Is Qantas Club worth the price?

With Qantas Club membership starting at upwards of $500 per year, only some travellers will find it value for money.

By Chris Chamberlin, May 19 2021
Is Qantas Club worth the price?

How much would you pay for a package deal of airport lounge access, a higher checked baggage allowance and priority check-in? Qantas believes anywhere from $500 to $700 per year, based on its Qantas Club membership fees.

Those fees were recently rejigged to slash the up-front joining cost from $399 to $99, while lifting annual and multi-year renewals by 8-11%.

But among the many things COVID has changed is the perceived value of Qantas Club membership, especially with most international travel – and access to those international lounges before flights and during transit stopovers – off the cards until the second half of 2022.

So, is Qantas Club membership worth the asking price?

The answer depends on how much you travel, and particularly, how much of that travel takes place in economy class – where those Qantas Club perks of priority check-in, extra checked baggage and airport lounge access aren’t included in your ticket.

Here’s our quick take:

  • If you’re only making a handful of domestic flights per year, no: you can still get lounge access (the Qantas Club program’s main drawcard) through lounge invitations.
  • If you’re making more than a dozen return trips per year, yes: the membership cost-per-flight breakdown starts to work in your favour, especially if you’re on low-cost economy fares which will make it hard for you to earn Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold status.
  • If you’re earning over 350,000 Qantas Points per year (mainly through spending with your credit card), no: those points qualify you for the Qantas Point Club Plus program, which comes with free Qantas Club membership.

Here’s a deeper dive into the Qantas Club benefits, and some savvy ways to access those airport lounges without holding Qantas Club membership.

Who is the Qantas Club for?

The Qantas Club is an adjunct to the broader Qantas Frequent Flyer loyalty program and aimed more at what you could consider infrequent flyers: people who don’t travel enough, and especially not on higher-priced airfares, to enjoy lounge access via their Gold or Platinum status.

It's also not for people who normally fly business class, as its key benefits of priority check-in, extra checked baggage and airport lounge access are already covered by those business class fares.

What does Qantas Club membership cost?

There’s an initial joining fee of $99 – think of this as similar to the joining fee charged by many organisations, such as gyms and fitness centres – that simply sets up your membership.

In addition to the joining fee, you’re charged an annual fee which Qantas offers in one-year, two-year and four-year packages:

  • One year: $600
  • Two years: $1,100
  • Four years: $2,000

In other words, the total up-front cost of joining the Qantas Club as a new member (including that one-off $99 fee) comes out at:

  • One year: $699
  • Two years: $1,199
  • Four years: $2,099

You can renew your Qantas Club membership (as long as your initial membership period hasn’t finished, to avoid being charged a fresh joining fee) by paying the same ongoing annual or multi-year fees – $600 for a single year, $1,100 for another two years or $2,000 for another four years.

Qantas Club lounge access

The core benefit of Qantas Club membership is lounge access ahead of Qantas and Jetstar flights, specifically:

  • domestic Qantas Club airport lounges (there are currently 22 lounges in that batch, as the Port Hedland and Rockhampton lounges remain closed at the time of writing)
  • international Qantas business class lounges (both in Australia and at the likes of Singapore and Los Angeles) and single-class 'premium' lounges (such as Hong Kong and London, shown below)

Note that with Qantas' international Business Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne currently closed, your Qantas Club card is valid for entry to the highly-regarded Qantas First Lounges.

This will revert to Business Lounge access in these locations, once travel volumes increase and the international Business Lounges reopen.

In New Zealand, Qantas Club members also have temporary access to Air New Zealand’s international lounges in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington, until Qantas returns to its own-brand lounges and contract spaces across these airports.

Ordinarily, Qantas Club members would have access to lounges further afield, but with Australia’s international travel restrictions preventing most people from heading abroad, the lounges above are the limit for most.

It's also worth noting that your Qantas Club membership includes one complimentary guest per visit, which is handy for those times you're travelling with your partner, a colleague or family member.

Further benefits of Qantas Club

While most see Qantas Club as purely an airport lounge scheme, those members have access to a broader suite of benefits than the lounge itself.

Qantas Club priority check-in

Holding a Qantas Club membership means never having to join the back of the economy queue at Qantas check-in.

Instead, make use of the domestic Premium Service Desks when assistance is required, or on international flights, the relevant priority queue, as signed.

