Reviews

Review: Qantas first class lounge, Singapore Changi Airport

Qantas takes lounging in The Lion City to the next level for first class passengers and Platinum frequent flyers.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, November 22 2019
Qantas first class lounge, Singapore Changi Airport
Country

Singapore

City

Singapore

Airport

Singapore - Changi

Alliance

Oneworld

Airline

Qantas

Cabin-class

First

Notes
The Good
  • Excellent pre-flight dining and drinks with attentive service
  • Fresh contemporary design with local influences
  • Reserved area for first class and top-tier frequent flyers
The Bad
  • Can get crowded at peak travel periods
X-Factor
  • Arguably Singapore's best first class lounge?
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

The new Qantas First Lounge at Singapore's Changi Airport is a welcome haven for those making a Singapore stopover en route to or from London, or visiting The Lion City in its own right.

It's been eagerly awaited by both first class travellers and top-tier frequent flyers – mainly Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and elite Chairman's Lounge members, but also their Oneworld Emerald equivalents – and marks a fresh look in Qantas' lounge design.

Location & Impressions

Due to space constraints at Changi Terminal 1, the Qantas first class lounge is in a very different location to the business class lounge: you'll need to head towards the D gates, whereas the business lounge is closer to the C gates.

It's an easy 10 minute stroll between them, and you can clock it in five minutes if you're a fast walker with minimal carry-on luggage.

Obviously, any Qantas Airbus A380 flights which dock at the D gates will favour first class and Platinum flyers with a little extra lounge time, especially if they're doing the quick transit stopover on QF1 or QF2, while there will be a little less lounging and a little more walking if your flight is from the C gates.

If you're departing from Singapore, turn right immediately after going through T1 passport control – rather than left, as for the Qantas business classEmirates and British Airways lounges. When you reach the Hermes store (it'll be on your left), you'll see lounge signage overhead and an escalator to whisk you upstairs.

On that upper mezzanine level, the First Lounge is next door to the independent Dnata Lounge, and close to the Aerotel transit hotel and outdoor swimming pool.

From the outset, and from the outside, the Qantas First Lounge introduces itself as a very premium affair with Carrara marble, brass accents, greenery and light woods.

This represents a new first class look for Qantas, moving away from the Marc Newson-designed First Lounges of Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles, to a design created by David Caon which embraces a clear Singaporean influence. Many of the materials, finishes and flourishes wouldn't be out of place in a carefully-curated upscale apartment (or 'condo', in local parlance).

Caon shaped the lounge to suit the space available, so instead of the V-shape of the business lounge, this one is almost shotgun-straight from one end to the other, starting at the reception desk and going all the way to the dining room and open kitchen.

What there's not is natural light, as the lounge's location is tucked away in a corner of the terminal. But there's much more to a good lounge than a view.

Access

Qantas' Singapore first class lounge is open daily from 2:30pm to midnight (or later, if Qantas' evening departures are delayed, in particular the Singapore-London leg of QF1 which leaves at 11.55pm).

Entry is open to the following:

  • First class passengers of Qantas, Emirates and Air France, plus British Airways and other Oneworld airlines.
  • Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members travelling on a Qantas, Emirates, Jetstar, Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Pacific or Oneworld flight, as well as Qantas codeshare flights operated by non-Oneworld partners such as Air France (to Paris) and KLM (to Amsterdam).
  • Other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers prior to Qantas and Oneworld flights: currently in Singapore, that includes British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines – although not all airlines' flights will line up with the lounge's opening hours.
  • Passengers connecting from a long-haul first class Oneworld flight (e.g. Qantas First) onto a short-haul Oneworld flight in any class of travel (such as Malaysia Airlines to Kuala Lumpur), including where the onward flight is in economy.
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum and iO cardholders prior to Qantas and Emirates flights with a QF or EK flight number on their ticket.
  • Holders of a single-use Qantas first class lounge pass, such as issued to Platinum One frequent flyers which can be shared with friends and family.

