Air New Zealand’s key Business Class lounge at Auckland International Airport reopened in September 2015 after a NZ $14 million refurbishment.
Given that this is Air New Zealand’s flagship lounge, on recent visits to Auckland Airport a couple of us have both checked it out, taken photos and noted our impressions – all up it’s a very solid change with a couple of key features turn heads, and it’s generally worthy of flagship status in Air New Zealand’s Koru Club network.
On previous trips, the couple of other Auckland lounges visited offered mixed impressions at best. The privately run Auckland Emperor Lounge (now called Strata Lounge), which I was able to review prior to my first US status run, had me far more impressed with what was offered than I had been expecting.
However as part of my trip including LATAM’s Dreamliner Business Class flight to Sydney, I experienced the aging and unloved Qantas Auckland International Business Lounge too which was a bit of let down.
While my hopes were high given the $14 million pricetag of the new Air NZ Auckland International Lounge (the lounge), I had decided not to hold my breath on being blown away.
Thanks to another cheap flight to Los Angeles with Virgin Australia, I had decided to embark on another US status run. This gave me the opportunity to access the lounge thanks to the Velocity Gold status earned during my first US status run.
Lounge Location & Opening Hours
Upon exiting Auckland customs and immigration into the duty-free shopping atrium, two signs direct the way to the terminal’s lounges, the right leading to the Emperor, Qantas, and Emirates lounges, and the left to the new Air NZ lounge.
A set of escalators overlooking the terminal gates leads to the lounge reception, located on the terminals second floor.
The reception area is sleek and welcoming, its modern contemporary design featuring large scale digital screens with looping time lapse imagery of New Zealand scenery a suitable welcome to the slick Kiwi inspired 2,000 sqm lounge.
Many of the lounge’s features are designed in partnership with Californian Gensler Architect, and follow on from themes developed into the Air NZ Sydney and award winning Air NZ Los Angeles Star Alliance lounges.
When it’s light outside, there are some great views outside to the airport at the entry, and this continues inside the lounge.
Lounge Seating & Views
The lounge itself apparently incorporates 24 different styles of seating, spread across multiple intricately lit and specifically themed zones, tailored to the needs and requirements of the lounges many different types of guest.
A large open seated area greets you upon entering through the glass doors which is next to the cocktail and expresso bar. This area provides comfortable seating and an excellent place for arranging to meet fellow guests.
The light and white dining zone provides multiple seating options to suit the requirements and number of guests in those parties sampling the lounge various catering options on offer.
Next to the dining area is a TV and Movie room.
Those seeking a little more rest and relaxation can head to the back corner of the lounge, where a chill-out zone awaits with mood subtle lighting, and a tranquil setting including reclining loungers.
Adjacent to this, and servicing the chill zone and outdoor terrace is one of the two self service bars, perfect for a quiet meet up.
Incorporating a series of comfortable oversized padded bar stools and stylish swivel seating, the bar area leads out to the lounge’s prized feature, a covered outdoor terrace.
Complete with retractable roofing, and great plane spotter views of the runway, the terrace also sports a native growing wall complete with fireplace, and various functional outdoor seating arrangements.
Including at the far end, 3 ‘Zen temple’ like padded suspended cane chairs.
The lounge being located on the 2nd floor of the terminal, and incorporating floor to ceiling windows, means the view is very appealing across the runway and terminal gates, regardless of the time of day.
Air New Zealand Auckland Lounge Dining
Along with the various passenger friendly seating options and suspended Silver Fern inspired lighting design, the lounge’s dining zone provides guest with an array of options catering to most tastes.
For those looking for a light continental start to the day, cereal/muesli options are on offer, complimented by various whole and cut seasonal fruit. Plenty of fresh granola & yogurt pots, dried fruit & nuts are also on offer to entice those just after a quick snack to graze on.
The buffet station provides a good selection of various hot meal options throughout different times of the day.
The lounges Kiwi hot breakfast of sausages, scrambled eggs, crochets, and baked beans – definitely the tastiest and freshest I’ve had from an airport lounge buffet.
While not in operation during my early morning visit, an innovative cuisine station similar to that installed into the new Air NZ Sydney lounge, serving up cooked to order treats by the lounges resident chef, sits between the buffet and breads/hotcakes station.
The latter cooking up fluffy, and fairly decent hotcakes at the push of a button (great fun for the kids too).
Those in need of liquid refreshments are also well served. Stationed at the main bar serving signature cocktails, is also the lounges in-house barista pouring out personalised expresso’s, made to order either direct from an Ipad at the bar, or even your own device operating the Air NZ App.
These technological innovations are another example of Air NZ’s creativity, and makes it a breeze to drop into the lounge on your way to the gate for a fresh espresso to-go.
The third bar, and second self serve option of the lounge is located to the right side of the food service zone. All three bars within the lounge offer access to a great selection of premium New Zealand crafted wines and beers, along with a few quality imported options.
Self serve bar areas also provide unlimited fresh chilled water and a selection of juices, along with an integrated soft drink station.
Technology requirements are well catered for within the lounge with excellent WiFi connectivity, along with more than 300 power-points and USB connections strategically integrated throughout all lounge zones.
The lounge’s additional features include 7 separate shower rooms for those looking to freshen up before a long haul flight.
A modern business zone including printing facilities (not pictured), and for the mini-sized guests, an entertaining and interactive Kiwi tree-house modeled kids zone.
