Jetting abroad from Melbourne Airport with Qantas or one of its partner airlines? You could have access to as many as four lounges before a single flight – or up to six lounges for any one journey, when carrying the right credit card and lounge membership – but choosing which lounge to visit isn't always straightforward.
Naturally, passengers bound for the Qantas First Lounge need not explore the alternatives, but business class travellers and Gold-grade frequent flyers may prefer to look beyond the ageing Qantas Business Lounge in favour of the Emirates, Cathay Pacific or Marhaba lounges instead (depending on their flight), or even the Plaza Premium or American Express lounges, if eligible.
Here are the five international Melbourne Airport lounges serving Qantas frequent flyers, including who gets in, when you'll find the lounge open and why you might choose that lounge over another, along with a further two options for passengers with the appropriate plastic.
Qantas First Lounge, Melbourne
Where it is: Up the escalator near gates 9 and 11.
When it’s open: 5am-11:15pm daily
Access is available to the following travellers:
- First class passengers of Qantas and its partner airlines Emirates and Qatar Airways.
- Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members, when travelling with Qantas, on a Qantas codeshare flight (e.g. QF395 to Nadi, operated by Fiji Airways), or with Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Jetstar, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways or SriLankan Airlines.
- Other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers travelling with Qantas, or its Oneworld partners Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines.
- Emirates Skywards Platinum and iO members travelling with Emirates; or on a Qantas flight with a QF or EK flight number, excluding flights to North America.
Why you’d visit: The Qantas First Lounge is the only place at Melbourne Airport where you'll find a day spa, where passengers can enjoy a complimentary 20-minute treatment such as a massage or facial, inside uniquely-located treatment rooms:
If you're flying Qantas first class or have a shiny Chairman's Lounge card, Qantas will call you the day before travel to secure your appointment (so make sure the phone number in your booking is up-to-date), but any lounge guest can request an appointment on a first-come, first-served basis on departure day, subject to availability.
Down the other end of the lounge sits a dining room serving seasonal dishes created by Neil Perry's Rockpool...
... including a staple (and favourite) of the dessert menu, a deconstructed pavlova in a glass:
AusBT review: Qantas first class lounge, Melbourne Airport
Qantas International Business Lounge, Melbourne
Where it is: One level below the main departure concourse, via the downward escalator opposite gate 9.
When it’s open: 5am-12:15am daily
Entry is open to all Qantas First Lounge guests, plus:
- Business class passengers of Qantas and its partner airlines Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Japan Airlines, Jetstar (Business Max fares only), LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines.
- Qantas Gold frequent flyers travelling with Qantas, on a Qantas codeshare flight, or with Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Jetstar, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways or SriLankan Airlines.
- Qantas Club members departing with a Qantas or Jetstar flight number on their ticket, including codeshare flights operated by other airlines such as Emirates.
- Other Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers travelling with Qantas, or a Oneworld airline (in Melbourne, that’s Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways or SriLankan Airlines).
- Emirates Skywards Gold members travelling with Emirates; or on a Qantas flight with a QF or EK flight number, with the same exclusions as Skywards Platinum when travelling on non-stop flights to North American destinations.
- American Airlines Admirals Club members booked on a Qantas flight.
- China Eastern’s Eastern Miles Gold and Platinum members travelling to Mainland China with Qantas or China Eastern.
- Fiji Airways Tabua Club Plus members flying with Qantas or Fiji Airways. (Access for regular Tabua Club members is prior to flights with Fiji Airways only.)
Why you’d visit: Being the 'default' business class lounge for Qantas and most of its partner airlines, this is the lounge that most passengers will venture to without much thought: and once inside, there's all-day barista coffee, and at certain times, a 'plate of the day'.
However, this lounge has very little natural light – just a few windows over near the entrance, and which usually have curtains drawn across them anyway – so particularly for passengers departing in the mornings, it can be hard to energise for the busy day of travel ahead, not to mention the scarcity of available power points: and that's where your other lounge options come in handy.
Cathay Pacific Lounge, Melbourne
Where it is: Below gate 6
When it’s open: 4:45am-2pm and 8:30pm-11:20pm daily
Who gets in:
- Business class and first class passengers of Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and their mutual Oneworld partners Japan Airlines, LATAM and Malaysia Airlines.
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members travelling with Qantas, Cathay Pacific or the Oneworld airlines above.
- Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Diamond Invitation cardholders, plus Cathay Pacific Carco Clan Elite members, prior to Cathay Pacific, Qantas and other Oneworld flights.
- Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Silver members prior to Cathay Pacific flights only.
