There's a not-quite-new lounge gracing the international terminals of Sydney and Melbourne, with the combined business and first lounges of Etihad Airways now rebranded as The House and also playing host to Virgin Australia's overseas flights.
Apart from a change in signage, Sydney's The House lounge looks little different to when it was opened in May 2014 by Etihad's then-CEO James Hogan.
The boomerang-shaped servery in front of the buffet has been removed and replaced by a cluster of casual cafe-like tables and chairs, but there are sweeping changes to come as No1 Lounges works to increase capacity by 50 percent.
A spokesman for the company tells Australian Business Traveller that the lounge's 662m² footprint contains many under-utilised areas, including 'back office' areas such as the kitchen and staff room, although many of these are small stand-alone pockets rather than swathes of contiguous space.
The prayer rooms will remain as a specific requirement of Etihad, but could be relocated – along with the showers – while the usually-empty 'business centre' nook near the front of the lounge may be converted into a private room.
Alongside a buffet of hot and cold dishes The House offers à la carte dining, with seperate breakfast and all-day menus.
When Australian Business Traveller visited The House mid-afternoon the buffet includes a tasty spread of Middle Eastern-inspired dishes such as chicken tagine, roasted spiced cauliflower, lemon couscous and roasted harissa vegetables.
The lounge sees a busy morning peak period with Virgin Australia flights to Los Angeles and Hong Kong, then things quieten until the afternoon and late evening departure of Etihad's flights to Abu Dhabi.
Although The House's sole airline partners are currently Etihad and Virgin Australia, a spokesman for No1 Lounges tells Australian Business Traveller that plans are underway to allow passengers on other airlines to pay their way into the lounge, along with becoming the designated lounge for some airlines which don't belong to the Oneworld, SkyTeam or Star Alliance groups.
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