To end our road trip through New Zealand’s North Island in style we chose to fly home first class on Emirates flagship A380. This was my first time flying first class and to say I was looking forward to it was an understatement. One of the bonuses of travelling Emirates first class is that passengers are afforded lounge access. I’ve been in a lounge or two over the years and have found they vary dramatically across the globe. So did we enjoy the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge? You bet we did! Read on for all the details …
Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge Access
Like many things worth having, the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge has restricted access. Well, you can hardly let the riff raff in now can you? I still remember the very first time I entered an airport lounge. I felt like an imposter who would be deemed unworthy and swiftly ejected. It didn’t happen and I soon realised that airport lounges are not reserved for the elite. They are frequented by everyday travellers just like you and I. Emirates first class passengers are of course afforded lounge privileges, but even lowly business class passengers are allowed in. I say this despite the fact that we did enjoy Emirates lounge access in Sydney which came with our Emirates business class tickets, but surely my newly acquired first class status means I should no longer have to mingle with the masses doesn’t it? No? OK, well I guess it’s only fair to share. 😉 One of the benefits of frequent flyer membership is that if you rack up enough status points you get lounge access with your airline and their partners regardless of the class you fly in. The Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge welcomes Emirates and Qantas platinum and gold members. I have flown extensively on the Qantas domestic route which allowed me to enjoy Qantas gold status for a number of years. Company policy changes meant I was not only flying less frequently for business, but often found myself travelling Virgin domestic. I travel often on Jetstar international and Jetstar domestic, but it does nothing to boost my Qantas status as I always book the cheap seats meaning I no longer enjoy lounge privileges. Fortunately for this trip, I had enough Qantas Frequent Flyer points remaining to book our Emirates first class seats which came with the lounge access I have now been denied. You didn’t really think I paid for the tickets in cold hard cash did you? Nope! While I enjoyed every second of my Emirates A380 first class experience, I prefer to travel more frequent than more comfortably and my travel dollars only stretch so far. The Emirates lounge itself is located in Auckland’s International departure terminal up the escalators just past the duty free and is well signposted. Opening hours vary but coincide with early check in for departing Emirates flights.
Emirates Lounge Auckland Overview
We found ourselves at the airport very early for our 4.30pm flight after miscalculating the last leg of our New Zealand road trip. This is never us. We are usually ‘those people’ who run to the gate while being paged and have to do the walk of shame down the aisle under the disapproving glare of already seated passengers. Apologies to any of my fellow travellers I have held up in the past. I’ll try to do better! Check in was a debacle and I was still seething when I finally stepped through the glass doors of the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge. I felt my mood lift and the tension ease slightly from my shoulders when I was greeted by a tranquil, spacious, and welcoming seating area. As I walked through the comfy lounge chairs in the almost deserted lounge I noticed plenty of power points (which I desperately needed!) and thoughtfully placed free WI-fi codes scattered around. A huge rack of magazines was provided for those looking to read and the floor to ceiling windows at the front offered sweeping views of the gates across the food court below. When I spotted the bar and poured my first glass of bubbles, I could hardly recall the disastrous check in. I can guarantee this would not have been the case had we been relegated to waiting in the crowded, sterile area near the gate.
I was delighted to find a dedicated dining area just past the lounge which meant when it came time to eat there was no need to precariously balance our plates on our knees or deal with low tables in the lounge area. For those that need to get some last minute work done a dedicated business area near the entrance takes care of all your needs.
I think bathrooms are a great indicator of the quality of a space and the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge did not disappoint. The ladies restroom was spacious and luxurious. As expected, shower facilities were available with towels and toiletries provided. Exotic fresh blooms and stone bench tops added a touch of elegance often lacking in public facilities. The dark wood paneling while not to my taste, would no doubt appeal to some.
A Feast For The Taking
It was 1.30pm when we entered the lounge and having skipped breakfast we were starving. We snapped up a table for two in a prime position before perusing the buffet. The Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge puts on a great spread to fill the grumbling tummies of even the fussiest of eaters. A selection of cold antipasto plates work sufficiently well as either an entree or a light meal and the hot buffet serves a great selection of meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian options for those seeking more substantial fare. Unlike a standard buffet where food is cooked en masse and displayed in seemingly endless bowls, the platters here are small and filled regularly with small portions to ensure quality and freshness.
