Now welcoming travellers, Air New Zealand's new Brisbane Airport lounge is almost unrecognisable from the one it replaces with a funky new layout, an extensive buffet and private shower suites to get refreshed before your international flight.
Also present: dedicated zones for dining, working and relaxing for Air New Zealand, Star Alliance, Virgin Australia and Etihad passengers, which Australian Business Traveller puts to the test.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security and outbound passport control, navigate your way through Brisbane Airport's duty-free maze and make a right at the end – not a left in habit – as with a new lounge also comes a new location.
Greeting travellers is a small landscape wall at the entrance to create the appearance of space, while the lounge proper too feels spacious-enough with CBD views in the distance and a central walkway leading you right to the buffet or to any number of comfy chairs.
In contrast to NZ's previous Brisbane Airport lounge, it's a real drab to fab transformation, and a long overdue one at that.
- Air New Zealand business class guests
- Airpoints Gold, Elite and Elite Priority One members
- Paid Koru Club, Virgin Australia Lounge, United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members
- Star Alliance Gold cardholders
- Virgin Australia's international business class guests
- Virgin Australia Velocity Gold, Platinum and The Club members
- Etihad Guest Silver, Gold and Platinum members plus Etihad business class and first class guests prior to Etihad flights
- Business class passengers of Star Alliance airlines including Air Canada (from June) and Thai Airways (EVA Air passengers instead use the Qantas lounges)
- Singapore Airlines business and first class guests, although these members could instead use SQ's own Brisbane Airport lounge
Pitted against the previous lounge where a recent dinnertime visit saw a finger sandwich and a cube of cheese the most substantial dishes on offer, travellers can now pleasingly tuck into a broader range of wraps and tasty sangas... ... substantial mains like tasty seasoned chicken... ... hearty soups with warmed dinner rolls... ... lighter bites like pastries, cheeses with crackers and accompaniments... ... and sweets including Jaffa cakes, scones with jam and cream and scrumptious profiteroles... ... which you can mix and match to create a filling and varied meal: Joining in the beverage department are beers, New Zealand wines, spirits and sparkling wine (Dulcét Methode Traditionelle)... ... along with teas and espresso coffee: Take note that unlike Air NZ's newer Sydney and Auckland lounges which offer full barista and bartender service, the alcohol is a pour-it-yourself affair in Brisbane and the coffee comes from a push-button machine, but which is drinkable nonetheless.
For many business travellers, sending and receiving emails is a must-do during any lounge visit, and in that respect you're well-taken care of with speedy WiFi fetching downloads at 16.61mbps and uploads around 4.11mbps during our visit.
Serious work can be accomplished at a number of long laptop benches which provide both tarmac views and easy access to power (AC and USB) within the table surface... ... while this small nook behind the entryway provides a quiet place to surf on your tablet... ... as does the apt 'quiet zone' over by the windows: Power is again at your fingertips from nearly every seat, but is kept tucked away underneath the lounge's white cocktail tables... ... or on the skirting board underneath the magenta bench seats... ... an ideal place to charge your phone while you kick back with a drink.
Those magenta seats don't offer much by way of privacy... ... but for larger groups or visits geared more towards cocktails than colleagues, perch yourself here – or in the space on the far left side – to unwind... ... or one of the many seats in the centre of the space with TVs nearby: Parents travelling with small children will rejoice at Air NZ's 'Treehouse' idea, which gives the little ones a colourful space in which to play... ... but in clear view of the nearby seats which offer the grownups some much deserved time out: Newspapers and magazines are also on-hand to help you pass the time... ... with two fully-private shower suites kept at the ready with towels and amenities supplied. There's no formal queuing system here, instead running as first-come, first-showered, so we'll be curious to see how that pans out before overnight flights when demand for showers tends to be at its highest.
All up, Air New Zealand's Brisbane lounge has a smaller footprint than that in Sydney or Auckland, but with a comparable design and similar amenities, it's light years ahead of what Brisbane travellers had been enduring, and is now worth arriving early for.
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Air New Zealand
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