There was a bit of a fare surge on Uber for our trip to the airport though the driver was quick to pick us up and we were off to the airport in no time. Arriving at Auckland International Airport about 1 and a half hours before our flight, we proceed straight to the check-in counters which is easy to spot in a smaller airport like Auckland.
Since we were in Business class, the priority queue was empty and we were checked in quickly. Not that there was much queue in the normal lane either. From there we proceed to the second floor where the international departure gates were located at. Once here, my friend brought to my attention that Manuka Honey is actually prohibited from being brought into Fiji thus visitors leaving Auckland via Fiji should not buy those honey if they plan to exit in Fiji.
Aside from several stores selling books, Icebreaker apparels, chocolates and souvenirs, there was a large food court with assorted food before the security check. However as we were granted access to the Qantas lounge on account of our Business Class flight with Fiji Airways, we proceed to the lounge.
Qantas’ lounge is located another floor above from the departure gates and with the signs in the airport, it was quite easy to locate. The only thing was there is a convoluted passage through the duty free to reach the lounge. Past the duty free section on the right was escalators leading to the lounge and as a Qantas-operated lounge, it was open to oneworld Elite members as well.
Upon entering, guests are greeted with a reception desk where a sign was located indicating the Wifi access point and password with a bowl of mint mentos. There are several armchairs with promotional posters to encourage travellers to sign up for Qantas’ frequent flyer.
Just right of the reception, there was a hallway leading to the restrooms with a large cabinet where guests could leave their luggage or winter coats. Hangers are provided but the storage area is open to lounge guests and is unsecured. Though I generally have had no issue with leaving my stuff here for a short while since I do not travel with much valuable items.
Directly behind the reception was an area for guests who would like to work or access the internet using a desktop. There are printers as well for those who perhaps need to print their travel itinerary.
Along the wall to the lounge, there was a shelf but it was stocked with Qantas inflight magazines. There was probably an odd wine magazine here and an entertainment magazine there but I found it to be nearly useless. A couple of local and Australian newspapers are available as well but the selection was mediocre in general.
Across the shelf, there is the main seating space for the lounge with a TV tuned to the news. The seats here are darker and probably more suited for those who wants more privacy or to get some relaxing lounge time. For guests who are keen to work or read, they should head further inside the lounge.
Moving past the TV lounge, guests can find the buffet counter and it was stocked with a self-serve bar. There was a nice assortment of free alcoholic drinks and wines here.
Those not yet of drinking age can indulge in juices, coffee, tea or soft drinks also available here.
For food, it was near lunch time and there was a good availability of dishes. There was a soup pot with croutons served on the side here along with a hot dish of the day which tends to be a pasta of some sort. Beside the hot food section, there are some quiches to choose from.
For vegetarians, there is a salad bar with crackers or a selection of wraps and sandwiches. Some of the sandwiches are filled with ham too. In addition to sandwiches and wraps, there are also some sweet cakes and pastries. I think this should be the lounge snacks served all day long.
My favourite part of the food here though has got to be the ice-cream fridge where guests could get small tubs of Kapiti ice-cream. It was the same ice-cream available in Malaysia Airlines’ lounge in Kuala Lumpur so maybe it is the oneworld’s lounge choice of ice cream?
There are seats with tables for guests looking to enjoy their food inside the lounge and this section is bright as it has windows that let the sunlight in. However, do not expect any kind of airplane views here.
With the availability of a stable Wifi signal, the lounge was a good space to spend the time rather than the gates, but we had to leave not long after entering the lounge as our departure gates are some distance from the lounge. Furthermore the departure concourse in Auckland has some staircases to navigate around that makes it less friendly to travellers with hand carry luggage. All things considered, this is a lounge that is slightly better than average as it has a good selection of food and it has ice cream! If anything needs improving, it probably is the range of amenities such as newspapers and magazines that would add value to frequent travellers.