Those still craving more can chose from a selection of sweets, fresh fruit and cheese to finish off their meal. Proving Emirates have thought of everything, the scones can be heated on request if you so desire. Now that’s not something you don’t see on a buffet very often! If you still have a little room, squeeze in a few of the famous Emirates signature dates or specialty chocolates.
Drink Your Fill
Those who like a tipple (me!!!!) are well catered for in the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge. Our flight was delayed, which for once I wasn’t complaining about as it allowed us sufficient time to really sample everything the lounge had on offer. You all know I am a fan of Sauvignon Blanc and given New Zealand produces some of the finest Sauv’s in the world I was surprised to see that there was none on ice. While there was a very respectable Chardonnay and Riesling, I decided on the bubbles when I spied the unmistakable yellow bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Emirates scored brownie points with me by serving this premium brand to all while other airlines usually reserve such finery for their first only lounges. You’ll be pleased to know that I drank my fair share during the three plus hours I was in residence. Liqueur lovers can help themselves to Baileys, Cointreau, (mix them together in equal parts over heaps of ice to make a big O) or Drambuie. If hard liquor is more your thing, a diverse range of spirits are there for the taking including Absolute Vodka, Jack Daniels, Bacardi, Bombay Gin and Glenfiddich.
What I Ate
With so many tempting treats on offer it was hard to choose and knowing we would be fed a superb menu in flight I didn’t want to fill up too much so I skipped the antipasto and headed straight for the hot buffet. My first plate was fluffy basmati rice topped with an Indian Vegetable Korma with crisp green beans, creamed potato and pumpkin on the side. The vegetarians in the house will love this but vegans beware as there is cream and cheese in the potato. The beans and potato were so exceptional I doubled up for my second plate and added a grilled fillet steak with peppercorn cream sauce. I can hardly believe this steak was from a buffet as it was one of the most perfect steaks I have ever eaten. The only one I can recall that rivals it came from The Black Cow Bistro in Launceston Tasmania. It was a lean, tender, melt in the mouth delight and the pepper sauce it was smothered in was superb. The Hubs liked it so much he had two, but I showed at least a little restraint. Of course I washed it all down with some more of that fabulous Veuve Clicquot. I don’t have a massive sweet tooth so I chose a simple cheese plate to finish off my meal to perfection. My compliments go to the chef and kitchen crew at the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge for what was by far the best meal I have ever had in a lounge.
As a Qantas Gold frequent flyer I visited airport lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, New York and Los Angeles and the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge is superior in every aspect. Emirates pride themselves on being a premium airline and this shows in their pre-flight amenities which cater equally well for business or leisure travellers. The lounge was large and it needed to be given three Emirates A380’s all depart within ½ an hour of each other (daily to Dubai via Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane). Worst case scenario, that’s a touch over 1500 passengers in the lounge all at once but on our visit it was not at capacity. After lunch we settled in front of the large windows to watch the busy comings and goings of airport life while waiting for our now overdue flight. The staff did an exceptional job with frequent announcements to keep everyone up to date. Drinks continued to flow freely throughout the afternoon and attentive staff ensured the bars and food remained well stocked. It was quite possibly the only time in my life I was hoping for even lengthier delays. When they did finally call our flight, the only thing that made leaving the lounge bearable was my much anticipated inaugural first class experience. Emirates you have spoiled me for every other airline lounge in the world. How to you seriously expect me to go back to slumming it after this? If you are planning a trip to NZ be sure to check out my New Zealand essentials guide and bargain hunters will enjoy my tips to securing a bargain flight.
Have you been to the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge? I would love to hear you thoughts in the comments below.
Until Next Time …
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. I paid for my Emirates A380 first class flights (which allowed me access to the Auckland International Airport Emirates Lounge) using frequent flyer points. As always, all opinions are my own.
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