Although several Oneworld airlines depart from terminals other than T1, eligible passengers can still visit the Qantas Singapore First Lounge – although they'll need to allow time to change terminals and get back to the departures gate ahead of their flight, which could make the exercise a futile one.

Oneworld Emerald-grade travellers on Malaysia Airlines (including Enrich Platinum) may find the Qantas First Lounge a very appealing alternative to using the airline's designated SATS Premier lounge at T2, especially as the Qantas first class lounge is very close to the Skytrain connecting T1 and T2. That said, for the sake of expediency, it will also help if your flight is departing from one of T2's E gates rather than the more distant high-numbered F gates.

Cathay Pacific flights depart from Terminal 4 in Singapore, which is detached from the main T1-3 precinct, so Qantas First Lounge access would only be possible if you visit T1 before taking the Skytrain to T2 in order to catch the airside shuttle bus to T4. For almost all passengers this simply won't be worth the time and trouble, compared to heading straight to T4 and relaxing in Cathay Pacific's own Singapore lounge.

Dining

Being tailored to passengers taking afternoon and evening flights rather than departures first thing in the morning, the Qantas Singapore First Lounge is geared for dinner and drinks. Especially drinks, it seems, with not one but two tended bars.

The first is in the dining area, doubling as a place where solo travellers can enjoy their meal.

The second is halfway along the lounge and serves more as a traditional wine, Champagne and cocktail bar: the headline act is one of the lounge's new signature drinks, a Calamansi Mojito.

Drawing inspiration from a classic mint-based Mojito and mixing in local flavour via the calamansi fruit, it's a nice detour from the better-known Singapore Sling.

Speaking of signatures, while you can order that iconic drink, the lounge has its own Sling-inspired creation: dubbed the Merlion Blush, it mixes vodka, cranberry and grapefruit, and pairs well with the side of olives flavoured with garlic, fennel and orange.

You can order this at the bar, in the dining area, or enjoy it right in front of the bar, meaning there's not far to walk for the next round. The counter off to the side offers more of those olives, as well as a variety of fresh fruit.

This is the only 'self-serve' option, which might frustrate some transit travellers who are very short on time and would rather choose from a well-curated spread of hot and cold dishes.

More than half of the lounge is given over to an à la carte dining area – again, a sign that the lounge has been made to handle a wave of passengers in clearly-defined peak periods (mainly from 6pm to 8pm) and especially the short-stay rush of passengers in transit on QF1 and QF2.

The seating area at the furthest end of the lounge, closest to the open kitchen and including the raised chairs at the bar, is nominally set aside for Qantas' first class, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge passengers.

While the tables are not reserved per se, Executive Traveller understands that the maître d' will escort passengers to this 70-seat space based on their travel class or status and, except for the busiest times, guide other travellers (Qantas Platinum and Oneworld Emerald) to other areas of the dining room.

You'll find the seats are very comfortable, and you probably won't be in a hurry to leave – certainly not once the food starts to roll out.

It wouldn't be a Qantas First Lounge without salt and pepper squid, served with aioli and a green chilli dipping sauce. This pairs beautifully with a glass of Champagne, with Joseph Perrier Brut NV, Taittinger Brut Reserve NV or Taittinger Prestige Rosé NV to choose from.

Otherwise, branch out with the tea smoked duck breast with pickled cabbage and Chinese mustard: best enjoyed by mixing a little of everything with every bite.

Sitting between a starter and a main, the grilled skate in browned sambal butter with capers and calamansi arrives deliciously fresh, with the non-alcoholic House Lemonade from Neil Perry's Spice Temple acting as both a palate cleanser and a complement.

As a main course, it's hard to look past something distinctly Singaporean: laksa. The Rockpool version is served with crayfish, rice noodles, bean sprouts and egg, being bold in flavour, with a light gin spritz being a great offset.

