Qantas first class lounge guide: everything you need to know

With access to the Qantas first class lounge, there's no other excuse needed to arrive early for your flight.

By Chris Chamberlin, August 29 2019
Qantas first class lounge guide: everything you need to know

Tempting travellers with a la carte dining, complimentary day spa treatments and free-flowing Champagne, here's your guide to getting the most out of the Qantas first class lounge experience.

In this article:

What is the Qantas First Lounge?

Qantas' first class lounges, branded also as Qantas First Lounges, are the airline's best international pre-flight havens.

Separate to each business class lounge, you'll find these only in a handful of airports: for the most part, those normally playing home to flagship long-distance first class flights.  

Where are the Qantas first class lounges located?

You'll find Qantas' flagship international first class lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles and Singapore.

Coming soon: The Qantas First Lounge, Singapore.
Coming soon: The Qantas First Lounge, Singapore.

For the time being, there's also a Qantas first class lounge in Auckland, but which is realistically "first class" in name only, being an older space that'll eventually close in favour of an expansion and redesign of the Qantas business class lounge next door. 

Who can access Qantas first class lounges?

As you'd expect, a Qantas first class boarding pass will get you through the door in Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles and Singapore, as will a first class boarding pass on partner airlines such as British Airways, Emirates or Qatar Airways from the same airports. 

The grand entrance to Qantas' Sydney first class lounge.
The grand entrance to Qantas' Sydney first class lounge.

Qantas doesn't offer first class from Auckland, but a first class ticket on a partner airline like Emirates (such as from Auckland to Dubai) also gets you through the door.

Additionally, Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members, plus other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers, can stop by when travelling with Qantas or a Oneworld alliance airline, even when not booked to fly in first class.

This perk is also extended to Qantas cardholders (but not other Oneworld Emerald members) when travelling with Jetstar; with Emirates from Australia or New Zealand (not Los Angeles), or with China Eastern from Australia (again, not Los Angeles).

In Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore and Auckland – but not LA – Emirates Skywards Platinum members can also use Qantas First Lounges when departing on an international Qantas or Emirates flight, booked under a QF or EK flight number.

Welcome to the Qantas first class lounge
Welcome to the Qantas first class lounge

Those with access to a Qantas first class lounge from the list above can bring one guest with them into the lounge, except for Qantas Chairman's Lounge cardholders, who can bring two guests.

Although less common, Qantas also distributes single-use Qantas First Lounge passes, such as to Platinum One frequent flyers who get two passes each year to gift to friends and family, which can also be used for access, but with this, you'll need one pass per person (no guests allowed).

Qantas first class vs. business class lounges: what's the difference?

As you'd expect, the difference between each Qantas First Lounge and its business class neighbour varies from airport to airport. 

 In Sydney and Melbourne, the Qantas first class lounges come as a significant upgrade over business class, with the First Lounge offering a la carte dining, Champagne (vs. Australian sparkling), complimentary day spa treatments and more, which aren't available in that regular business class space.

Day spa at Qantas' Sydney first class lounge
Day spa at Qantas' Sydney first class lounge

That difference is even more noticeable in Melbourne, where the Qantas First Lounge enjoys abundant natural light and sweeping views of the airport, versus Melbourne's international business class lounge which has no views, much more limited lighting, and is referred to by some frequent flyers as a 'bunker', given its location down below the departure concourse.

Over in Los Angeles, Qantas' business class lounge adopts a newer and fresher design, but is still trumped by the First Lounge nearby in the same terminal, particularly with its restaurant service and Champagne (although there's no day spa here).

All three of these Qantas first class lounges also have meeting room facilities, which double as VIP rooms for those who need a little extra privacy.

Meeting rooms at the Qantas First Lounge, Melbourne
Meeting rooms at the Qantas First Lounge, Melbourne

Also read: How to book a private suite at the Qantas First Class Lounge

In Auckland, on the other hand, there's minimal difference between the business and first class lounges, except that fewer people can access the first class side of Qantas' lounge complex.

Five reasons we love the Qantas First Lounges

1. The day spas

In Qantas' Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges, travellers are treated to complimentary 20-minute treatments at the in-lounge day spas.

Passengers can choose to have a massage, foot or hand therapy, a facial or an eye treatment, and this isn't restricted to first class passengers only: anybody with access to the lounge has a shot at snagging a treatment.

Day spa at Qantas' Melbourne first class lounge
Day spa at Qantas' Melbourne first class lounge

As you'd expect, these tend to be popular with passengers and lounge regulars, so to maximise your chances, check-in early for your flight and ask about an appointment desk at the reception desk when you first arrive.

2. The restaurant dining

From the signature favourites like salt and pepper squid, and pavlova in a glass through to a menu of broader dishes changing every three months with the season, pre-flight dining in the Qantas first class lounges is another reason to check-in early for your flight.

