Passengers are still being squeezed from Air New Zealand's premium lounge at Auckland International Airport eight months after the overcrowding problem first came to light.
A trans-Tasman traveller was told by email in advance of a flight that the airline was ''experiencing exceptionally heavy'' demand today and they would be accommodated in the airport company's ''newly opened'' Strata Lounge.
''As the Air New Zealand Lounge is expected to exceed capacity prior to your flight on June 24, we have arranged access to the Strata Lounge for you, and any guests you're travelling with. This is to ensure you have a calm and spacious place to eat, relax or work prior to your flight.''
The traveller told the Herald the airport's Strata Lounge this morning was ''so busy I heard them turning people away from that too.''
Auckland Airport said passenger numbers have softened over winter in line with normal seasonal trends, and Strata had sufficient capacity to accommodate demand.
The Strata Lounge has 185 seats and opened in 2017 and is available to premium passengers from a range of airlines as well as paying guests who pay around $50 to get in. Air New Zealand's 375-seat lounge has a better range of food and drink, a wider variety of spaces to sit, although it has been described as being overrun at times.
The problems today come as ANZ advertises it will make it harder for some of its customers to get free passes to Air New Zealand lounges.
From July 10 Platinum Visa cardholders will have to spend $30,000 on their card for two single entry passes, up from $20,000 now.
Air New Zealand said last year it was ''caught a little by surprise'' by the demand for its lounges, fuelled by steep growth in the number of travellers travelling in premium cabins or rising through the ranks of its loyalty scheme as travel booms. The number of passengers travelling on the airline has grown from around 11 million a year in 2013 to about 17 million a year now.
Air New Zealand and Auckland Airport spokeswomen said today the companies were working together to increase lounge space.
In the email to the traveller, Air New Zealand manager of global lounges Alison Swarbrick said the airline had invited fliers to use the Strata Lounge by flight number, and have tried to avoid selecting flights that may already be affected by other measures such as additional security (on United States flights) or are being operated by a leased aircraft (which are not up to the same standard as Air New Zealand's own planes.)
''Please be assured that if you are travelling with others, we do not intend to split groups up. Please let our team at the Air New Zealand lounge know on the day if you are travelling with others and we will ensure you are accommodated together,''
''We are working towards a permanent solution with Auckland Airport that will allow us to increase our own Air New Zealand lounge capacity. In the meantime, we appreciate your understanding and look forward to welcoming you on board,'' said Swarbrick.
Last year the airline said it had plans to build a second lounge in the airport's Pier B, on the way to the furthest gates.
It is rebuilding its regional lounge at Auckland as part of a big investment in its lounge network.
Comment has been sought from ANZ.