Politicians love invitation-only Qantas, Virgin Australia lounges

By David Flynn , October 8 2016
Politicians love invitation-only Qantas, Virgin Australia lounges

Access to luxury invitation-only airport lounges is a key weapon in assiduous courtship of politicians and powerbrokers by Qantas and Virgin Australia, and now we've been given a glimpse into which Federal MPs and Senators have availed themselves of this VIP privilege.

The Parliamentary Register of Members' Interests reveals the politicians with the private lounge perks.

Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Sydney
Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Sydney

Curiously, while former Prime Minister Tony Abbott lists membership of both the Qantas Chairman's Lounge (above) and Virgin Australia's The Club (below) – along with 'spouse membership' for his wife Margie – current PM Malcolm Turnbull appears to have no membership to either of these elite lounges.

Virgin Australia's The Club lounge, Sydney
Virgin Australia's The Club lounge, Sydney

Not that we imagine the PM would be turned away if he walked through those frosted glass doors.

The non-descript entrance to the Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Canberra
The non-descript entrance to the Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Canberra

Photos: Inside the Qantas Chairman's Lounge

Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon – independent in both party and personal principle – doesn't have membership in either airline's primo lounges, in keeping with his leanings to fly only in economy class and, according to his website, "usually on flexible discount fares."

(Xenaphon has previously called for all Federal MPs and Senators to fly economy class on flights of two hours or less, which would encompass Canberra flights from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, where the bulk of federal politicians live.)

According to the register, Qantas has gifted Chairman's Lounge membership to at least 105 Federal politicians, which Qantas CEO Alan Joyce once described to Australian Business Traveller as "probably the most exclusive club in the country."

By invitation only: the Qantas Chairman's Lounge
By invitation only: the Qantas Chairman's Lounge

94 pollies are on the door list of Virgin Australia's The Club, and many enjoy access to the private lounges of both Qantas and Virgin Australia, where a la carte dining with restaurant-grade food and wines are available throughout the day and evening.

The dining room of Sydney's Qantas Chairman's Lounge
The dining room of Sydney's Qantas Chairman's Lounge

You can comb through the Federal politician lounge access list using this sortable database at the ABC News website.

Read more:

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

05 May 2016

Total posts 581

Nice article. It could do with some proof-reading though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 229

I guess the PM doesn't require access to the lounges for the moment, he has access to "RAAF 1"

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

26 Feb 2016

Total posts 101

Maybe it is too expensive to operate an VIP jet so sometime the PM travels on a commercial flight? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 229

Well, apparently the sandwiches on 'RAAF1' aren't too good so maybe the should consider flying commercially.

I've read that they are looking at using A330 MRRT for the new PM plane which I am guessing is next level expensive to run compared to the BBJ they have at the moment so it could become a possibility they will use commerical flights a little more often but I'm doubtful.

13 May 2016

Total posts 40

The PM and his wife both have access

On what basis do you suggest membership by the Turnbulls? Is the register of member's interest incomplete?


Or is there a difference between "membership" and "access"?

If so, why would someone be given access with no membership? Is this a method used to not declare interest?

27 Sep 2011

Total posts 34

My guess is the register is incomplete. All federal MPs and Senators are given Chairmans Lounge membership - unless they've sent it back saying no thanks (which seems very unlikely) then they/someone in their office has screwed up

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 112

I'm not convinced the register is complete.

Now things may have changed but Brandis was listed as not having CL and I know he certainly did at one point!

A couple of years ago my wife and daughter (lap) were seated in 1A with Brandis in 1C, I was in 2C. I asked in the BNE J lounge if I could swap to assist my wife and the desk agent not only told me it was Brandis in 1A but that she would have to go to the CL and check with him if he was willing to swap - which he was and did.

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Not quite sure how the probably most exclusive club in Australia has gifted membership to 105 pollies, I don't think the Melbourne Club for instance gifts membership.

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Oh that Skybed mark I, belongs in a museum - preferably in the contraptions of torture section.

13 May 2016

Total posts 40

Which C L  is the Skybed  mark 1 in?

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 90

Frankly as service to paying customers declines stories about how the airlines pander to this so called elite just annoy me. My taxes buy the fancy airfares but my service standards continue to decline. I'm just over this stuff. 


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