TALKING POINT | One side-effect of Star Alliance having a surprisingly large footprint in Australia – 11 member airlines, in all – is that many of our international airports boast several Star Alliance lounges.
A case in point: both Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand operate lounges at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (with Perth to join them in late 2017).
It's even more convenient at Sydney Airport's T1 international terminal, where you'll find Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge...
... located literally next door to one another at the southwest pier, near gates 58-59.
(There's a handy shortcut to this part of the airport once you're through customs and security – veer left and cut through the corridor which leads to the TRS Tax Refund office.)
All eight Star Alliance airlines flying out of Sydney will direct you to one of these two lounges, although most – including ANA, Thai Airways and United Airlines – favour the Air New Zealand lounge.
But as savvy travellers know, you do have a choice.
Two lounges, take your pick
Business class passengers and those with Gold status in the frequent flyer program of any Star Alliance member are entitled to use either lounge – or indeed both of them, if you'd like.
(Note that the Singapore Airlines lounge closes around 6pm, while some Star Alliance flights leave in the evening – for example, Air China's 7.40pm service to Beijing and ANA's 9pm flight to Tokyo - so for those later departures, the Air New Zealand lounge is your only option.)
So which of Sydney's two Star Alliance lounges is our pick?
Both lounges have been updated to reflect their respective parent airline's latest style.
The Air New Zealand lounge nails it for coffee, with a barista pulling fresh shots from morning to early evening, as well as a tended bar with a decent selection of beer, wine and spirits.
But it's less appealing for meals – even the live cooking station doesn't offer much in terms of variety – and the lounge can get very busy in peak hours, and therefore very noisy.
The Singapore Airlines lounge is generally quieter, partly due to lower passenger numbers but also the ambience of the lounge is softer.
There's always a superior spread of food – especially in the mornings.
And the semi-private booths provide a comfortable space where you can work while you dine.
So our suggestion is to start with a coffee at the Air New Zealand lounge, and check if the cooking station's dish of the day takes your fancy – then shift to the Singapore Airlines lounges to eat, work and relax.
However, in our experience the WiFi is faster in the Air New Zealand lounge, so if ploughing through some work is high on your pre-flight to-do list, you may want to choose your lounge accordingly.
Note that all Star Alliance airline flights are called in the Singapore Airlines lounge, so there's no risk of missing your flight on Air New Zealand, United Airlines, Thai Airways and so on.
Which of these two Star Alliance lounges do you prefer, and why?