I’m sitting in Auckland airport while I wait for my flight to Los Angeles with Air New Zealand, and I’m lucky enough to be feet up in the ‘premium lounge’ as they call it, glass of Marlborough Sauv in hand, writing this post.
I always thought business class lounges were a bit out of my reach, being a value chaser I’m usually more inclined to spend my hard earned cash on a few extra days travelling than making my flight more comfortable. So here I am, a self inflicted guinea pig for travelling creature comforts to determine if the investment is really worth the reward.
Okay, so full disclosure I am pretty loyal to Air New Zealand – being a kiwi I feel a bit of nostalgia, but also because I’ve flown around the world with them many times over, and they haven’t failed me yet. Touch wood. That could be a dangerous statement since I’m about to fly over the Pacific with them! Also, for you critics out there – no, Air New Zealand is not paying me to write this, or say anything to anyone actually. Anyway, I digress.
No, I’m not flying business class (unfortunately!!), but I do have a Koru Club membership – one day I did the sums for all the trips I had planned in the next year (I have been back and forth a LOT to NZ from Melbourne) and for the $580NZ per year membership fee it just seemed worth a shot. It means I (plus lucky guest who most often is my partner in life and crime) can use the lounges when we fly with Air New Zealand, get premium check in, premium boarding and priority baggage (which means my bag comes out first on the conveyor belt at the other end and I can beat the line at customs – maybe it’s worth the money right there!!).
So, after my first year as a member, I have to ask myself… is it worth it?
Air New Zealand has long been considered among the best airlines in the world, with top class kiwi service, food and wine making it steps ahead of the competition. Sometimes their fares are a bit pricey, but it seems no one does a flight sale like Air New Zealand can! To be honest, when I first stepped into the magical world of Koru Club I wasn’t overly excited by the lounge experience. But they’ve set to revamping their airport lounges, particularly international, and instead of shabby, stained chairs and saggy, dim interiors, we now step into the light with beds, vertical gardens and cocktails.
Here at Auckland International, there is a cocktail waiter, a barista, food and beverages constantly on offer (including aforementioned Marlborough Sauv, the way to any kiwi woman’s heart). There’s also a screening room (seems to be rugby playing in there constantly, go figure), a kids zone, your usual business center and an outdoor patio space.
But what really stands out to me as pushing it towards worthitsville, is the less tangible – I can have a shower before I board a long haul flight, jump into my stretchy pants, throw on a hoodie and be all ready for a grime-free flight experience.
In this instance, we have about four and a half hours to spend here in Auckland before our connecting flight (the cheap deal did mean we had a longer layover than usual!), and it’s passed by in a flash thanks to the comfy spot we’ve nestled into. With another 15 hours or so until our final destination I can’t imagine how downtrodden I’d feel trying to find a spot in the gate lounge for such a long wait.
Look, for the price of a membership, you could probably buy a short flight somewhere, or it’s a couple of nights worth of accommodation on a trip – but for the two of us to upgrade to better experience on one of the world’s best airlines, I’m going to say it’s worth it, but only if you’re thinking of flying fairly frequently (and all with the same airline of course).
If you’re travelling more than a few times a year, and add some long haul into the mix, the money you’ll save on airport food and drinks for those hours spent waiting will soon balance out the membership price, especially if you’re partial to a couple of drinks before you jump on board.
If you’re looking at a once-off trip, probably keep your money in your pocket, but if you can afford the extra spend, I personally think it’s worth it.
For more info on Koru Club, including benefits and charges, click here.