Qantas will begin reopening airport lounges across Australia from this week as travel and venue restrictions ease and demand slowly picks up leading into the mid-year school holidays.
The first wave will see the more exclusive Qantas Business Lounges open their doors to all travellers – including Qantas Club members and Gold-grade frequent flyers.
However, there'll be strict capacity limits on the number of guests allowed in at any time, to comply with state-specific restrictions on indoor gatherings which commonly dictate a maximum number of customers in any single enclosed space and/or a limit of one customer per 2sqm or 4sqm.
In line with those caps, a Qantas spokesperson has advised Executive Traveller that top-tier frequent flyers will be permitted to bring guests into the lounge only if they are on the same flight as their host, while in the short term, complimentary Qantas lounge invitation passes won't be eligible for entry.
The larger Qantas Clubs will open later, based on demand, while the elite invitation-only Chairman's Lounges are scheduled to open in August.
The following Qantas domestic lounges will be open from 1 July:
- Sydney Business Lounge (capacity limit of 347)
- Canberra Business Lounge (capacity limit of 100)
- Coffs Harbour Regional Lounge (capacity limit of 23)
- Tamworth Regional Lounge (capacity limit of 21)
- Adelaide Qantas Club (capacity limit of 468)
- Perth Domestic Business Lounge (capacity limit of 350)
- Kalgoorlie Regional Lounge (capacity limit of 50)
- Broome Regional Lounge (capacity limit of 48)
- Karratha Regional Lounge (capacity limit of 80)
- Alice Springs Regional Lounge (capacity limit of 68)
- Launceston Regional Lounge (capacity limit of 23)
The Qantas Business Lounges at Melbourne and Brisbane, along with regional lounges in Victoria and Queensland, will be progressively reopened from July 10 as current state-based gathering restrictions are eased.
(Under current state regulations the Melbourne and Brisbane Business Lounges, along with the Qantas Club and Chairman's Lounge, would be permitted only 20 guests at a time.)
Qantas closed all domestic and worldwide lounges on 23 March, as a result of government enforced restrictions which shut down the majority of domestic and international flying.
The new Qantas lounge experience
While the lounge experience of the Covid-19 era will be rather different to the old one, some travellers may find that measures such as replacing the self-serve buffet with a "personalised tray-around service" will make for a bit of a boutique club-like feel.
Customers will be able to choose from a selection of individually-plated items such as roast field mushrooms, kale and cheese tarts with tomato relish; bacon and egg rolls; bacon, chili and parmesan frittatas; blackberry cheesecakes; and carrot and pecan cakes with cream cheese frosting.
These dishes will change daily, and there'll also be individual treats from serviced 'snacking stations', while the Melbourne Business Lounge's Spice Bar and the Perth Business Lounge's Pizza Bar will be be in operation as usual.
Coffee (served in disposable take-away cups), fresh squeezed juice, beer and wine can all be ordered from the bar or barista.
"We haven’t ruled out a return of the buffet, toastie and pancake maker in the future or the reintroduction of self-serve beverage stations when restrictions ease," reassures Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully.
"In the meantime, we are hopeful Qantas customers will enjoy the extra personalised offering”.
Sanitising stations are dotted around the lounges, which have all undergone a deep clean during their closure.
"Some initiatives will become the norm while others such as capacity restrictions will ease as time goes on," Tully predicts.
"This is a new world for everyone as we introduce and evolve our services to the new travel climate, but we’re very confident that we can make this work well for our people and our customers"