Qantas Premium Lounge Entry

Exclusively at Brisbane Airport, Qantas Club members can use the Qantas Premium Lounge Entry facility for expedited security screening and direct access to the Qantas Club lounge.

Normally, domestic priority security is a perk for Gold and Platinum frequent flyers, but as Qantas Premium Lounge Entry is attached to the lounge, the airline extends this to Qantas Club members in Brisbane only.

Additional Qantas baggage allowance

When travelling with Qantas, Qantas Club cardholders may be able to pack a little heavier, bring an extra bag, or both: depending on their destination.

On domestic Qantas flights, the standard 1x23kg baggage allowance in economy is elevated to 1x32kg for Qantas Club members, being the same allowances as granted to Qantas Silver frequent flyers. There’s no change in business class, however.

Internationally, most flights – including those to New Zealand – use the ‘weight system’. Under this policy, Qantas Club travellers can pack an extra 12kg over and above their standard allowance.

That pushes the standard economy allowance from 30kg to 42kg, and the business class allowance from 40kg to 52kg, for example.

Where the ‘piece system’ is used instead (mainly to North and South America), Qantas Club members can pack a flat 3x32kg – that’s 96kg in total – being the same allowance normally afforded to most first class passengers, even if the Qantas Club member is booked in economy.

’On Departure Upgrades’ for Qantas Club members

Fancy an upgrade from domestic economy to business class on departure day using your Qantas Points?

Just ask at the service desk in the Qantas Club lounge, and you might have success – even if you’d previously tried to upgrade online and didn’t land that bump-up.

The number of points needed for your upgrade is the same as to upgrade online, although you may not be guaranteed full catering: so this is more of a backup plan or spur of the moment option, rather than ‘Plan A’.

Waitlist priority for Qantas Club members

On the rare chance you’re trying to change flights and your preferred departure is full, you may be able to ‘waitlist’ for that flight – and as a Qantas Club member, you’ll be ranked at a higher priority than entry-level Bronze frequent flyers for getting on that flight.

The same applies if you’re trying to purchase a ticket on a fully-booked flight at the airport. If a last-minute seat opens up, a Qantas Club member on the standby list would be offered the seat first, before a Bronze frequent flyer.

So is Qantas Club membership worth the cost?

When deciding whether Qantas Club membership is worth it for your travels, take a moment to review how many times you expect to fly each year, and compare that to yearly membership charge.

For example, a traveller taking 10 return trips (20 flights) per year could visit the lounge up to 20 times.

If you signed up for a single year of Qantas Club membership at $699 – that's a $99 joining fee plus $600 for 12 months – you get a ‘cost per visit’ of $35.

While this is more than you'd pay for a meal and drink or two at most airport cafés, you're also getting somewhere quieter and more comfortable to sit, with free Qantas Lounge WiFi and ideally AC/USB power outlets close at hand – and if you’re accompanied by a guest on any of those visits, the value gets even better.

(Of course, a two-year or four-year membership package lowers that 'cost per visit' even further.)

While lounge access isn't the only perk of Qantas Club, it's the one most people consider top of the list.

Add to this the value of other benefits such as an increased checked baggage allowance on Qantas – potentially avoiding the very real cost of excess baggage charges along the way – and Qantas Club membership could prove even more valuable.

Prospective members travelling far less frequently may find better value in skipping Qantas Club membership and enjoying a nice café or restaurant meal at the airport on the occasions where they do fly.

Won’t I reach Gold, if I’m flying enough to use the Qantas Club?

Not necessarily – and that’s exactly where Qantas Club provides the best value, when you’re travelling regularly enough to use it often, but not frequently enough to get Qantas Gold.

Qualifying for Qantas Gold status requires a hefty 700 status credits earned in a single membership year.

On Australia’s most popular domestic route, Sydney-Melbourne, each flight can earn as few as 10 status credits: requiring up to 70 one-way flights, or 35 round trips, to get over that line and progress to Gold, which then includes complimentary lounge access.

Anything less, and you’d need to rely on a Qantas Club membership for lounge access.

Still, there’s a slight shortcut to Qantas Gold, for those earning at least 500 of their status credits each year from Qantas or Jetstar flights.

