Visiting 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, December 20 2022
Visiting 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.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 60

Better than before, but still not a particularly appealing space, especially when compared with the bar/lounge offerings of the ME3. Additional lavatories / changing rooms would be more useful for most passengers, I feel. 

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 230

Well with respect there's no way you could fit anything like an Emirates bar in these spaces, they are simply too narrow. The only way to have a bar/lounge like Emirates and Qatar would be to remove wholesale rows of business class, or put this bar/lounge were premium economy is and move Y+ down to the main deck. Either way means losing a lot of seats and most airlines, let alone Qantas, wouldn't make that sacrifice.

I think an extra two lavs which can also be used as changing rooms would be a good way to use one of the lounge spaces, as long as there's room for two large lavs. Dedicated changing rooms make no sense because they're used only twice, once at the start of the flight and once near the end of the flight. The rest of the time they're not needed, so a WC or lounge makes more sense because it can be used all the way throughout the flight.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 82

How much noise is there going to be for the seats just behind these lounges? Especially when people are drinking and talking loudly. I would actually avoid any airline that offered on-board lounges. And as an aside, recently someone pointed out that sleeping across a few seats in Economy was a bad idea because one couldn't wear a seat belt (not actually true), but where are the warnings about sitting around in a lounge where (according to the photos) no seat belts are even supplied? Not a good place to be in clear-air turbulence.

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 207

I flew in Sydney-LA recently in 11K.  If there were people in the lounge I didn’t hear them; you get more disturbance from the cabin crew using the coat cupboards immediately in front of the seat.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 60

There are seatbelts in the lounge - they are recessed into small cutaways between the seats. The recent Hawaiian Airlines incident is a salient reminder of their value! 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1193

I have never seen these places really used.  I made a point of sitting in there on a daytime flight but it was a non-event and after 5 minutes of sitting there by myself looking at the wall I gave up.  

It just feels that Qantas didn't really know what to do with this space in the forehead of the A380 and stuck in the "lounge" for want of a better idea.  Emirates incorporated its bar into its A380 product and it is part of their Business Class DNA.  Likewise Qatar made the Q Suite the signature of its Business Class product like Singapore has made Book-the-Cook part of its.  There is no way the lounge could ever be considered as the must-do part of Qantas' J-class offering.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 87

Hmmm, forgot these spaces were there on a recent flight to/from UK....probably a reason for that...!!!


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