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Flying in economy or premium economy with Air New Zealand (or one of the many that use its lounges), but still want to use the Koru or international business class lounges in NZ, Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane?
Hand over some cash and the answer will be "right this way, please", under a new scheme where you can purchase entrance on a walk-up basis.
Lounge staff confirmed that you're eligible if you're flying any airline whose business class passengers would have access to the lounge, which covers:
- Air New Zealand
- Virgin Australia (even across the Tasman, where Virgin doesn't operate a business class)
- Star Alliance airlines: from Australia, that includes Air Canada, Air China, Asiana, Thai and United (we got conflicting answers for Singapore Airlines passengers, since SQ has its own lounges in some ports, but are seeking clarification from Air New Zealand's PR team)
- other partner and contract airlines, including Air Mauritius, China Southern, Delta, Etihad, Hawaiian, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic
Prices start at NZ$35 (A$27) for up to four hours in the domestic lounges at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. It's $55 (A$43) for more than 4 hours.
International lounges in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane start at NZ$55 (A$43), or $85 (A$66) for more than four hours.
Overall, it's good value if you happen to be taking an afternoon or evening flight and need to clear out of your hotel early, or if you have several hours between your last appointment and the plane.
What you'll find inside all nine lounges
Air New Zealand's lounges are up to a reasonable standard for our region, though they're not up to the the Qantas Business Lounge, nor the new Virgin Australia Lounges.
My personal call: it's worth it if you're hungry, thirsty, really need some Internet or will be there more than two hours.
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you'll also have access to the especially helpful staffers, who frequently have special rebooking and seat allocation powers -- much better than taking your luck in the queue in the terminal.
In terms of the food and drinks, you'll find salads, soup, cheese, and occasionally a hot dish. New Zealand and Australian wine are featured, with most bottles around the A$10/NZ$15 mark. Fine for a glass or two -- but, like the lounges, nothing to write home about.
Over the past year, I've visited all nine of the lounges, so here's a potted guide to what you'll find in each one:
Sydney: large, busy and looking a little frayed around the edges, Sydney's large barn-like lounge is contracted to over a dozen airlines, many of which you can see through the large windows.
Melbourne: the ground-level "bunker" in Melbourne feels more intimate and a little newer than Sydney's, and has a wider range of seating styles. And a foozball table. Peering out at the tarmac can be quite entertaining at times. Best in Australia.
Brisbane: this rather small lounge is the smallest in Australia, with a lovely view of a car park.
Auckland International: functional, but feels very worn. I miss the chance to get rid of my last NZ dollars with a footrub -- Air NZ removed the spa area last year.
Wellington International: tiny one-room lounge (smaller than Brisbane), with the world's worst power points and a view over the scenic car park.
Christchurch International: the newest international lounge, it's chic and feels like a winter lodge. No view, though.
Auckland Domestic: it's functional and in relatively good nick, but finding a power point is a real pain. The far end has some decent views out onto the runway.
Wellington Domestic: floor-to-ceiling runway and sea views, a large space and the chance to watch planes wobbling their way into windy Wellywood -- this is the best domestic lounge in NZ, and arguably the best lounge in NZ.
Christchurch Domestic: the worst of the domestic lounges in the worst of the domestic airports, this one's well overdue for demolition. Only worth it since the rest of the terminal should be knocked down too.
Will you be buying your way in? Do you agree or disagree with our impressions of each lounge? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
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