New pay as you go lounge for air travelers

A new lounge for air travelers opens at Wellington airport next week – and it’s operating on a pay as you go basis.

The Wild at Heart Lounge opens at Wellington Airport on December 15 and is being operated by the airport company.

Air New Zealand is the only company now operating a lounge for domestic travelers in Wellington following Qantas’s withdrawal from the domestic market.

Jetstar and Pacific Blue do not operate domestic lounges for their passengers.

The airport company is also reacting to changes in the business travel market, Wellington International Airport chief executive Steve Fitzgerald said.

Business leaders “have told me that they would like to see a lounge facility available for all business travel, to support company policies that staff must use ‘best fare of the day.’

“We have listened and delivered.”

Travelers who don’t fly frequently enough either to qualify for free lounge membership, or to make paying for their own membership worthwhile, are being targeted, Mr Fitzgerald said.

The cost is $25 per person per visit, discounted to $19 for the next three months.

This compares with annual fees an individual membership in the Koru Club of $495 and $475 for the Qantas Club.

Pay as you go lounges are quite common overseas with Virgin charging $A35 per visit in Australia and Easyjet charging STG 15- 25 in Europe.

The Wild at Heart lounge will use the former Qantas domestic lounge on the second floor of the terminal building, and it will offer all the services offered by the Koru Club and similar products.

Travellers can use the lounge before departure, on arrival, or just to meet and greet colleagues and visitors, as there is no requirement to travel in order to use the lounge.

It will offer refreshments and snacks according to the time of day, a bar, newspapers, magazines, Wi-Fi and office facilities, SKY TV and bathroom/shower.

Run in conjunction with the MOJO coffee chain, full meals will also be available from the MOJO restaurant at the airport – at an additional price.

The airport company is looking to introduce prepaid, bulk purchase and subscriptions options next year. “We haven’t decided on price yet,” Mr Fitzgerald says. “That will depend on feedback, usage and our own costs of operation.”


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