air New Zealand's lounge dining experience.
This live cooking station is the centrepiece of Air New Zealand's lounge dining experience.

The Air New Zealand lounge sports a live cooking station where of a morning you’re likely to see anything from freshly-made breakfast quesadillas to waffles, alongside standbys such as scrambled eggs and Kransky sausages (they’re something of an AirNZ signature), cereal, yoghurt, pastries and salads. 

There’s a leaning towards lighter healthy meals, though still plenty of sweet options.
There’s a leaning towards lighter healthy meals, though still plenty of sweet options.

There’s a little less flair in the Singapore Airlines lounge, but the meals are heartier – especially in the mornings – and naturally nod towards Asian as well as Western palettes. This means you can choose between bacon, eggs and tomatoes, and an assortment of dim sum, chicken and sweetcorn soup, curries and more.

The Singapore lounge generally sports a wider variety of food than its AirNZ neighbour.
The Singapore lounge generally sports a wider variety of food than its AirNZ neighbour.

We also rate the extensive selection of salads, dips and cheeses as better for light snacking than at the neighbouring AirNZ lounge.

Plenty of light bite options at the Sydney SilverKris lounge.
Plenty of light bite options at the Sydney SilverKris lounge.

But on the drinks front, you can’t beat Air New Zealand’s tender bar or its friendly, knowledge staff.

The bar at the Air New Zealand lounge is a hit with travellers.
The bar at the Air New Zealand lounge is a hit with travellers.

This is a good example of why you might want to visit both lounges: enjoy a hearty meal at the Singapore Airlines lounge, then follow that with a drink or two at the Air New Zealand lounge. 

Coffee

Although Singapore Airlines recently added a barista cart to its dining area, we’d still say Air New Zealand had the edge when it comes to coffee.

Order up a barista-pulled coffee any way you like it at the Air New Zealand lounge.
Order up a barista-pulled coffee any way you like it at the Air New Zealand lounge.

A touchscreen tablet at the left side of the bar lets you order almost any style of coffee (bar an iced coffee, for some reason) with any type of milk, with the option of extra shots should you need an added kick.

WiFi

Internet access used to be the bane of the Singapore Airlines’ lounge, but a recent upgrade has resulted in a massive speed boost. When Executive Traveller visited both lounges last month we closed the following average download speeds

  • Air New Zealand lounge 10Mbps
  • Singapore Airlines lounge 260Mbps

Work

Head for the Singapore Airlines lounge if there’s work to be ploughed through before your flight. The ‘productivity pods’ offer a pleasing degree of privacy plus handy AC and USB outlets (plus there’s that super-fast WiFi on tap).

Grab one of these cosy 'productivity pods' at SQ's Sydney lounge.
Grab one of these cosy 'productivity pods' at SQ's Sydney lounge.

Air New Zealand favourites longer communal workbenches with less privacy.

Relax

The Singapore Airlines lounge tends to be quieter than its Air New Zealand counterpart, despite being one largely open space – but if you really want to unwind, head to the far right corner of the Air New Zealand lounge, where you’ll find a small ‘quiet zone’ wing with some banquette couches.

The little-known 'quiet corner' of the Air New Zealand lounge.
The little-known 'quiet corner' of the Air New Zealand lounge.

So which is Sydney Airport’s best Star Alliance lounge?

We’d rate the Singapore Airlines lounge for food, work and WiFi, with the Air New Zealand lounge for drinks (including coffee) and relaxing.

Executive Traveller readers: Which of these two Star Alliance lounges do you prefer, and why?

02 Nov 2017

Total posts 21

I used the Air New Zealand lounge recently and I rate it the best in the world and I’m including SG’s terminal 3 lounge at Changi and the Qatar J class lounge in Doha amongst others. The coffee is outstanding, the space large and modern with 180 degree views of the runway and first class food. I was traveling on SA’s business class ticket 

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 327

Much better in SQ SilverKris Lounge (and my fave is SilverKris First Lounge, usually empty!)   AirNZ had a reasonable lounge before renovation, including the self-construct hot dog stand - now its just not worth visiting, so I personally stick to SQ First lounge for self service Moet  and quick visit Biz Lounge, although the showers have terrible nozzles in First Loungue which don't make up for Appell toiletries

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 111

That "quiet zone" at the end of the Air NZ lounge isn't. Quiet, that is. There's no notice or sign designating it as a quiet zone, and in my experience it certainly isn't. Groups of people congregate there and talk loudly. The main lounge can also get very crowded in the mornings when there are flights on NZ, AC, UA and TG all going out fairly close together.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Jan 2023

Total posts 3

When travelling Premium Economy with SQ, holding Gold/Platinum with VA, can you still go to either lounge or only to the one from SQ as this is VA's partner?

11 Mar 2017

Total posts 8

I have visited both a few times and seem to always end up in the SQ lounge after starting in the NZ lounge. The NZ lounge does get a bit noisy at times and then I move. I had to move to SQ lounge last month because the AC in the NZ lounge was freezing cold.

17 Nov 2023

Total posts 17

At least in Melbourne, we always visit both, but (unlike the actual airline) the ANX lounge is MILES better than the SQ one.

They also have lots of proper (read containing beef or lamb) food.  Their desserts are really good too.

23 Jun 2020

Total posts 4

SQ lounge in SYD for me.

The barista usually uses cocoa powder to make a SIA logo on my cappuccino.

That always brings a smile to my face :-) !

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 712

Another of life's simple pleasures (it is impressive).  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Sep 2013

Total posts 2

Air NZ lounge hands down for me as it’s more spacious and has better lighting but I’ve been lucky to head there when it’s quiet before a SQ flight and I had the whole lounge to myself 2 trips in a row ! Felt like a VIP, haha. The SQ lounge was bursting at the seams at the same time and I can only imagine they didn’t realise they had access to other Star Alliance lounges ! 

UA *Gold Lifetime

18 Dec 2015

Total posts 10

I had a 3pm TG departure last week. I guess as a rusted on QF plat I have been grossly spoiled with the Amazing QF F lounge, so I was unsure how the Star Alliance side lives. 

I tried Singapore first - Bloody Mary ingredients ✔️, food all Bain Marie style and passable but nothing special. 

Nipped next door to Air Nz in the hope of some fresh lunch. The offering (maybe just an off day) was so visually sad and unappetising. A wet bland milky coloured massaman curry, some leaves and cheese and biscuits. Didn’t try any of it and hightailed it out. 

Last try, Amex lounge ( I know this is a Star A lounge post but it’s immediately downstairs from these) Food was great and a la carte, very friendly. Even got a shower which I didn’t know they had. Air NZ REALLY need to lift their food game. Singapore need some healthier lighter options in my humble opinion…. 


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