For dessert, try the Torta di Verona with blueberries and toasted almonds – it's a lighter, fresher take on tiramisu.

As you'd expect from a Qantas lounge, barista-made coffee is available around the clock – along with some off-menu tipples such as an espresso martini.

Read more: Sampling the menu at the Qantas Singapore first class lounge

Work

Travellers tackling a build-up of emails or other work ahead of their onward flight are catered for at these low-set  communal working stations – the first time these have been included in a Qantas First Lounge, and it's great to see.

AC and USB power are both available and can be found by tilting open the golden hatch in front. If your plug isn't working, be aware that the rectangle highlighted below isn't a USB slot (those are in the middle): it's the power switch.

Just behind the lounge's entrance is also a quiet zone with two workstations and a wireless printer: useful for those making last-minute reservations at their destination (ideal for some West End theatre tickets before hopping into the London-bound QF1).

Many of the other seats here also offer convenient access to power, so that you can relax while your devices recharge without being stuck in the business zone.

WiFi speeds fluctuate based on how busy the lounge is. We clocked downloads between a solid 54Mbps and a super-speedy 244Mbps, with uploads at 154-242Mbps. Even at those 'lowest' speeds, that's still fast enough for the likes of HD video streaming and transferring large files and attachments.

Relax

Although travellers taking QF1 all the way through from Sydney to London (or QF2 in the reverse) won't have much time to settle in before needing to board again, others can explore the wide variety of spaces to find their perfect fit.

For something more social, these banquette seats combine comfort and convenience, again with power points handy and easily accessible – the same applies to other handy seating nooks you'll find here and there.

With the lounge being mainly rectangular in shape, the centre areas are also geared towards socialising, with individual chairs lining the wall for a little more solitude. While not completely closed off, they also offer improved privacy compared to most other seats, given the large side wing.

The ten shower suites come stocked with LaGaia Unedited amenities and a design that's a noticeable step above the airport's Qantas business class lounge and include an adjustable LED light panel overhead, although we'd have welcomed more shelving for stowing carry-on bag if you want to change into fresh clothes after a shower.

While passengers will only visit this lounge in the afternoons and evenings, being a major international airport, many travellers will have their body clock set to a different time zone. Qantas has also installed an artificial skylight in the relaxation area.

Summary

For first class passengers and Platinum-grade frequent flyers, the new Qantas First Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport represents a significant upgrade to the previous singular lounge, and gives top-tier jetsetters an added incentive to check-in early for their flight and relax.

Of course, the opening of this space is still good news for those who can't access it, as the regular Qantas Business Lounge in Singapore is now much noticeably quieter and less crowded, even during what were previously the lounge's peak times.

Our take, now that Qantas has set aside seating for first class passengers and its very top-tier frequent flyers, is that this is arguably the best first class lounge in Singapore.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 362

I'm looking forward to seeing the new lounge next week. Im hearing of it being very full, i guess due to its newness, but maybe QF needs to restrict entry to a degree like BA does with concorde lounge and qatar does in doha with first.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 362

Oh and qantas please please have a dress code for entry

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 109

How will Qantas solve overcrowding even with a new very large lounge?

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 318

I am looking forward to visiting on Monday week. Looks like a terrific lounge and miles ahead of BA's Concord Bar.

P
P

17 Jan 2018

Total posts 17

Well done Qantas for trying to address overcrowding and lack of recognition for premium customers and frequent flyers. However the lack of self service bars is a real issue during peak periods. Having to queue 5 minutes for a drink is rediculous when customers could easily serve themselves for basic drinks such as beer and wine. The problem is made worse when bartender(s) are making coffee. I have encountered this problem in Singapore and Brisbane business lounges in the past.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Jun 2013

Total posts 24

Sorry, Chris, I must be missing something. It's a lounge for First and you say one of it's downsides is a lack of seating for first class. So who's sitting there if it's not the people the lounge is designed for? Or is it the huge number of Gold, Platinum etc FFs who get to use the lounge and make it less exclusive?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1380

Only Plats, P1s and Chairman's Club get access to the First Llunge.

