Air New Zealand to reopen international lounges

In another welcome sign of normalcy returning, AirNZ's international lounges will soon unlock their doors.

By David Flynn, April 7 2021
Air New Zealand to reopen international lounges
Executive Traveller exclusive

Air New Zealand will reopen its international lounges at airports across New Zealand and Australia this month as the travel bubble between both counties comes into effect.

The Kiwi carrier has confirmed to Executive Traveller that the following international lounges will roll out the welcome mat to trans-Tasman flyers from April 19:

  • Auckland
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Queenstown
  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Perth

These have all been closed since late March 2020, when Air New Zealand – in common with many other airlines – pulled down the shutters at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

But with the debut of a COVID-safe travel corridor between Australia and New Zealand, international flights are back – and with them, the international lounges enjoyed by business class passengers, Airpoints Gold and Elite flyers and their Star Alliance Gold equivalents, and the airline's Koru club members.

Come on in, your coffee is waiting...
Come on in, your coffee is waiting...

Also read: Air New Zealand mulls Elite Plus tier, lifetime status

So what's changed in the COVID lounge experience?

"We’ve already had a lot of practice with operating (domestic) lounges under different COVID Alert Level requirements," Air New Zealand's Senior Manager Global Lounges and Valet, Alison Swarbrick, tells Executive Traveller.

"So what the customers will see in our international lounges is increased cleaning measures especially around high use touch points like the entry pod, the iPads at the barista, door handles, fridge doors etc."

Swarbrick says that "although we are fortunate that many of the (lounge) team are able to return after being away, there will be some new faces" to greet travellers.

WiFi, check; coffee, double check

"We are also working closely with our internal stakeholders like the digital team who are making sure our systems are all operational from the lights to the WiFi and most importantly the coffee app."

There'll be COVID Tracer scan codes set up in each New Zealand lounge, and the equivalent Australian contact tracing codes at its Australian lounges.

In compliance with Australian regulations, those lounges will also see the self-serve buffet suspended: in its place will be what an ‘assisted serve’ model.

"Other than that everything else will feel relatively normal, bar the several thousand bottles of hand sanitiser that customers will see everywhere," Swarbrick laughs.

The flagship Auckland International Lounge has been freshened up.
The flagship Auckland International Lounge has been freshened up.

Things will be brighter on the New Zealand side of the bubble, especially at the flagship Auckland lounge, where the airline took advantage of the 13-month shutdown to refresh its busiest lounge with a fresh coat of paint, new tiles and planters... even the curtains have been dry-cleaned.

Travellers can look forward to a revamped menu, too, including an added wellness focus plus a wider range of vegan and gluten- and dairy-free offerings – although there'll still be plenty of 'comfort food', including tray-around tempters.

Swarbrick says they've been planning the reopening of international lounges "since before Christmas", as they knew the long-awaited bubble would eventually arise.

Air New Zealand's trans-Tasman reboot will see 19 routes serviced by up to 150 flights per week, ranging from its workhorse Airbus A320neo and A321neo jets to the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Also read: Qantas unlocks status match for Kiwi frequent flyers


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jan 2015

Total posts 17

That’s great news for Air NZ travellers.

Just hope that QF follows suit.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 387

There's no way that Qantas would NOT open its international lounges for this 'bubble', it's a really BIG deal, but the question will be which lounges?

ET has previously quoted a QF lounge exec as saying they might open the First lounges at SYD and MEL instead of the Business lounges, along same lines as how in most cap cities the domestic Business lounges opened before the Qantas Clubs, and that the First lounges would then allow access by business class passengers, QFF Golds and even people with lounge passes, until there's enough traffic to also open the SYD and MEL international Business lounges.

I think that's what we are likely to see because it will really let QF showcase their lounges, start the bubble with a bang, great for PR and might even make lots of Golds want to earn Platinum status. But they'd also want to dial back the level of service at the First lounge a bit because it'd cost them a lot of money otherwise if they were to offer all the same Champagnes, cocktails etc as before.


09 May 2020

Total posts 511


You are right in saying which lounge. 

My guess is that it depends on which states and what demand there is in term of pax traffic, which would determine if its is worthwhile opening the lounges in international terminals.

