Reviews

Review: Qantas international business class lounge, Melbourne Airport

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, November 11 2016
Qantas international business class lounge, Melbourne Airport
Country

Australia

City

Melbourne

Airport

Melbourne - Tullamarine

Alliance

oneworld

Airline

Qantas

Cabin-class

Business

Notes
The Good
  • Fast wireless Internet
  • All-day barista coffee, alcohol service
The Bad
  • Dim lighting
  • Scarce power points
X-Factor
  • 'Plates of the day' served to your table
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

Featuring all-day barista coffee and speedy Internet, the Qantas Business Lounge at Melbourne International Airport is the go-to spot for Gold frequent flyers and Qantas Club members jetting abroad, and indeed, the airline's business class passengers.

Drawing inspiration from the nearby Qantas First Lounge, the dining area comes complete with waiters providing table service, but amidst a lounge that's quite dark and which begs for some decent natural light, as Australian Business Traveller discovers in this review.

Location & Impressions

Once through security and passport control, follow the terminal's main walkway and keep your eyes peeled for signs pointing to 'airline lounges' – you'll veer right on reaching the second duty free zone before taking the escalator down to the Qantas Business Lounge.

Unlike in Sydney, the Qantas First Lounge isn't directly adjacent, so if you find yourself ascending escalators instead of popping downstairs, you're going the wrong way.

The lounge itself is easy to spot with a clear 'Qantas' look at the entrance...

... but in most places lacks tarmac views and natural light which can make it feel a little gloomy.

Access

  • Business and first class passengers of Qantas, Air India, Aircalin, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Fiji Airways, Garuda, Jetstar (Business Max fares only), Malaysia Airlines and Qatar Airways
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers travelling with any Oneworld airline; with a QF flight number on their ticket; or with China Eastern, Emirates or Jetstar
  • Other Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members travelling with any Oneworld airline, including Qantas
  • Emirates Skywards Gold and Platinum cardholders booked on a Qantas or Emirates flight with a QF or EK flight number
  • China Eastern Gold and Platinum Eastern Miles members travelling to Mainland China on a Qantas or China Eastern flight number
  • Qantas Club members booked on a Qantas or Jetstar flight number with any airline
  • American Airlines Admirals Club members travelling with Qantas on a QF or AA flight number
  • Qantas Silver frequent flyers and eligible credit card customers presenting a single-use Qantas lounge pass and flying with Qantas or Jetstar

Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Malaysia Airlines also operate branded lounges that their respective passengers can use, while Qantas too has a separate First Lounge for eligible first class passengers, Platinum/Platinum One frequent flyers and Oneworld Emerald members.

Dining

Where this lounge does excel is the food and beverage selection, starting with a dining area complete with waiters serving a 'plate of the day' straight to your seat:

Simply pull up a chair and place your order. As it's one dish for everybody rather than a larger menu as you'd get in the First Lounge, we waited less than five minutes for our breakfast to arrive...

... joined by a great barista-made latte:

Unfortunately though, the high-chaired dining table provides almost no room for your knees and means you'll either need to sit far back and lean in towards your plate – which is bad table manners – or let your legs dangle down uncomfortably:

For a broader variety of food there's a separate and self-serve buffet with the conventional cereals, breads and condiments in the mornings...

... along with hot items including eggs, sausages and hash browns with tomato sauce nearby...

... a selection of pastries...

... yoghurts, fresh fruit...

... and sweet treats including a personal favourite: strawberries & cream lollies:

Because it's always after 5pm somewhere in the world, alcoholic drinks are available throughout the day including spirits with mixers...

... along with beer, red and white wines...

... plus a sparkling: the Seppelt Salinger Brut NV Cuvée. It's no Taittinger or Veuve, but suffices for a business class lounge.

Work

Business travellers tasked with work before their international flight can stop by the business zone to use Apple iMacs running both Windows and OS X...

... or can set up their own laptop on the tables nearby:

Power points are present, but scarce, and are oddly easier found in zones geared towards relaxing with a tablet than in areas where you'd be likely to fire up a more power-hungry laptop.

