Reviews

Review: Qantas first class lounge, Melbourne Airport

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, February 8 2018
Qantas first class lounge, Melbourne Airport
Country

Australia

City

Melbourne

Airport

Melbourne - Tullamarine

Alliance

oneworld

Airline

Qantas

Cabin-class

First

Notes
The Good
  • Restaurant dining
  • Four Champagnes on the menu
  • Private suites on request
The Bad
  • Limited space to work on a laptop, plus limited power points
X-Factor
  • Complimentary treatments at the in-lounge day spa
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

With plenty of natural light, restaurant table service, a Champagne menu and even a day spa with complimentary treatments, the Qantas international first class lounge at Melbourne Airport is a great place to await your flight.

Not only does it welcome the Roo's first class passengers – and those of its partners Emirates and Qatar Airways – Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers are also on the guest list, as are other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers including American Airlines Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey, and Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Diamond, Diamond Plus and Diamond Invitation guests.

Australian Business Traveller stopped by before Qantas' inaugural international Boeing 787 flight to Los Angeles to bring you this review.

Location & Impressions

After clearing security, passport control and Melbourne Airport's ever-growing duty-free maze, follow the signs to the departure gates, and veer right and up the escalator near gates 9 and 11 to find the Qantas lounge:

It's a scaled-down version of the airline's first class lounge in Sydney – there's no large entry lobby or internal escalators here – but reception features a small 'living wall' and a skylight bringing in plenty of natural light: noticeably missing from Qantas' international business class lounge at the same airport.

Inside, a rectangular space is divided into a variety of zones primarily centred on relaxing, with some seats by the windows...

... others tailored to small groups and those keeping up with the latest news on TV...

... and some seats better-suited to duos and solo travellers, plus a timeless airport departure board:

Also inside is a restaurant, day spa, private suites and an office space, but more on those later.

Access

  • First class passengers of Qantas, Emirates and Qatar Airways
  • Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers travelling on a Qantas, Emirates, China Eastern, Jetstar or Oneworld flight, including Qantas codeshare flights operated by non-Oneworld partners such as Fiji Airways
  • Qantas Chairman’s Lounge members prior to any flight with any airline until February 18 2018. From February 19, these members must be flying with Qantas or one of its partner airlines for access.
  • Other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers prior to Qantas and Oneworld flights (currently, that's Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines from Melbourne)
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum cardholders prior to Qantas and Emirates flights with a QF or EK flight number on their ticket, except when travelling to North and South America
  • 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

Dining

If you're in a rush, there's a small counter in the centre of the lounge offering machine-made espresso coffee and tea...

... plus quick bites like fruit, yoghurt and pastries:

But hopefully, you've arrived several hours before your flight to take advantage of everything the lounge has to offer.

On the dining front, there's full table service and à la carte dining throughout the space, whether you take a seat in the dining room itself...

... pull up a perch at the bar...

... are enjoying the airside view from behind any of the floor-to-ceiling windows...

... or are tucked away in one of the private office suites, even if just for a glass of Champagne:

Speaking of Champagne, travellers are spoiled for choice with not one, but four bubbles on the menu – the Taittinger being my personal favourite from the list, followed by the PJ – although I've never rated the Pommery very highly and wouldn't recommend it.

I paired my Taittinger to the buttermilk pancakes with macadamia cream and Qantas raw honey for a tasty Champagne breakfast...

... before moving on to lunch later in the day, which began with a gin-based 'Great Southern Land' cocktail, served in celebration of the airline's Boeing 787-9 taking its inaugural international passenger flight, from Melbourne to Los Angeles.

After two tasty amuse-bouches...

... I went straight for the salt and pepper squid, a favourite among frequent flyers – currently served with green chilli dipping sauce and aioli:

... and for the main, chose the crispy beef salad:

It arrived beautifully-presented with a great balance of textures and of sweet and savoury flavours, and went well with a glass of Grosset Gaia 2014 from the decanter:

When you see the decanter in the lounge, it's usually a hint that there's something on offer other than what's printed on the wine list, so ask and ye shall receive.

Read: Qantas First Lounge: behind the wine list

Of course, no visit to the Qantas First Lounge is complete without the signature pavlova in a glass, which changes seasonally:

Barista coffee, beers, cocktails and dessert wines are available too, plus an extensive range of spirits, with the dining menu itself varying every three months, and some dishes changing from week to week under the menu's 'market inspirations' heading to keep things interesting for regular flyers.

