Air New Zealand, Star Alliance lounge: Melbourne Airport

Review: Air New Zealand, Star Alliance lounge: Melbourne Airport

Country:
Australia
City:
Melbourne
Airport:
Melbourne
Cabin Class:
Business
Alliance:
Star Alliance
Airline:
NZ (Air New Zealand)

location:

dining:

work:

overall:

What's Hot

  • New all-day barista bar
  • Good variety of buffet options
  • Dedicated quiet area

What's Not

  • Working zones geared more closely to short stays than longer productive visits

X-Factor

  • 80% more space than before and power points galore

Introduction

With a funky new design and 80% more floor space than its predecessor, Air New Zealand's Melbourne Airport lounge joins the 21st century in catering for today's tech-toting business travellers.

Gone is the 'sports area' and its pool table: instead replaced by new sections catering towards dining, getting work done and relaxing, with AC and USB power outlets plentiful throughout and even wireless charging stations making an appearance in the business areas.

Australian Business Traveller puts the country's newest airport lounge through its paces in this week's review.

Location & Impressions

You'll find AirNZ's lounge exactly where the old one used to be – once you clear security and outbound passport control, make your way to Melbourne Airport's satellite pier, turn right once you reach the second duty-free zone and follow the lounge signage to take the escalator downstairs.

The first sighting of New Zealand comes as you step off that escalator...

... and as you wander inside, a space that's leaps and bounds ahead of what was here before reveals itself.

There's a short stay area right in front of reception that's perfect if you only have time for coffee or are waiting for the staff to confirm a seating change or upgrade...

... with the rest of the lounge divided into zones: the appeal of which will depend on how you plan to spend your time.

There's no private lounge tucked away for Elite Priority One cardholders or Star Alliance first class passengers, so everybody shares the same space.

Access

  • Business class passengers of Air New Zealand, Air Canada (from December 2017), Air China, Air India, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, United Airlines and Virgin Australia (trans-Tasman flights only)
  • Air New Zealand Airpoints Gold, Elite and Elite Priority One cardholders
  • Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers prior to Star Alliance flights
  • Paid lounge members of Koru Club, Air Canada Maple Leaf Club and United Club, plus Virgin Australia lounge members prior to Virgin Australia (and VA codeshare) trans-Tasman flights only
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Gold, Platinum and The Club members prior to trans-Tasman flights with Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia

Also note that Singapore Airlines operates its own SilverKris business class lounge in Melbourne which is accessible to many of the same travellers, along with a separate first class lounge for the airline's top-tier frequent flyers and first class passengers.

Dining

It's impossible to miss the main dining area (above), with rows of individual tables on the outer edges and communal benches in the middle.

Wherever you sit, there's handy access to both AC and USB power should your smartphone or other gadget need a quick pre-flight recharge...

... with a buffet zone at the far end:

Unlike in AirNZ's Sydney Airport lounge, there's no 'live cooking' station here: all food is self-service and varies throughout the day, with wraps and salads proving tasty during our visit...

... joined by more substantial options including a carrot, pumpkin and split pea soup; rosemary roasted pumpkin...

... sweetcorn, beans and peppers; chicken, tomato and olives; and creamy roasted potatoes:

Fresh salads are also at-hand...

... along with a selection of cheeses, crackers and accompaniments. As blue cheese isn't to everybody's taste, we also appreciate that this was plated on its own: preventing unwanted segments from infiltrating the other cheese plates:

Rounding out the buffet, small and tasty mini muffins:

A separate barista bar takes pride of place in the centre of the lounge – a nod to Melbourne's coffee culture and a significant upgrade to the self-serve, push-button machine in AirNZ's previous lounge...

... where travellers can order their favourite java via the airline's mobile app or a tablet mounted on the countertop...

... both of which advise when your coffee will be ready so that you can make the best use of your time: and when each cup (or mug) comes out, there's no confusion as to who it belongs to:

However, while Sydney's coffee counter also doubles as a full-scale cocktail bar, in Melbourne, the only drinks served here are coffee and tea. For anything stronger – or indeed, anything else – you'll have to pour or make it yourself...

... with juices, beer, wine, soft drinks and spirits available...

