Qantas trials 'silent airport lounges' without boarding calls

By David Flynn, July 23 2015
Qantas trials 'silent airport lounges' without boarding calls

Qantas could soon be giving top-tier travellers the silent treatment in its airport lounges, with the airline considering adopting a 'quiet lounge' model where boarding announcements will no longer be made.

As Darryl Kerrigan might say, "Just think of all that serenity!"

As the first stage of trialling the 'quiet lounge' concept, Qantas temporarily ceased making boarding calls at Sydney Airport's domestic Qantas Club and Qantas Business Lounge yesterday, Wednesday July 22nd, between noon and 4pm.

Travellers were advised of the trial as they arrived at the lounges, and were asked to complete a survey to collect their opinions on the subject.

"We want our customers to tell us how we can improve their experience when travelling with Qantas" Helen Gray, Qantas Head of Domestic Cabin Crew, Lounges and Product & Service Delivery, told Australian Business Traveller.

"Trialling a 'quiet lounge' will allow us to get their feedback and gauge whether this is something they would like to see across all of our lounges."

During the trials announcements will still made regarding delayed or cancelled flights, but passengers won't have to put up with the stream of first and final boarding calls for every Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar flight.

Many international airlines have adopted the 'silent lounge' model, but strategically-placed video displays plus smartphone and tablet apps make it easier for travellers to keep track of their flight's status and boarding gate.

AusBT reader Oliver Craven-McLeay, who was in the Qantas Business Lounge during yesterday's trial, says he appreciated the quiet lounge approach and believes that if implemented on a permanent basis "it will bring an extra level of relaxation to the den of Qantas' most seasoned (and valuable) customers."

"I thought it wouldn't make much difference but after spending an hour and a half in the lounge, it was much more serene and relaxing than normal" he told Australian Business Traveller.

"The lounge, especially in the triangle route rush, becomes a genuinely loud place. The announcements interrupt your rest time and also mean that people start speaking louder to each other."

Craven-McLeay, who works in aviation consultancy and travels between Sydney and Brisbane each week, says he wasn't concerned about missing his flight "because I always check the boards anyway, and changes to flight times (such as delays) were still being announced."

"If you know you have 30 minutes in the lounge you can truly relax for 25 minutes and then just keep an eye on one of the departures boards after that."

Qantas plans to conduct further trials "to assess whether this is something our customers would like to see implemented", a spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.

Read: Five tips for your stay in a 'silent lounge'

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


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

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 147

If the Qantas App gave you all the information then this could work really well. I can't say I find the announcements annoying, it's just part of the airport experience.


If the announcements are continued to be made for delays and cancellations and you're greeted warmly on arrival then there should be no impact to the customer experience and everyone will be happy.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 742

I've got no interest in having to download an app for every little thing I want to do. 

I actually like boarding announcements, I find it less stressful to listen to announcements irrelevant to me than to sit around keeping an eye on the clock. 


16 Nov 2012

Total posts 59

Agree Hugo; and 'serenity' at an airport? Announcements are just part of the background and have saved me once or twice, even though I peer regularly at the screen.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

But the app, for me crashes every time I open it...

14 Feb 2012

Total posts 37

They havce fixed the app now, go and get the update and you won't have any more problems.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 557

Never understood why people needed these in the first place, if you don't have the aptitude to be able to check a screen you shouldnt be flying


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2012

Total posts 122

Excellent and long overdue peace and quiet.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1103

AN tried this in its Golden Wing Lounges in the late '90s.  It was not a success then as lots of checked-in pax failed to board on-time resulting in announcements in the lounge and throughout the terminal to locate these pax.  Maybe it will be more successful this time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum

07 Feb 2013

Total posts 557

No doubt some upper tier members who think they are holier than thou (i.e. they don't care if they delay a flight)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 350

This works well in Singapore and Dubai amoung other lounges throughout the world. I welcome the serenity!!

14 Feb 2012

Total posts 37

I agree, Heathrow, Bangkok and Tokyo as well.  I don't know what all the fuss is about.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Oct 2012

Total posts 9

I want to vote Maybe on the poll. I would only be comfortable with a silent lounge, if the Qantas app (iPhone or Watch) could instantly notify me of any boarding time or gate changes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Oct 2012

Total posts 9

To those people negging my post: I'm not disagreeing with the idea of a silent announcement-less lounge. I'm for it. I'm more than capable of checking the display screen, but I'm the anxious type who would be checking the screen every 5 minutes. Having (silent) app notifications would help my anxiety.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 364

I think this is a wonderful move!

American Airlines - AAdvantage

13 Jul 2015

Total posts 265

This is great, I've seen this in some international airports overseas, and it works like a charm (peace wise). The only issue is that sometimes if there is a gate change while you are waiting at the old gate - you never know unless you start seeing people move off, or you decide to look at the gate tv screens (if updated). 

