London, Melbourne, Auckland: Qantas sketches out lounge roadmap

By David Flynn , October 31 2017
London, Melbourne, Auckland: Qantas sketches out lounge roadmap

With Qantas’ long-awaited London Heathrow airport lounge finally due to open in late November, the airline hopes its travellers will get that “Feels like home” vibe the moment they walk through the sliding doors.

But for Phil Capps, Qantas’ Head of Customer Product and Service, plenty of other lounges – both international and domestic – remain on the to-do list. 

Sydney and Melbourne international lounges a “high priority”

Capps tells Australian Business Traveller that the Sydney and Melbourne international business lounges are “both on the high-priority list” for a make-over. 

“We don't have any specific plans yet but certainly we know that we have grown considerably out of both of those ports. We need to be addressing both capacity and the age of those lounges as soon as we are able to.”

Also in the must-do queue are Qantas’ Auckland lounges, especially since the airline boosted flights from Melbourne and Brisbane following Emirates decision to spike its trans-Tasman superjumbo flights.

“Auckland is one of probably five locations around the world that are high priority for us to consider moving on,” Capps said on the sidelines of Qantas’ delivery event for its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

“The lounge has been operating in its current form for a while, and we've made some recent changes to our network that increased capacity through Auckland, so of course that's going to be a high priority for us.”

Tokyo likely to stay

Capps says that the Qantas lounge at Tokyo’s Narita Airport is likely to remain open following the addition of direct flights from Brisbane and Melbourne, rather than close the lounge and use the facilities of Oneworld partner JAL.

“We think it makes sense for us to maintain the Qantas lounge up in Tokyo,” he affirmed.

“We always look at the customer and commercial needs that we have, the opportunities we could exercise and what partner lounges are available in that port.”

“Then we stand back from that and say, ‘Okay, of all of those, what is the best outcome for our customers?’.” 

Decision factors

“We consider our total airline lounge network – the regional lounges, domestic lounges and international lounges – at a very holistic level,” Capps reflects.

“The things that we consider are things like, from a competitive and a customer perspective, what do we need to act upon?”

“We have a look at the age of the lounges, our flight schedule and the capacity that's going through an airport, and the segmentation of our customer base on a particular route.”

“Then we look at the available capital envelope and make a prioritisation based on all of those elements.”

“So it’s a question really of when we make these decisions, but certainly we would love to be able to act on all of them (at once) if we could.”

Melbourne’s domestic lounge make-over

The numbers clearly stacked up for Melbourne’s domestic Business Lounge and Qantas Club, with work now underway on a total make-over which will stretch through until late 2018.

Like its Perth and Brisbane siblings, Melbourne's new Qantas Business Lounge will boast a swanky tended bar
Like its Perth and Brisbane siblings, Melbourne's new Qantas Business Lounge will boast a swanky tended bar

“Theoretically we could complete the build in maybe a third of the time if we wanted to, but you'd have to shut down the lounge completely for a long period,” Capps suggests.

“And particularly for our domestic customers the Qantas lounge offering is incredibly important, so you need to maintain an offering right throughout the build.”

“So our job also becomes one of managing the staging to have the greatest availability for all of our customers, whilst also completing an effective build in the shortest possible time. There are lots of moving parts to that.”

Changing travel trends

Part of any lounge make-over is making full use of the existing floorspace, which can often evolve to reflect the changing habits of business travellers.

“We always look at optimising existing capacity” Capps explains.

“For example, what's the configuration of a business zone? Do customers today use business in a different way? It used to be meeting rooms and work tables with desktop computers, now customers are more inclined to do work at their seat, as long as they have a desk and some charging facilities.”

“Things like bathrooms, showers and the rest of the amenities can also be configured to be really space-effective, as can seating.”

A good example are the new Melbourne domestic lounges, which will both see a boost in capacity without expanding the size of the lounges.

“We do as much as we can to get the best use out of our space, while maintaining things like privacy for customers, a sense of quiet and seamlessness, but also providing appropriate social zones.”

“We're really comfortable that the configuration and the layout of both the Qantas Club and the Business Lounge in Melbourne will be beyond what we've ever done before.”

