Qantas teases next wave of lounge upgrades

Is it finally time for the Sydney business class lounges to shine, and will Melbourne’s ‘dungeon’ also receive a makeover?

By David Flynn, November 4 2022
Qantas teases next wave of lounge upgrades

Qantas could finally deliver that long-awaited upgrade to its airline’s lacklustre Sydney domestic and international business class lounges, with a multimillion dollar investment taking the crowded spaces from drab to fab.

Speaking at the airline’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney today, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce noted that with the airline “finally returning to profit” after a pandemic hammering, “we’ve switched our lounge investment program back on.”

And while the all-new Qantas Auckland International Lounge is the star attraction for 2023, given its role in the airline’s Sydney-Auckland-New York flights taking wing from June, it looks like Sydney and perhaps Melbourne are next in line.

Qantas' domestic business class lounges at Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have set the standard for Sydney.
Qantas' domestic business class lounges at Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have set the standard for Sydney.

“We know how important the lounge experience is to our premium customers,” Joyce stated, “and we’re working on several more projects that we’ll be announcing in the coming months.”

Qantas’ Sydney domestic and international business lounges are arguably the most deserving, given their role as the airline’s flagship business class lounges.

In 2018 the airline committed to all-new Sydney International Business lounge, with staged construction work will begin in the third quarter of that year and stretch through to the end of 2019.

A fresh flagship lounge experience

The plans set out “a completely new design” developed by David Caon in collaboration with Australian architecture firm Bates Smart, with more than 30% extra seating and “a new signature dining experience” from resident chef Neil Perry.

“Our business lounge in Sydney is one of the most visited on the international network, so we look forward to upgrading the space with a completely new design and a lot more capacity,” Joyce said at the time.

The David Caon-designed Qantas Singapore First Lounge.
The David Caon-designed Qantas Singapore First Lounge.

“Our customers have told us that ample space, privacy and ambience are what they value most in their lounge experience, so the overall design of the new lounge will be tailored with this in mind.”

The project was however put on ice, reportedly when the possibility of relocating the lounge to a proposed new international pier at Sydney T1 arose – and then, of course, the impact of Covid saw the airline understandably prioritise its survival over all else.

But with blue skies ahead, those plans could be reactivated in the 2023-2024 financial year – and Melbourne flyers will no doubt be hoping Melbourne's International Business lounge, often dismissed as ‘the dungeon’, also gets a make-over.

Hitting the restart button

Sydney’s domestic Qantas Business lounge is another sadly sub-par facility.

It’s the airline’s busiest domestic lounge, and having been opened in July 2008 it’s now noticeably long in the tooth – especially when compared with its modern counterparts at MelbourneBrisbane and Perth.

Those three business lounges also adopted a contemporary locally-influenced design along with lounge-specific dining option such as Melbourne’s Asian Spice Bar and Perth's pizza ovens, which have become a signature component of the Qantas business lounge experience.

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

In December 2019, Joyce assured Executive Traveller “the Sydney domestic business lounge is now top of the list for the domestic lounge (upgrade program).”

“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”, which included Project Sunrise plus the domestic fleet’s subsequent shift to the Airbus A220 and A321neo series .

“We're going to spend around $2 billion on aircraft, on product, on seats,” Joyce forecast – again, in the rosy days before Covid.

“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.”

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 199

Surely the Melbourne International business lounge is first in the queue? !

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 105

Although the Melbourne International Business Dungeon lounge is probably the worst of them, I'd imagine the reason why they aren't doing anything to it was that they were planning on moving it out of there when they do some long awaited works to the Melbourne International Terminal. 

They probably don't want to waste money on something that gets trashed in a couple of years but as there is still a bit of time to go before they move they probably should consider a minor refresh just for the couple of years of extra service required.

I just felt with news of Cathay moving out of the Qantas Lounge at Sydney was probably a sign of impending works to the Sydney Lounge.

