Review: the new Qantas Airbus A380 onboard lounges

On your next Qantas A380 superjumbo flight, take a break from your business class seat and head for the relaxing onboard lounges.

By David Flynn, July 19 2022
Review: the new Qantas Airbus A380 onboard lounges

Among the standout features on the Qantas A380 superjumbo are two slick onboard lounges reserved for first class and business class passengers.

Nestled at the very front of the A380’s top deck – on either side of the ‘grand staircase’ connecting the upper and main decks – they’re very different to the lounges of the Emirates and Qatar Airways A380s.

While still serving as a ‘second space’ for getting away from your seat and mingling with fellow high flyers, the Qantas A380 lounges have more of a cafe-style layout with bench seating for 10 people across both lounges.

One of Qantas' two new A380 upper deck lounges.
One of Qantas' two new A380 upper deck lounges.

With deep green leather couches, timber laminate walls and gentle lighting, the overall effect is the cosy, almost ‘speakeasy’ vibe of a supper club above the clouds; completing the picture is the ‘Premium Lounge Menu’ of bespoke cocktails and snacks.

The new lounges add a social element to the superjumbo flying experience.
The new lounges add a social element to the superjumbo flying experience.

These chic lounges are being fitted to all ten of Qantas’ refurbished A380s – a multi-million dollar makeover which also includes new business class and premium economy seats, along with a refresh for the 14 first class suites.

It’s a world away from the original Qantas A380 lounge: a long and uncomfortably low red banquette, which in these original concept images even includes a fanciful fish tank set into one wall!

This mock-up image included a wrap-around fishtank in the sidewall...
This mock-up image included a wrap-around fishtank in the sidewall...

For Australian designer David Caon, who oversaw the Qantas A380’s modernisation program, the immediate opportunity to transform the lounge from being a mere piece of furniture into a thoughtfully-considered social space.

“Our lounge should be something where people are able to sit and face each other and discuss and talk,” Caon told Executive Traveller in the early days of the lounge’s evolution, noting the original configuration saw “everybody sitting along the bench and facing one direction.”

Caon's new lounges make the most of the original lounge footprint.
Caon's new lounges make the most of the original lounge footprint.

“It’s supposed to be a sociable space, the kind of space that if there are two people that are travelling together but not necessarily sitting together, they can go (to the lounge) and spend time together.”

Qantas' upgraded A380s have one lounge on either side of the upper deck staircase.
Qantas' upgraded A380s have one lounge on either side of the upper deck staircase.

In place of a small cabin crew workstation on the left side of the upper deck staircase, an additional bench seating area was created...

The 'secondary' lounge is well suited to larger groups of travellers.
The 'secondary' lounge is well suited to larger groups of travellers.

... flanked by a self-serve minibar for drinks and snacks and a large video screen for watching inflight movies or the simple joy of the ‘moving map’.

Drinks and snacks are available from the self-serve nook.
Drinks and snacks are available from the self-serve nook.

Early concept sketches explored how the footprint of the original lounge could be opened up, which included scrapping the magazine rack which used to sit below the video screen.

This early concept shows first hints of how the original narrow lounge could be reconfigured.
This early concept shows first hints of how the original narrow lounge could be reconfigured.

“It's really not necessary,” Caon explained. “The magazine rack is not reinforcing our concept, which is about trying to find a way that we can get people to face each other.”

Caon’s team used both virtual reality headsets and life-size mockups to bring the two lounges to life.

David Caon's team used both VR and real-world mockups to bring the lounges to life.
David Caon's team used both VR and real-world mockups to bring the lounges to life.

Most passengers gravitate towards the lounge to the right of the staircase, which offers two seating nooks with tables are topped by lamps with soft LED lighting.

The new A380 lounges have proven a hit with business class passengers.
The new A380 lounges have proven a hit with business class passengers.

In addition, those tables and AC power outlets provide a comfortable working space, especially if you wanted to collaborate on that proposal or report with a colleague.

Even with the refreshed A380s sporting Qantas’ Business Suite in place of the old Skybed II seats, it’s still a pleasure to be able to leave your seat and change your personal scenery and surroundings, especially during a long flight.

13 May 2015

Total posts 23

I think they’re a much better use of space than the previous iteration, but I wonder what the noise footprint will be like from these spaces, especially for the first couple of seat rows?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 383

I usually sit in row 11 or 12, in that first business class cabin, and I don't find there's too much noise. The old lounge wasn't heavily used on my flights, although there'd usually be two or three people in it at some stage, but new lounge has more people but I don't find it noisy. I would be worried more if there was a bunch of people in the left hand lounge drinking and especially if the A380 has WiFi and they were streaming a rugby match for example, now that could get out of hand!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1108

Whilst a definite improvement on the original lounge, it is still not the most compelling space.  It still feels like an area that is looking for a reason.  

