Jetstar’s second or third announcement of a pay-per-use lounge at Auckland Airport this week begs the question as to why there aren’t more of them in this country, and whether their time has finally come?
Putting aside the caveat that all ‘free access’ to airline airport lounges is paid for one way or another, the main walk-up pay-per-visit lounges in Australia so far are branded as The Lounge by Virgin Blue, and also accommodate its Velocity program members.
The notion of a non-airline run lounge, for say $15 per visit, might have worthwhile commercial support, although the airport owners are probably mindful of the investments in lounges made by the their second most important tenant, the airlines, since it is painfully apparent that they make most of their money from car parking.
For those who micromanage their travel spending, an opportunity to get a lounge with desks, wi-fi, comfy seats, some caffeine and other refreshments, and a civilised and routinely maintained toilet could sell well. Especially to those that only have to fly monthly or less frequently compared to regular sky warriors, and who want something a notch or two up the scale from an internet cafe or just squatting and using a lap top at the gate lounge.
In the UK airports such lounges are sometimes packaged by the off-airport parking franchises. LAX has a reLAX lounge, which I haven’t used, and probably wouldn’t at $US 10 for the first hour and $US4.25 for a coffee, and which comes without a shower.
But there are useful, well designed privately run lounges at major airports, including those of Singapore and Hong Kong that are classy, well priced and set up for transit as well as originating or arriving passengers.
However some diligence in pay-lounge use is clearly needed. Jetstar’s Akarana lounge at Auckland is run by the airport exclusively for them and any Qantas international passengers transferring to its domestic NZ network. At Wellington, for the same $NZ 15 fee, you can take your chances at the common user Wild at Heart lounge.
And I thought Wellington was only scary because of cross winds, a short runway and lots of big hills.