- Other Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers prior to Cathay Pacific, Qantas and other Oneworld flights.
Just be aware that if you're flying from Melbourne with Oneworld members Qatar Airways or SriLankan Airlines, the opening hours of Cathay Pacific's lounge don't align with these departure times, so this won't be an option on those journeys.
Why you’d visit: This is Cathay Pacific's only airport lounge in Australia: that's great for the airline's Marco Polo Club Silver members (akin to Qantas Silver and Oneworld Ruby) who don't normally receive access to alliance partner lounges, as its presence at least provides one option – but beyond those travellers, the appeal isn't strong.
Given the lounge's limited size, passengers on Qantas and other partner airlines won't be flocking to this lounge: while it's nice for something different, in most cases, passengers fine-tuning their lounge strategy would instead be exploring the alternatives mentioned in this article, as it's not on-par with other Cathay Pacific lounges overseas (below, for example).
The Emirates Lounge, Melbourne
Where it is: Above Gate 15B – take the escalator up near gate 10, being a separate escalator to the one used by Qantas First Lounge guests.
When it’s open: Generally, three hours prior to all Emirates flights. Emirates currently has departures from Melbourne at 5am (Dubai), 6pm (Singapore and Dubai) and 9:15pm (Dubai), rendering the lounge open from 2am-5am and 3pm-9:15pm daily.
Who gets in:
- Business class and first class passengers of Emirates travelling to all destinations, and of Qantas – except on flights to North America.
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members travelling with Emirates, or with Qantas – again, excluding non-stop flights to North America.
- Emirates Skywards Gold, Platinum and iO members flying with Emirates or with Qantas, with the exception again of non-stop Qantas flights to North America. Skywards iO (invitation-only) members may also gain access prior to other flights, including Qantas flights to those excluded regions, subject to space availability during opening hours at the lounge manager’s discretion.
Why you’d visit: Compared to Melbourne's Qantas business class lounge – often nicknamed 'the bunker' by frequent flyers given its location and lack of natural light – the Emirates lounge is light, bright and airy, adopting a modern design as part of its relocation in early 2016.
Emirates' lounge also trumps Qantas Business on the wine front, with the Qantas business class lounge maxing out at Australian sparkling (generally Seppelt), while the Emirates lounge serves either Veuve Clicquot or Moët & Chandon.
For these reasons, the Emirates Lounge is a smart choice for eligible business class passengers and Gold-grade frequent flyers over that Qantas Business Lounge, but first class passengers – including Emirates first class passengers – will be drawn to the Qantas First Lounge instead.
Marhaba Lounge, Melbourne
Where it is: Up the escalator near gates 9 and 11, across from the Qantas First Lounge.
When it’s open: 6am to midnight
Who gets in:
- First class and business class passengers of Qantas' partners Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways.
- Premium economy and economy 'Flex Y' passengers of Japan Airlines.
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members prior to JAL and Qatar Airways flights.
- Japan Airlines' JMB Sapphire, Premier and Diamond members, along with JAL Global Club flyers, prior to flights with JAL and Qatar Airways.
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club Silver, Gold and Platinum cardholders prior to Qatar Airways flights, as well as Japan Airlines flights for Privilege Club Gold and above.
- Other Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers prior to Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways flights.
As this is a contract lounge offered by the two airlines above as opposed to a Oneworld airline lounge, access is not open to passengers taking flights operated by Qantas or other airlines, unless purchased directly with the lounge.
Why you’d visit: Settle in with a barista-made coffee and a range of other food and drinks from the buffet area...
... before kicking back amid tarmac views for a little relaxation or some pre-flight work: which, for business class passengers and Gold frequent flyers, may be the preferred choice over the Qantas Business Lounge.
Also of note, as the Qantas First Lounge closes at 11:15pm but the nightly JAL flight to Tokyo doesn't depart until 12:05am, Platinum-grade frequent flyers on these departures who arrive early could begin their time at the Qantas First Lounge and remain there until it closes, before migrating over to the Marhaba Lounge (just across the same corridor) ahead of boarding.
Looking for even more lounge options at Melbourne Airport?
- American Express Lounge: Unlimited access for AMEX Platinum and Centurion charge card holders, with two complimentary visits per year available to holders with a variety of Platinum-grade AMEX credit cards. Access is available when flying with any airline, including Qantas, its partners, or others.
- Plaza Premium Lounge: Welcomes members of Priority Pass, Dragonpass, LoungeKey and other global lounge programs when flying with any airline, along with AMEX Platinum and Centurion charge card holders and Diners Club customers with cards issued directly by Diners Club.