Air New Zealand Koru Club and Trans-Tasman Business Class
Overnighting in Auckland Airport, flying back out on LAN Chile to connect back to Adelaide on Qantas. How plans fall apart so easily. LAN is known for being heavily delayed coming from Santiago. My flight on LAN was cancelled so I was rebooked onto Air New Zealand. A chance to try something different but alas instead of a flatbed it would be on an Airbus A320 with recliner seats. Nevertheless the Air NZ business product has great catering and customer service.
NB: This post refers to business class on the Air New Zealand A320 aircraft. The airline has subsequently removed all business class cabins on these aircraft, reverting to a European style all economy seating with higher fares having more amenities. Additionally, the Air NZ Koru Club has now moved to a new location, the existing area is now vacant. Finally some of the details regarding Auckland Airport upper floors are now also out of date due to reconstruction.
Overnighting in Auckland Airport
I arrived into Auckland domestic on the late from from Wellington on Jetstar. As I had my return flight from Sydney on LAN, I was to depart very early this next morning. I decided for ease, it would be easier to move to the international terminal and seek a quiet spot for the night knowing I would have a bed on the flight back to Sydney. It is only a few minutes walk between the domestic and international terminals, the latter is open 24 hours with some places staying open (Mc Donalds). Arrivals occur into the hours after midnight and there is only about a two hour gap before people begin to arrive for check-in for the early morning departures.
Check-in and arrivals are on the ground floor of Auckland while departures take place upstairs where there is also a food court. In the morning many people seem to lay about around here which is a bit more comfortable than downstairs.
However, behind the food court there is another set of escalators going up to a third floor which is most may not realise. It has a restaurant and game arcade but is generally has no foot traffic. I provides a good view into the air side duty free shopping and there are also stairs leading to a viewing platform.
I ran into some fellow travellers also planning to sleep in the airport, a guy from Russia and a couple Canadian girls. After sharing a bite to eat and what we were up to we all tried to get a bit of a nap.
Check-in on LAN Air New Zealand
After a couple hours it was already time to check-in for the early LAN departure to Sydney. However, I knew the incoming plane would be arriving very late so wasn’t sure what would happen. On checking in on the business class queue there was already a bit of commotion with staff working on things. It turned out they had cancelled the LAN tag flight between Auckland and Sydney. I was expecting the worst but was quickly send across to the supervisor who after checking a couple times I was definitely in business class handed me a boarding pass for the first Air New Zealand departure. I knew right away no other flight operating had beds, but was just hoping to make my domestic flight connection which I had booked on a separate ticket. There was no problem checking the bag through either thankfully.
Part of the purpose of flying these cheaper discount business class tickets was to gain cheap status credits to retain the gold status with Qantas, where business class fares earn significantly more loyalty than economy. Although Air NZ are a direct competitor and in the opposing Star Alliance, I took comfort in knowing I could request a ‘original routing credit’ with Qantas, which would credit what I booked, not involuntarily flew. Additionally there would be scope to ‘double dip’ by crediting the NZ flight to a Star Alliance carrier.
Auckland International Koru Lounge
Air New Zealand operate Koru Lounges in their main ports. In Auckland International it is opposite the Qantas lounge. In the upstairs area between both lounges are Australian immigration processing terminals where you can effectively ‘clear’ into Australia prior to departing. It only saves a few seconds but better to do it now rather than on arriving.
I mentioned to staff in the NZ lounge I was rebooked off the LAN with a grin. They were happy to welcome me and said I should fly them more.
This is the airlines flagship lounge and has a large number of areas for relaxing before one’s flight. It isn’t hard to find a private area. The food buffet is quite good but certainly other airline flagship lounges are far better. I did enjoy my time here however it is looking a little dated.
Flight NZ101 to Sydney
The airport isn’t too big so only a few minute walk after the flight was called in the lounge. Boarding was swift, there is priority for business class after all. Air New Zealand operate a range of aircraft to New Zealand but primarily there new A320 aircraft. While waiting I was able to capture another NZ aircraft getting away before us.
The plane is pretty standard in economy but features a rather cosy two row, eight seat business class cabin. Each recliner seat is very well padded with foot rests and individual screens. Particularly in row 2 there is plenty of space to stretch out. My initial concerns about the product were quickly dispelled and I’ve come to appreciate the exclusive private feeling of it. Each seat has USB and 240V power and blankets and pillows were made available. The cabin was half empty, I was in row 2 and had the seat adjacent empty.
During taxing the sun finally found its way through the cloud cover. It was good morning and good bye to New Zealand.
Somewhere after take-off sleep and the comfortable recliner seat got the better of me. I woke completely unsure how far we were through the flight. I was a little concerned to think I had missed the breakfast service. Not at all however, the crew were right there noticing I had awoken and asking if I’d like the meal service. The staff were spot on. Was first offered a fruit smoothie and asked what I wanted. Can’t remember the other option, but I picked the French Toast.
Can’t complain at all. Catering was great. Staff even better. Did have a brief discussion with the crew and they asked if I wanted to join the Air NZ loyalty program. I said sure why not, knowing it normally attracts a signup fee similar to Qantas, so figured it was an easy way to have it waived. The flight manager took my details are boarding pass. I received the boarding pass back in the mail from him a couple weeks later… although nothing regarding my membership yet. Update: some months later, still nothing… odd.
Eventually the flight began its descent. A very foggy morning in Sydney with the usual delays, Sydney doesn’t handle fog too well. Today it was difficult to even see anything at all.
While our flight arrived late and I didn’t get the bed on LAN I expected, the flight was a real surprise with the positive service.
Staying international to Adelaide & Qantas Sydney International Business Lounge
I made my connection without any trouble, partly because I had booked my favourite domestic flight the international tag flight between Sydney and Adelaide that continues to Singapore. Not only is this flight great just domestically with the international configured aircraft, it also made transferring back to Adelaide from an international sector a breeze. This means rather than immigrating in Sydney and having to change terminals I could simply go to the international transfer and be at international departures without any waits or queues. The lift at the transfer area goes straight up to the Qantas lounges on the concourse above. I had less than an hour before my flight boarded so put that Qantas gold status to good use and went straight to the International Business lounge.
There wasn’t much time for photos, most importantly I wanted to have a shower. The facilities were clean and tidy. The food on offer was slightly better than the Koru lounge but with little time it was onto boarding. The flight has a large number of passangers heading onto Singapore and a few just taking the domestic connection. Again the gold status came in handy with priority boarding. I had been automatically seated in the front row of economy on the A330-300. This is the same plane configuration I had taken to China back when. There are seat pairs on each side, and I had the one next to me vacant so could sit at the window and watch the landscape as I made my way home.