Reach that threshold, and through the Qantas Loyalty Bonus, you can opt for a bonus 50 status credits – putting Gold within reach after a reduced 65 one-way Sydney-Melbourne flights on the lowest-priced fares, or taking 33 return trips.

If you do happen to reach Gold (or higher) as a Qantas Club member, your paid Qantas Club membership is then paused, and will automatically resume in the future when your status again drops below Gold.

Other ways to get Qantas Club lounge access

Qantas Club lounges aren’t only for Qantas Club members: there are other ways to get inside as well.

Travellers with Qantas Silver status receive one complimentary lounge entry per year, while those with selected Qantas co-brand credit cards receive two lounge passes annually.

These passes can be used for access to a Qantas Club lounge prior to a Qantas or Jetstar flight.

If travelling with a companion or colleague, and that person has their own Qantas Club membership or Qantas Gold (or above) frequent flyer status, you may instead be able to visit a lounge as their guest, free-of-charge.

Alternatively, Qantas Frequent Flyer members who earn at least 350,000 Qantas Points each year – of which, 330,000 must be earned from non-flying activities such as credit card spend – qualify for Points Club Plus, where full Qantas Club membership is a complimentary inclusion.

Also read: Qantas Points Club sweetens the pot with extra perks

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 306

A slight reduction in the cost is that, quite often, the membership fee can be tax deductible if you travel infrequently for work.

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 91

That's a good point, if you can claim Qantas Club membership as a tax deduction due to frequent work travel it really does become good value for money!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 368

The ability to take 1 guest + children under 18, regardless traveling or not, was one of the best feature of QC. Even if just flying 4 or 5x a year it was worth it. 

However, QC has stopped guesting if not traveling on the same flight due to covid restraint. This definitely made QC not worthwhile. Unfortunately I purchased 4 year membership in 2018 so 2 years worth of membership is wasted. 

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 8

 "so 2 years worth of membership is wasted" Not so. You would have received an email in September extending your QANTAS Club membership. 

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 91

This is a really great analysis Chris, I like the cost breakdown on a 'per visit' basis and yes, that would certainly work for me and most people I know. There are also people who often or always have extra checked luggage, eg tradies, techies and other professionals outside the carry-on brigade, and this can also make the overall cost benefit add up.

10 Jun 2018

Total posts 18

Another important factor is WHICH AIRPORT one uses the most, because not all Qantas clubs are equal. For example, Darwin Qantas Club is very nice, great atmosphere, furniture and tarmac views. So, it's worth it. Melbourne? Not so much. The Qantas Club there is basically a cafeteria with no natural light. 

If I were based in Darwin, I'd say that QC membership was worth it. If Melbourne based? Nope. I'd just eat outside somewhere with natural light and a better selection of food and drink. As it is, in Melbourne, I eat outside, then just use the QC for coffee. The coffee is good. 

ajd
ajd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2014

Total posts 52

And of course, if most of your flying is on regional routes then you often have no Qantas Club at all in at least one direction...

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 306

They do sometimes have GM's Lounges that you can access.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2013

Total posts 61

Chris, can I confirm the renewal rates. If already a member, I was under the impression that the renewal rate remains at the old rate (whether renewing for one, two or four years) not the increased rate?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2543

Hi Gredgy - that's correct, renewals remain pegged at their old rates for existing Qantas Club members. This article is aimed more at new members who might be drawn in by the 'Now only $99!' joining fee but would have to pay the slightly higher annual or multi-year rates.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jul 2017

Total posts 1

How about one world partner airlines? Say if travelling from Hong Kong to Australia on Cathay, can you get lounge access in Hong Kong?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 338

No, you have to be flying on Qantas or Jetstar, or on a codeshare QF flight number with a partner airline.