Dining at Qantas' Sydney first class lounge
Dining at Qantas' Sydney first class lounge

Available in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles – and soon to debut in Singapore – the dining experience is again complimentary for everybody, from the high flyers booked in Qantas first class through to Qantas Platinum members jetting off with Jetstar: if you have access to the lounge, you can stop by the dining room.

Restaurant-style dining isn't available in Auckland, however.

3. The Champagne

Unlike Qantas' business class lounges which generally top out at Australian sparkling wine, its first class lounges take things up a notch, pouring true Champagne: and usually offering you a choice of bubbles.

The menu can change from time to time, but if you'd like a recommendation, we'd suggest Perrier-Jouët, which pairs excellently with that signature salt and pepper squid.

Champagne at the Qantas first class lounge, Melbourne
Champagne at the Qantas first class lounge, Melbourne

Qantas' Singapore first class lounge is expected to provide Champagne too, but until that opens, first class passengers, Chairman's Lounge members and Platinum One frequent flyers can make themselves known to the staff in Qantas' existing Singapore business class lounge, where Champagne is also subtly served to this VIP set.

4. The atmosphere

With plenty of seating geared towards relaxation in the Qantas first class lounges, it's not difficult to unwind before your flight: especially if you can tune out from work for a couple of hours.

Seating at the Qantas first class lounge, Sydney
Seating at the Qantas first class lounge, Sydney

The Qantas First Lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles also adopt a similar design as used in some of the airline's invitation-only Chairman's Lounges: specifically, Sydney, Canberra and Perth, which swap out the red colour pops of the First Lounges in favour of 'private club' green. 

Over in Singapore, Qantas' upcoming First Lounge will instead stem from the same broad brush as the newest Chairman's Lounge of them all, found at Brisbane Airport, all of which tend to have a relaxing and peaceful vibe, which travellers are sure to look forward to in Singapore.

Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Brisbane
Qantas Chairman's Lounge, Brisbane

Beyond the frosted door: invitation-only lounges, frequent flyer tiers

5. The service

For those with an interest in vino, the Qantas First Lounges are also home to sommeliers who can suggest wines that match your meal and your personal tastes: so if you're not sure which wine to pick or want to try something new, just ask.

As the broader service in the Qantas First Lounges is also managed by Sofitel (Accor), lounge guests can also avail of concierge services via the front desk.

Whether that's help with ordering flowers, purchasing theatre tickets for your destination, assisting with airport transfers, onward travel plans or something else, that's up to you.

Three tips before you visit a Qantas first class lounge

1. Flying Qantas first class? You get first dibs on the spa

Appointments at the Qantas First Lounge day spas in Sydney and Melbourne are generally offered on a first-come, first-served basis: but if you're booked to fly in Qantas first class, you can reserve your preferred time the day before you fly, rather than asking once you arrive at the lounge.

This can be done over the phone, as Qantas will call you the day before travel to confirm this and your other arrangements, so make sure your first class reservation contains an up-to-date telephone number.

Spa treatment rooms at the Qantas First Lounge
Spa treatment rooms at the Qantas First Lounge

Unfortunately, this day-before perk isn't extended to other first class passengers, such as those jetting off with Emirates, BA, Qatar Airways and others – only passengers travelling on a Qantas aircraft in first class.

That is, unless you're a VIP-tier Qantas Chairman's Lounge member: in which case, you can also expect that call the day before you depart on a Qantas international flight.

2. Sometimes, there's a 'secret' wine

From time to time, wines appear in the Qantas First Lounges that aren't on the printed list, so if you notice a decanter sitting over by the bar, that's your cue to ask what else is available that day.

Pouring decanted wine at the Qantas First Lounge, Melbourne
Pouring decanted wine at the Qantas First Lounge, Melbourne

Particularly for regular First Lounge visitors, it's a great way to try something new, rather than defaulting to a 'usual' with each visit.

Also read: Behind the Qantas First Lounge wine list

3. You can sometimes choose your lounge

When flying with some partner airlines, the staff at check-in may 'suggest' that you use one particular lounge – but if you qualify for Qantas First Lounge access, you're free to ignore that suggestion and stop by.

Relax at the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney
Relax at the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney

For instance, if you're flying in Emirates first class, you may decide to visit the Qantas First Lounge instead of the Emirates Lounge.

Qantas first class lounge reviews

Qantas first class lounge, Sydney

The flagship of Qantas' first class lounges, Sydney is the largest of them all. You'll find restaurant dining straight ahead as you enter, or the bar, day spa, and some relaxation-themed seating to the left.

