Passengers on Qantas' flights to New Zealand will be welcome at Air New Zealand's key international lounges before their trip back home, under a temporary deal struck by the airline industry's most famous 'frenemies'.
The reason? While Qantas is reopening its international lounges at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for the long-awaited 'travel bubble' starting April 19, the airline has decided to keep the doors locked on its lounges at Auckland and Wellington, while its partner lounges at Christchurch and Queenstown are also closed.
Instead, eligible passengers will be treated to some of Air New Zealand's best lounges.
The following passengers on Qantas flights out of Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington will see the welcome mat rolled out at each airport's respective AirNZ lounges:
- business class travellers
- Qantas Frequent Flyers holding Gold, Platinum and Platinum One status
- Qantas Chairman's Lounge members
- Qantas Club members
Visitors at Air New Zealand's flagship Auckland lounge, for example, can look forward to a revamped menu with a strong focus on 'wellness' and a wide range of vegan and gluten- and dairy-free offerings – although there'll still be plenty of 'comfort food', including tray-around tempters.
Qantas and Air New Zealand maintain a relationship that's equal part rivals and mates, similar to the relationship between the two nations themselves.
Earlier this month, when the trans-Tasman bubble was announced, AirNZ boss Greg Foran sent Qantas chief Alan Joyce a pavlova – a delicious desert which both Australia and New Zealand claim as their invention, which was topped in sliced kiwi fruit.
(Foran's letter also referenced the Bledisloe Cup, which is subject to an annual rugby union tussle between the two countries.)
Qantas responded by sending Foran a lamington (country of origin likewise contested).
"Thanks for the lamingtons @Qantas, we had no idea they had these over in Australia" Foran tweeted in reply.
And during a media briefing this morning, Joyce noted that Qantas and Jetstar will operate more than 120 return flights per week across the Tasman, but said there'd been a sluggish response from Kiwis.
"They’re a bit under the doona, they need to get out," he joked.