AUCKLAND: I went to Auckland, New Zealand, for a weekend Qantas Double Status Credits run
I’m sitting in the Qantas Auckland Airport First Class Lounge (if it deserves that title), waiting for our flight to be called. We arrived early, so there were three hours at least to go. I’m travelling with 2A, an occasional contributor to 2PAXfly, a friend, and a fellow avgeek.
Content of this Post:
We booked this trip in Business Class during the Qantas Double Status Credits promotion so that I could get those last few points to re-qualify for the 2023-24 year, and 2A could kick start his bid to retain platinum for the 2024-25 year. The route was deliberately convoluted – from Sydney but via Melbourne one way and via Brisbane the other. This would give us access to some lounges I haven’t visited, or at least haven’t reviewed, like the Melbourne Qantas First Class Lounge.
With Qantas announcing a 20% discount to the total credits normally required to requalify (1200), meaning only 960 were required, that almost made the status run redundant for me. I had a bunch of points yet to lodge from partner airlines which would have probably put me close or over the line.
The sensible thing looked like delaying the trip, so it fell into my next Platinum qualification year. 2A had 12 months to accumulate his Status Credits, so a couple of months’ delay would have been fine.
We looked at the problem every which way and couldn’t find a path for delaying the trip that would not cost us substantially more money in fares and cancellation fees but still fit into our respective schedules. We gave up and just leaned into it being a cool lads’ weekend in Auckland. A salve for me was that some of the credits would count towards qualification for Qantas Life Time Gold. For 2A, it wasn’t an issue since his Status Credits would go towards next year’s qualification.
Back in March, the Status Credits run looked necessary for me to requalify, and no one could have predicted the 20% discount offered to Platinum members to re-qualify. The luck of the draw.
Where we stayed
It turned out this was the same weekend that the FIFA world cup was playing in Auckland, so good, cheap hotel rooms were hard to come by. My plan to share the delights of the Park Hyatt Auckland with A2 was shattered when the starting prices were over AU$ 650 per night. After a good search, including price and facilities comparison, I settled on the DeBrett Hotel with rooms around the NZ$ 320 mark. I booked it through Hotels.com (Expedia) with the ability to cancel the booking almost until the day of arrival. That way, we could quickly switch if I found a better offer.
DeBretts turned out to be a great choice. A fantastic boutique hotel, quirky in the right way, in the heart of Auckland. You will have to wait for a full review.
What we did
Our two major activities – one planned and booked, and one on the spur of the moment.
Our spur-of-the-moment activity was visiting the Auckland Art Gallery to see Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia. On the surface, it seemed odd to be looking at our first nations countrymen’s work outside of Australia. But the tightly curated exhibition was revelatory. Something that a small exhibition can do, unlike the overwhelming nature of a blockbuster. We also viewed other exhibitions in the gallery, including Manpower: Myths of Masculinity, and some of the permanent collections, including portraits of tattooed Māori faces.
We had also lucked into the first weekend of the New Zealand International Film Festival. Given my obsession with American politics, a new observational documentary, ‘A Storm Foretold‘ by Danish filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen was a must at the festival. It’s a story of the conservative Republican svengali, Roger Stone, covering his activities in the lead-up to January 6, 2020, and the filmmaker’s heart attack during production.
Flights and Lounges
Upcoming will be reviews of our flight between Sydney and Melbourne on a 737, a further 737 flight between Melbourne and New Zealand, and then our return journey. From Auckland to Brisbane on an A320 and another 737 flight between Brisbane and Sydney.
We visited the Sydney Domestic Business lounge – which I won’t separately review, having done so before. I will review my first visit to the Qantas First Lounge in Melbourne, a little gem. In New Zealand, we’ll revisit the Qantas First Lounge and the Strata Lounge (available through Priority Pass). We had hoped to visit the Emirates Lounge, but its opening hours did not coincide with our departure. The final lounge review will be the domestic Business lounge at Brisbane Airport, although that will be brief and image sparse since it was chocka block with travellers.
It’s the first time 2A, and I have travelled in the sky together. He proved a very amiable companion and captured some amazing images in the air and on the ground. It was great to avgeek-out with another.
The trip also gave us a great experience of Qantas Business Class service, domestic and short-haul international. It’s the staff that is the airline’s main asset. The food might be variable, the lounges ranging from dilapidated (Sydney Business Lounge) to small and stunning (Melbourne First Lounge), but across the four flights, it was the staff that was impressive. Particularly the New Zealand-based crew on our two trans-Tasman sectors.
I’ll be providing a flight-by-flight and hotel trip report on this avgeek adventure from Monday next week (8 August 2023).