01. QANTAS 787-9 premium economy San Francisco to Melbourne
02. QANTAS 737-800 first class Melbourne to Sydney
03. Air New Zealand lounge Sydney
04. Thai Airways 747-400 business class (upper deck) Sydney to Bangkok
05. Thai Airways A350-900 business class Bangkok to Singapore
06. Vietnam Airlines A321 business class Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City
07. Vietnam Airlines A350-900 business class Ho Chi Minh City to Seoul
08. Delta Air Lines A350-900 premium economy Seoul to Detroit
It’s been so long since I’ve flown a proper business class product that I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to hang out in a really good lounge. Is that just nuts, or what? As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until I was meandering around the Sydney airport killing time before my flight to Bangkok when it dawned on me that I had access to the air New Zealand lounge as part of my business class itinerary. Picture a grown man running hurriedly through an airport with the excitement of a 10-year-old on Christmas morning in his eyes, and you’ll have a pretty good picture of what I looked like once I made that realization.
Air New Zealand lounge location and first impressions
The Air New Zealand lounge is located on the second level here in terminal 1, which conveniently also happened to be adjacent to the gate for my Thai Airways flight to Bangkok. The day hadn’t even started yet, and things were already looking up!
If not realizing that I had access to this lounge was enough to make me feel ashamed, stepping inside and seeing the place in all its glory sure as heck did. No, I wasn’t feeling ashamed for the things I saw – it was the negative feelings that were the result of seeing what I would have missed if I skipped a visit to this place that did it. The Air New Zealand lounge here in Sydney is flat out stunning.
It’s still weirds me out a bit that Air New Zealand and Qantas are part of the same airline alliance now. I’ve always imagined them to be direct competitors, so the fact that an Air New Zealand lounge this nice exists in the Sydney airport at all took a few minutes to fully digest. I know, it makes no sense, but this is what I was thinking as I was walking around getting a look at the place for the first time.
What’s the food like in the Air New Zealand lounge?
Given the fact that it was only 7:30 AM when I walked through the front doors, I was thrilled to death to see a full breakfast spread ready and waiting to be shoveled into my belly. Not only that, there were two eager looking chefs patiently waiting to whip up an omelette or some pancakes for me. As tempting as that may have seemed, I passed on the offer and went straight for the scrambled eggs, hash browns, and bacon that were sitting out in the open. My ferocious hunger wouldn’t have allowed me to stand and wait (not even 60 seconds) for a made to order omelette.
I also feel it’s important to add that the food quality was really good. Normally airport lounge food is hit or miss in terms of overall taste and freshness, but everything I tried was just as good as I would’ve got if I paid $15 for it at a legitimate restaurant down in the main terminal.
And considering that airline lounges are legitimate restaurants when it comes right down to it, that’s the way it should be everywhere. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case. The Asiana business class lounge at ICN is just one example of a premium lounge with a mediocre food spread.
Is this lounge a good place to sit and relax?
I was fairly lucky with the timing of my visit to the Air New Zealand lounge. I arrived at 7:30 AM, and the place was pretty much empty save for a few people sitting in the cafeteria area near the food. I had full reign of the place, and was free to sit wherever I wanted with nobody else in sight. Which is good I guess for obtaining the (usually embarrassing) selfies I needed for my trip report content.
There are also a wide variety of seating options which are sure to please just about everybody. From swanky 1960s style swivel chairs two huge block-like picnic tables, there’s something for everybody in here and it’s a fairly easy place to get comfortable.
By the time I left (9:30am) the place was getting full and a little bit noisy. It was so busy as a matter fact that I’m not sure that I would’ve said so many nice things in this review if my first impression of the place was having to fight for a seat (which placed me face to face with a creepy looking dude who wouldn’t stop looking at my scrambled eggs).
The final verdict
Because this air New Zealand lounge is easily one of the best airline lounges I’ve ever visited, I’m ashamed to admit that the final verdict comes down to this: SANspotter is a complete buffoon for almost missing it.
Never mind the fact that the food was incredible and it was a really nice to hang out in peace and quiet for a couple hours (before the crowds arrived). I simply cannot believe that this was a complete afterthought in my itinerary and it never occurred to me to seek it out when checking in for the flight to Bangkok. I’ve been away from business class for far too long!
I guess the only solution for making sure that this never happens again just to fly business class on a more frequent basis. Easy, right? Ha! The good news is that I do have a handful of some really fun premium flight experiences coming up, and I can’t wait to share them with you…