Qantas Lounge refit: new laptop benches are an Apple MacBook fail

By David Flynn, November 22 2010
Qantas Lounge refit: new laptop benches are an Apple MacBook fail

UPDATE | We're pleased to report that since this article was written, Qantas has rejigged the design of the recessed AC outlets in its laptop-friendly airport lounge benches.

Two of the four AC sockets in each panel have now been repositioned to sit horizontally instead of vertically.

This allows the white power brickette of Apple's MacBook notebook family, which combines an AC plug with the voltage transformer, to fit snugly in one of the sockets at the end of the row.

PREVIOUS | Qantas may have made the move to an all-Apple environment in its Qantas Club and Qantas Business lounges, but the new laptop-friendly benches are decidedly unfriendly for Apple notebooks.

The benches – which have already been installed into the Sydney Qantas Business Lounge as part of a rolling refit, as well as the all-new Qantas Club and Qantas Business Lounge at Canberra Airport – typically seat up to eight people and sport 240V AC sockets in a recessed bay under hinged centre compartments.

But as Australian Business Traveller discovered on a brief visit to in the Sydney Qantas business lounge this weekend, the bay simple isn't wide enough to cope with the palm-sized AC adaptor used by Apple's MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air family.

Apple adaptors use a different design for their power cables and AC adaptors to Windows laptops.

Notebooks by Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba et al employ two lengths of thick black cable with a squat 'power brick' in the middle to transform the standard 240 volts AC into a notebook's lower-voltage DC supply. The end which fits into the AC socket is a standard stubby three-pronged plug.

However, Apple's simpler and some would say more elegant design incorporates the voltage transformer into a compact white block which sits at one end of the power cable and plugs directly into the AC socket.

That works fine on most wall-mounted sockets because there's sufficient room around the AC jack. But it's an issue in confined spaces such as the Qantas club benches because there's simply not enough room for the transformer+plug combo unit.

The obvious solution for MacBook users is to shift to somewhere else in the lounge. No major drama, except that these benches really are perfect for in-transit laptop users in every other respect: ideal height, ample personal space and close proximity to the food servery and bar (you can decide which trait is most important).

Otherwise, you'll want to add to your carry-on bag the long grey extension cord that came with your Apple laptop. This snaps onto the white adaptor brickette and ends in a standard three-pronged AC plug. It's a little more cumbersome and less elegant, but it works...


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jan 2011

Total posts 5

I am not an Apple user and I find it ignorant not to cater for the majority of PC users. I need to ask for help all the time.

 Qantas ... where are you heading?

26 Feb 2011

Total posts 1

This story makes no sense. The author talks about the adapter being incompatible, then in the last paragraph mentions that users can bring the 'extension cord' Apple supplies.

In fact, Apple's adapter is quite versatile. You can bring both parts and have the flexibility of plugging the wart into the wall directly or connect the cord for an extra 5 or so feet (1.5m) of reach. I always bring this extra cord since I never know how far a wall outlet will be from where I may be sitting.

So this story should really just read: "Be sure to bring the AC cord with your MacBook power adapters for use in Qantas Lounges."

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2540

Hi grayforge, and thanks for dropping by.

The thing is, not everybody would want to pack that cord into their carry-on bag... I already have enough stuff in my bag as it is, thanks!

I suppose what got me, and what I was trying to bring out in the article, is that it's a basic design fail when a bench intended for laptops does not take into account the unique shape of the Apple AC adaptor.

So yes, taking the Apple-supplied cable (as mentioned in the closing par) is an option but it's not the ideal one for some people, and it's not an option we should have to contemplate if the benches were properly designed in the first place.

28 Feb 2011

Total posts 1

The whole point of having 2 lengths of cable between the transformer is not because the designers for all other laptops were just not "elegant" enough, its because sometimes there isn't enough room to plug a big cumbersome transformer directly into the power socket. Often the bulky transformers that do plug directly into a socket will also partially cover any surrounding sockets, which could be very irritating to someone with a normal laptop who wishes to charge it.

Anyway, I am truly jealous. You obviously lead a very sheltered and simplistic life if you seriously think having to pack an extra 5 feet of cord into your bag is too hard an option and worthy of a whinge.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Mar 2011

Total posts 4

The whole point that it's the little things like this that really annoy you when traveling and why should you have to carry every cable for every possible scenario

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

Hey David,

The Apple power adaptors are also compatible with standard "figure of 8" cables such as (they also come with a very large variety of appliances) -- these provide a nice tradeoff between the "just a plug" connector, and the long, thick cable that apple provides.

Hope this is useful to someone.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 784

I'm sure someone from QF lounge management can nip over to Bunnnings, they have four packs of four-way powerboards for $9.95 :)

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