Qantas eager to reopen its international lounges

As overseas travel returns in 2021, Qantas stands ready to reopen its flagship international lounges.

By David Flynn, November 13 2020
Qantas eager to reopen its international lounges
Executive Traveller exclusive

Covid-safe and quarantine-free bubbles will not only unlock overseas travel, they'll unlock the doors to Qantas' international lounges – and could see the flagship first class lounges become a single shared space for business class passengers and mid-level frequent flyers.

The Australia-New Zealand travel bubble now taking shape is expected to launch in early 2021, followed by the Pacific Islands and selected Asian destinations.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Australia continued to hold discussions with several "low-risk" countries in Asia – including Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and, South Korea – about opening up quarantine-free travel.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has suggested that Qantas could begin direct flights from Australia to Taipei and Seoul if the opportunity arises.

The Qantas First lounge could become the short-term default for all loungeworthy flyers.
The Qantas First lounge could become the short-term default for all loungeworthy flyers.

"We're really excited about the prospect of travel bubbles," Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully tells Executive Traveller.

Qantas shuttered its international lounges in Australia and around the world in late March 2020, when the airline grounded all overseas flights as the coronavirus took hold.

Hopefully, it won't take a full 12 months to pass before some of those lounges roll out the welcome mat.

"We'll reopen our international lounges as soon as there's enough commercial demand, particularly at Sydney and Melbourne, if they're the likely Australian ports" for travel bubbles, Tully says.

As on the domestic front, where in most capital cities the Qantas Business Lounge opened before the Qantas Club and became the single shared lounge for all passengers, "we might open one of the international lounges to start with – and that doesn't mean necessarily the business lounge, it could be the first lounge because the size is smaller."

The Qantas First lounge could become the short-term default for all loungeworthy flyers.
The Qantas First lounge could become the short-term default for all loungeworthy flyers.

"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."

And once regular flights to Singapore resume, Tully says one of Qantas' Lion City lounges – again, potentially the Singapore first class lounge – would fling open its doors.

Singapore's stylish but short-lived Qantas First lounge.
Singapore's stylish but short-lived Qantas First lounge.

"Absolutely," she enthuses. "It breaks my heart, it's such a beautiful lounge and it had such a short life."

ET review: Qantas first class lounge, Singapore Changi Airport

Bubbles aside, there's no doubt that Covid-19 will make its presence felt on the first class lounge experience.

"We will obviously be really compliant with the need for distancing and the need for hygiene," Tully affirms, "but I think that you'll still feel like it's the same food, the amazing premium Qantas lounge experience, with all the things we love like the salt and pepper squid."

Travel bubbles could also mean Champagne bubbles and the iconic squid.
Travel bubbles could also mean Champagne bubbles and the iconic squid.

Tully also expects the day spa would resume its preflight pampering for Platinum-grade passengers.

"We'll obviously be compliant with all the regulations, but these lounges are such a core part of the Qantas proposition that we'll want to bring back all the things that our customers really value."

The spa will likely remain part of Qantas' Sydney and Melbourne First lounge experience.
The spa will likely remain part of Qantas' Sydney and Melbourne First lounge experience.

And while Qantas doesn't expect to resume flights to the USA until at least the end of 2021, Tully suggests the airline's LAX business class lounge will remain under the airline's wing rather than be handed over to the Oneworld alliance, which is planning a network of its own Oneworld-branded lounges.

"We're having lots of discussions around (international) lounges but they're very critical for Qantas," Tully shares.

Qantas' shared LAX business class lounge isn't likely to be taken over by Oneworld.
Qantas' shared LAX business class lounge isn't likely to be taken over by Oneworld.

"Even though we're not clear on when flights to Los Angeles will resume, I think we want Qantas lounges in Los Angeles. That's very important for our customers... at  Tom Bradley, we obviously shared a business lounge (with British Airways and Cathay Pacific) but we absolutely want those Los Angeles lounges to remain in our control."

Also read: Qantas to reopen most domestic lounges on December 2

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.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

Given the next 6 months is likely to be once daily (at best) services to SIN, HND(SYD only), HKG, AKL, CHC and maybe NAN, opening just the First Lounges in MEL and SYD seems perfectly sensible.  Likewise a couple of A330s from SIN to SYD and MEL each day will probably mean the First Lounge there is also more than enough.  I would suspect in HKG that the QF Lounge will remain shuttered with QF pax there directed to whatever lounges CX chooses to open.

so reeves 35, when did you get your crystal ball ?

Doubt if anyone knows any of above right now.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

Regular unusual for you to not to be into predictions c.f Trump, Palaszczuk, Adern, not to mention international borders opening.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

If anything, I think I may be too optimistic.  Europe and USA are basically out of control and, as we can see from Adelaide, importing virus through returning travellers is the biggest threat to what Australia has achieved.  I'm still hopeful for some of the routes I suggested within 6 months but you wouldn't bet your house on it.

Vaccines appear to be promising but, as Peter Collignon has said on radio this morning, it is unlikely the general Australian population will have widespread vaccination until this time next year.  It may end up that Qantas were being a bit optimistic when they closed all their Europe and USA bookings until October 2021, maybe January 2022 is more likely.

DY
DY

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 May 2017

Total posts 13

Is the SYD F lounge really that much smaller than the J lounge?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

I don't think it is much smaller but would think it is easier to set up for social distancing requirements.

what social distancing ? In Bris Wed night, there's a leagie game for all the ferals & there will be no social distancing whatsoever. Expecting a 100% full stadium of 52,500.

Open the fricking borders now. All of them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 481

Chile has just announced that its borders are reopening from 23 November. 

Just need a way to get there...

13 Nov 2020

Total posts 2

I made AA Ex Plat last year and the Qantas First Lounges were on my list for 2020.  Fortunately, I did my trip to Australia & New Zealand in Feb right before the shutdown.  I now refer to it as my salt and pepper squid tour hitting the lounges at LAX, MEL and SYD.  Here’s to lounge re-openings!

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 86

New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong should all open to each other right now. Test as negative to get on the flight, test again on arrival and lets make this happen. I will be there within days of the borders opening!!

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

Richard you are of course assuming no false negatives on the two tests. If your negative proves wrong (as in positive) as people are finding who pays the bill?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 86

If you think like that then we will never fly and use lounges ever again. I think differently to you, which is ok. Stay with low risk countries and deal with any outbreaks, which will occur,  sensibly and calmly. Don’t stress. 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1124

Richard my point was not about travelling to those countries, but using a useless test as being the criteria. I will fly again but will accept a quarantine regime that allows PCR tests a few days apart.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 86

Yes, good idea.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 61

Didn't Singapore Airlines just let go of its stake in Virgin Australia? If so, then Qantas lounges will open very soon because they'll soon also be Singapore Airlines lounges.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qantas eager to reopen its international lounges