Qantas' lounges at Singapore, London and Los Angeles will unlock their doors and roll out the welcome mat as the airline resumes overseas flights from December 2021.
The airline pulled down the shutters on all its international lounges in March 2020, as the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic swept around the globe and grounded almost all international Qantas flights.
But after 20 long months, except from some repatriation flights and the brief opening of the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble, Qantas is restarting its international network as Australia's national vaccination rate hits 80% and the country opens its borders.
And as those flights return – based on demand, of course – so will Qantas' lounges at key destinations.
The sole exception appears to be the Qantas Hong Kong lounge, which will remain permanently closed, with business class passengers, top-tier frequent flyers and Qantas Club members being directed to the lounges of Cathay Pacific.
"All of our other international lounges will be reopened, but in Hong Kong we've come to a relationship with Cathay to use their premium lounges there," Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce confirmed to Executive Traveller.
Read more: Qantas to permanently close Hong Kong lounge
While the airline notes its roadmap is dependent on the Government loosening international travel restrictions, especially with regard to quarantine-free travel or limited home isolation, Joyce said he has shared his plans with the government "and they agree with our broad assumptions, and agree that our plan is reasonable."
London, Singapore and LAX
Those plans see Qantas flying from mid-December 2021 to "Covid-safe destinations" including Singapore, the UK and the USA, all of which "have high and increasing levels of vaccination."
"This makes them highly likely to be classed as low risk countries for vaccinated travellers to visit and return from under reduced quarantine requirements, pending decisions by the Australian Government and entry policies of other countries," Qantas said.
Qantas has previously indicated its Singapore first class lounge might open to all of the airline's lounge-worthy travellers until the Lion City route sees enough passengers to reopen the larger Singapore business class lounge.
"It will depend on what the demand looks like," Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully told Executive Traveller in December 2020, saying that "if demand is not large... it makes sense to open the more premium lounge."
Meanwhile, travellers flying out of LAX on Qantas' Oneworld partner airlines will cheer the return of the Qantas Los Angeles business class and first class lounges.
(The business lounge was at one stage rumoured to be handed over to Oneworld to operate as its own branded lounge, similar to the nearby and now re-opened Star Alliance LAX lounge.)
Likewise, the Qantas London lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 has become a popular choice for passengers on Oneworld airlines – not only for its à la carte menu but for the signature gin bar – and an alternative to T3's neighbouring British Airways and Cathay Pacific lounges.
Flights to New Zealand are slated from mid-December 2021 "on the assumption some or all parts of the two-way bubble will restart", although the long-promised makeover of Qantas' sub-par Auckland lounges is probably still some years away.
Qantas expects flights to Hong Kong will restart in February 2022, but April 2022 is the soonest Qantas expects to fly to many destinations which "still have low vaccine rates and high levels of Covid infection" – among them Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Manila and Johannesburg.
Qantas Frequent Flyer members will continue to enjoy access to the lounges of Qantas and its Oneworld partner airlines through to as far as mid-2023 thanks to another status extension.
The airline is also offering free points, status credits and flight vouchers to members living in Australia as part of a vaccination rewards initiative, with ten ‘mega prizes’ of a year of free domestic and international flights.