Work

If there's work to do before your flight, you'll find a few desks over in the corner where you can set up your own books or laptop, or can make use of the supplied iMac computers and printing facilities:

Travellers working with sensitive or confidential information will appreciate that some of these desks offer added privacy...

... and for even more seclusion, the lounge offers two private suites as well, which can be booked via reception on a first-come, first-served basis:

Inside are many of the same facilities, joined by TVs and extra furniture should you wish to host a pre-flight team meeting: also useful for high-profile travellers seeking even more privacy than the rest of the lounge affords.

I managed to secure the smaller of the two suites during my visit – the other, larger suite with airside views had already been booked – but found the air conditioning inside to be rather poor, and had to keep the door open to avoid overheating:

Outside this area though, there isn't anywhere great for working on a laptop – sure, you could use one of the dining tables, but the dining room can get quite busy, and can feel like you're 'in the way' if you're not there for a meal.

Power points are also scarce throughout the lounge – you'll find them against the walls...

... but from many seats, they're out of reach. USB power is absent, too, unless you plug in and charge at one of the desktop computers.

However, the overall design of the lounge does help to avoid distractions while you're working, as each section is divided into smaller nooks – which means more walls with power points – rather than the lounge being one open rectangle.

Wireless Internet is available throughout, with the connection being one of the fastest I've ever encountered in an airport lounge, offering download speeds of 156Mbps, uploads of 139Mbps, and ping speeds of 3ms.

When you consider that Netflix HD takes up about 5Mbps of bandwidth, there's enough juice there for over 30 lounge guests to be streaming high definition video at the same time without their viewing being impacted – which also means that sending and receiving large files such as email attachments is a breeze.

Relax

Most of the lounge is rightly given over to relaxing and unwinding before your flight, whether that's in one of the comfy chairs while watching TV...

... reading a newspaper or magazine...

... or indeed a book from the in-lounge library:

Again, the design of the space avoids it feeling too 'big', so whether you're here by yourself or are part of a group, it's easy to feel like you're the only ones in the lounge – except during school holidays when the lounge can get busy:

There are some great views to be had by the windows, with the seats here also reclining and offering a leg rest for added comfort...

... with private shower suites at hand too (and yes, you can most certainly close that door to the public hallway!):

The most relaxing part of the lounge, however, is the Aurora day spa, offering a range of 20-minute treatments, again with views of the airfield – normally with a blind over the window for privacy:

Even though it'd been a couple of years since my last visit to this lounge, I was impressed that my massage preferences were still on file – including my preferred treatment and level of pressure – which meant I could simply walk in and relax, without any questions asked or paperwork to complete.

Read: Qantas First Lounge: spa treatments, pre-flight pampering

Overall, I spent about four hours here, and even when my flight was called for boarding, I still didn't want to leave: but, as some gates at Melbourne Airport can be a 5-10-minute walk from the lounge, when that announcement comes or your smartphone lights up, it's best to get moving:

And really, that's the measure of a great airport lounge: when you can spend the better part of a day there and still not want to leave – however, more places to work on a laptop, better access to power points and the addition of USB power would all be welcome improvements for high-flying business travellers.

Chris Chamberlin was travelling as a guest of Qantas.

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!

05 May 2016

Total posts 526

Love this lounge. It's great getting there in the evening before QF9 (well that'll change from next month) and have dinner.

Wish QF would add more FLounges in more locations e.g. SIN & LHR.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 566

Chris, I see you spent 4 hours in the lounge. Is that a change because previously I understood that, unlike SYD, MEL did not have all-day first-class check-in and you couldn't check in more than 3 hours prior to your flight?

I was connecting from Brisbane to LA via Melbourne and had booked quite an early Brisbane-Melbourne flight (on the same ticket), so my boarding pass for the onward LA leg was issued in Brisbane, which meant I could go straight through to the lounge after touching down in Melbourne.

05 May 2016

Total posts 526

You can check in online up to 24 hours before your flight. If just taking carry-on you could arrive more than 3 hours before your flight even if not connecting from somewhere.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2011

Total posts 29

The aircon in those private rooms (and same as in SYD) has been an ongoing issue for years now. I really wish they'd fix it (I guess it does act as a deterrent though - I'd be more inclined to request a room if they were not a sauna).

Last time I was in one I lasted less than 5 minutes before moving myself back out into the general lounge area.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 27

Funny how they offer amazing Syd Mel F lounges and set a high expectation, yet the First product on board the aircraft is simply crap.

05 May 2016

Total posts 526

My only experience flying F was on QANTAS and I loved it.

03 Jan 2013

Total posts 47

@mviy, agree. Sr Batrill is just upset because someone dropped a house on her sister......

