Visiting the Qantas Club, Qantas Business Lounge in the COVID-19 era

As travel demand picks up and lounging returns, here's how the experience differs across Qantas' two tiers of domestic lounges.

By Chris Chamberlin, December 22 2020
Visiting the Qantas Club, Qantas Business Lounge in the COVID-19 era

For many months, Qantas Club members and Gold-grade frequent flyers have enjoyed access to Qantas' Business Lounges: normally the realm of Platinum cardholders and pointy end travellers.

That came to an end this week in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, with the reopening of the airline's Qantas Clubs: so how does the experience now differ between the two?

Executive Traveller stopped by the newly-reopened Brisbane Qantas Club, and its neighbouring Business Lounge, to find out.

Qantas Club vs Business Lounge: what's the same?

Whether you're destined for the Qantas Club or the higher-tier Business Lounge, you'll find several similarities between them.

In Brisbane, to enter the lounge precinct and visit either space, you'll first need to sign-in at reception for contact tracing purposes. In most cases, that's a quick scan of your boarding pass or frequent flyer card.

From this week, Qantas' Premium Lounge Entry facility is back – giving all eligible travellers a speedy and private path to both lounges, with a dedicated check-in zone and private security checkpoint.

For the time being, Premium Lounge Entry is available at peak times only, being from 5am to 9am on weekdays, and 11:30am to 3:30pm on Sundays. Currently, the doors remain locked on Saturdays.

Once inside, you'll find hand sanitiser pumps scattered throughout the lounge, with health reminders aplenty.

With social distancing in mind, expect seats to be spaced further apart than usual, across both the Business Lounge and Qantas Club.

As well, computer terminals are no longer available, to avoid people sharing the keyboards and mice.

In fact, anything that multiple travellers might commonly touch has been removed from the lounge or taken out of service, such as the self-serve coffee machines.

Magazines are available once again, but right now, the Qantas Magazine is your only pick. Each comes plastic-wrapped, with travellers asked to take their mag along for the journey.

Newspapers aren't available for the time being in either lounge.

Qantas Club vs Business Lounge: breakfast

For Gold frequent flyers and Qantas Club members taking a morning flight, the Qantas Club breakfast reverts to a typical continental menu.

Options like pancakes, warm boiled eggs and baked beans aren't available for now, although you'll still find breads and pastries, yoghurts, Bircher muesli, salads, and a chilled breakfast plate, if you don't mind your boiled egg served cold:

Staff will retrieve and serve your preferred selections, with the same occurring in the Business Lounge, where the options, and the food presentation, sit a notch above.

From the hosted 'all day snacking station', you can choose a meal with your eyes if you'd rather not peruse the menu.

These, of course, are just for display. Staff will freshly plate your choice to order including with any customisations, such as the addition of toast to the frittata.

Fruit salad, breads and pastries, and the Business Lounge's signature yoghurts, are available too.

Again, these are retrieved and served by staff.

While the self-serve coffee machines aren't in operation, barista-made coffee is most definitely in full swing across both lounges.

In the Business Lounge, staff passing through the space were happy to take coffee orders from seated travellers, particularly at quieter times.

Right now, there's no 'plate of the day' offered to those seated in the lounge's dining zones, but this is expected to return by mid-December.

Qantas Club vs Business Lounge: all day dining

After breakfast, both the Qantas Club and the Business Lounge move into 'all day dining' mode.

In the Qantas Club, you'll currently find tomato, chickpea and spinach soup as a hot option, along with a range of chilled snack plates.

These include a vermicelli noodle bowl with a tofu, green bean and baby corn salad; crudites with olives and hummus; a meat and cheese plate; as well as chips and crackers.

As a mid-afternoon snack, spring rolls are currently served with sweet chilli sauce: a popular pick, which saw travellers queueing for a helping.

Other selected hot food items also make an appearance after 5pm.

Across in the Business Lounge, the afternoon and evening menu provides more choice and substance than the Qantas Club, particularly for those travelling throughout the day.

On the hot food front, there's a light option in the tomato and risoni soup – although the polenta al forno with beef ragu and béchamel sauce came highly recommended, with a great balance of flavours.

Various bowls are at-hand too, including a pesto pasta salad with tuna and vegetables and a potato salad with pickled cucumber, along with personal crudités dip plates.

If you fancy a sandwich, chicken, roast beef and ham options are available too. These would be great toasted, although sandwich presses aren't currently available in either lounge.

Overall, the Qantas Business Lounge no doubt retains its edge over the Qantas Club, but with staples like barista coffee available across both lounges, frequent flyers certainly won't go thirsty – or hungry, either. 

Also read: Visiting Virgin Australia's newly-reopened Brisbane lounge

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and 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.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 226

The quality of meat/protein looks to be extremely low across all of the food options where it actually exists. Questionable quality meat in a ragu, canned tuna and processed meats. Quite disappointing for a "premium" airline. 

01 Jul 2011

Total posts 12

Perth business lounge is self service again, not a buffet still but you help yourself to the Pizza and grab plates etc etc. They just make you sanitise prior to touching.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 384

Alright alright, I admit it: I had SECOND servings on the spring rolls at BNE Q club

Wasn’t expecting much and certainly they didn’t drain the oil very well when they fried it as it should be done (wasn’t air fried or oven baked), BUT nevertheless it was probably the best spring roll I had in a while since I couldn’t go to my fav Chinese restaurant in Sydney for some time (thanks Anna P). And it was a large size roll slightly smaller than a Chicko 

Didn’t know the exact ingredients (I assumed all vegetarian) but worth going back for.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 384

In SYD today, a shocker of a scene. 

Normally a busy Sunday afternoon now looks deader than a Sunday morning.

For some reason they seemed to be doing routine drug/explosive screening on your checked in luggage only BEFORE you drop it off at self serve terminal, then they do another round of screening on yourself and carry-on after the security gates.

Q club only 20-25% usual crowd and plated dish of rabbit food (veg sticks and hummus) or rice salad lus  mushroom soup I assume.

Frankly with more or less 80% open borders I was expecting 60 or 80% usual activity, but I suspect either many people are not flying because they haven’t organised a trip with 1-2 weeks of intended border opening, people saving it up for a big getaway during Xmas season, airlines hasn’t bothered to add more flights to the schedule (which is what I noticed: flights are more or less the same numbers since the announcements by qld/vic/nsw) or its the recession/unemployment/new business norm?

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 226

Business travel won't be coming back before 2021, so not surprised to see it that empty. 

Given the cost of flying anywhere in Australia especially in Business Class, a lot of people I know will be waiting for vaccine or travel bubbles in 2021 to ensure a good value flying experience to a quality destination. 

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 27

at least Qantas have a lounge option, I am flying Virgin out of Sydney to Adelaide next Monday, when I booked they said the lounge will be open, unfortunately missed it by a day as it is opening Tuesday. As far as Adelaide goes -no opening date for this brand new lounge that was never opened back in April. 

Especially annoying as you would think  "club" member might know more or even be given a coffee voucher or similar to be used at one of the retail food operations in the Airport but nup nothing nada zilch , you never win a battle by hiding in the trenches.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1262

The good thing about Canberra is that when things are slow(er) everybody gets channeled to the business lounge.


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