Christchurch Airport has three Air New Zealand lounges to choose from.
Taking off from Christchurch International Airport (CHC), flag carrier Air New Zealand provides passengers with up to three different airline lounges to pick from. While one is earmarked for international passengers only (past passport control and security), two remain available for those traveling domestically. For this trip, I was destined for Palmerston North (PMR), which is classed as a regional service. Even though there is a regional lounge located near the regional gates, it is very small, so in this instance, given I was traveling with my family and had time, we decided to head to the Domestic lounge, located past security on the second floor.
I’m the holder of an Air New Zealand platinum credit card, which once entitled card holders to two free vouchers yearly depending on their annual spend; I had a few of these to burn before they expired, so I took my wife, son, and I up to the lounge for breakfast. The lounge, as mentioned, is located past security; this is because the domestic lounge is aimed at those traveling by jet services to Auckland, Queenstown, and Wellington. However, from experience, many also take the opportunity to come up here, even if traveling regionally, due to the size and what is on offer.
Once through security, the lounge is signposted to the right, and after taking a second escalator or flight of stairs, you are welcomed into the lounge by the hostesses. Then, it’s time to fill up a plate and grab a drink.
Located on the third floor, the Air New Zealand Domestic Lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows, where on a good day, you have beautiful views across the Canterbury plains to the Southern Range, which, in winter, is usually covered in snow, making waiting for a flight, that much more enjoyable! Facilities in the lounge include a helpdesk, perfect when your flight is delayed, canceled, or other, and a photocopier, free magazines, showers, towels, hairdryers, and toilets.
For the business traveler, some seats were designed for privacy, which is perfect if you have a last-minute meeting to join before taking off. Seats also had USB and plugs nearby to charge your devices. Even though the lounge was busy when we visited, there were many high and low tables, couches, and armchairs.
Time for breakfast
Our flight was departing just after 8 a.m., so breakfast was served. There was widespread fog across New Zealand that morning, so many flights were delayed. We were notified that our flight would be 45 minutes late, so we thought we had ample time. However, after settling in with breakfast, the flight was rescheduled to depart only 10 minutes late, so it ended up being a quick visit. Given the time of the morning and weather conditions, the lounge was bustling, and seating was limited at the time despite having room for up to 244 guests.
Both hot and cold food selections were offered, including various cereals, pastries, croissants and danishes, fresh fruit, and rolls. For those looking for a hot meal, such as myself, there were scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and beans, with sauces and relishes to the side. All of these were self-service. There was also a selection of breads you could toast yourself.
Coffee by an app?
Once you scan into the lounge using your Air New Zealand app and boarding pass, a notification comes up where you can pre-order your coffee by the touch of a button. Here, you can select which type of hot drink you like, from hot chocolate to a long black, and choose which milk needs to be added. The barista will then call your name once it’s ready to collect. This is perfect for those in a hurry, as we are served in a takeaway cup. However, things are about to change, with the airline announcing its plans to abolish single-use cups in the lounge at some point for the airline to reach its ambitious goals of net carbon emissions by 2050.
If a glass of orange juice or a hot coffee wasn’t going to scratch that itch in the morning, the bar was also open for a selection of beers and wines (including bubbles, which is the normal go too if you’re heading away on an exciting vacation right?). In addition to the traditional line of drinks, the lounge crew had also put together a small selection of wellness shots to start the day, which today’s was ginger.
Am I boarding yet?
Multiple television screens are dotted around the lounge to keep an eye on your flight status, alongside live news being broadcast or a crucial sports match (however, we don’t need to elaborate on how close the All Blacks came to winning the Rugby World Cup).
Access to the lounge
As noted, I entered with a voucher I had been awarded; however, those traveling as Airpoints Elite, Gold, Elite Partner, and Koru members can access it up to four hours before departure. The lounge opens one hour before the first flight of the day up until the very last departure in the evening. Located on the top floor, access is via stairs, escalators, or a lift, and the lounge does have wheelchair-friendly facilities.
Subject to space and availability in the lounge, infants are welcomed free of charge with their parent/caregiver who holds a lounge membership or pass, and if traveling with children up to the age of 17, they can also join (up to three).
While the lounge was busy, our time to enjoy what was on offer was cut short. There were no lines on entry or even to pick what we wanted for breakfast. The barista quickly made an excellent hot coffee, the clean-up crew was efficient, and the lounge was tidy. Bathrooms were at capacity when I visited; however, these were still immaculate, and the lounge hostess announced boarding with adequate time to depart the lounge, wife, and toddler in tow to make it to the boarding gate and onboard for a quick departure.
Given we were traveling regionally and had passed through security for jet departures, there was a secure exit located to the right of the lounge, which linked us back to the regional gates.