Qantas will unlock the doors to its swish Sydney international first class lounge on Monday November 1 as the airline recommences its flagship flights to London and Los Angeles.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, speaking at today's Illuminate 2021 business travel forum, confirmed that not only would the lounge at Sydney Airport's T1 international terminal roll out the welcome mat, but the airline was preparing to reopen its network of 35 domestic lounges as lockdowns and and travel restrictions ease.
Qantas' Sydney international business class lounge is likely to remain closed, which means the first class lounge will offer access to business class travellers, Gold-grade Qantas Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members, along with the usual Platinum and Platinum One-tier frequent flyers.
This was the same approach used during the short-lived Australia-New Zealand travel bubble, and as Joyce said at the time, "if you're making a comeback, you should do it in style."
"That's why we've decided to open our First lounges ahead of our other lounges and give more of our customers the opportunity to experience them."
Status-based access will also extend to eligible frequent flyers of Oneworld partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways with a Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire card tucked into their travel wallet.
Qantas' Sydney first class lounge will be open prior to the airline's QF1 flight to London and QF11 flight to Los Angeles, both of which will now depart Sydney in the evening under a revised timetable designed to minimise the time aircraft spend on the ground at Heathrow and LAX.
With QF1 leaving Sydney around 6.30pm, and QF11 following at 10.30pm, this will also allow access for lounge-worthy passengers on the evening flights of Oneworld partner airlines, such as Qatar Airways' 10pm QR909 to Doha and Cathay Pacific's 10.20pm CX138 to Hong Kong.
The lounge's full set of opening hours have yet to be revealed, but it's likely to be tailored to suit Qantas' schedule.
As was the case during the trans-Tasman bubble, the first class lounge's à la carte menu is expected to be reshaped to what Qantas' consulting chef Neil Perry previously described to Executive Traveller as "more of a premium lounge menu like we have in London, while also recognising the importance of the First experience."
If the trans-Tasman dining experience is any guide, this will mean a mix of familiar Qantas First Lounge favourites alongside some dishes drawn from previous seasonal menus plus several 'crowd-pleaser' newcomers, and perhaps a cocktail or two alongside the selection of beers, wines and bubbles.