International travel may be back for most Australians – at least those living in New South Wales and Victoria, as of November 1, with other states to follow over the coming months – but Qantas' international lounges will be slower to return.
Here's the rundown on which Qantas international first class and business class lounges will reopen, and when, accurate as of October 31, 2021.
Qantas Sydney International lounges
Qantas rolled out the welcome mat at its Sydney First Lounge on Monday November 1, in line with the restart of flights to London and Los Angeles.
The downstairs Sydney Business Lounge will remain shuttered until there's sufficient demand for both lounges to open – and that might not happen until at least early 2022, based not only on the gradual return of Qantas flights but of its many partner airlines as well as the Qantas A380 on Sydney-Los Angeles.
In the meantime, the highly-regarded Qantas first class lounges will admit not only the A380's first class passengers and Platinum-grade frequent flyers but welcome everyone who’d usually head for the business lounge, including:
- Qantas business class travellers
- Platinum One, Platinum and Gold-tier Qantas frequent flyers
- Qantas Club members
- business class travellers on Oneworld and partner airlines (such as Qatar Airways and Emirates)
- Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire frequent flyers
- Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold frequent flyers
As for complimentary Qantas lounge invitations, a Qantas spokesperson tells Executive Traveller that while the airline intends to allow these in the near future, they won't be accepted "for the initial international flights while we review capacity."
Reflecting this short-term shift away into being less an exclusive first class lounge and more of a shared ‘premium lounge’, the à la carte menu has also been pared back, although some favourites such as the salt and pepper calamari and the Instagramable 'pavlova in a glass’ remain.
(Also, for the time being, the day spa remains closed).
Qantas says the new hours of its Sydney First Lounge will be shaped around the airline's own timetable, with the lounge opening four hours ahead of each QF flight.
Qantas Melbourne International lounges
At the time of writing, Qantas doesn't expect to reopen its Melbourne First Lounge until November 22, 2021, when the airline recommences flights between Melbourne and Singapore, with Melbourne-London now slated to follow on November 27.
As is the case with Sydney, the Melbourne Business Lounge (aka 'the bunker') will be closed until sometime in 2022, with all lounge-worthy passengers on Qantas and partner airlines being directed to the first class lounge.
The lounge's menu is also in streamlined mode and the spas remain closed, while the Melbourne First Lounge will open four hours ahead of each QF flight.
Qantas Singapore International lounges
Qantas maintained two popular lounges at Singapore's Changi T1, and both have been sadly shuttered since the pandemic took hold in March 2020.
Executive Traveller understands that the Singapore Business Lounge is expected to be first to unlock its frosted doors "in early December", despite flights from Sydney and Melbourne resuming from November 22, with all lounge-eligible passengers directed to the independent SATS Premier T1 Lounge in the interim.
The Singapore First Lounge will remain closed until there's sufficient demand for both spaces to open, which isn't likely until early 2022.
Qantas has reportedly been able to re-hire over 30 of its Singapore lounge team, which means travellers can look forward to seeing plenty of friendly familiar faces.
Qantas Los Angeles International lounges
Qantas plans to reopen at least one of its LAX lounges by December 18, in line with the ramp up to daily Sydney-Los Angeles flights plus the restart of Melbourne-Los Angeles flights (currently pegged at four per week).
The airline says that "in the interim few weeks of operation, eligible Qantas customers will be able to visit the Star Alliance Lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal in LA."
This is one of the best lounges at LAX with an excellent spread of food, an in-terminal terrace bar, plus an open-air outdoor deck.
If Qantas moves to open just one lounge at LAX from December 18, it's not know if this will be the airline's own first class lounge – with the same expanded access rules as Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore – or the business class lounge which is shared with British Airways and Cathay Pacific, and thus serves as a broader Oneworld Business Lounge.
Qantas London Heathrow Lounge
Likewise, Qantas says its London Heathrow T3 lounge will also be back in action "in December" – potentially although not confirmed as December 18, again tied to Sydney-London flights moving to a daily frequency.
In the meantime, the go-to London lounge for Qantas passengers will be the British Airways' Heathrow T3 lounge – although if Cathay Pacific happens to reopen its own Heathrow T3 lounges, we'd recommend these as the best choice.
Otherwise, if you've got an American Express Platinum Charge Card, Business Platinum Card or Corporate Platinum Card issued directly by AMEX in any country, including Australia (or of course the invitation-only American Express Centurion Card or Business Centurion Card), make a beeline for T3's new American Express Centurion Lounge.
This sumptuously-designed space boasts a superb à la carte dining room with a menu curated by Michelin-star Chef Assaf Granit, a well-stocked bar and even a 'high tea' cart.
Qantas Hong Kong Lounge
As for the Qantas Hong Kong lounge, this won't reopen. As Executive Traveller revealed in August, the lounge will remain permanently closed after the airline resumes flying to the Asian financial hub in early 2022.
"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 told Executive Traveller.
Joyce said the airline had "looked at everything that we needed in individual markets" in planning its post-pandemic recovery, "and Cathay have some amazing lounges in Hong Kong, so we've worked with them to get access to their lounges – and of course they have access to our lounges here – and we think that's the best arrangement."