The EK bar has a reason and people gravitate there; it is a key part of the EK A380 product DNA.  No one considers the QF inflight Lounge as a USP for the QF A380.  If it ceased to exist, most people in F or J wouldn't even notice.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 383

Good points, but as you say this is not a 'key part' of the Qantas A380 offering, it's not a drawcard, I don't think anybody at Qantas is under the illusion that it is. It's just a smart way to use a very restrictive space. So the QF and EK propositions are simply very different things by intent and design.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 135

I like this new configuration better than the old. It's definitely an improvement. But cave-like colour scheme leaves a lot to be desired. Too dark and drab.

I sort of like the colour scheme, although I agree the lighting could be a bit brighter. But it has a nice relaxed feel to it.

Good timing, now that the A380 is back on QF1 and an option for Sydney-Singapore trips. I'm usually on QF81 in the morning but my last trip was QF1 and I spent a bit of time in the lounge to the right, with the tables. It's a nice place to sit and unwind, I had a cocktail, chatted with two other passengers, it really made the time go faster.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 308

While this in an improvement on the previous area, i don't think it is a deal breaker.  It's more of an area to stretch and get out of your seat on a long haul flight.  There just isn't a wow factor, and i wouldn't see people choosing to fly QF because of it.  Rather, there are many people that may choose EK or QR due to their onboard lounge/bar. 

I agree, but I take the point made by another commenter that this simply was never seen as a 'unique selling proposition' for the Qantas A380 compared to the Emirates A380. People won't choose to fly on the Qantas A380 because of these lounges, absolutely correct, but they are not intended to attract passengers, they're more just an extra component of the experience and better than the first version. The Emirates cocktail bar, totally different deal.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Jul 2014

Total posts 29

Windows would have given it a bit of life. And light.

You do realise that these A380s don't have windows that far forward in the first place? They've always just been a slab of fuselage. It's not as if Qantas can just carve a bunch of holes and voila, add windows!

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 29

I have used both Emirates and the ‘old’ Qantas on-board lounges, Emirates won by the proverbial country mile.   Always nice to chat to other travellers so it will be interesting to see how the new version works.

Pity that the SYD-DFW route isn’t included in the A380 plan so that LAX could be avoided.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jul 2018

Total posts 14

So if, as this article claims, there's a "Premium Lounge menu of bespoke cocktails and snacks", does that mean you can get service here? How? Is there a call button? Or do you just have to hope that a flight attendant wanders by?

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1445

It’s been around a while,  pre Covid and Ive used it a couple of time on Dallas flight as I recall: the lounge isn’t too bad sometimes there is some wine etc in the self service area, and the galley is nearby.

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 92

When I used the old "lounge", it was self-service with a few bottles of wine and small packs of pretzels/nuts (many fewer nuts). I was usually the only one, or one of very few people in that lounge. Would I return? I'd look, but keep an open mind as to the lounge's real value to passengers.

Aegean Airlines - Miles & Bonus

16 Jul 2019

Total posts 12

As others have said, it's a way to use the space without it being a key part of the Business/First Class product. I wonder if they could have used one side for a large toilet suite like Lufthansa and SQ do. Given the A380 will be averaging over 10 hours per sector, a space large enough for passengers to comfortably change into PJs and freshen up, would have been good. The existing toilets don't really achieve that.  The bar area on the left hand side seems to be a bottleneck waiting to happen. 

Above said, aesthetically the space looks great and I like the dark wood effect and mood lighting.   

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 238

I think the space along the left could have been turned into a large WC/change room, but the issue would be that this space is only used sporadically during the flight as a WC and then it has 'peak hours' when people change into and out of their PJs. There's probably not room for two WCs and space would be tight if they could squeeze two toilets in.

Aegean Airlines - Miles & Bonus

16 Jul 2019

Total posts 12

Fair point and I can imagine the line for the 'big loo' would get pretty long at peak periods calling other problems.   

I'm waiting for someone who's had a few too many cocktails to fall down the stairs for QF's lawyers to intervene. Emirates, Qatar, Etihad haven't placed their bars next to stairs possibly with that risk partially in mind.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Oct 2012

Total posts 28

Having flown regularly on the Qantas and Emirates A380s I cant see the attraction of the Qantas onboard lounge.  It's not a patch on the Emirates bar.  As a tall person who struggles to get changed in the toilet; surely they could re-purposed this into a better use of space for customers to get changed; or a larger toilet space.  I think it's a complete waste of valuable space and is akin to the ridiculous suggestions of a gym do do yoga for the non-stop flights.  


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Review: the new Qantas Airbus A380 onboard lounges