An Air New Zealand Koru Club member said she wished she'd been turned away from the airline's Auckland International Airport premium lounge saying it was packed with people over-piling plates of food and queuing for free alcohol.

Air New Zealand - experiencing heavy demand for its Koru Lounge - is now notifying passengers in advance if they should go to the Strata Lounge, used by other airlines and open to all passengers for a fee.

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Yesterday the airline said it was now notifying those who would miss out on the Koru Lounge rather than miss out on a seat there which a spokeswoman said was a better outcome.

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One woman wrote to the Herald today saying she felt "very embarrassed" for the person in front of her who was turned away from the lounge.

"Though, after entering, I wish I had been turned down. People had over-piled plates of food, it was packed, [and I] had to scramble for a seat ... I had a glass of water and left," the woman said.

Another man, a frequent flier and Koru member for 20 years, felt he wasn't being shown any loyalty.

He was less than impressed with the facilities in the Strata Lounge.

"Our experience of the Strata lounge was underwhelming, especially the coffee quality," he said.

"If the lounge is full when I arrive I would rather receive a voucher (say $50) to use in one of the cafes in the airport than be sent to the Strata lounge. Then I could get a decent coffee and freshly made food.

The food counter in the Air New Zealand lounge at Auckland International Airport. Photo / Dean Purcell
The food counter in the Air New Zealand lounge at Auckland International Airport. Photo / Dean Purcell

Late this morning when a Business Herald staffer arrived at the lounge it only had between 70 and 80 people in it and there was plenty of space for everyone.

Staff say it has been a different story during morning and evening peaks.

Late this morning when a Herald staffer arrived at the lounge it only had between 70 and 80 people in it and there was plenty of space for everyone. Photo / NZME
Late this morning when a Herald staffer arrived at the lounge it only had between 70 and 80 people in it and there was plenty of space for everyone. Photo / NZME

Another traveller said he was turned away from the Koru Club last Thursday

"Not impressed. Been with Koru for 10 years and see how Air NZ has devalued the service over the last few years," he said.