An executive chef at Auckland Airport's Strata Lounge has hit back following Koru Lounge turning travellers away and recommending Strata.
On Tuesday travellers were outraged to have been turned away from Air New Zealand's premium lounge Koru Lounge - which cost hundreds of dollars annually for membership access to, due to it being overcrowded.
A passenger bound for Fiji who normally gets lounge access got a message from the airline saying: "Unfortunately we will be unable to offer you access to the Air New Zealand lounge on this occasion, however we have arranged access to the Strata Lounge for you prior to your flight''.
The passenger, who wanted to remain anonymous, was annoyed.
Another traveller who was turned away from the lounge told the Herald she was told to go to the Strata Lounge instead.
"We were told that it is staffed by Air NZ staff and that the food and services are exactly the same. There was no apology," Rebecca de Souza said.
"Arrived at Strata lounge - limited food choices and no fresh coffee and certainly no soy. Would prefer to get a voucher and eat elsewhere and get decent coffee."
A string of passengers who had been turned away from Koru Lounge and diverted to Strata Lounge had since shared their stories.
One Koru member says she felt like a ''second-class citizen'' after being rejected at the airline's lounge counter.
In an email, Strata Lounge executive chef Varick Neilson hit back at claims the lounge was inferior.
"As the Strata lounge's executive chef, I am concerned of the way you are calling us at Strata Lounge, a second class lounge, as only in our first year open we have just been awarded the second best international lounge in the world, behind Dubai at number 1, and number 3 respectively, which I may add, that no Koru lounge has managed this world ranking, anywhere in the world thus far in all their years of being open," Neilson wrote.
He emphasised Strata lounge had "sensational runway views" from "windows that overlook the Manukau Harbour".
"Our culinary cuisine offerings are way superior than that of the Koru's. We have guest private bathrooms with showers and our soon to be opened day spa and sleeping pods I really think for a mere online booking cost of $49.00," Neilson said.
"I highly recommend that kiwis start booking instead of wasting big bucks on membership of other, ex corporate lounges that now prefer to fill up on noisy children (as they eat less)."
He said Strata Lounge was more spacious and offered a better experience for a lower price.