Your guide to Auckland Airport's international lounges

Your guide to Auckland Airport's international lounges

With five international lounges welcoming passengers jetting from Auckland to Australia, travellers may find they have a choice between two, three or even four lounges, depending on their frequent flyer status, travel class and lounge membership.

For example, a Qantas Platinum frequent flyer can often select between the Qantas First Lounge, the Qantas Business Lounge and the Emirates lounge, and with a Priority Pass card in their wallet, also get the option of the independent Strata Lounge before their flight.

Here are the lounge options that await at Auckland Airport's international terminal, including who gets in and why you might visit each one.

Air New Zealand International Lounge

Where it is: After passport control, follow the signs and take the long escalator (or lift) upstairs.

When it’s open: From 4:30am daily until the last lounge-eligible departure.

Who gets in:

  • Business class and first class passengers of Air New Zealand, Aircalin, Air China, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and United.
  • AirNZ Airpoints Gold, Elite and Elite Priority One flying with a Star Alliance airline, or on an NZ codeshare flight.
  • Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers, and members of Air Canada Maple Leaf Club (Worldwide) and United Club prior to Star Alliance flights.
  • Etihad Guest Gold, Platinum and Exclusive cardholders travelling with AirNZ on an Etihad Airways (EY) codeshare flight number.
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold members travelling with AirNZ on a Virgin Atlantic (VS) codeshare flight number.
  • Paid Air New Zealand Koru Club members prior to Air New Zealand operated flights, and selected NZ codeshare flights operated by partner airlines: that's Air China to Beijing, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, Singapore Airlines to Singapore and United Airlines to San Francisco.

What's so special: For something different from a traditional airport lounge experience, head through the sliding glass door and out to the terrace – a covered space that was formerly the airport's observation deck, where there's ample space to get work done, while soaking in plenty of natural light with views out across the airport...

... or unwind in one of these suspended chairs, which you don't see in many business class lounges:

Inside, there's a full cocktail bar, barista-made coffee, a buffet area, a chef's counter where daily specials are prepared and served, more work spaces, a cinema 'slash' TV room, a kid's zone and more relaxation space.

AusBT review: Air New Zealand, Star Alliance international lounge, Auckland

Emirates business class, first class lounge

Where it is: Take the "premium lounges" escalator upstairs after passport control, in a separate area to the AirNZ lounge.

When it’s open: Generally, three hours prior to Emirates' scheduled flight departures: that's 6:15pm-9:15pm daily ahead of EK449 to Dubai, and on the days Emirates flies from Auckland to Denpasar (Bali), also from 11:15am-2:15pm.

Who gets in:

  • Business class and first class passengers of Emirates, and of Qantas when travelling on a QF or EK flight number.
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members prior to Emirates and Qantas flights.
  • Emirates Skywards Gold, Platinum and iO cardholders prior to Emirates and Qantas flights.

Be aware that the Emirates lounge won't be open for all Qantas flight departures, and if the lounge is expected to be full with Emirates' own passengers, Qantas passengers may be directed to Qantas' own lounge.

What's so special: Given the age of Qantas' own Auckland lounges, the Emirates lounge is a favourite of many Qantas passengers, with ample space to dine, work and relax.

Unlike the Qantas business class lounge, all guests here can enjoy Champagne, which generally tends to be either Moët & Chandon NV or Veuve Clicquot NV...

... and now that Emirates no longer has triple-daily evening flights from Auckland to Australia, the lounge tends to be much quieter than Qantas' own facility, which some travellers will prefer.

AusBT review: Emirates business class, first class lounge, Auckland Airport

Qantas International Business Lounge

Where it is: After passport control, and next to the Emirates lounge.

When it’s open: Daily from 4am until the last Qantas, Emirates, or other lounge-eligible departure.