As expected of all Qantas lounges, free WiFi is available and when tested at 9am on a busy Monday morning still returned average download speeds of 12.19Mbps, uploads almost triple that at 31.80Mbps and ping speeds circa 20ms.

In plain English, that means your pages load very quickly and images and other files are fast to upload: perfect if you're trying to email a presentation or video before jetting off, or even when just uploading pictures from your trip on social media.

Relax

A range of magazines and newspapers are available to help pass the time with a conveniently-placed coffee machine located nearby...

... with comfy seats ranging from duos and trios...

... through to larger groups, but which can still feel a tiny bit 'separate' when occupied by solo travellers...

... and many of which are within sight and sound of a TV and the flight information screens:

A TV is also visible from the dining room seats but was tuned to SBS and the Greek language news, which appeared of no relevance (or indeed, comprehension) to anybody nearby.

We asked the lounge staff if they'd mind flicking over to something more appropriate like ABC News 24, but were told they "would need special permission from the lounge host" to do so, and after 10 minutes passed without an English channel in sight, we gave up and relocated elsewhere.

With showers and a kid zone also available, Melbourne's Qantas Business Lounge certainly ticks the basic boxes of what you'd expect when flying internationally – particularly in regards to the food and drink – but misses the mark in other respects.

For starters, with only a few glass windows in the far left corner of the space, there's not much chance for natural light to enter: and with generally dim artificial lighting throughout, I found myself thinking "oh yeah, it's actually daytime" as I left the lounge and walked to the gate.

AC power points were also difficult to spot while USB slots were seemingly absent altogether.

And of course, staff shouldn't require 'special permission' to switch over from a foreign-language news channel to one in English when nobody is watching it – but granted, it'd certainly be a different scenario if people were.

Also read: Singapore Airlines SilverKris business class lounge review, Melbourne Airport

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

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!

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

I call that lounge the dungeon.
I really hope they can find a way to get more light in there.
Also, don't ask about changing the channel, just do it.
The cleaner probably left it on SBS.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2950

Unfortunately a remote control seemed to be needed, otherwise I'd have simply changed it over. :)

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

They took the remote!
That is just evil!

Still, as you say, to require 'special permission' is a load of rubbish. Do they need special permission to go to the toilet as well?
It's funny how many different ways there is to say "I'm too lazy and can't be bothered helping you".

Boeing-Tragic

Boeing-Tragic

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 35

.... but that's typical of most Qantas personnel who've been there more than 5 years (unless of course you're profile has a 'special star' or are a known associate of AJ). Nothing has changed.

cbourl

cbourl

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 110

An absolute dungeon  and a dirty one at that see my review on Tripadvisor   Just be sensible and if ur flying Oneworld C go to the FirstWorld Cathay Pacific C lounge next door!!!!!

ausJCP

ausJCP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 213

This is a bizarrely positive review for such a nasty subterranean cave. Gimme a break!

Qantas needs to hang it's head in shame, and AusBT ought not be promoting it as anywhere near acceptable. The differences between the SYD and MEL QF Int'l Business lounges are like comparing apples and oranges, and these differences should be far more explicitly indicated.

The supposed "X-Factor" is a "plate of the day," made up of 2 rocket leaves and some mass produced quiche that's been sitting back of house in a bain-marie? Whooptee doo? Even CX has a chef-staffed noodle bar in it's further flung Business lounges.

This depressing little hole in the ground is both dimly lit, and unpleasantly noisy.

If Qantas simply can't or won't move their lease elsewhere, then the lounge needs the paler colour palettes and "compartmentalized" treatment of CX's new The Pier Business lounge in HKG. This affords extra light and acoustic baffling... Qantas appears terrified of pale carpet, but you're hardly about to have hi-vis workers trekking through it with muddy workboots; it's the international lounge after all! The current fixtures and fittings are well beyond than showing their age!

Punters are better off grabbing a quick bite to eat downstairs, and emerge from this dungeon and head up to the Emirates lounge (if eligible) for some pre-flight drinks and a sorely missed glimpse of natural sunlight.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2950

Hi Jay, I'm not sure I'd agree that a major capital city business class lounge scoring only 3/5 (i.e. 6/10) is a particularly positive score - at an airport like Melbourne we'd certainly expect to find more of a flagship lounge worthy of a higher score.

