UPDATE | Qantas will begin upgrading its domestic Qantas Club and business class lounges at Melbourne Airport in November, with construction works to take place over a 12-month period.
Both lounges will remain open during the renovation, with the upgrades – exclusively revealed by Australian Business Traveller earlier this month – being completed in stages.
Business class travellers, Platinum frequent flyers and other Oneworld Emerald cardholders will benefit the most with a 40% increase in seating, with the new lounge promising space for 350 high flyers.
Qantas confirms that as with the new Business Lounges in Brisbane and Perth, Melbourne will have its own unique dining option that reflects the local culture, which will be formally announced closer to completion – but tipped to be a noodle bar.
Qantas Club members, Gold-grade travellers and other Oneworld Sapphire members will also find more seats available in the redesigned Qantas Club, rising by 10% to 530, and taking the capacity of the combined lounge precinct to 880.
The refit will bring more power points for charging laptops, tablets and smartphones; a 'Quench' hydration station with a selection of premium non-alcoholic beverages, and an all-new look and feel compared to the current space:
Designed by Woods Bagot, the lounges will also share a reception desk but will be relocated to bring the Business Lounge towards the airside windows and the Qantas Club towards the centre of the terminal, allowing for direct-entry into both from the main reception area – avoiding the current detour for Business Lounge guests via the Qantas Club.
Additional reporting by Chris Chamberlin.
PREVIOUS [16 AUGUST 2016] - EXCLUSIVE | Qantas is set to embark on an extensive make-over of its domestic business class and Qantas Club lounges at Melbourne Airport, with spanking new lounges springing up in their place.
The much-needed upgrade could begin towards the end of this year, with work being split into three stages designed to ensure that part of each lounge remains open during the renovations.
It's expected the overhaul will be completed around the middle of 2018, a decade after Melbourne's Business Lounge first opened.
A Qantas spokesperson declined to comment on specific plans for Melbourne but said "we’re on a constant cycle of renewal with our lounges, having upgraded or improved about 30 of them in the past few years."
But we've seen the blueprints, and here are the key take-outs.
Separate lounges, at last
Floorplans sighted by Australian Business Traveller show the Business Lounge and Qantas Club will each have their own entry and footprint, unlike the current arrangement which sees the Business Lounge nested inside the Qantas Club.
Travellers will ascend the escalators and hook left to enter the Business Lounge, or veer right for the Qantas Club. This will also remove the circuitous exitway of today's lounge layout.
So who gets the view?
The new Melbourne Business Lounge will occupy the entire northern span of Qantas' domestic lounge precinct, taking over a stretch of space currently assigned to the Qantas Club – which means that business class passengers and Qantas Platinum card-holders will enjoy plenty of light plus tarmac views.
The new Qantas Club will roughly mirror the Business Lounge's location but on the windowless southern side of the terminal.
The Business Lounge will no longer dogleg around to the left at the buffet and bar, yielding that space to the Qantas Club.
Both the Business Lounge and Qantas Club are informally divided into east and west zones with a bar in the middle.
More seats? More or less...
Based on comparing the old and new layouts, it seems there'll be more seats in the Business Lounge but slightly fewer for the Qantas Club.
What's most noticeable for both lounges is that there's less clutter: the floorplan generally shows a far more thoughtful composition of furniture and flow, giving travellers a greater variety of seating and tables plus more room to move between them.
In the Qantas Club, the newsagency will be relocated to just near the entry.
Expect some of the furniture to be similar to that of the recently-opened Brisbane domestic Business Lounge – in fact, reflecting on the 'before and after' of that lounge should give you an idea of what's in store for Melbourne.
Food and drinks
Centrally located in both the new Business Lounge and the Qantas Club is a tended bar, with 'Quench' drink stations found in the east and west wings of each lounge.
Adjacent to the Business Lounge bar is a buffet and dining area supported by its own kitchen, while a noodle station marked on the plans indicates the 'food theme' of the Melbourne lounge will be Asian (compared to pizza in the Perth lounge and Mexican food for Brisbane).
The Qantas Club's new dining area is closer to the entry and includes a buffet and 'cake display'.
More to come...
Melbourne's impressive transformation, which comes at the hand of Qantas' long-time lounge partner Woods Bagot, also provides a clue as to what's ahead for Qantas' flagship Sydney domestic lounges, which are said to be next on the to-do list for 2019.
More news on upgrades to Qantas' lounge network could be revealed when the airline opens its books on the 2017 financial year and an expected $1.4 billion profit, which would be the second largest in its history.
Lounge-related announcements could also include a planned refresh for the Sydney and Melbourne international business lounges plus an all-new Auckland lounge, which is expected to follow the 'premium' model of Singapore, Hong Kong and soon London, bringing first class and business class passengers into a single space.