Air New Zealand Economy Class, Wellington to Auckland
Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge, Auckland
Thai Airways Business Class, Auckland to Bangkok
Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge (Domestic), Bangkok
Thai Airways Business Class, Bangkok to Phuket
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, Phuket
After arriving into the Domestic Terminal of Auckland International Airport (AKL) at about 9:30am, we had a good couple of hours before our flight to Bangkok at 12:40pm.
For those unfamiliar with AKL airport, the Domestic and International terminals are separate from each other, however it is easy to get between the terminals: A transfer bus operates between each of the terminals and runs every 15 minutes; the bus operates between 5am – 10:30pm daily.
Alternatively, for those that prefer the exercise, there is a clear sign posted walking path between the terminals which will take you approx. 10min.
Being a beautiful sunny day in Auckland, and as we were only carrying our cabin luggage (as all our other bags were checked through to Phuket) we thought that we would walk to the other terminal and get some fresh air (there won’t be any shortage of recycled cabin air on this trip! ;)).
Green painted lines and plenty of signage mark the walkway path between the International and Domestic Terminal. Baggage carts are also able to be used for those carrying lots of baggage.
Shortly after arriving at the International Terminal, we decided to stop and fill in our departure cards, to be handed in at customs before security check and entering airside.
I always enjoy flying through Auckland International Airport as it is very efficient, easy to get where you need to go and find things.
As the main hub for travellers in and out of New Zealand, it isn’t too big either, and you don’t spend a small age walking to your gate.. which is always good especially if you’re running late!
Customs was relatively quick, possibly due to our flight being after the early morning rush, as well as customs officers encouraging NZ and Australian passport holders to use the automated Smartgate system. It wasn’t long until we were through security and airside.
The lighted column behind the seating in the above photo had various ‘sea creatures’ projected through the turquoise coloured lighting simulating water, which I thought was interesting and gave a bit of ‘life’ to something usually quite ordinary – Also a hit with the kids!
It was only a short walk to the Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge (located on level 2) [Map], which is just past the major duty free shops (JR Duty Free / DFS Galleria).
After our boarding passes had been scanned and checked over by the lounge staff, we were welcomed into the lounge.
The large artwork on the wall to the entrance of the lounge caught my eye for its uniqueness, so I took a couple of photos of it. The staff member at the welcome desk mentioned that they get a lot of comments about it by visitors – The piece is done by a local artist in Auckland.
The Air New Zealand International Koru Club lounge in Auckland is quite large, however not as large as the lounge in Sydney. This is likely due it being a flagship lounge for Auckland as one of NZ’s main hubs, it is also used as a contract lounge for all Star Alliance member airlines servicing Auckland.
When we arrived, the lounge had a reasonable number of travellers throughout, but there was plenty of seating to go around.
A stand is filled with a wide assortment of magazines and newspapers for travellers to read while in the lounge.
At the side of the lounge were a number of PC workstations with internet, phones, multifunction printer/fax and a mobile phone charging station to quickly charge your phone – It has different plugs to suit most makes and models.
In addition to the main lounge seating area, there is a rear seating and wine/hot drinks area with a limited view of the tarmac and aircraft.
There is a separate children’s play area in the far rear corner of the lounge, with various toys, an inbuilt couch, TV and XBox 360 console with Kinect.
Just outside the children’s room there are some Playstation Portable (PSP) units mounted on a desk and a dedicated seating area.
At the time we arrived in the lounge, breakfast/morning tea was still being served at the buffet, with a selection of cold meats and vegetables, various baked goods, including breads and muffins, soup and fresh fruit.
Located around the buffet is a bar area with a variety of wines, spirits/liqueurs and mixers, fruit juices, soft drink dispenser, fridge filled with beer and other chilled wines, a barista and a self-serve hot drinks area.
Surprisingly many of the items for breakfast/morning tea were quite vegetarian – even the soup on offer was a pea soup. There also wasn’t much in the way of hot options. I wasn’t hugely hungry so I just had one of the spinach frittatas (which was a bit bland), a fresh roll filled with cheese and ham, and some of the salad items – Washed down with a glass of orange juice.
As we were leaving just before 1pm, I was hoping that the buffet would be refreshed around lunchtime so I could grab a quick bite to eat before we boarded the plane for our long-haul fright to Bangkok.
Near the buffet is a separate section that has been dedicated as a ‘cellular phone free area’; I think that this is a great idea for those that would like to relax in peace and get away from all the distractions and/or just want to have a sleep/nap before their next flight. I don’t know how strictly this ‘quiet’ zone is enforced by the staff, however, if at all.
Last time I was in this lounge, there were about 3-4 hammocks installed in this area, which were quite interesting to sit/lie in and relax, but most of them seem to have been since removed – One still remains, however – in the far corner.
Also last time I was in this area, there was a small dedicated spa section for use by passengers flying in NZ Business Premier for a complimentary massage – This also seems to have been since removed and turned into a private/’VIP’ area.
A open TV room and lounge area displaying the news was located off the main seating in the lounge.
Adjacent to the TV area and PC’s/printer is a small telephone area for travellers to have a conversation without disturbing others.
For those looking to freshen up before the next flight there are showers available near the toilets in the lounge.
I wouldn’t usually take photos of urinals, but these signs made me chuckle a little bit – I’m guessing they have a problem with this? Also interesting seeing as there isn’t any paper dispensers nearby!
For the next hour and a half or so I took the opportunity to sit down and catch up on some news while charging my laptop and pass the time playing games on my iPhone and relaxing before our next flight.
Just before midday, as I anticipated, the buffet was refreshed with the lunch menu options, along with a warmer for hot food.
Interestingly when I went up to see what was in the warmer I found something that looked quite familiar: Thai chicken curry and jasmine rice. They have this regularly in the domestic Koru lounges as well and I’m actually quite partial to it (How often do you have to fly to be able to say that?) – In any case, it tasted exactly the same as it usually does, probably due to it being the same catering (Skycity), but it’s interesting to see that the dishes and menus are shared.
Shortly after a light lunch, a boarding call and announcement was made in the lounge for our flight, so we finished up and exited the lounge to head to our departure gate no. 6.
When we arrived at our gate, boarding had already commenced, and the place was packed. As there was dedicated and priority boarding in place for business class passengers, we were able to bypass the queue and board immediately.
Farewell New Zealand – See you again in 7.5 weeks!