 

As with all of our reviews, we highlight both the good and the bad rather than making the entire review about one particular issue (eg. the lighting).

 

The reality is that this lounge does offer the amenities we'd expect to find, although the overall appearance of the lounge, particularly through the lighting or lack of it, certainly does leave much to be desired. :)

neiljeram

neiljeram

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2013

Total posts 33

 Chris a balanced view but when compared to the lounges that I use most regularly,  Sydney and Singapore,  the Melbourne lounge is in need of a refresh. It's just very gloomy that is the problem. Singapore has little natural light as it overlooks the check in area but the lighting is far better. As for the F and B, well Singapore is light years ahead. 

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

Great comment Jay. Agree completely.

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

It's like one of those times when the sum less than then the parts. No, actually, even the parts themselves aren't that great.

We can only hope this lounge gets put on the overhaul list and what emerges is spectacular and a tour-de-force in lounges.

Go on Qantas, make the Melbourne lounge great again!

sparkymarky

sparkymarky

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Sep 2015

Total posts 7

I could not agree more Jay. When I read this review I thought there may of been another QF Melbourne business lounge rather than the underground bunker. This seems to be a very positive take on the lounge.

Although the lounge has everything you "would" need it is not what you would expect in a major capital city in QF's home country.

It should be noted that the 'plate of the day" is only servied for very short hours and buffet is often half empty and staff are ofter rude and unhelpful (aka TV issue I've also had before).

Chris....I think the best thing about this lounge is that it encourages those that fly with QF out of Melbourne often to keep at Plat or P1 so you can use the QF first lounge which IS fantastic. 

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 555

Unfortunately your photos make the lounge look brighter than it really is.  It truly is a dark depressing place.  It has always been fairly dim and was made worse when extensions put arriving passenger walkways around the outside of the lounges hence the frosted windows.

The food offering at breakfast maybe OK but during the evening period when pax are joining the QF and EK 380s to Europe, the food is fairly ordinary and there is no barista coffee. 


I thought Melbourne Airport were building a new complex of lounges above the main concourse as part of their latest extensions.  This was closer to the terminal than where the EK and First lounges are located.  Is that not the case or did Qantas not bid for space up there?

deanr

deanr

04 May 2015

Total posts 231

As a regular visitor to this lounge, I have to say that the review seems pretty close to what I normally experience. The food isn't bad, the coffee is acceptable and the wi-fi works well unless the lounge is packed, but it's so dark inside that the whole space is pretty uninviting as everybody has said, and the staff aren't always helpful and can be pretty forgetful.

To compare, SQ has some great artificial lighting in its Melbourne lounge near the buffet area which really looks more like a natural skylight. A few of those in here would probably make a huge difference.

Damien00

Damien00

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2016

Total posts 24

Some brutal comments here.... sadly the lounge does kinda deserve them! I feel like the (very) poor cousin from Melbourne anytime I get a chance to sample the Sydney equivalent. 

But as to the points of the review, it is functional and better than sitting in the terminal for sure.  

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2950

It's quite interesting reading these comments and the array of views they provide, as we'd normally consider things like WiFi, showers, food & bev and power outlets to be of more importance than something like sunlight versus artificial lighting - which can certainly make a difference, but perhaps one less-noticeable than the availability of those other amenities - but it seems a number of readers almost prioritise their rays over all else, or at least consider them as important as those other basics.

(In a very Australian way, "it's the vibe of the thing"!)

Some interesting points of view: thank you all for sharing your feedback, and as always, if you haven't already shared your own experiences, we'd invite you to join in the discussion here too.

fxdxdy

fxdxdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 219

Well, I pay for my airfares and that includes paying for my partner's as well and when that is factored in I do expect something better. A lot better.

You have the X-Factor category which is where I would place an emphasis on decor and ambiance which aren't strictly 'business purposes'.

