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Air New Zealand
Brisbane Airport is steadily rebuilding itself as an international hub, with Air New Zealand, Air Canada and United once again regular fixtures at its aerobridges. As Star Alliance members, this high-flying trio shares access to the Kiwi carrier’s funky frequent flyer lounge.
If you’ve visited in the years since its 2016 refurb, you’ll be familiar with what awaits behind its partially-frosted sliding door: a light and spacious layout, extensive hot and cold buffet, and private shower suites to freshen up before your flight.
Also present: dedicated zones for dining, working and relaxation, not to mention views to the distant city skyline. But how does the overall space stack up to rival Brisbane lounges?
Location & Impressions
After clearing security and outbound passport control, navigate your way through the duty-free maze and hook a right after the registers. Take the escalator or lift up to the lounge level and, once there, the Air NZ lounge is immediately to your left.
Positioned at the southern end of the Departures area, directly across from the Plaza Premium Lounge entrance, the Air New Zealand Lounge is around the half the size of its Qantas counterpart and spans a single level.
The lounge’s aforementioned sliding door opens to reveal a small landscape wall, followed by the glass-encased main space – an inviting pre-flight hangout sporting a playful black, white and magenta colour scheme.
A central walkway guides your eyes to a bountiful self-service buffet, while a myriad of seats radiate either side. Among them, deep armchairs and comfy lounges, as well as moveable dining tables and chairs, and a long bench under a light installation.
When dining is done, guests have their pick of yet more lounges on the far side of low dividing walls, including many in view of a television or departures board and almost all within arm’s reach of power outlets.
As you’d expect, Air New Zealand’s Brisbane lounge welcomes the airline’s business class passengers, as well as paid-up Koru lounge members, and Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers.
On that roster, Airpoints Gold members – including status match recipients – along with Airpoints Elite, Elite Partner, Elite Priority One, and other Star Alliance Gold card holders travelling with Air NZ, such as Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer Elite Gold members.
Fellow Star Alliance member Singapore Airlines also has a SilverKris lounge on the same level, though it’s much smaller and, if you have the choice, the Kiwi one is really the better of the two.
In addition to the above, Qatar Airways business class passengers are welcomed into the lounge ahead of their evening departure.
Those hankering for a light snack or substantial meal should both be satisfied by the extensive dining on offer, not to mention the wide selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Unlike Air New Zealand’s Sydney and Auckland lounges which offer full barista and bartender service, the drink situation in Brisbane is purely a pour-it-yourself affair, while coffee comes from a push-button machine, but which is drinkable nonetheless.
During my evening visit, the hot menu consists of a fragrant coriander-infused yellow chicken curry with grilled eggplant and rice, and potato gnocchi in a basil pesto and parmesan sauce.
In addition, a chilled fattoush salad, Mexican tri-coloured quinoa and green bean salad drizzled with a lime and chilli dressing, and punchy kale, cabbage and apple slaw.
Sweet toothed travellers are also well catered for, in the form of a cream cheese-topped carrot cake, and sweet and savoury scones – a choice of pumpkin, carraway and feta, or jam and cream, for those who like things a bit more traditional.
There’s also an array of cheeses and crackers, along with some sweet and savoury muffin choices: a brie, fig and spring onion delight, or black berry and white chocolate.
Joining in the beverage department are beers, New Zealand wines, spirits and sparkling wine, together with teas, espresso coffee, soft drinks and juice.
Given the late hour, the lounge is home to a mere handful of passengers – and a staffing ratio of almost 1:1 means empty plates and used glasses never stick around for long.
For many travellers, firing off a few emails or pre-downloading video content is almost a ritual. In that respect, you’re well taken care of with WiFi delivering 10.3Mbps upload, 7.69Mbps download. While not the greatest speed around, it does the job.
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.
A small nook near the entryway provides a quiet place to relax, while people watchers will be in their element at one of the window-side lounges gazing down into the Departures hall.
Power is again at your fingertips from nearly every seat; discreetly tucked away underneath the lounge’s white cocktail tables, or on the skirting board underneath the maroon bench lounge.
‘Choice’ is the name of the game in Air New Zealand’s Brisbane lounge, which houses a variety of seating options to suit your mood. And they’re rather comfortable too.
Feeling social? Head for the row of maroon bench lounges facing the dining area. Prefer a bit of privacy? ‘Quiet’ booths on the far side have your name on them.
Passengers travelling with young kids will also appreciate the small ‘treehouse’ children’s play area stocked with a number of books and puzzles, along with some educational toys.
If you fancy a quick freshen up, make your way down the corridor alongside the children’s area to find two fully-private shower suites, both kept at the ready with towels and amenities supplied.
It’s a ‘first come, first showered’ basis here, with no formal queuing system.
And while it’s been some years since its last refurbishment, it is holding up surprisingly well, with little sign of wear and tear. The warm and cheery staff really elevate the experience too.
The writer visited as a guest of Qatar Airways