Fire escape plan reveals Air New Zealand’s top secret lounge with incredible benefits
The location and incredible benefits of Air New Zealand’s top-secret Koru Club – reserved for its wealthiest and most famous travelers – has been revealed by Travel stuff.
Membership of Elite Priority One (known as EP1) is top secret, with Air New Zealand keeping it completely secret.
The airline does not have any publicly available information on its website regarding the program.
The exact location of the clubs has long been rumored but never publicly revealed – until a missed morning shower gave me the clue I had been waiting for.
After being late for an international trip, I decided to skip my morning shower and have one in the Koru Lounge at Auckland Airport.
Seeking hygiene, I wandered down an uncrowded hallway that I had never explored. There was a space for children and a toilet block.
There, innocently attached to the wall, was a fire escape plan. And that’s when I discovered a secret wing of the Koru Club right under my nose.
The map revealed that a few meters down the hall I would find an entrance. Sure enough, I found a semi-frosted door with the words “by invitation only”.
The floor plan revealed a vast space including a conference room, offices and a stairwell leading to a mysterious place.
A peek through the frosted glass showed floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the main departures area, complete with lavish decor. Gone is the usual Koru Club buffet; meals are à la carte, with a selection of premium drinks.
Access to the EP1 program is by invitation of Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran.
Membership is estimated at around 100, including the chief executives of New Zealand’s largest companies and a university vice-chancellor.
Stuff has already reported that “details of lounge locations and the VIP treatment they provide are a closely guarded secret”.
That is, until now.
A design company that put together a welcome kit for EP1 members posted mockups of what each member receives on their website, revealing a lot about the program.
Upon being invited to join the program, members receive a personalized gift designed to look like a luxury travel bag.
It includes a bottle of “Aroha” wine from Craggy Range, “a personalized titanium pen, a personalized artistic representation of their flight data from the previous year and a cardboard welcome pack including: a welcome letter, a card membership card, personalized luggage tags, Deadly Ponies luggage tag holders, and a benefits booklet”.
The exact benefits of this exclusive program have also long been a closely guarded secret.
However, showing off its designs, the company released a “benefits book” – and if you zoom in, you can read them all.
Here is the full list of benefits:
Embark as you wish: No one likes queuing, and if you’re an EP1 member, you don’t need to. The welcome kit explains, “let us know if you want to board early or late boarding, and we’ll arrange that for you.”
Donation status: You will become the most popular member of your family if you are EP1, as you are allowed to gift Airports Elite Membership to anyone. In addition to that, you can also gift an Airpoints Gold membership to a family member or friend.
Seat selection: Most of us pay $10 to pick a good seat. If you’re EP1, you and five friends get the spot you want, guaranteed.
Invol meal: Have you ever sat in the back row of the plane, and when the meals finally arrive, the one that sounds good is sold out? If you’re an EP1, that’ll never happen – because you’re guaranteed to have your first meal choice, no matter which cabin you’re seated in. Chicken or beef? You can probably have both.
Flexibility: Change of plan? No problem if you are one of Air New Zealand’s most valued customers. You and five friends can change a flight without cancellation fees or penalties, and you can change any domestic and short-haul flight for free on the day of travel, even if your ticket is not flexible.
Car service : How about checking in for your flight when you park your car? As an EP1 member, you get “unlimited” access to Air New Zealand’s valet parking service at Auckland and Christchurch airports. When using Auckland’s Domestic Valet Service, you can check in for your flight when you park and head straight to the gate lounge.
A seat guarantee: Full flight? It doesn’t matter if you are EP1. The benefits booklet explains: “When you just have to fly, you and a fellow traveler are guaranteed an economy class seat on any service operated by Air New Zealand.
Recognition improvements: These are basically free upgrades offered to Silver, Gold and Gold Elite members. However, it’s still a gamble if you get the upgrade. No problem if you are EP1, “your upgrade will be confirmed in an unsold seat at the time of the request.” If you have someone traveling with you, they also get the same benefit.
Fairs: You have access to the exclusive EP1 lounge at Auckland International Airport and Sydney International Airport. You can invite five other people and “enjoy a selection of à la carte dishes and a selection of premium drinks”. Are you traveling within the country? No worries, your exclusive experience continues with an “Elite Priority One private space” at Auckland and Wellington airports.
Meet and greet: One of the most exclusive benefits is a VIP welcome service. When you arrive on an international flight (excluding Australia), “you will find one of our friendly staff waiting for you when you disembark”. They are instructed to do “everything possible” to make your arrival “quick and seamless”.
Most benefits can also be extended to up to five other travel companions. When traveling domestically, you and five friends can also access the Koru Lounge upon arrival, where you can “enjoy a la carte dining and a premium beverage selection.”
See also: Inside the invitation-only Qantas Lounge
See also: Preview of Virgin’s new exclusive guest lounge