Qantas to reopen first class lounges on Monday April 19

Qantas' flagship international lounges will roll out the welcome mat in time for flights to New Zealand.

By David Flynn, April 15 2021
Qantas to reopen first class lounges on Monday April 19
Executive Traveller exclusive

Qantas will unlock the doors to its flagship international first class lounges when the Australia-New Zealand bubble open on Monday April 19, ensuring that the airline's premium passengers and frequent flyers get their trans-Tasman trips off to a five-star start.

While the Sydney and Melbourne business class lounges will remain closed for now, that means the first class lounges will welcome business class travellers, Gold-grade Qantas Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members, along with the usual Platinum and Platinum One-tier frequent flyers.

"If you're making a comeback, you should do it in style," says Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

"That's why we've decided to open our First lounges ahead of our other lounges and give more of our customers the opportunity to experience them."

Status-based access will also extend to eligible frequent flyers of Oneworld partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways with a Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire card tucked into their travel wallet.

Qantas will reopen its first class lounges in time for NZ flights to restart.
Qantas will reopen its first class lounges in time for NZ flights to restart.

The airline locked the doors of all international lounges towards the end of March 2020 as the airline grounded all overseas flights in the early days of the coronavirus.

Now, just over a year later, visitors to the Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges will see many familiar faces of staff who were previously stood down or reassigned to domestic lounges.

"Our lounges are a second home for many frequent flyers when they're on the road, and we know their reopening will be well-received," Joyce said.

Qantas' Brisbane international lounge will also open on April 19, although the airline's lounges in New Zealand will remain closed.

In their place, Qantas has arranged access to Air New Zealand's international lounges in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown for business class passengers, Platinum and Gold-grade frequent flyers and Qantas Club members.

The new Qantas First Lounge menu

The Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges will serve an à la carte menu featuring several iconic dishes such as salt and pepper calamari and the signature pavlova, with other offerings drawn from previous seasonal iterations.

It's been a long time between drinks at the Qantas first class lounge...
It's been a long time between drinks at the Qantas first class lounge...

Here's what visitors can expect.

Breakfast

  • Seasonal fruit salad
  • Croissant
  • House made muffin
  • Neil’s healthy Bircher muesli with apple, cranberry and hazelnuts
  • Buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon yoghurt, berries and maple syrup
  • Brunch bowl with goats’ cheese, avocado, cherry tomato bulgur and green tahini
  • Brioche, leg ham and Gruyere toasted sandwich
  • Scrambled eggs with bacon, pork chipolata, spinach, tomato braised beans

All-day dining

  • Brioche, leg ham and Gruyere toasted sandwich, rocket and lemon
  • Salt and pepper squid with cabbage salad, green chilli dipping sauce and aioli
  • Roast cauliflower with carrot and almond hummus, zucchini, preserved lemon and hazelnuts (GF, VG)
  • Tamarind chicken with eggplant, jasmine rice and lime pickle yoghurt (GF)
  • Red braised lamb shoulder with chilli paste and noodles
  • Signature pavlova with seasonal fruit, mascarpone and Persian fairy floss (GF)

There'll be a selection of beers, red and white wines and spirits, of course, plus mimosas as a welcome drink – and while there'll be no Champagne listed on the menu, Executive Travellerunderstands that bubbles will be available "on request". 

As you'd expect, the spa at the Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges will remain closed until a fuller international schedule and higher levels of demand return, which at this stage will be no earlier than October 31.

Revised operating hours

The opening hours of the Qantas international lounges will be shaped by the airline's own flight schedule (and that of low-cost sibling Jetstar): for example, the Sydney First Lounge will initially open at 6am and close by 8pm.

Any passenger eligible for lounge access can visit the lounge during that time; however, flights departing outside those hours – such as the evening services of Cathay Pacific Qatar Airways and Emirates – won't be accommodated.

Also read: Qantas 'fast track' status match returns

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.

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 165

I don’t understand why it would need to be a pared back offering. They have full a la carts service, so if restaurants can open fully now I don’t see why the first lounge couldn’t be the same. It’s not like it has a massive shared buffet or something, the snack bar could be removed but there’s no reason to change the dining (unless they’re really doing it to save costs from having to provide full service to non-premium/platinum passengers).

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 335

In April 2019 Qantas was flying A380s out of Sydney to Singapore, London, LA and DFW, it had four flights a day to Hong Kong, two to Singapore, two to LA, easily a dozen to NZ, plus also Bangkok, Tokyo, Manila etc.

As of this Monday it will have from Sydney only a handful of flights each day to NZ and that's pretty much it.

