Qantas will close all of its international first class and business class lounges next week, at the same time as the airline suspends all overseas flying in the face of global travel restrictions and financial shockwave propelled by the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline, which marks its 100th anniversary this year, will begin grounding all of its Airbus A380, Boeing 787-9 and Boeing 747 jets in the week commencing Monday March 23, and expects all international flights "to be suspended until at least the end of May 2020."
As the last of the big red-tailed jets take off on their final journey to Australia, Qantas will pull down the shutters on all 18 of its international lounges, from the inspired Sydney First and Melbourne First flagships to popular hubs at Singapore and Los Angeles – and some, such as Auckland, which have seen better days.
Here's a list of all the Qantas international lounges which will close by the end of March.
- Sydney Business
- Sydney First
- Melbourne Business
- Melbourne First
- Perth Terminal 1
- Perth Terminal 3
- London (Heathrow)
- Los Angeles First
- Los Angeles Business
- Tokyo (Narita)
- Singapore First
- Singapore Business
- Hong Kong
- Auckland First
- Auckland Business
Several of the Qantas international lounges are used mainly by Qantas (and in some cases its low-cost Jetstar sibling).
Others sit in the same airports or terminals as some very compelling lounges operated by Oneworld partners – so once the Qantas lounge closes, passengers on other Oneworld airlines won't be left to make a bee-line for Burger King.
Some of the Qantas international lounges, however, have proven exceptionally popular with top-tier frequent flyers across a range of Oneworld airlines, often preferable to another airline's own lounge.
Qantas Los Angeles Lounges
Qantas maintains two well-regarded lounges at Los Angeles' Tom Bradley International Terminal, with both patronised by passengers on a half-dozen Oneworld member airlines.
The Qantas Los Angeles Business lounge serves as more of a Oneworld LAX lounge, with development and ownership shared by Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific, although Qantas actually runs the lounge.
And while Qantas is leaving LAX, British Airways and Cathay Pacific maintain daily flights back to their respective home hubs of London and Hong Kong.
It's not yet known what alternative lounge arrangements at LAX will be made for eligible Oneworld business and first class passengers, along with Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire-grade frequent flyers, or even if the other partner airlines or Oneworld itself will take over the running of the lounge and keep it open in Qantas' absence.
Executive Traveller approached Oneworld for comment but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.
Adjacent to the Los Angeles Business lounge is Qantas' Los Angeles First lounge, which takes many cues – from design elements to the seasonal menu – from its distant Sydney and Melbourne siblings.
This is also a 100% Qantas lounge, instead of a JV with others, although of course it also hosts first class flyers and Oneworld Emerald card-holders travelling on other Oneworld airlines.
Qantas Singapore lounges
Singapore is also home to two Qantas lounges, reflecting the Lion City's role as not only Australia's top Asian destination – especially for business travellers – but as the Kangaroo Route stopover between Sydney and London.
The newest of those is the chic Qantas Singapore First lounge, which made its long-awaited debut only in November 2019.
With a refined style and an extensive restaurant-grade à la carte menu, the Qantas Singapore First lounge quickly became a favourite with not only Qantas' own passengers but eligible passengers on British Airways, as the Qantas lounge was easily superior to BA's own Singapore lounge.
The Qantas Singapore First lounge was also a magnet for Oneworld Emerald-grade travellers on Finnair, Japan AIrlines, Malaysia Airlines and even Cathay Pacific, despite the fact that Cathay's flights depart from Changi's more distant Terminal 4 (which has its own Cathay Pacific lounge).
A few minutes' stroll away, and adjacent to the BA lounge, is the Qantas Singapore Business lounge, which also established itself as the lounge of choice for most business class passengers and Sapphire-grade frequent flyers on Oneworld flights out of Changi Airport thanks to friendly staff, two freshly-prepared 'plate of the day' meals and a cocktail bar.
Qantas London Heathrow lounge
The closure of Qantas' London Heathrow digs won't leave lounge lizards in the lurch: savvy flyers head for the adjacent Cathay Pacific lounges, especially if they have access to the Cathay Pacific first class lounge.
However, those same flyers also like to pop into the Qantas lounge to sample the gin bar, and sometimes the à la carte menu, which features near-famous Qantas lounge staples such as salt and pepper calamari.
Qantas Hong Kong lounge
A final entrant on the list of lounges that frequent flyers will miss is the Qantas Hong Kong lounge.
While top-tier frequent flyers generally considered Cathay Pacific's The Pier First Class worthy of that walk to the other end of the terminal, time permitting of course, there was much to be said for the Qantas lounge, even when Cathay's The Deck opened just next door.
The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge had a tended wine and cocktail bar, a BBQ pork station serving freshly-prepared char siu, a 'plate of the day' and an extensive buffet, while a whimsical dim sum trolley rolls around in the evenings.
The closure of the Qantas Hong Kong lounge, along with several of Cathay's own Hong Kong lounges – including The Pier First Class, The Deck and soon, we expect, The Pier Business Class – will make Hong Kong all the poorer for Oneworld passengers.