Assuming the minimum shift for lounge staff is 4 hours per shift, unless the schedule involves 2 flights within 3 hours otherwise we are looking at one direct fight for every 4 hour shift.

Then there is the question of how the borders are being managed by each premier, and their risk appetite.

Judging by this, opening for SYD international lounge would be a sure fire bet; the possibilities are 2 other eastern states, QLD having a large kiwi community in Brisbane, but both QLD and VIC are less tolerant of any hint of cases of community spread compared to NSW.

Chances are the rest of the country would have to fly via SYD (and others) to NZ either as a connecting domestic flight, or with SYD as a stopover of an international flight originating from other cities.

The Sydney first class lounge should be big enough to handle the initial wave of travellers without opening the downstairs business lounge, and it certainly would look like an impressive return for Qantas, but I think the Melbourne first class lounge would be way too small to cater for the number of eligible passengers on the A330s to Auckland plus other flights leaving around roughly the same time for say Christchurch and Queenstown.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jan 2015

Total posts 78

Can't wait to dust off the passport and will most likely go Air NZ. Be interesting to see what QF do with Lounges and if they turn on the inflight entertainment for the AKL flights as most likely no wifi available across the ditch. I will let them bed this new green lane thing down and try for a trip Mid June. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

27 Jun 2019

Total posts 12

I had wondered too if QF might strike a deal with entertainment providers to at least have some content across the ditch. Obviously not as much as they would have with all international routes going but some options would be beneficial. QF dont provide WiFi across the Tasman so I don't think that will be a go unless they've changed their mind in the last 12 months. Be interesting to see what all airlines do

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Jun 2019

Total posts 11

I received an email yesterday from Qantas and looking at the link for travel across the Tasman no inflight entertainment is offered and you get a hot meal and a bottle of water. I assume this means no bar service. If I am reading this right it is the same in business as well....

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 387

IFE is still very expensive and QF is in money-saving mode to reduce its ongoing cash burn, so no surprise there's no IFE as QF has to pay a lot of money for all those movies and TV shows, I've heard the total content distribution deal costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, and basically an airline like Qantas with international flights has to pay it because lack of IFE would be a killer. IFE is less necessary on domestic routes but still comes in the cost of the overall package. Anyway, 2-3 hour flights from Australia to New Zealand, time to go back to the good old days and bring a book or a magazine, have some movies or TV shows on your iPad, or just listen to music on your phone, chill out, enjoy being back in the skies and look forward to the holiday ahead!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2015

Total posts 76

I wonder if I’ll be able to use the lounge as well when flying to SIN on SQ in J on the 23rd. The article says trans-Tasman passengers but there are also other *A flights departing from SYD. Can’t see why not unless SQ isn’t paying NZ for lounge access.

Standard lounge access rules would apply, so any eligible Star Alliance passenger on SQ, UA etc could also visit the Air New Zealand lounge, I'm sure the article was just written from the perspective of these trans-Tasman flights.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 500

This is really good news. Aside from having to wear a mask on the flight and the contact tracing app, you can travel between Australia and New Zealand as normal. No need for a vaccine or a Covid-19 test. Hopefully a sign of things to come for the rest of the world in the coming months/year or so.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jan 2017

Total posts 16

Air NZ has no business lounge in Adelaide, but in the past business passengers and Koru Club members have been able to access the Qantas Club lounge.   Do any ET readers know if this will continue after April 19?  Air New Zealand's FIRST Adelaide-Auckland direct flight is scheduled for May 5. - Hirizer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jul 2015

Total posts 3

I flew Qantas business from Auckland to Sydney on 12 April and was pleasantly surprised to find the IFE working! They were also serving champagne after boarding and meals served pretty soon after takeoff... However the food was not very appetising, salty and burnt looking. Looking forward to the lounges opening again to round out the experience.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

27 Jun 2019

Total posts 12

That is surprising to hear QF had IFE working, especially when they say it is switched off and doesn't show available on new bookings. Disappointing about the food though! Hopefully that improves as I've normally found their food to be fantastic. Look forward to everything slowly opening once again

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