Qantas is scoping out upgrades for its Sydney business class lounges

Qantas CEO says the flagship Sydney business lounges are in line for a make-over.

By David Flynn, January 8 2020
Qantas is scoping out upgrades for its Sydney business class lounges

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the airline's flagship Sydney domestic and international business class lounges are both in line for a long-overdue upgrade, with the question now shifting from "if" to "when".

The Qantas Business Lounge, opened in July 2008 at Sydney Airport's Terminal 3, is the airline's busiest domestic lounge and noticeably long in the tooth – especially when compared with its modern counterparts at Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Those three business lounges also adopted a contemporary locally-influenced design along with lounge-specific dining options – although the original Mexican Cantina of the Brisbane lounge has been replaced by The Oven, serving a broader variety of international meals.

Melbourne's Asian Spice Bar and Perth's pizza ovens have each become a signature component of the Qantas business lounge experience.

"The Sydney domestic business lounge is now top of the list for the domestic lounge (upgrade program)", Joyce told Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the official opening of the Qantas Singapore First Lounge.

"I can't say when the date is, but it will be done, it's just programming it into all of the capital expenditure that we have. We're going to spend around $2 billion on aircraft, on product, on seats. We want to bed down what happens with Sunrise, what happens with our domestic fleet, and there will be a component every year on the lounges."

The Spice Bar at Melbourne's Qantas Business Lounge.
The Spice Bar at Melbourne's Qantas Business Lounge.

As for Qantas' international business class lounge at Sydney Airport Terminal 1, "we know that it does need a bit of an upgrade," Joyce admits – although plans announced in February 2018 for a new-look lounge to open by the end of 2019 failed to eventuate, as Qantas is now considering relocating the lounge to a proposed new pier at Terminal 1.

"It's on our agenda," Joyce says of the new-look lounge, "and we are working with Sydney Airport around how that works. They have a lot going on, they're talking about new gates, so we're trying to work out exactly how to stage that investment. If you didn't have that, (the upgrade) would already be underway. We're in deep dialogue with Sydney Airport, so it's a bit of 'watch this space' at the moment."

Sydney Airport has also approached Emirates about opening a new lounge in this pier, although it's not known if this is the same space offered to Qantas or if the new T1 wing would have room for two sizeable lounges.


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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Dec 2012

Total posts 21

I went to go into this lounge on Sunday last and it was closed, when I asked why, I was told that it is closed until Wednesday for cleaning, must be extremely dirty...

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 389

Qantas often closes its business lounges at some point around the Christmas to New Year period, they do cleaning but also any maintenance which can't be done when the lounge is in use. Also of course there is less 'premium travel' during that period so closing the business lounge can reduce staff costs. Sometimes too the Qantas Club is closed for cleaning and maintenance and travellers are sent to the business lounge.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 210

My main gripe with the new business lounge is a lack of working laptop space with power points and the main catering options have got very boring, ie pizza in PER, mexican in BNE, i wish they would change it up. The very nature of travelers in the Business Lounges means they are very frequent visitors and a more seasonal change in food would be greatly appreciated.

BNE is no longer Mexican, this is mentioned in the article. I think it's okay to have a 'signature' meal type in each lounge, as long as there is some other dish on rotation. Be interested to see what SYD gets as its 'signature' dish.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 99

Agree. I think the smarter option would be to give options. I think MEL would suit many cuisines (Indian, Somali, Greek, Italian etc) to reflect the multicultural nature of the city. Perhaps they'll learn in Sydney because I'm bored with the Asian Spice kitchen (even though it's always tasty, but it's always similar). More power points and privacy on my wish list pls

A bit outdated is an understatement. I will so miss the view of the air conditioning ducting.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 168

The International Business Lounge at SYD is a disgrace and is easily outdone by main rivals like Air NZ and Singapore Airlines.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1087

If they are actually waiting for the new pier, which is not really clear from AJ's statements, then a new lounge in SYD International is years away. QF are very good at getting publicity so may do a couple of these faux launches before anything solid materialises.

In the meantime, QF have still not made any announcements about their plans for a replacement of the dungeon at MEL T2. There was talk about building a new lounge over the proposed terminal link between the new swing gates in T1 and T2 but nothing more than rumour. Once again, I wouldn't expect much for a few years yet.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 228

I don't read AJ's comment as saying they are waiting for the new pier, more that they are waiting to work out with SYD if they will put their international business lounge there. It would make no sense to do the extensive refurbishment of the 'old' lounge if they are soon to move to a new space. If there is only one lounge space available then it could end up in 'Qantas vs Emirates' and if for whatever reason Qantas decides it doesn't want to move its business lounge to the new pier then I would imagine it would quickly enact the 2018 plan to upgrade the existing lounge, but even that process would surely take 6-9 months because it would need to be done in stages. Maybe they can handle short-term capacity issues by sending selected business lounge visitors to the first lounge, eg QF Golds booked on QF flights who have above a certain number of SCs will be bumped up to the F lounge.

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 103

As the existing international lounge already handles a large amount of passengers including from other airlines, Qantas should maybe consider having two business lounges, like a few airlines around the world do.

This way you could renovate the current one and have the extra lounge closer to the other gates (similar to what Cathay does). You could even have a different theme, ie relaxing and quiet.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 131

Spot on. Makes a lot of sense.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 May 2019

Total posts 28

This is a massive slap in the face to some of their highest yielding customers, in their busiest lounge, which also happens to be in their home port. Lesser provincial lounges like PER and BNE have had a makeover but their biggest road warrior customers on the SYD-MEL pairing are consistently let down by the cramped and woefully inadequate facilities at the SYD end of the pairing.

Now AJ says that he'll turn his mind to it AFTER project sunrise and the new domestic fleet (read in a few years). The capex on a new lounge is a drop in the ocean compared to those huge initiatives. A company that's as profitable as Qantas is at the moment can walk and chew gum. Let's also not forget who is making the Sunrise and domestic initiatives possible - the same high revenue customers who are being stuffed around by the constant delays to this long overdue refit. VA's premium kerbside entry leaves QF for dead in Sydney - this lounge is seriously detracting from QFs competitive proposition on the pairing when you consider the quality of the virgin lounges and their alternative security screening arrangements.

As for the international business refit - who cares. Qantas' priority should be taking care of its high value customers rather than appeasing Qantas club members who contribute loose change to its overall revenue. (If you're a QC member from BNE, PER or MEL you're already treated better than a SYD P1 from a domestic perspective in any case). Same with the suggestion that Gold members should be given First lounge access. Just no - they can go to the Cathay lounge or sit in the terminal. The First lounge is busy enough already as a consequence of all of the Gold members who have been given free Plat status as a result of these vile double status credits promotions.

15 Oct 2019

Total posts 9

I'd readily go to the Cathay lounge. I've never been to it in Sydney, but in London it beats the life and death out of all the Qantas lounges. Staff in the Qantas lounges there seem not to care about customers. In Sydney, staff also seem frustrated with the environment in which they have to work. For them I feel sorry. BNE, MEL, and PER are now far superior to the SYD business lounges. "Sunset", (yes I chose the word) projects are all very fine if you can afford the comfy seat in "squeezy", but 17+ hours playing sardine in the back cabin is my idea of hell. I'll go to New York or Chicago from Brisbane via Los Angeles every time.

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