An all-new Qantas first class lounge is taking shape at Singapore’s Changi Airport, and we’ve been for a virtual walkthrough of the deluxe digs thanks to some pretty impressive VR technology. Here’s what you can expect to see when the lounge opens by the end of November 2019.
The reception area of the Qantas First Lounge (to use its proper name) is one we’ve seen before, in the first round of concept images.
What we can add is that the lounge will be open around the same hours as the airport’s current Qantas lounge (which will be rebranded as the Qantas Business Lounge), from 2.30pm to midnight – and it will lay down the welcome mat to not only first class travellers, Chairman’s Lounge members and top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum and Platinum One members, but also their Oneworld Emerald equivalents.
“We always extend a warm welcome to our Oneworld frequent flyers and they will be very warmly welcomed in this lounge,” Qantas International CEO Alison Webster tells Australian Business Traveller.
(Other Oneworld airlines using the same Singapore Terminal 1 as Qantas include British Airways, Finnair, JAL and Qatar Airways.)
As we’ve previously reported, the lounge itself will be located at the far end of the terminal’s D Gate wing, adjacent to the Aerotel airport hotel and its outdoor swimming pool, while the existing Qantas lounge is over by the C gates.
To orient yourself: once you pass through T1’s immigration and passport control checkpoint, you’ll turn left to head to the Qantas business class lounge, and right to make a beeline for the Qantas first class lounge.
Qantas says that an increasing number of its flights – especially the Airbus A380s – are being allocated to the D gates, but either way, it takes less than ten minutes to stroll between the two lounges.
Looking again at the first class lounge’s lobby, you can see the first of several callbacks to the DNA of its siblings in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles in the Carrara marble.
To one side past reception are the shower suites – we don’t have any photos of these, but the VR walkthrough shows them to be quite spacious and well-appointed.
The rest of the lounge is gun-barrel straight, and starts with this semi-private nook when you veer to the right of the reception area.
These deep chairs offer a modicum of privacy (plus inbuilt power sockets) for business travellers working away on a laptop...
... and are similar to their cream-cream-coloured counterparts at Brisbane’s Qantas Chairman’s Lounge (shown below).
“You're in your own little cocoon, really”, enthuses Webster. “Sometimes in a lounge you just want to shut the world out. It lets you do that but still take what you want from the experience. It's learning the way we run the Business Suites because you have that same kind of privacy in a lounge setting.”
The area with the appealing U-shaped banquette seating and the ‘virtual skylight’ overhead has been designated as a nominal VIP zone, “that we might set aside for some Chairman’s Lounge members (and) VIP passengers if necessary,” suggests David Caon, who is designing the lounge for Qantas.
The perforated panelling – made from sheets of the same European oak as the other Qantas First lounges – "is a design element that sort of flowed across from the Brisbane Chairman's Lounge, where I started to experiment with a lot of first class architectural finishes,” Caon reflects.
“It’s also very interesting for me from a regional aspect, I think it looks a bit like a screen, which gives a bit of a sense of Singapore.”
Stepping forward from here is a cluster of seating in several different styles plus a laptop-friendly marble bench.
Also evident are the plants and more hints of a lounge’s tonal palette. “We're trying to create a sort of a lighter palette that’s sort of softer and blends in with the greenery, which is very Singapore and important for wellness as well as that regional aspect of the design,” explains Caon (below).
“But it’s also having a sort of tonal difference. A lot of what we're also trying to focus on is texture, so rather than having a lot of contrast and a lot of different colours we're trying to bring a really nice texture to everything, so that everything is quite tactile and beautiful.”
Almost directly across from this is the bar, which will serve up everything from wine and Champagne to spirits, cocktails or just a barista-pulled flat white, with a small self-serve selection of dishes off to the right.
From here, we flip the view to face backwards – you can see the VIP area at the far end of this image – and you begin to realise how much of the Singapore first class lounge will be set aside for dining.
That’s quite appropriate, as most visitors to the first class lounge will be looking to enjoy a meal before jumping onto the relatively short overnight flight to Australia during the lounge’s peak period (between 6pm and 8pm), or before they bed down for the long haul to London on the flagship QF1 flight.
The final image in this set completes the lounge walkthrough, with dining tables to the left and right and a wide marble-clad bar and open kitchen at the far end.
The flooring along the middle section of the lounge is a new terrazzo which Caon’s team is developing.
“In the reception it’s all Carrara marble, and then when you flow through to the main lounge space it’s actually a terrazzo, which is one of the key materials that I'm quite excited about. It’s from a similar region in Italy to where the Carrara comes from, with oversized (marble) chips in it.”
The à la carte menu will combine locally-influenced dishes with favourites from the Qantas first class lounge network, including the iconic salt and pepper squid.