Qantas is now denying some passengers entry to its Singapore lounge during peak periods due to overcrowding.
This also applies to holders of single-entry Qantas lounge passes, which are issued to Qantas Silver frequent flyers and also available through many credit cards, including the airline's own Qantas Premier Mastercard.
Unlike the Qantas lounge, the SATS Premier Lounge doesn’t offer cooked-to-order dining or a tended bar: just a selection of self-service food and drinks from the buffet…
... and has only five showers where you can freshen up before your flight, compared to Qantas lounge's 20.
AusBT review: SATS Premier Lounge, Singapore Changi T1
A Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "during the busiest periods, lounge hosts may use their discretion in redirecting passengers to an alternative lounge to ensure a comfortable experience for everyone."
With Qantas now using Airbus A380s from Singapore to Sydney and Melbourne, and also having resumed flying via Singapore to London as part of the revamped Kangaroo Route, the airline's Singapore Lounge is busier than ever – especially from 5.30pm until the lounge closes at 11pm, during which the bulk of flights depart.
Australian Business Traveller understands that as the lounge starts to fill up, priority for access is given to Qantas first class and business class passengers, along with Chairman's Lounge members and Platinum One, Platinum and Gold frequent flyers.
Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers (such as Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold and Diamond cardholders) will likely be bounced to the British Airways lounge if the Qantas lounge is full.
British Airways' own business class and first class passengers and Executive Club frequent flyers – many of whom make a habit of visiting both the BA and Qantas lounges at Singapore (the former for self-pour drinks and a less crowded lounge, the latter for a la carte meals and cocktails) – could also find themselves restricted to the BA lounge.
Good lounge, bad timing...
Qantas' Singapore Lounge was the first in a series of new-look international lounges – it's been followed by Hong Kong, Los Angeles and most recently London – but its opening in 2013 came after the Qantas/Emirates alliance saw Singapore dropped in favour of Dubai as the stopover for its Airbus A380 flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London.
This dramatically reduced the number of travellers expected at the lounge, so it was designed accordingly, with a then-generous provision for up to 460 passengers.
But since Singapore once again became Qantas' London stopover from March this year, the Lion City lounge has been pushed to capacity.
Qantas has squeezed in an extra 40 seats, boosting total capacity to 500 passengers, and a Qantas spokesperson has told Australian Business Traveller "we’re continually evaluating opportunities to invest in the pre-flight experience in this port" – although they wouldn't be drawn on rumours of expanding the lounge or adding a seperate annexe for first class and Platinum One frequent flyers.
Your non-Qantas lounge options at Singapore
Qantas passengers who find the airline's lounge is already too crowded for their liking have a few options beyond being shunted into the SATS lounge.
Business and first class passengers, along with Gold, Platinum and Platinum One-grade Qantas Frequent Flyer members (and their Oneworld equivalents), can visit the nearby British Airways Singapore Lounge.
It's around the corner from the Qantas lounge and while it doesn't boast the same standard of food or drink, it's typically quieter.
However, only BA's own first class flyers are permitted into lounge's private Concorde Bar, which is a more exclusive den, with a better selection of drinks than the main lounge but generally the same food.
Plan B – or perhaps that should be 'Plan EK' – is Emirates' Singapore Lounge.
Located above Gate C1, it's a short stroll from the Qantas lounge and opens its doors to Qantas business and first class passengers, along with Gold, Platinum and Platinum One-grade Qantas Frequent Flyer members – but not their Oneworld equivalents, nor Qantas Club members.
The Emirates lounge doesn't have the open kitchen and daily plates of the Qantas lounge but the buffet offers ample choice, and unlike the Qantas and BA lounge there's Champagne (Moët).
If you regularly fly with Qantas to or through Singapore, what's your lounge strategy these days?