Melbourne - Tullamarine
- 40% more seating than the old lounge
- Cocktail bar, all-day barista coffee
- New look and feel, closer to an international lounge
- Can still feel busy during peak times
- Neil Perry's Asian Spice Bar
If you haven't visited Qantas' domestic business class lounge in Melbourne over the past year, you're in for a pleasant surprise: not only has the lounge been expanded significantly, it's been entirely redesigned with several new additions.
Among them, an Asian Spice Bar created by Neil Perry, a central cocktail bar and coffee servery replacing the small counter service zones of the 'old' Business Lounge, and even more tarmac views, with exterior windows spanning the entire length of the lounge.
Step inside and see why, with the exclusion of invitation-only spaces like the Qantas Chairman's Lounge and Virgin Australia's The Club, we now consider this to be Australia's best airport lounge for domestic travellers.
Location & Impressions
No longer do Business Lounge guests need to trek through the Qantas Club – now, as you ascend the ‘lounge escalator’ in Melbourne (after security and to the right), you’ll be able to head straight into the Business Lounge, which now begins back where the Qantas Club entrance used to be:
As there are tarmac-facing windows along the length of the lounge, the space feels light and airy wherever you wander, with the Business Lounge now offering seats for up to 350 guests: 40% more than before.
Designed by Woods Bagot with elements centred on “dark luxurious tones and sophisticated finishes … to symbolise the chic, urban feel of Melbourne”, one of the most eye-catching features of the lounge is the new bar area:
Here, there’s all-day barista coffee, joined by beer, wine and spirits from noon and signature cocktails in the afternoon and evenings, with the new look and feel carried through the rest of the lounge too, including its revitalised relaxation zones:
Much of this lounge sits within the footprint of the former Qantas Club, so for many travellers, the views will be familiar:
- Qantas and QantasLink business class customers with an onward departing flight, or after arriving in business class on the overnight QF648 service from Perth.
- International passengers connecting to or from a Qantas, Emirates or Oneworld alliance flight booked in business class or first class, even if the domestic leg from Melbourne is booked in economy.
- Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers before or after a same-day Qantas, QantasLink, Emirates, Jetstar or Oneworld flight.
- Other Oneworld Emerald members when their next onward flight that day is with Qantas or QantasLink and carries a QF or other Oneworld flight number (no access prior to Jetstar flights).
- Emirates Skywards Platinum cardholders where their next onward flight that day carries a QF or EK flight number and is operated by Qantas or QantasLink.
- China Eastern's Eastern Miles Platinum members departing on a Qantas- or QantasLink-operated domestic flight.
Jetstar passengers should note that this Business Lounge is located in Terminal 1, while all Jetstar domestic flights depart from Terminal 4 at the opposite end of the airport: a 10-15-minute walk, so leave plenty of time as you'll have to clear security screening again to proceed to your gate, as Terminals 1 and 4 aren't linked 'airside'.
Those departing from Terminal 4 who also have a Priority Pass membership might instead consider using the Regional Express Rex Lounge in T4 for convenience, especially if pressed for time.
On the food and beverage front, Qantas kicks its ‘signature dining concept’ up a notch in Melbourne with the opening of Neil Perry's new Asian Spice Bar, offering a range of fresh dishes prepared to order, inspired by Perry's Spice Temple restaurant.
With two options available at a time, my visit found a very tasty chicken laksa on the menu...
... along with a vegetarian wonton noodle soup, which came packed with flavour...
... boosted by the spices and textures of the condiments you can add on top (I added a bit of everything):
As with the Mexican cantina in Brisbane's Business Lounge, the dishes on offer will rotate to keep things interesting, with some of the other possibilities including stir-fried noodles and pork char sui with rice and stir-fried choy sum, with orders placed at the counter and served soon after.
There's plenty of seating in this area, whether at the high tables shown above or the booth seats below...
... and this is where you'll find the lounge's buffet zone too, beginning with simple breads and spreads...
... salads and other ingredients to add to a toastie, with a sandwich press nearby...
... fruits and sweets...
... snacks and lollies (yes, the famed liquorice allsorts remain)...
... and hot buffet stations, offering things like Singapore noodles, tomato, chickpea and spinach soup...
... stir-fried Chinese cabbage with bok choy and Chinese broccoli in rice wine vinegar, mushroom and sesame oil, or fried rice with capsicum, broccoli, shitake mushrooms and egg:
Menus are provided in several places if you're wondering what's what...
... and across the main walkway, you'll spot the bar:
If you're stopping by after midday, try the lounge's refreshing new gin-based cocktail (just ask for the "signature cocktail")...
... while barista coffee is available here all day. Being my third coffee order of the day, I switched my usual latte for a short macchiato...
The bar also serves a range of beers, cider, wine...
... and spirits, with a similar yet broader selection than offered in the Qantas Club next door.
Back towards the lounge entrance, a Quench hydration station as now seen in several Qantas lounges, where travellers can mix refreshing non-alcoholic drinks. My favourite here: pouring about 1cm of the lemon, lemon myrtle and Kakadu plum cordial into a glass, topped with sparkling water from the nearby Brita tap.
As soon as you enter the Business Lounge, you'll spot the main working area to your left...
... providing a long working bench, plus computer facilities...
... and a mobile phone charging station, although you'll need to keep an eye on your own device as there's no locking facility here:
We should just note: when this part of the lounge first opened, the power points (as pictured above) were located very close to the bench itself, which prevented travellers from being able to plug in larger laptop chargers.
These have now been moved higher up, including at the other working benches scattered throughout the lounge, where my Microsoft Surface charger plugged in without issue:
AC and USB power outlets can also be found throughout the lounge at "all fixed seating positions" – that's the chairs that don't move, such as the banquette seats (tucked away below the cushion, facing towards the cocktail tables)...
... and these circular tree-like perches, where power outlets are available at a similar spot:
Speed tests of the lounge's WiFi network during the busy weekday afternoon rush put average downloads at 64Mbps, and average uploads at 116Mbps, which, in plain English, is excellent regardless of what you're using the connection for.
Finished work for the day? There are plenty of places to kick back, beginning with those tree-like seats...
... and continuing with a range of comfy options throughout the space...
... and, particularly good for solo travellers, a line-up of seats facing the windows:
As in Melbourne's Qantas Club (pictured below), private shower suites are at-hand...
... with newspaper and magazine selections offered too, as expected.
All things considered, we'd now crown this as Australia's best airport lounge for domestic travellers – excluding the invitation-only Qantas Chairman's Lounges, of course – particularly given the new dining options and overall look and feel, which elevates the experience closer to that of an international lounge.
However, even with all the extra space, it can still feel quite busy and hectic during peak times given the sheer volume of passengers coming and going, but having said that, I was always able to get the type of seat I was after, without having to compromise, which is more than can be said of many other lounges during rush hour.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Qantas.