Executive Traveller exclusive
Frequent flyers departing from Auckland and Wellington can enjoy access to Qantas lounges in both NZ cities from today after the Flying Kangaroo dusted off and flung open the doors once again.
Open from 4am to 7pm daily, Qantas’ Auckland lounge has been modestly refreshed with a new coffee cart serving barista-made brews to order. The Wellington lounge returns to its former schedule, opening two hours before each Qantas flight.
Both lounges now sport a new menu of snacks including local cheese, salads, Kapiti ice creams and Neil Perry’s Bircher muesli.
But these changes are unlikely to alter the rusted-on view from many frequent flyers that the Auckland and Wellington lounges are among the worst in Qantas’ international network.
Since trans-Tasman flights restarted in April, Qantas has been sending its business class passengers, top-tier frequent flyers and Qantas Club members to the superior Auckland lounge of its partner Air New Zealand - an undeniable treat for travellers.
“We’re pleased to be able to reopen our New Zealand lounge facilities on the eve of what we expect to be a very busy school holiday period across the Tasman,” said Qantas Group Chief Customer Officer, Stephanie Tully.
Speaking to Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the recent reopening of the Qantas Singapore First Lounge, Tully said the airline is keen to restart plans to upgrade both the Auckland and Wellington lounges in line with their domestic and international counterparts.
“We’re looking at options for what we do with that lounge” Tully said.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce flagged that upgrade as far back as November 2015, saying: “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.”
In August 2018, the airline committed to ploughing some of its record $1.6b pre-tax profit from the 2018 financial year into a revamp of several international lounges, among them Auckland.
This was to see the existing business class and first class lounges – the latter used only by the airlines’ Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers and invitation-only Chairman’s Lounge members – merged into a single ‘Premium Lounge’ for all passengers with “a new dining experience” featuring NZ food and wine.
“That remains something we’re looking at,” Tully said, adding that the made-over Auckland lounge was also likely to have a larger footprint in keeping with the traditionally-strong demand between Australia and New Zealand.
“I actually think we’re going to need a bit more space (because) our plan for New Zealand is strong growth,” Tully said. “I think (the lounge will) probably be in the same location, but we’ll look to grow (the space) as well.”
Additional reporting by Matt Lennon