24 Feb 2017

Total posts 1

I fly fortnightly Sydney Brisbane return.  Work in a Sydney, home and family in Brisbane. Silver Flyer at the moment. No international travel or business travel due to COVID. So paid Lounge access as a Qantas Club member is definitely worth it. However the increased luggage allowance and priority checkin is not required for me. Travel light with carry on only and checkin on the app. What I would appreciate is priority boarding. More time in the Lounge and less time waiting for boarding. I am normally up front in Economy and board last due to COVID restrictions. Anyone tried lobbying for priority boarding for Silver status and/or Qantas Club members? 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 988

If Qantas added Silver and QC members to the priority queue on triangle services, there'd be be more people in the priority queue than the ordinary queue.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 41

Gave it up years ago.  Didn't use QF for overseas as prefer SQ or domestically as too expensive and don't like Jetstar so so use Virgin.  Lounges can sometimes be more crowded than outside.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 96

Excellent point. I also fit this traveller profile exactly: I prefer SQ for overseas travel. Domestically, I avoid JQ, and I often find VA to be better value than QF, hence the bulk of my travel is with VA. I know others who think along the same lines, surely there must be many more! And with Rex in now play, things are certain to get more interesting.

25 Feb 2021

Total posts 2

Very similar to the old days of Ansett Golden Wing. Most often, especially on Friday afternoons/ evenings out of Sydney, there were more people in the Lounge than there were in the terminal! There was more seating available in the McDonalds restaurant across the corridor from the entrance to the GW Lounge. And if I were peckish and couldn't wait to eat until I flew home and had dinner there, I would often get a burger, fries and a Coke at McDonalds, which was more the food I needed to keep the hunger pangs at bay than any the finger food snacks they served in the Lounge or the inflight meal served onboard my flight. And most times, I was travelling in J class! (Having said that, on a side note, imho Ansett did serve much better meals in J class back in the late 80s than did Australian Airlines/Qantas, both in taste and portion size). And once inside the Lounge, there were many, many times where there wasn't a single seat to sit on, whereas outside in the terminal, there was seating galore as most people on a Friday night out of Sydney turned up and went from kerbside drop-off to check-in and then straight to boarding flight gate lounge to board their aircraft as there was no time to visit the Lounge anyway...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Nov 2018

Total posts 3

Yes, good QC overview, Chris.  I'm a regular traveler and like just about everyone else, has come to the reluctant conclusion that things in that area have changed for a very long time to come.  As platinum (although mainly long time QC) I also get to moonlight in the biz lounge, and view it as much a lifestyle choice (rather than value for money), than anything -  if one can justify the indulgence.  Queuing for a drink or coffee is now routine, as are endless thick bread sandwich options.  That pic of the 737 meal service is a thing of the past, as everything arrives on one tray, with the main being usually chicken couscous and a few grey/green beans (or maybe that's just be my luck). Dessert is a boxed cupcake. Don't expect to see a green leaf on any plate or cheese and crackers.  Did BNE to AUK in biz last week and that was very spartan on the 737, while the return to SYD was better with the larger more comfortable aircraft.  The Air NZ lounge is great, however, heaving and cramped under the weight of also hosting QF flights out to BNE, SYD and MEL.  On board, food was what many would recall as an economy meal from the 90's served in a ceramic plate with foil covering - and where once you'd be able to order a flat white on those planes, now it's basic filter.  Wines are only one choice red or white (but happily refilled).  That all said, the club and in-flight teams were as professional as ever (in the air even a bit apologetic for the drop in presentation and food quality).  It's hard to see flying biz or club membership as genuine value for money for the majority, but on the ground it is nice to walk in for a wine and relax pre flight.  Like so many things that have changed post-covid, it's just the way we're going to have to roll for some time. As I said at the outset, more a lifestyle choice if you can afford the indulgence.

20 May 2019

Total posts 4

No, it is not worth it at the moment. I have just found, when I got to the Qantas club at Hobart 'international' airport, that currently it is only open an hour before the next Qantas flight. So you would get 40 minutes of crackers and cheese before any Qantas flight, and maybe nothing if travelling on Jetstar. This has changed since my last trip from Hobart, two months ago. I really feel for the lovely staff there, who presumably are travelling back and forth to the airport between slots of work, or filling in elsewhere. 

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 371

unless you fly almost weekly or a handful of times a month why bother?

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 306

If you fly that regularly you'll have status and not need QC membership. As someone who flies a few times a year the access it provides is handy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jun 2016

Total posts 15

The benefit that I always remind my partner about is clean toilets....

 Compared to terminal public toilets that covers the cost to benefit rationale quite easily, plus showers, comfy seats, somewhere to stay when delayed.

Did I mention the clean toilets......

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2543

That's another good point, Batesy: when you consider the cleaner nicer lavs, plus the showers which can sometimes be very welcome, they all add to the value of the lounge experience.


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