Qantas travellers jetting off from Auckland can look forward to a newly-upgraded lounge experience by mid-2023, and it’s not before time.
The current well-worn business class and first class lounges – the latter used only by the airline’s Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers and invitation-only Chairman’s Lounge members – will be combined to become a single ‘Premium Lounge’ for all passengers.
By taking over adjacent space at the airport, Qantas estimates its new Auckland International Lounge will see an increase in total capacity from 244 to 340 seats.
The larger footprint is intended to cater for the June 2023 launch of Sydney-Auckland-New York flights.
Qantas says the lounge’s “detailed design process will begin shortly”, with building work staged so the lounges will remain open during the redevelopment.
Once the ceremonial red ribbon is cut with a pair of over-sized novelty scissors, travellers will see not only “a new dining experience” featuring the best of NZ food and wine, but “a number of features specifically tailored for long haul travel, based on positive feedback from other parts of its network.”
“Our new Auckland International lounge will be a step change in comfort," promises Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.
Joyce first flagged the long-awaited upgrade as far back as November 2015, saying at the time: “We have Auckland on the plan, it’s a question of when we’ll do it… we’d like to have the best lounge in NZ, but these things take time.”
And that time appears to be now, with Qantas saying its plans “were stalled by the pandemic.”
Reopened in June sporting a modest refresh, including a new coffee cart serving barista-made brews to order, the Auckland lounge and its Wellington counterpart have long been panned by travellers as two of the worst in the network.
Auckland’s impending lounge refresh will be in addition to a new Business Lounge at the existing Qantas Club in Adelaide, together with a renovation of the Chairman’s Lounge; and on the regional front, a redevelopment of the Port Hedland lounge with four times the space, and an all-new lounge at Rockhampton which is expected to open in November this year.