I do think poor ambiance and decor can make what would otherwise be a nice lounge rather awful and a place where you don't want to do any work or have a bite to eat. It isn't a good sign when the food court is more attractive than the lounge.
Also, I'm sure the folks from Qantas would keep an eye on your site and when they see the feedback here they might take some of it onboard.

rockmaple

rockmaple

15 Jan 2017

Total posts 3

Chris, I would say that yes, those amenities mentioned above are 'present'. However, I would agree with previous comments that the food, bev and service leaves much to be desired, and the showers and toilets look so worn out, its like they've not had any maintenance since being installed.

Even the public toilets in airports like HKG and SIN are cleaner and better maintained.

deany83

deany83

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 135

I've only used this lounge when flying on QF9 so the lack of sunlight has never been an issue seeing as though it departs at midnight.

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

Thankfully, QF status passengers have the additional options of the EK, CX and MH lounges at MEL.

GoldCanyon340

GoldCanyon340

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Nov 2016

Total posts 29

I was just about to say that the only positive with the QF lounge is that it's better than MH!

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 555

Hasn't the MH lounge closed and MH now use the QF lounge via Oneworld connection?

eminere

eminere

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

Nope, you might be thinking of SYD. At MEL the MH lounge is still very much open.

rufusfly

rufusfly

13 May 2016

Total posts 37

Which ones are open when QF35 leaves at  12.20?

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

I agree its a cave, and could do with much improved lighting and divided spaces (even fake windows and skylights) -- see Cathay's Pier at Hong Kong for example.

But I agree with Chris that on most other measures the lounge is actually a pretty decent Business Lounge, albeit somewhat dated

Steve987

Steve987

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 254

Really not looking forward to losing platinum, knowing this place is in my future.

Yes Chris, it looks ok on s checklist but the experience is just not appealing. 

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 527

After trying the First lounge I can see that the Business lounge has a lot of room for improvement.

rockmaple

rockmaple

15 Jan 2017

Total posts 3

I am sitting in this depressing space right now and contemplating just going to one of the restaurants upstairs.

I came back to QF (the hard way) from VA Platinum last year as I am flying more internationally. I have just hit Platinum with QF but now I'm thinking about status matching back over to VA for the new NZ lounge that's coming as well as the better VA business domestic product.

rufusfly

rufusfly

13 May 2016

Total posts 37

Hi rockmaple  if you are QF Platinum why are you not sitting in  First class? 

rockmaple

rockmaple

15 Jan 2017

Total posts 3

Looks like I got ahead of myself. I'm now Platinum after this last flight (writing from The Pier in HK)

Janeblogs

Janeblogs

27 Nov 2016

Total posts 12

I flew through Melbourne Airport this past weekend and I can't differentiate between the whole experience, it was appalling. Apart from the ease of walking from domestic to international, which counts for a lot. I thought I'd try flying through Melbourne as a change from Sydney but ultimately felt like it was a major error. 

Trying to find the QF intl Business lounge was almost impossible and certainly not worth the effort but I'd left home at 4,30am & was desperate for coffee & a regroup! And the Business Lounge in Canberra was closed for 'maintenance'! 

On the way back into Australia, I had several hours to kill so was holed up then in the domestic business lounge but it just seemed so crowded and small that I found myself spending more time in The QF Pub which is just a sliding door away! At least there soft drinks and alcohol were available unlike in the Business lounge. 

And frankly, the experience could be improved if the staff could be even a little more helpful or at least, just friendly! 

kathkiwi

kathkiwi

06 Feb 2017

Total posts 1

Thanks ausbt and readers - read your comments before flying Qantas this weekend, and thought I was prepared for this lounge. I wasn't. It was far worse than described here. Dark. Grubby. Cafeteria food. Staff doing a desultory job, could equally be out at Hudsons (where we had to wait as we arrived for checkin in 3 hours 15 mins pre flight and Qantas was not having a bar of that.) It really is the bargain basement of lounges. But thankfully the info here advised Qantas business class passengers can also use the Emirates lounge. Qantas check in staff (and website) denied all knowledge of that benefit, but the staff at Emirates were warm and welcoming. And their lounge is stunning.  As for Qantas lounge: agree with all the negative comments here.

JKH

JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 131

Hi Chris. I know this article is getting on a bit. Do you what the meal times are, that is, when does breakfast stop and lunch start etc?

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