21 Aug 2019

Total posts 67

Perennial debate over lounge updates. Hopefully something is done 


21 Jul 2011

Total posts 91

Sounds like good news, but compared to most lounges around the world, they’re pretty good as is. We’re spoiled in 🇦🇺 as I sit in in the Air Malta La Valletta lounge it’s patently obvious 😂

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Feb 2020

Total posts 28

Well and truly overdue. Let’s hope it’s quick.

22 May 2011

Total posts 85

Vague vague, but at least it’s being talked about 

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 150

More PR distraction trying to  hide the decay the airline is currently operating under, when passengers today simply want an efficient operational airline. Future promises of flair, new aircraft and upgraded lounges doesn't cut it.

Time to sort today's issues, not promise the possibly unobtainable, and stop using Covid as an excuse.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2018

Total posts 47

everybody is different, but for me the problem is that some Qantas lounges feel like a downgrade in terms of food and fluids. Some offer food excellence while others are more like a refectory. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 111

The QF SYDi J lounge is truly dismal.


09 May 2020

Total posts 530

At the end of the day a business traveller wants to spend minimum time flying and even less time lounging while waiting from cancelled or delayed flights. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Feb 2017

Total posts 2

Anyone know when they're going to re-open the Rockhampton Qantas lounge?

19 Jul 2018

Total posts 9

Qantas is a third world airline at best these days. I flew First from LAX to Syd in April and it was the worst flight of my life. Even the crew complained about the airline. I contacted each member of the Qantas board to complain about the appalling state of the lounges and inflight experience and received compensation as I was on a paid first ticket. I’d just flown first on Swiss and SQ so had a good baseline to compare. All QF was interested in was me identifying members of the crew who bagged the airline, which I refused to do. Shut it down. Qantas is a mess and has gone from proud icon to national joke run by a man who will go down in history as the undertaker of the Red Roo. 

07 Nov 2022

Total posts 1

Hi all, I have some potentially good lounge news.

I was on a flight to Fiji from Melbourne (stopover in Sydney). I’m QFF Gold but booked a FJ ticket flight.

I just wanted to share my experience. After reading this article I realised I wouldn’t get lounge access. However, I made sure I put my QFF number into the check-in on Fiji Air’s website.

My ticket came with the Oneworld logo and my Sapphire status printed on, and I figured I’d try to get into the Qantas lounge anyway.

Long story short, it worked. The attendant scanned my ticket and needed me to give my QFF card (as the FJ database apparently only gives the last 4 digits of my QFF number when scanning?) but I got in with my guest as well. QFF Gold in Sydney International Business Lounge, on a FJ-ticketed flight booked through Fiji Airways.

So there you go, it is possible, you may just have to be lucky.

24 Sep 2017

Total posts 8

ET reports QF 'teasing' lounge upgrades because, as usual, QF is not yet actually planning on doing anything. It will be years before any of these 'teased' upgrades come to fruition.

Hasnt the QF PR department worked out yet that we are all now on to the con? Marketing spin and big announcements, nothing actually to back any of it up.

Just take a stroll into the QF Sydney 'Business' lounge toilets - if they even cleaned those properly it would be an 'upgrade'...

08 Nov 2022

Total posts 2

I had the opportunity to experience The House lounge in Melbourne on a recent trip abroad. I was incredibly impressed by the hospitality, the quality and variety of food options and the overall calm ambiance. Everything was immaculately maintained and presented, and I can see the staff had great attention to detail. On that note, the staff were incredibly helpful, and I truly appreciated their kindness and personalised customer service. I wish I took down the name of the lovely lady in the lounge that day, but will reach out to the company so she can be recognised. I seldom provide any feedback but felt like my positive experience needed to be shared on this platform.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 111

QF has been teasing these upgrades for years, well before covid. It's all the suckers who keep flying Qantas on the promise of all these "enhancements" who, ironically, ensure that one of these upgrades eventuate. AJ knows he can keep pulling in the bonuses and not spending on the business while-ever there remain so many rusted-on customers.

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