“Every time we've built a new lounge, particularly in the domestic environment, we've set a new benchmark for ourselves. Perth really changed what the lounge experience would be, and Brisbane has done the same.”

David Flynn travelled to Seattle as a guest of Qantas

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

05 May 2016

Total posts 581

Well considering QF is removing the natural light from the domestic QANTAS Club I’m not getting my hopes up for the international Business Lounge being moved somewhere where there’s natural light. I can’t see the biggest improvement that lounge needs happening.


QFs offering may be good for short haul, but for those flying paid Business to London the Business lounge could be a lot better than what is. The QF Lounge in Hong Kong is a lot better than the one in Melbourne. How can QF do a lounge well overseas but not in a home port?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 377

They're constrained by the space made available by the airport. Where in the international terminal - with natural light - would you suggest QF move its Business lounge to?

JBL
JBL

01 Jun 2016

Total posts 60

Would have though QF would have gotten priority to have its business lounge upstairs in MEL when the intl extension was first built

bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 72

I asked the Flounge Dragon (well she was very nice actually, but old habits and all that) why the J lounge didn’t move to where that new Emirates pay lounge is next door and she said “we’d have loved it there, but Melair made it cost prohibitive”. So I guess they have to be commercial.


I would say this as a general comment though. I’m currently travelling through the Americas on AA. I just thank my stars I live in 🇦 and don’t have to endure those vile lounges and airport experiences. Even the new AA lounges make our Regional QF lounges (and I’m talking Mackay, Rocky, OOL here) impressive. Yes I know thy have no food, but by comparison we are extremely spoilt.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

Absolutely right, bsb, domestic American airline lounges and even most international ones are pretty poor, even our Qantas Club lounges especially in the major capital city ports are so far ahead of them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 223

You sure? I regularly use AA and the lounge at DFW and JFK good. Food choices are a bit limited but ok. Even La Guardia has a small but ok lounge

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2017

Total posts 24

Yes, at major hub airports, AA lounges are great but go to the smaller ones, of which there are many, and the quality is horrendous. Often nothing more than a small room. Qantas club's are no different though

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

A good rundown on this and a good 'insight' into the process behind it. I'm sure a lot of people just think that QF can wave some magic wand and upgrade all the lounges, relocate them to somewhere else in the airport etc but as Capps says they have a set budget assigned for lounges and can only do so much with what they have.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Feb 2015

Total posts 34

HONOLULU!!! It’s virtually a holding pen with air con

Agree daschok. It's got to be the worst on the QF network. Flew out of HNL last week and used the JAL lounge. It's sooo much better. (You must hold QF good to get in).

31 May 2017

Total posts 4

AKL is also a must do.

With EK rolling off there is going to be a lot of QF widebody activity in and out of AKL and its definitely showing its age!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2017

Total posts 24

Ahh damn. Was hoping NRT would close. The only thing going for it is the beautiful tarmac view. JAL's Sakura Lounge just is superior in every other way. If they envisage continued increased traffic, then it really needs a face lift.

06 Jun 2017

Total posts 21

When you say "making the most of space" and include showers, bathrooms and seating, you really mean " smaller shower space, smaller bathrooms and more seating.

I welcome more seating, but as one who uses showers and bathrooms I wonder what "space effectiveness" we can expect.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Oct 2014

Total posts 19

You would think they are using the same builders to upgrade the lounges in each location - sounds like they will do one-at-a-time between now and 2021! Auckland and Sydney QF lounges are both very very ordinary and dated. It still makes me laugh that the Air NZ lounge in Sydney is absolutely stunning (if still a little crowded at peak times!) compared to Qantas lounge. I've been hocking off my QF lounge passes on Gumtree for $60+ each; would rather spend the $ on food & drinks in a restaurant/bar at the airport. Surely in your major home port (i.e. Sydney) you need to get your act together, do it property and keep it up-to-date. Embarrassing.

12 Jul 2017

Total posts 6

I hope the swanky bars at Melbourne and Sydney are tended a little more often than the Business Lounge in Perth.

Also the JAL first lounge is far more desirable than QF at Narita who won't let a second child in

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Jul 2013

Total posts 17

I’m travelling business class on qantas to Bangkok andd return. Will I be able to access Cathay or Emirates lounge. I have been to the CIP lounge and don’t like it at all.


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