I think those are vastly different scenarios in terms of passenger numbers and revenue, so I can't see why Qantas would lay on the same high-end menu as it used to do. I think it'll still be a good menu and that means it'll be great for people who are used to the international business lounge, but I just can't imagine everything on the menu from April 2019 being there in April 2021. A lot has changed since then in terms of the size of the market, the number of bums on seats and the amount of premium seats and premium revenue.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1263

Not sure about the 4 Sydney to Hong Kong flights... But valid points

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 335

Sorry, LOL, yeah I was thinking about CX! Am missing my HK trips very much, always loved flying CX and starting my trip at the Qantas First lounge!

05 May 2016

Total posts 632

All they need to do is offer a lounge offering that is competitive with what Air NZ offers which is likely to be the only competitor on the routes between Australia and NZ for some time.

It's great to be reading good news after the last 12 months! Took us a while to begin to get back to normal with domestic lounges opening, then the Australia - New Zealand travel bubble announcement, now international lounges starting to come back. Sure there are going to be some hiccups along the way and nobody should expect the first class lounge experience to be like it was pre-Covid but this is a start!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 139

Handy! My mate flew out with EK in F the other day and was offered a $50 voucher to spend at Grilld ;-(

In normal circumstances I think a lot of international passengers would be okay with a $50 voucher for Grill'd, but definitely not when you're flying first class! I wonder how long it'll take for other international lounges to reopen? Air New Zealand has already announced they'll reopen their lounges from Monday, wonder if Amex and Plaza Premium will see enough traffic to warrant opening as well?

Very good news indeed. I'm hanging out for flights to Singapore to resume and then hopefully we will see the Qantas Singapore First Lounge open along the same lines, because I can't see there will be enough travellers in the early days to also have the Singapore Business Lounge open, especially without the daily A380 to and from London, in fact there's talk that Qantas might drop SYD-SIN-LHR for a while and just run PER-LHR, which would make sense if the demand isn't there. I think for a while the timetable also showed QF1/2 as being SYD-PER-LHR, so two daily Boeing 787 flights to London via Perth, one from Sydney and one from Melbourne.

05 May 2016

Total posts 632

I think they were planning to do SYD-PER-LHR during the early days of COVID but the passenger caps etc. scuppered that.

Provided the WA government can give QF some guarantees that a lockdown in say SYD won't stop SYD-PER-LHR flights from operating in normal, I could definitely see QF considering doing SYD-PER-LHR with a visit to the FLounge prior to the flight from SYD.

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 91

Just a shame that the Auckland lounges are still third-rate, Qantas talked about these being redone in the Hong Kong and London style of a single 'premium' lounge but last I heard even the showers had been out of order for months and months.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 489

Luckily the Qantas Auckland and Wellington lounges aren't reopening for the time being - we'll get to use Air New Zealand for the time being. 

I do hope they're trying to fast track the AKL refurb - 22+ years without an update is getting a bit much...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 May 2018

Total posts 43

All being well.. I will be doing the Sydney to NZ this year..maybe twice. I just hope that the salt and pepper squid is on the list... it was MAGNICIFICENT in London on my last o/s trip in 2018 

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 27

On meal times, I have seen squid on NZ AKL regular lounge. Hopefully QF will match it with their salt pepper squid.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

17 Oct 2018

Total posts 8

I do not understand this...as a CX FF Diamond/Sapphire I have always had access to the QF 1st lounge -so it is not the exclusive domain of A380 1st pax. Also, not sure why it is all of a sudden dependent on the below per the article:

"It will depend on what the demand looks like. If the commercial demand is is not large, because the bubble is more contained, it makes sense to open the more premium lounge. If that's the case, then the guest list for the Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges would be expanded to include:

Business class travellers on international Qantas and Jetstar flights

Qantas Frequent Flyers holding Gold status (and their Oneworld Sapphire equivalents on partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways)

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2541

" do not understand this...as a CX FF Diamond/Sapphire I have always had access to the QF 1st lounge -so it is not the exclusive domain of A380 1st pax."

Cathay's Marco Polo Diamond is Oneworld Emerald, not Oneworld Sapphire. You've always had access to the Qantas First Lounge because CX Diamond = Oneworld Emerald = Qantas Platinum.

In reagrd to "so it is not the exclusive domain of A380 1st pax" - as the article notes (italics mine, for emphasis) "The highly-regarded Sydney and Melbourne international first class lounges are usually the exclusive domain of first class passengers on the Airbus A380 superjumbos... along with Platinum-grade Qantas frequent flyers and invitation-only Chairman's Lounge members."

