With the worst of the pandemic behind it, Qantas is beginning to soar back into the black – and it’s setting aside a slice of its cash and capex budget to improve the loungescape at home and abroad.
In 2023, the focus shifts overseas – or at least across the pond – to Auckland.
The business and first class lounges will be replaced by a single ‘premium lounge’ for all passengers, from Qantas Club members and top-tier frequent flyers to the VIPs of the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge program.
By expanding its footprint into adjacent space at the airport, the new-look Qantas Auckland International Lounge will see an increase in total capacity from 244 to 340 seats.
Driving this make-over is the June 2023 launch of Sydney-Auckland-New York flights.
Qantas promises visitors to the Auckland lounge can look forward to not only “a new dining experience” featuring the best of NZ food and wine, but “a number of features specifically tailored for long haul travel, based on positive feedback from other parts of its network.”
The upgrade work will be done in stages so that some part of the lounges can remain open throughout the redevelopment; we’re expecting the new lounge will fully emerge from its constriction zone cocoon in early June.
Adelaide to become a three-lounge city
Once the Auckland lounge is open and the fresh 2023-2024 financial year kicks off, Adelaide will get its turn in the spotlight.
The City of Churches will be elevated to the ranks of other Australian capital cities when work begins on a new Adelaide Business Lounge.
As with Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Perth, this will be a dedicated lounge for business class passengers along with Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers.
There’ll be seating for 190 travellers, with local South Australian food and wine tipped to feature heavily in the dining menu and even the lounge’s “design inspiration”.
The Qantas Adelaide Business Lounge is said to be located next to the Qantas Club, which is also in line for what Qantas terms a “full upgrade”; also in line for renovations is the Adelaide Chairmans Lounge.
While Qantas promises the redevelopment of its Adelaide lounge precinct “will begin in the second half of 2023”, no further dates have been shared on when the business class lounge will open.
Up next: Sydney and/or Melbourne?
We’re tipping this year will also see Qantas confirm long-awaited upgrades to its lacklustre Sydney domestic and international business class lounges, with the possibility that the Melbourne international lounge – aka “the dungeon” – will also finally get a chance to shine.
The work itself isn’t likely to start until 2025, but with good reason – these flagship lounges demand a multimillion dollar investment.
And there’s no doubt they deserve it: the Sydney and Melbourne lounges serve as Qantas’ flagship spaces.
“We know how important the lounge experience is to our premium customers,” noted Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce at the airline’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney in November 2022, “and we’re working on several more projects that we’ll be announcing in the coming months.”
Executive Traveller understands that Sydney is definitely on the map.
As previously reported, in 2018 Qantas airline committed to all-new Sydney International Business lounge, with staged construction work intended to begin in the third quarter of that year and stretch through to the end of 2019.
The plans set out “a completely new design” developed by David Caon in collaboration with Australian architecture firm Bates Smart, with more than 30% extra seating and “a new signature dining experience” from resident chef Neil Perry.
The project was however put on ice, reportedly when the possibility of relocating the lounge to a proposed new international pier at Sydney T1 arose – and then, of course, the impact of Covid saw the airline understandably prioritise its survival over all else.
But with blue skies ahead, those plans are likely to be reactivated in the 2023-2024 financial year.
As for Sydney’s domestic Qantas Business lounge, this is the airline’s busiest domestic lounge – and having been opened in July 2008 it’s now noticeably long in the tooth, especially when compared with its modern counterparts at at Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Those three business lounges also adopted a contemporary locally-influenced design along with lounge-specific dining option such as Melbourne’s Asian Spice Bar and Perth's pizza ovens, which have become a signature component of the Qantas business lounge experience.