Qantas is now letting travellers pay their way into its swish London Heathrow lounge, regardless of their frequent flyer status or even which airline they're booked on – a roster which includes airlines that don't belong to the Oneworld alliance.
Qantas has set a walk-up rate of £55 (A$103) for access to its lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3, which opened in December 2017 and boasts a dining area with à la carte menu, a well-stocked gin bar and an upstairs cocktail bar.
However, while the lounge is open from 8am to 9pm, it's largely empty but for the departure of Qantas' two daily flights to Australia: the non-stop QF10 Boeing 787 to Perth, at 11.55am, and the QF2 Airbus A380 to Sydney via Singapore at 8.35pm.
Executive Traveller understands the paid access option is being treated as a trial to help fill the lounge and generate revenue during the extensive afternoon lull period, although staff are said to be mindful of the need to avoid over-crowding the lounge prior to the superjumbo's evening departure. Qantas has been approached for comment.
Eligible travellers in Oneworld business or first class, and top-tier frequent flyers holding Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire status, also have the option to visit the nearby lounges of British Airways, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines. Of these, Cathay Pacific is widely held as the superior choice.
Terminal 3 also has an independent No1 Lounge which charges £34 online, or £40 at the door, for a stay of up to three hours.
Elsewhere in the Qantas loungescape, the airline expects a ribbon-cutting for its new Singapore first class lounge on Monday December 2, with a soft opening likely some days prior.
Located at the opposite end of Changi Terminal 1 to the current Qantas Singapore Business lounge, the Qantas Singapore First lounge will welcome not only first class passengers on the Qantas A380s and other Oneworld airlines (most notably BA First passengers) but Platinum-grade frequent flyers and their Oneworld Emerald equivalents.
The timely pre-Christmas opening of Qantas' Singapore first class lounge should alleviate crowding in the Qantas business class lounge, which has also recently been extended to add 74 seats and boost total capacity to almost 600 passengers, compared to some 460 guests when the lounge debuted in April 2013.
Early 2020 will also see Qatar Airways open a new Premium Lounge at Changi Terminal 1, adding another option for eligible Oneworld travellers.
Qatar Airways’ Singapore Premium Lounge will be located on the upper ‘lounge level’ of Terminal 1, adjacent to the Emirates and Plaza Premium lounges at the start of the C Gates wing.
Currently under construction, the Qatar Airways lounge is expected to offer à la carte dining and a tended bar with Champagne and made-to-order cocktails, set in a refined space with a sense of seclusion, in keeping with the airlines' description of its Premium Lounges as being “more of a boutique hotel or private club than a lounge.”
However, unlike Singapore's Qantas and British Airways lounges, the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge will be an exclusive domain of business class and first class travellers on the airline and fellow Oneworld airlines.
This means that frequent flyers booked into premium economy or economy – even Platinum members of Qatar Airways’ own Privilege Club, along with their Oneworld Emerald equivalents (such as Qantas Platinum, British Airways Gold and the like) – won’t be allowed into Qatar Airways’ Singapore lounge.
Qatar Airways also enforces a strict ‘smart dress code’ at its lounges. For example, Qatar’s Bangkok lounge decrees that “tattered jeans, shorts, beach ware, vests or revealing clothing and flip-flops (thongs) are not permitted.”