Who gets in:

  • Business class passengers of Qantas, Air Tahiti Nui, Air Vanuatu, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Fiji Airways, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways.
  • Qantas Gold frequent flyers (and above) prior to Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates or Oneworld flights, or when travelling with airlines such as Air Tahiti Nui with a Qantas or Jetstar flight number on their ticket.
  • Emirates Skywards Gold frequent flyers (and above) prior to Qantas and Emirates flights.
  • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers prior to a Oneworld flight.
  • Qantas Club members prior to a Qantas or Jetstar flight, or when travelling on a Qantas or Jetstar codeshare flight operated by another airline.
  • American Airlines Admirals Club members travelling with Qantas or American Airlines on a QF or AA flight number.
  • Fiji Airways Tabua Club members flying with Fiji Airways on an FJ flight number.
  • Qantas Silver frequent flyers using their free yearly lounge pass, along with customers who receive these from their credit card company such as with ANZ Frequent Flyer Black and Qantas-earning Westpac Altitude Black cards.

What's so special: Right now, not a great deal, given the lounge is generally regarded by travellers as among the worst in Qantas' international network.

Qantas first flagged an upgrade for its Auckland lounge in 2015, saying it would be transformed to become "the best lounge in New Zealand", and reiterated that upgrade amid other lounge announcements in mid-2018, but as of early 2019, upgrade works have not yet commenced.

Qantas International First Lounge

Where it is: To the left of the Qantas Business Lounge, but sharing the same reception desk.

When it’s open: Daily from 4am until the last Qantas, Emirates, or other lounge-eligible departure.

Who gets in:

  • First class passengers of Emirates, and of Oneworld airlines when first class service is sold.
  • Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers prior to Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates or Oneworld flights, or when travelling with airlines such as Air Tahiti Nui with a Qantas or Jetstar flight number on their ticket.
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum and iO cardholders prior to Qantas and Emirates flights.
  • Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers prior to Oneworld flights.
  • Passengers using a Qantas First Lounge invitation, such as are offered as gifts to friends or family members of Platinum One frequent flyers, or included with the Qantas Premier Titanium Mastercard.

What's so special: Just as the business class lounge here isn't on par with others in the Qantas network, the First Lounge also lags behind Qantas' more upmarket facilities in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles.

In fact, when the Business Lounge next door is finally renovated, this separate first class lounge will be permanently closed, with the extra floor space used to create one large Qantas lounge.

Strata Lounge

Where it is: Upstairs, opposite the Qantas and Emirates lounges.

When it’s open: 5am until 1am daily

Who gets in:

  • Business class and first class passengers of Virgin Australia, China Airlines (includes Brisbane flights), China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Samoa Airways, Sichuan Airlines and Tianjin Airlines.
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Gold, Platinum and The Club members prior to Virgin Australia flights only (no access when flying with partners such as Hainan, Hong Kong Airlines or Tianjin Airlines).
  • Paid Virgin Australia Lounge members prior to trans-Tasman flights operated by Virgin Australia (no access when flying to Nuku'alofa or Rarotonga).
  • Other eligible frequent flyers travelling with the airlines above, such as SkyTeam Elite Plus members booked with China Airlines, China Eastern and Korean Air.
  • Priority Pass, LoungeKey and DragonPass members, plus Diners Club-issued Diners Club cardholders (excludes the new Citi-branded Diners Club cards), prior to flights with any airline.
  • Paid access is available at the door for NZD$55 for up to three hours or NZD$85 for up to eight hours, discounted if you book online.

What's so special: Frequent travellers through Auckland may recognise this as the space formerly occupied by the Air New Zealand lounge, before the airline moved into the new area described above – and as such, the lounge here was completely re-designed after AirNZ's exit, leaving a fresh, modern lounge:

There's plenty of room to relax, with day beds and mood lighting in certain areas...

... with a business area in the corner of the lounge, making for a quieter working zone:

The Strata Lounge can also be a good alternative for travellers with a Priority Pass membership, if their designated airline lounge is otherwise busy.

Also read: Qantas flyers again have access to Auckland's outbound express path

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and 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!
 

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18 Jul, 2019 03:02 am

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