Air New Zealand takes Premium Economy to the next level, but what about Lounge access?

This month the BlueSwan Daily road-tested Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy. And we had plenty of time to do so on the long sector between Auckland and Houston, right in the heart of the US and a key hub of Air NZ’s Star Alliance partner – United.

As on all BlueSwan road tests, we paid our own way, and the airline didn’t know we were coming, so it’s as authentic an experience as possible.

Air New Zealand is a clever airline with a quirky sense of humour and a great service culture. The airline is also an innovator in passenger-centric offerings and technology. The check-in experience via the airline’s kiosks was smooth, and the welcome was warm on our arrival at the B777-200ER’s Premium Economy cabin. A crew member offered to hang my coat, and the seat arrangement (2-4-2 configuration) was very inviting. Instantly this conveyed the feeling that this would be closer to a Business Class experience than being just an Economy trade-up.


The rest of the 14 hour flight didn’t disappoint. High quality food and beverages (and plenty of both on offer), with linen table service and the meals individually brought from the galley, proved the point. Leg room was good, and the seat pitch was reasonably generous – enough for getting comfortable and catching some sleep.

The only downside was what happened prior to boarding. There is no lounge access for PE travellers with Air New Zealand – or indeed many airlines offering PE.

And this is where many airlines are missing the point with PE; apart from the Japanese airlines, no other major airline operating PE, taken in a sample, offers a lounge access to these passengers (table of major airlines illustrated below).

Travellers are often busy business people who are trading down because of tighter corporate travel policies, or trading up to get a better travel experience, and to be fresher on arrival for a busy schedule. Giving PE travellers access to the lounge could generate some serious loyalty – and we hope this becomes a competitive battleground between airlines in future.


***Eva Air – PY only available on 777-300ER & 747
**China Airlines, PY only available on A350 and 777-300ER
*Philippine airlines – to be fitted with dedicated PY seats on A330

*Scoot – Free weight-base baggage


About BlueSwan Daily Airline Road tests

We always pay our way and the airline does not know we’re coming. If you’d like us to run a road test of a competitor airline’s offering, please contact