The solution seems to be forced sharing of the 2-seaters.

The lounge has, at the very most, 42 Qantas first class passengers visiting each day (assuming its 3 daily A380 flights out of Singapore are all full up front). Therefore, everybody else in the lounge is either flying first class with another airline (a small number), or isn't flying first class and is instead relying on their Platinum/Emerald status for entry (being about 75% of the guests in the lounge, if not more, on days where first class is emptier).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2014

Total posts 96

Looking forward to slumming it there to and from Oz in Dec/Jan.

25 Feb 2015

Total posts 25

Great review. The space looks stunning. I still find it a bit of a missed opportunity that there's no proper snooze zone, moreso no exercise area (of some sort) given the long flights many transit passengers using this lounge would be between. But I guess space would have been an issue...

In transit on QF1 and QF2 you are lucky to have an hour in the lounge, I don't imagine anybody would be snoozing, and this would take up more space and remove more seating so the over-crowding we are seeing would be even worse.

25 Feb 2015

Total posts 25

@AsiaBizTraveller yes. Exactly why I said “moreso” in regards to an exercise area ;)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 137

I don't know how it would go down with travellers but potentially less two seater tables and more of a communal bench would solve the seating issue

08 Jul 2017

Total posts 19

"Arguably Singapore's best first class lounge?"

I would suggest those with access to Singapore Airlines' "The Private Room" in T3 may disagree.

My 2 cents is that The Private Room is vastly over-rated. You hear about it like it's some ultimate first class lounge for the elite SQ-only first class passengers, but when you first visit it with high expectations it's so under-whelming. Design is so dated, furniture is tired and worn out, and the menu isn't actually that great in my opinion, the I'd rate the QF SYD F lounge higher. In its favour is that TPR never seems crowded or noisy, it's like a real 'first class only' lounge, this is a clear advantage over the Qantas SIN F lounge, but that aside I would rather be in the QF SIN F lounge. Anyway that's just my opinion.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2341

Hi Serfty: we're allowing for those differences of opinion, hence why we wrote this as "Arguably Singapore's best first class lounge?" – note arguably, and this being posed as a question rather than a statement.

There are of course three first lounges in SIN: QF First at T1, SQ First Class at T3 and SQ's The Private Room at T3. (For those who don't know how this works, SQ's First Class lounge is for first class flyers on other Star Alliance airlines, if you're in first class/suites on SQ you get escorted through the first class lounge and into The Private Room).

I'd suggest the QF F lounge easily bests the SQ F lounge in food, I've always found the SQ F dining to be surprisingly 'non-first' like. SQ definitely has the advantage in Champagne, it's Piper Heidsieck Millesime Rare after all, but Champagne alone isn't the decider for most people. I can't comment on wines and spirits, as I'm not really a drinker, but again, booze isn't the sole decider. I'd rate the QF lounge superior for design, both of the SQ lounges are part their prime and hence why SQ is now revamping them. The Private Room also didn't knock me for six, with respect to SQ.

Where the QF F lounge does lose out is the crowding during those QF peak travel hours, which is of course, when most QF passengers will experience it, and so I'd be the first to agree that if you want that rarefied first class ambience and serenity, the QF F lounge at 5.30-7.30pm is not where you'll find it. That's why we chose not to make "Singapore's best first class lounge" a definitive statement, we wanted to frame this as an 'X Factor' (which in our reviews denotes a unique attribute) for consideration by readers.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 567

So the new F lounge is a bit overcrowded during the peak; I wonder if the transfer of these pax from the Business Lounge has overcome the crowding there. But then again, I assume QF are no longer shipping Qantas Club members off to the SATS Lounge next door so the Business Lounge is probably still the zoo it has always been between 6 and 8 every night.


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