Last week I flew down to Christchurch for a much-deserved holiday, and thanks to Air New Zealand I was also able to relax in their Auckland domestic lounge before my one hour and 20 minute flight down South. Upon passing security and heading towards the arrows pointing to the Lounge on the billboards above me, I would've walked straight past the entrance to the lounge if it hadn't been for people already standing in a queue and my curiosity. There were no signage to tell me that this was the Air NZ Domestic Lounge, but perhaps because I don't get the chance to travel often, the more frequent flyers would know immediately that the lounge was here.
My flight was scheduled to leave at 8PM so I arrived at the lounge around 6PM - dinner time. This meant that it was very busy and lots of people were already at the lounge when I entered. I almost thought that there would be no seats left, as there was no space to skip a seat between you and the next passenger on the chairs/sofas. Eventually I found a seat all the way at the back (close to the kids' play room) where I could see partly out onto the tarmac. Because watching planes idling and going by is the best view, even according to @sbiddle!
By then I was pretty hungry so I left my bags there (like everyone else did too) and headed straight for the buffet, after checking out the toilets. Toilets weren't huge, but were good enough. At first there seemed to be a lot of snacks like scones, rolls, salad, soup, cookies and fruit. "Where's the meat stuff at?" was what I was thinking. Headed over to the other side and there were four hot casserole dishes with Italian Chicken, Creamy Garlic Potatoes (which weren't very creamy), Pumpkin and Sweetcorn, Beans and Peppers. I wasn't much into the Sweetcorn, Beans and Peppers, so I stuck with the Italian Chicken and Creamy Garlic Potatoes for most of the evening along with the light snacks option at the buffet. I reckon they could've done with a bit more choice on the hot food, but nevertheless I was satisfied with my meals. It wasn't until an hour later that they brought out some extra finger food such as the Seasoned Meatballs and Chicken Nibbles with hummus and pesto sauce as a dip.
Oh did I mention that they have free WiFi in the lounge too? Of course they have WiFi! And most of the frequent flyers will probably know that they change their password every month or so too! There's also a small section near the entrance of the lounge with PC, printing and phone facilities for patrons to use. The PCs used there were Chromebooks.
Next up was the drinks. There are heaps of drinks ranging from unlimited beer, wine, fizzy, and multiple coffee and tea stations throughout the lounge. On top of the multiple DIY tea and coffee stations, they even have a in-house barrister that can make your coffee/hot chocolate to your liking! Air New Zealand have three ways in which you can order your hot drink: 1. By talking directly to the barrister; 2. Ordering through their iPad directly at the station; or 3. Ordering directly from the Air NZ mobile app. It will give you a range of options from having your beverage in a takeaway cup through to whether you want trim milk, soy milk or regular milk in your beverage. I ordered my hot chocolate through the iPad device on the counter.
Now you're probably waiting for me to talk about the alcoholic section of the lounge. There is a large see-through fridge with most of the classic beers, ciders and wines to choose from. Some of you may remember me asking if I chose the right type of beer on Twitter too! It wasn't met with a lot of positivity! I clearly would not be the best person to talk to for recommending alcoholic drinks!
Can someone please tell me if this is a good beer choice? :P pic.twitter.com/LZ4N9GnYfX— Matthew Chan (@matthewc1465) September 27, 2016
Within the space of two and a half hours I had tried three different beer types, and even taking with me on the flight down South a Cider to try later on! Beers seem to be too bitter for my liking!
At this point (just after 7PM) I received a notification on my phone saying that my flight had been delayed for half an hour. 'Great' I thought as it meant more time in the lounge!
After another round at the buffet (think this was my 5th round?!) and soaking up the last bit of sunlight for the day, I decided to head for the showers. For an hour and a half flight, feeling refreshed probably doesn't make a big difference, but if you're going long-haul a shower will certainly get your head refreshed for the long flight ahead. Especially if you're flying cattle class! The shower room was nice and spacious and all the towels were neatly placed and wrapped in a thin plastic wrap for freshness. There were Antipodes-branded shampoo and gel and I thought the water from the shower head could be a bit stronger. It takes longer to rinse your hair if the water isn't strong enough!
By this time boarding was called and I decided to grab a last hot drink before I left. Luckily the gate was right outside the lounge so I did not have to run to get to the gate! In fact, by the time I left the lounge, the queue was just after the lounge entrance. I had made it on time!
Overall I had a positive lounge experience at the Air New Zealand Auckland Domestic Lounge despite the lounge being a bit busy. I did overhear a staff mumbling and grumbling to another staff member saying that they were really tired and wanted to go home! I couldn't blame her after how busy the lounge got with lots of dirty plates stacked on a trolley collected by the staff members! Speaking of a busy lounge, I also overheard some passengers saying that the regional lounge on the other side may have had some better food and it being less busy. I didn't head over there so I couldn't be too sure.
I can't wait to try out Air New Zealand's relatively new refurbished International lounge in January 2017 when I head on my overseas trip!
For more information on the Auckland Domestic Lounge, please visit: https://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/domestic-lounge-directory
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