... plus Dulcét sparkling wine from New Zealand and automated coffee machines if you're short on time:

Overall, that's a reasonable offering for a business class lounge with barista coffee a much-welcome improvement, but it's a shame that the 'food theatre' and cocktail bar features of the airline's Sydney lounge weren't extended to Melbourne.

Work

What's great about this lounge – and indeed, all of AirNZ's refurbished lounges – is that AC and USB power is available almost everywhere you look, so even if you've sat down at comfy seat to enjoy a quick drink, you can still top-up your phone, tablet or laptop via outlets built into the cocktail table in front of you:

What's more, some benches also feature wireless charging capabilities for compatible phones – so if you've accidentally left your charger at home or simply can't be bothered digging it out of your bag, just whack your phone on top of the charging plate and your battery will begin to be replenished:

Wireless Internet is available throughout the space with download speeds of 5.34-20.61Mbps measured during our two-hour stay, while uploads were clocked at a speedy 14.85-20.37Mbps and ping speeds were 3-6ms.

In simple English, the Internet connection was about as fast as you'd expect at home from a good ADSL2+ or entry-level NBN fibre line, yet with much faster uploads to match those decent download speeds.

But as to getting any work done, the design of the lounge caters more for business travellers making shorter stays than those settling in for a few hours of pre-flight work.

For instance, the business area provides a wireless printer and long working benches with all types of power...

... but with only backless stools to sit on, which never prove comfortable for longer periods. For a real chair and table, you'll instead need to plonk yourself amidst the busy dining room: a space that's considerably noisier, albeit with ample power points.

Relax

With the pool table gone, you can instead take a seat and catch up on the day's news, kick back with a glass of wine...

... or can meander over to the 'quiet zone' in the far right – a great place to read, or also to get things done if having a desk or table in front isn't critical...

... with several lounge pods lining the walls nearby, again with power outlets available...

... and reading material not far away:

Over by the tarmac-facing windows is a kids area with a range of games and toys to play with – and which keeps the little ones and their noise away from business travellers trying to work...

... while eight unisex shower suites offer the privacy and amenities that travellers have come to expect of any good international-grade lounge:

When it's time to leave, you'll get one last glimpse of New Zealand: before you either arrive there, or someplace further beyond with one of the airline's many Star Alliance partners.

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Air New Zealand.

Chris Chamberlin
Australian Business Traveller journalist Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

4 Comments

  • chris72

    chris72

    13 May, 2017 12:33 pm

    Looks great, I wonder if you can still pay your way in like you could in the old lounge. Air NZ didn't really go out of their way to advertise the fact but they would allow you to pay your way in if it wasn't too busy.
    No member give thanks

  • aviation

    aviation

    13 May, 2017 01:17 pm

    You can no longer purchase lounge access to NZ lounges. This was stopped last year from memory.
    No member give thanks

  • moa999

    moa999

    13 May, 2017 06:49 pm

    Very impressive, particularly when compared to the dark dungeon of the QF J Int Lounge
    No member give thanks

  • fatty

    fatty

    15 May, 2017 11:17 am

    Was in last night, lounge was at capacity, hardly any spare seats...and no natural light (that I could see).  Great new look though. 
    No member give thanks

  • Dean

    deanr

    15 May, 2017 11:47 am

    "Was in last night... no natural light (that I could see)"

    Don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure that night time happens because the sun sets and therefore makes everything dark. I could be imagining things though. ;)
    No member give thanks

  • fatty

    fatty

    15 May, 2017 12:30 pm

    Pretty valid point - I didn't see / notice any windows in the main area. And it was sunset when I entered...but I'm also pretty sure the lack of sun contributed to the cave like feeling.  I'll stick with Qantas and their first lounge in future!
    No member give thanks

  • Smoonman

    Smoonman

    17 May, 2017 09:07 pm

    I was there there for the NZ lounge opening night and let me tell you it is superior to all other lounges in MEL with the exception of the EY lounge. A vast improvement on the former lounge and the food was exceptionally good!! Can't wait for my next flight with NZ!! Well done on the improvements (welcome to the rest of the world MEL)
    No member give thanks

Guest

22 Nov, 2017 08:15 pm

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