The Lounge Access Options
With Air New Zealand being a member of the Star Alliance along with having many direct strategic airline partnerships, not to mention their Koru Club lounge programme, there is a myriad of obvious and complicated methods of accessing the Air NZ Auckland International Lounge.
Air New Zealand & Star Alliance Business or First Class ticket holders or Elite Status holders
Access is complimentary to any passenger holding a ticket with a same day Air NZ Business Premier, Star Alliance airline business or first class flight departing Auckland.
Air NZ Gold, Gold Elite, and Star Alliance Gold members are entitled to access the lounge prior to a same day flight in any cabin class departing Auckland with Air NZ or any Star Alliance airline.
Koru Club Members
This is where it gets a little complicated due to reciprocal lounge access arrangement between Air NZ and their strategic or code share partnership agreements. I’ve broken it down to specific airlines below to hopefully make it a bit easier to understand.
- Air New Zealand – prior to any same day Air NZ ticketed and operated flight departing Auckland, in any cabin class.
- Virgin Australia – prior to any same day Virgin Australia ticketed and operated Trans-Tasman flight departing Auckland, in any cabin class.
- Cathay Pacific – prior to a same day Air NZ ticketed but Cathay Pacific operated (code share) flight from Auckland to Hong Kong, in any cabin class.
- United Airlines – prior to any same day Air NZ ticketed but United Airlines operated (code share) flight from Auckland to San Francisco, in any cabin class.
- Singapore Airlines – prior to any same day Air NZ ticketed but Singapore Airlines operated (code share) flight from Auckland to Singapore, in any cabin class.
- Air China – prior to any same day Air NZ ticketed but Air China operated (code share) flight from Auckland to Beijing, in any cabin class.
As Koru Club is not a Star Alliance product, members are unable to access the lounge when onward travel (excluding elite cabin and status passengers) from Auckland involves a Star Alliance carrier other than the specifically arranged opportunities above.
If interested you can find out more about the Air NZ Koru Club programme here, along with various Air NZ credit cards that provide free joining and discounted Koru club membership here.
Single Entry Passes
Those passengers who have received one-off passes, such as the 2 complimentary passes received for reaching Air NZ Air Points silver status, or those provided by Air NZ credit card partners, are eligible to access the lounge prior to flights meeting the same requirements as a full Koru Club member above.
The strategic partnership agreement between Air NZ and Virgin Australia provides reciprocal benefits between the two airlines and including the following lounge access arrangements.
Access is complimentary to any passenger prior to departing the same day with a business class ticket on a Trans-Tasman flight departing Auckland, ticketed and operated by Virgin Australia.
- Velocity Gold & Platinum elite status – prior to any same day Virgin Australia or Air NZ ticketed and operated Trans-Tasman flight departing Auckland, in any cabin class.
- Virgin Australia lounge members – prior to any same day Virgin Australia or Air NZ ticketed and operated Trans-Tasman flight departing Auckland, in any cabin class.
There’s one gotcha: – Those passengers with Velocity Elite status or Virgin Australia lounge membership are unable to access the lounge when departing when departing on Virgin Australia short-haul flights from Auckland to the Pacific Islands.
If interested you can find out more about Virgin Australia lounge membership here.
The following guests are entitled to have one extra guest accompany them into the lounge, provided they are traveling on the same onward flight as the primary guest.
- Air NZ Gold status holders
- Star Alliance Gold status holders
- Virgin Australia Gold status holders
- Air NZ Koru Club members
- Air NZ Silver single entry pass holders
In addition, Velocity Platinum status guests are entitled to have three extra guests accompany them into the lounge, provided they are traveling on the same onward flight as the primary guest.
Finally Air NZ guests with Elite status are entitled to have five extra guests accompany them into the lounge, provided they are traveling on the same onward flight as the primary guest – a very generous benefit.
The following guests are entitled to have outside of normal guest allowances, two children under 12 years old accompany them into the lounge, provided they are traveling on the same onward flight as the primary guest.
- Air NZ Gold or Gold Elite status holders
- Virgin Australia Gold and Platinum status holders
- Air NZ Koru Club members
For all other guests children over the age of 2 will be counted as part of their normal guest allowance, if any.
Check here for more information on the Auckland International, and other Air NZ lounges, including access and guest qualifications.
If you would like to share your own experiences with the Auckland Air New Zealand International lounge or are aware of an alternative access option not provided above, we would welcome your input.
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Our Take – Auckland Air NZ International Lounge
Given my previously mixed experience with other Auckland airport lounges I was a little unsure what to expect, but my apprehension was completely put to rest on entering the lounge. It’s clear to see the degree of thought that has gone into not only design but also meeting the modern requirements of different guests needs.
The lounge’s coolest aspect – and my favourite – is the covered outdoor terrace with it’s integrated fireplace making it usable during the colder months, but will be a magnet for guests during the summertime when the retractable roof can be opened.
The different zones throughout the lounge make for comfortable environments catering to the different demographics of each guest, it’s nice to see an airline lounge move away from just catering to the stiff shirted businessman.
The drinks options are of a high standard and personalised barista made coffee certainly provide what is needed to relax for a couple of hour prior to your flight.
The dining zone is well set out, I particularly admired the suspended Silver Fern inspired lighting, and provides a good number food options to suit different tastes.
Although at 2,000 sqm the lounge encompasses a large floor, with the number of access options available through various Air NZ alliances, not to mention Koru Club membership, I suspect (and have heard) it will, and does, get packed to the rafters prior to high demand flight times, particularly around school holiday periods.
All up, this is a lounge I’m happy to return to.
Some images courtesy of www.airnewzealand.co.nz