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 27

Clearly you've flown on few other premium carriers, work for Qantas or happy to pay premium $ for sub standard product.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

No pictures of the food menu?

I have never been offered an amuse bouche, in MEL or SYD. Is this a new thing or just a nicety extended to this member of press?

We don't normally post photos of full menus in our flight or lounge reviews. We also no longer publish seasonal Qantas First Lounge menu tasting stories, where those printed menus were traditionally made available, as Qantas no longer does these tastings.

On the day I visited the lounge, the amuse bouches were being offered to everybody in the dining room, so I opted to try both.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 59

Qantas' website shows the spa hours as between 08:00 to 11:30 and 20:00 to 23:30. I'm not familiar with the Melbourne F lounge, so does the spa close in the middle of the day as listed? And if it does, has AusBT seen any indication that the opening hours will be a amended after 25/03 to coincide with the earlier QF9 departure? We've got a cheeky trip planned through Melbourne later in the year and I think my partner would love if we could snag an appointment for her.
I'm not sure those times are correct: on recent visits, I've been able to snag appointments at 12:30pm and 5:30pm just by asking at reception, so there's no harm in asking when you arrive.
KT
KT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2018

Total posts 2

There is no nicer place to hang out for a couple hours with your partner than the F lounge in Sydney having a nice meal and making a start on what will be many glasses of champagne before you head off OS on holidays.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Nov 2016

Total posts 72

Good to see it fully open finally. The food is excellent there. The “standby” lounge was small and ordina
Not sure what you're talking about there, Metoo: this lounge opened in its current state in 2007, or 11 years ago.
bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 70

I enjoy this lounge and have used it for years, but I have to say that it does need a refresh.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 May 2017

Total posts 7

Is it correct that Qantas Platinum flying on Emirates can use the First Class Lounge? Flying regularly on the Emirates morning flight to Frankfurt i have gone straight to the new Emirates lounge.
Indeed it is, so you're free to head to the Qantas First Lounge on your next trip. :)
As Chris says, yes, but be aware of the opening time which is currently 05:00 if the website is correct.
NBA
NBA

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Sep 2013

Total posts 16

Hi all, if flying Emirates First. Is Qantas First lounge or Emirates lounge the way to go in MEL?

05 May 2016

Total posts 526

I would go with QF F if it’s open. I’ve never been to the EK Lounge in MEL though.

03 Jan 2013

Total posts 47

Love this lounge - it's my favourite of all the Qantas lounges. As I live in Canberra I do international check in from Canberra always allowing a decent period 3 + hours here.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Jan 2011

Total posts 19

One very bad feature of this lounge (also the Sydney one): the ancient "clackerboard" departure displays which are so limited in the number of flights they can display (including codeshares) as to be all but useless. Haven't they heard of video displays?

05 May 2016

Total posts 526

The old displays are part of the charm of the place imo. The removal of any airline access for CL should help with having adequate flights displayed.

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 124

Duplicating all the codeshares on the clackerboard seems like overkill. Anyone who can access to that lounge would be enough of a seasoned traveller to understand the concept of codeshares and be able to keep an eye on the operating flight number...

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 152

I always go to this lounge leaving Melbourne. Normally for breakfast, which they’ll happily serve at the window seats. It is showing some a little wear but after 11 years that’s hardly surprising. It’s excellent.
Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 396

The bathroom amenities have been taken away slowly in comparison to when the F lounges first opened. Just bare minimum now.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Mar 2017

Total posts 10

I think this lounge is overrated. Its often full or noisy. If you can't get a seat in the restaurant area the self service choice is extremely limited. Service is "okay" if you can attract someone's attention. Some of the seats automatically start to lean back and are difficult to keep upright. The view is nice if you can get a window seat.

I am not a snob but if I pay for a first class seat I sort of expect better.

20 Feb 2018

Total posts 3

As someone who doesn't want restaurant style dining, I find the limited snacks choice quite poor with little at seat service for drinks, unless actively hunted down. Some of the window seats have no side tables so it's a case of balancing a glass on chair arm. Magazine selection is also limited but at least better than the new London lounge where there were none in December and only a choice of two newspapers.

20 Feb 2018

Total posts 5

I agree 100% with Heather Y's comments. I much prefer a good buffet to restaurant-style, and have also noticed that the staff are not proactive in providing a drink at your seat. And further, what about the alleged arbitrary limit placed on alcoholic drinks allowed per person?

Doesn't seem like a wonderful first class lounge to me. Sydney is much better IMHO.

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