Why all the fuss about the Koru lounge?

Herald on Sunday - - REVIEW - Kerre McIvor u@Ker­reWood­ham

I’ve been trav­el­ling a fair bit this year. I’m not at Gold Elite level but I’ve cer­tainly spent more time in the air than I ever would have imag­ined as a young girl grow­ing up in small-town New Zealand.

Back then, the aim was to work hard all your life, prefer­ably in a se­cure govern­ment job, and then cel­e­brate your re­tire­ment at 65 with a once-in-a-life­time round-the-world trip.

Peo­ple didn’t just get on planes and go on hol­i­days — well, not peo­ple we knew. Peo­ple like us packed up the fam­ily car and trav­elled to des­ti­na­tions within the coun­try — to rel­a­tives’ houses or mo­tor camps.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, we’d take the car on the In­ter­is­land ferry, pro­vided the crews weren’t on strike, and ven­ture to the South Is­land.

And once, the fam­ily went to Fiji. That was amaz­ing. To go over­seas on a hol­i­day was a very big deal. Even know­ing some­one who’d gone over­seas on hol­i­day gave you sta­tus.

So to have trav­elled to the UK, Ire­land, France, In­dia, Myan­mar and Ar­gentina this year with trips to Niue and Lon­don to come are be­yond the wildest imag­in­ings of my youth.

I’ve trav­elled for work and for plea­sure, in busi­ness and econ­omy. I’ve flown a num­ber of air­lines and all of them have been fab­u­lous.

I’ve en­joyed the com­fort of air­line lounges around the world and I’ve cooled my heels in dif­fer­ent air­ports.

And I can’t re­ally get on board with the out­rage be­ing ex­pressed by trav­ellers over the over­crowd­ing of the Koru Lounge at Auck­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

I’ve been a Koru mem­ber for years and the do­mes­tic lounges have been enor­mously use­ful at var­i­ous times. I’ve been able to file this col­umn us­ing the busi­ness cen­tres on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions when flights have been de­layed and dead­lines are loom­ing.

I’ve en­joyed the food of­fered in the

HWhat’s your view? let­ters@hos.co.nz Welling­ton and Christchurch lounges — not so much the food in the Auck­land lounge — when I’ve been work­ing late and then trav­el­ling later.

And there’s al­ways some­one you know in the do­mes­tic lounges. The in­ter­na­tional lounge I’ve used less of­ten, be­cause we gen­er­ally fly Cathay when we fly over­seas.

They were the air­line that spon­sored a travel show I pre­sented and thanks to them, I fi­nally got to see the world be­yond the Pa­cific for the very first time in my late 20s. I sent them a thank you let­ter when I re­turned and vowed that if there was ever a time when I could af­ford to pay for my own trips over­seas, I would fly Cathay.

As a sin­gle mother work­ing as a wait­ress at the time, I never thought that day would come but life has a funny way of sur­pris­ing you and I found my­self able to re­pay Cathay for their spon­sor­ship of the show and for in­tro­duc­ing me to the world.

The Cathay lounges are a god­send in Hong Kong. To be able to break up a 26-hour trip to Lon­don with a glass of cham­pagne, fab­u­lous noo­dles, a mag­nif­i­cent shower and a change of clothes is a fab­u­lous way to ar­rive on the other side of the world re­freshed and rar­ing to go.

They never seem to be overcrowded — they are tran­quil oases of calm and plea­sure.

By con­trast, the Koru Lounge in Auck­land does seem to be stretched thinly and there haven’t been many spare seats when I’ve been there in re­cent times. And no­body likes be­ing turned away. I would prob­a­bly be af­fronted if I waltzed up to the lovely gate­keep­ers with a cheery wel­come only to be sent pack­ing.

How­ever nicely it’s done, it would still feel like re­jec­tion. The com­pro­mise Air New Zealand has struck by send­ing trav­ellers texts ad­vis­ing them that they would be of­fered hos­pi­tal­ity at the Strata Lounge seems a good one.

I have yet to test drive the Strata Lounge but I’m sure it’s per­fectly fine. Be­sides, the air­port it­self is a great one to wan­der round as I’ve dis­cov­ered and there are plenty of cafes and bars to choose from.

I don’t quite know why some peo­ple are so up­set. At least Air New Zealand has of­fered an al­ter­na­tive op­tion.

Any time I find my­self get­ting even the slight­est bit tetchy — if an up­grade doesn’t come through, or I’m jammed in be­tween three peo­ple next to the toi­let — I re­mind my­self how lucky I am to have the op­por­tu­nity to be fly­ing at all.

I’m a mil­lion miles away from 7-yearold Kerre in Toko­roa who could only dream of trav­el­ling the world.

Kerre McIvor is on New­stalk ZB, Sun­days, 9am-noon.

Photo / Nick Reed

Air NZ has been turn­ing Koru mem­bers away.

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