As many gin and tonics as you like.

The flight to Auckland was uneventful. Nobody we recognised – or who recognised us, apart from the mother of a boy at Kate’s school. Nor were the winds at problem either. One slight bump taking off, then smooth all the way. Although the pilot expressed regret he couldn’t travel as fast as our taxi. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, the plane was only a Airbus A320. The fleet didn’t stretch to a Boom Overture.

At Auckland Airport however, things turned mythical. And in the true Christmas tradition, we discovered not Santa, or Rudolph, but better than that – Aladdin’s cave. Or to use it’s more modern term, the Air New Zealand Premium Lounge. No we weren’t flying business – don’t be daft, we’re not made of money. Yet with all my flights to and from the UK this year, I’d earned a KrisFlyer gold card that entitled us to use the lounge.

What a feast…

And my oh my what a lounge! Plush red leather armchairs to sink into, and a smorgasbord of free edible treats – scones, sandwiches, salads, cakes, cream, soup, cheeses and sweets to sample until our stomachs bulged and we could eat no more. And so quiet, so hushed, none of the bustle of outside – this place felt the way flying had used to be.

Yummy apple strudels

Kate headed straight for the mini apple strudels and cream, then the Panna Cottas – while I went to the chiller cabinet for a cold beer. There was an abundance of drinks too – Stein Pure, Corona, Kirin, plus wines, and even spirits for mixing you own cocktails. No barman carefully watching the measures – or charging you dollars for the privilege – you could drink as many gin and tonics as you liked.

Flying as it used to be.

And that’s pretty much what we did. Kate deconstructed the sweets shelf with one ordinary spoon and the avid professionalism of an expert. I tried a Kirin, then a Stein, and finally a generous rum and coke. Our tiredness evaporated and for the first time that morning – afternoon by the time we emerged – we were in the right frame of mind for our holiday.

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