Hope that clears it up and you can enjoy a visit to the newly-reopened Qantas First Lounge soon :)

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

17 Oct 2018

Total posts 8

Haha - sorry you are 100% correct - it has been too long since travelling...

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 619

Seperate issue but wonder if the shuttle between Sydney domestic and international will start running again from 19th April?

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 38

Great Question - @Dave do you know if the "Q Transfer Bus" will be operating for travellers connecting from Domestic flights to Trans Tasman flights (or Vice Versa) with Qantas?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2541

Asked about this at yesterday's event but the answer was not at hand: one would certainly hope the domestic-international shuttle bus would be back, we should know more come Monday.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 619

You would hope so. Or at the very least the landside shuttle.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 104

AJW makes an excellent point which needs clarification; ( David?) All jokes aside; having endured the shenanigans of Victorian lockdowns, I am more than ready to get some quality airtime, but assuming the flights depart and return to Sydney, fellow Vics and I will want some guarantee that the tarmac trundler will be operating to get us to the domestic terminal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 165

So to be clear does it mean other OneWorld Sapphire card holders (CX, AA, JL, BA etc) can access the First lounges as well when flying QF in Y TT for now?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2541

That’s correct. Standard Oneworld lounge access rules apply.

08 Dec 2019

Total posts 4

Sorry probably goes without saying - presume that J Pax ex Christchurch with QF will also get access the NZ lounge? 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2541

That’s correct.

06 Jun 2017

Total posts 45

Curious to know how OW Emerald (non QF) will go using NZ lounges in AKL when flying QF.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 452

Probably very happily - bear in mind that NZ will charge QF $$$ for each OW Emerald who uses the lounges.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2541

We’ll be updating this article with more information on opening hours, access etc later today.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Apr 2018

Total posts 5

Hi David, are you able to get clarification if Complimentary Lounge Invitations will also be accepted for entry?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2541

They will be accepted, but not right away – more likely early May - more on this tomorrow.

28 May 2021

Total posts 1

Hi David, did you ever get clarity on this item around lounge invites? 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2541

Yes, at the time of writing, single-use Qantas lounge invitations are still not being accepted at the Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 71

Thank you Qantas

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 38

"Any passenger eligible for lounge access can visit the lounge during that time; however, flights departing outside those hours – such as the evening services of Cathay Pacific Qatar Airways and Emirates – won't be accommodated."

I'm not sure those passengers travelling on Cathay, Emirates or Qatar will ever be allowed to use the lounge until Australia's Intl borders fully re-open. From my understanding, Trans-Tasman travellers will be separated completely within the terminal and not mixing with other International travellers flying to/from other destinations outside the bubble.  

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 619

That is the idea of the bubble. That said it will be interesting to see how passengers are kept separate in Sydney. Years ago it would have been easy as each wing of the terminal could have been isolated from each other, but with one outbound immigration area and security check point now it will be hard to keep passengers separate. 

That said the passengers of concern that you would want to keep away from bubble flight passengers would not be those who have entered the airport from landside rather passengers who have used Sydney for airside transit. So maybe the idea is the western pier will be used for non green zone (bubble) flights, with transit pax kept on that side, with passengers joining from landside first doing immigration and security mixing with NZ bound passengers before then moving to the western pier where they then become red zone passengers never to return.

In bound should be easier as there are separate immigration and customs check points for each pier.

Melbourne will also be interesting, but gather they could use the gates you get to via the bridge for red zone.

Finally surprised Canberra doesn't factor into this as it would be the ideal airport for NZ flights at the moment with no regular international flights, so could be operated more or less normally.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 May 2019

Total posts 28

It would be nice if Qantas did something to introduce a bit of status differentiation into the First Lounge experience (e.g. guaranteed tables, massages and nicer wine). It has been frustrating over the last couple of months having to leave over capacity Business Lounges with no seats, wait 20-30 minutes for a coffee or food due to the influx of Qantas Club members and stand in line for ages in unpoliced priority lines. 

 

I cut Qantas a bit of slack during the course of last year over lounge closures due to the impact of Covid-19 on its business but I (like others I know) kept my Platinum status last year organically without recourse to any of its status support. I’m also required to earn twice as many points as a Gold member over the course of this year to keep benefits that are now basically the same as a Gold. Qantas is off chasing new customers through status matches while neglecting its real road warriors, who will no doubt be left to fist fight Qantas Club members and people with vouchers for tables in the new First Lounge. That’s a great way to encourage us to get off Zoom/Webex and get back in the air!


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