Order a drink or enjoy your entire meal at the Qantas First Lounge Sydney bar
Order a drink or enjoy your entire meal at the Qantas First Lounge Sydney bar

Over on the right, a quieter library area, as well as private rooms perfect for meetings, VIPs, or just as a quiet place to make a sensitive phone call.

The library at the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney
The library at the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney

Review: Qantas First Lounge, Sydney

Qantas first class lounge, Melbourne

A scaled-back version of the much larger lounge in Sydney, the Qantas First Lounge in Melbourne comes with the same amenities – spa, restaurant and a variety of seating – just enjoyed in a smaller space.

Welcome to the Qantas first class lounge in Melbourne
Welcome to the Qantas first class lounge in Melbourne

However, in what some may see as an advantage over Sydney, airport views can be enjoyed from one of those private meeting rooms, as well as from the day spa: when the blinds are open, of course!

Review: Qantas First Lounge, Melbourne

Qantas first class lounge, Los Angeles

With first class service to both Sydney and Melbourne, as well as a good number of Platinum-grade frequent flyers travelling to both cities and also Brisbane, Qantas' first class lounge in Los Angeles resembles those on Australian soil, minus the day spa.

Qantas first class lounge, Los Angeles
Qantas first class lounge, Los Angeles

You'll still enjoy restaurant dining, Champagne, WiFi, showers and all the usual amenities. There's no expectation to tip in the dining room – but the staff won't object if you do!

Review: Qantas First Lounge, Los Angeles

Qantas first class lounge FAQs

What time is the Qantas first class lounge open?

Qantas' first class lounge in Sydney opens from 5am until 10pm daily, while Qantas' Melbourne first class lounge serves passengers between 5am and 11:15pm.

Qantas first class lounge, Melbourne
Qantas first class lounge, Melbourne

The Qantas First Lounge in Los Angeles welcomes passengers between 6:30am and 11:30pm daily.

Can I access the Qantas first class lounge flying Emirates?

In Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, yes, you can access the Qantas first class lounge if you're travelling in Emirates first class and are booked on a QF or EK flight number.

You can also visit the Qantas first class lounge before an Emirates flight if you have a Qantas Platinum, Platinum One or Chairman's Lounge frequent flyer card, or an Emirates Skywards Platinum or iO-level card, again when travelling on a QF or EK flight number.

Los Angeles is the exception to the rule, as the partnership between the two airlines doesn't cover reciprocal lounge access in North America.

Do you have to be flying Qantas to use the Qantas first class lounge?

No – as above, you may be able to access the Qantas first class lounge when travelling on an eligible partner airline flight, such as with Emirates, British Airways, Qatar Airways and others.

Departure board at the Qantas first class lounge, Sydney
Departure board at the Qantas first class lounge, Sydney

However, you won't be able to access the Qantas First Lounge when travelling on a rival airline (such as Singapore Airlines), even if your travel wallet boasts a top-tier Qantas frequent flyer card.

Can you visit the Qantas first class lounge flying Fiji Airways?

Travellers are often tripped up by this one, as Fiji Airways is a Oneworld Connect member, but is not a full Oneworld alliance member, so different rules apply.

As a Qantas Platinum, Platinum One or Chairman's Lounge cardholder, you can visit the Qantas First Lounge when booked to fly with Fiji Airways on a Qantas codeshare (QF) flight number – but you can't stop by if you're booked on Fiji Airways' own FJ flight number.

How early can you visit the Qantas first class lounge before your flight?

There's no set time limit, but in some airports, you may only be able to check-in three or four hours before your flight.

Deducting the time spent at check-in, plus security, passport control, and leaving the lounge early to get to your flight on time, most travellers get to spend around two hours in the lounge, which is more than enough for a spa treatment, meal, and some Champagne (or coffee).

Can you reserve a table at the Qantas first class lounge restaurant?

Not normally. Sometimes this is offered to high-level VIPs as a courtesy, but tables at the restaurant are usually provided on a first-come, first-seated basis.

Dining at the Qantas First Lounge
Dining at the Qantas First Lounge

Keep in mind that food and beverages can also be ordered from other parts of the lounge, so if the dining room is full, you may still be able to dine in one of the meeting rooms, or in another suitable space.

Can you pay to access the Qantas first class lounges?

Only by purchasing a first class ticket on Qantas or an eligible partner airline where lounge access is included as part of the experience: Qantas doesn't sell one-off lounge passes for first class lounge access, or offer paid entry at the door.

However, Qantas Platinum One members are offered two single-use Qantas First Lounge passes every year, and as the Platinum One member already receives first class lounge access whenever departing on an eligible flight, these passes are designed for sharing with friends or family members, or to bring in an extra guest when the Platinum One member is travelling in a group.

Also read: The Qantas Singapore first class lounge guide

Chris Chamberlin

A Brisbane-based contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.