Qantas - Platinum (Lifetime Gold)

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 55

There are many silent lounges overseas. It is definitely more peaceful when they only announce flight changes.  I know when I approach BA and AA lounges, for example, that I'll need to keep an eye on the boards. One proviso, the reception staff should tell each arrival that they are a silent lounge, or the lounge place little signs strategically stating this (hoping that everyone reads the language of choice ??) as they shouldn't assume all travellers know.  They could be newcomers and get caught out (speaking from experience in T5 at LHR a few years back when I did just as the BA lounge personnel told me to;  I "ran like the clappers" and just made my flight.... If anyone knows this terminal, yes it was the furthest lounge in the furthest pier of course

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

31 Jan 2012

Total posts 108

Lets hope their internal systems are robust. Human error is in play and if someone forgets to hit the boarding button at the gate. No msg to your phone iWatch.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Platinum

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 38

This is a great idea. If someone in the lounge is about to miss their flight, a lounge staff can call the passenger on their mobile phone to let them know it's in the final call. Which they are doing now in anyways..

12 Oct 2012

Total posts 12

My vote is definitely stop the announcements. I find the repeated call outs a real nuisance. Easy to keep an eye on the screens.

It will be pleasing not to continually hear the word Customer ringing through one's ears, when really "Passenger" is the correct terminalogy that should be used for any persons about to travel by air.

09 Apr 2015

Total posts 5

How about more quiet on board? Qantas never shut up. They have to get through duty free, change for good, turn off your devices, the pursers favourite hobbies, collecting the headsets, dinner service, blah, blah, blah (and often in two languages). Do they really have to explain what the seat belt sign means every time it comes on? As a regular traveller it drives me nuts.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 483

So if you're flying Emirates from Sydney to Auckland you're OK if all announcments are in Arabic? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Aug 2014

Total posts 76

What if your BLIND Qantas?????

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Dec 2012

Total posts 2

Ask for assistance?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Dec 2012

Total posts 2

Long overdue. Perth in particular is dreadful for announcements. The interminable calls for people who have failed to board a flight (generally to a Rio, BHP or FMG mine site) mean the lounge is constantly very noisy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Sep 2013

Total posts 185

And lately in Perth, not just for internal flights, but almost every international flight departure there has been passengers being called by name to get to their gate.  Where people disappear to once they checkin and clear custioms is beyond me.

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 5

The idea suits me fine. Most airport lounge announcements come across as "Flight urrghh arrrghhh travelling to ooooghhh arrrggghh is now uurrghhh at arrrggghhh ooorrgghhh. Passengers are advised to uuurrrghh ooorgghhhh arrrggghhh now!"

This unintelligble gurgle is usually created by a combination of the worst speaker they can find for the microphone - aided by an airport sound system supplied by the lowest tenderer - and amplified by people in the lounge chatting, talking on phones, kids crying, and general airport business noise.

Add in the fact that the announcement is only revealed for seconds - and if you miss it - too bad!!

The increasing number of heavy foreign accents makes the situation even worse.

It's high time announcements were placed on convenient multiple screens, with the announcement timing alongside it. Urgent messages could be made flashing, and the system could surely be also arranged to be sent to mobile phones as text, for those logged into the airport wifi.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jul 2015

Total posts 7

I think it will be a great idea, and there's always the smartphone to provide an alert from the calendar (rather than an app) for those who may find it a difficult concept.

It's so much more relaxing not to hear the constant calls when waiting in lounges OS even though my husband relies on them... He's in the 'difficult concept' basket!

24 Jul 2015

Total posts 1

I usually get annoyed in the announcement-free lounges overseas because the "strategically-placed video displays plus smartphone and tablet apps" are usually not at all strategic, and the apps aren't reliable - particularly for an international traveller. 

In the SYD and MEL QF biz lounges, the new display panels are nice, but still require the majority of people to get up and walk closer them in order to check if a flight is boarding - that will kill any added relaxation from removal of announcements for me as I will be anxious to check regularly. I note that the advertising panels are clearly visible from the whole lounge due to large fonts and animations! The other aspect is that the boards aren't always accurate - the lounge announcements are made when the gate calls the lounge, whereas the boards are updated based on the status in the computer system which isn't always correct.

I would quite like the lounges to be announcement-less, if: 

 - Display boards were alterered to always show a list, in large font size, of the flights that are currently boarding (ie, as opposed to having to scan through a larger list), with some colour or movement to indicate when a flight has just been added to that list. Eg, a succint list of "QFxyz to MEL at G5" that perhaps flashes or is highlighted when it is added, with a colour change towards red as it nears gate close. I'm thinking something like the displays that McDonalds and others have to show which orders are ready, but more aesthetically pleasing! A big part of that will also be improving the accuracy of the source of that data - ie not wasting lounge-goers time by falsely stating a flight is boarding. 

- The App has functionality added to provide me a personalised display of my flight status with notifications of when that status changes (not just boarding time, but when the flight has actually started boarding), and also detect if there are commication difficulties and if so warn me that I need to check the displays myself. The simplest way would be to put an icon in the notification bar (eg the roo icon!) an hour or two before my flight (or perhaps when it detects I've arrived at the airport/lounge) that tells me that the app is running, receiving data, and monitoring my flight, or likewise flashes or otherwise indicates if it has a problem. It only takes a single instance of the app failing to notify me of something important (in time for me to act) to make me lose all trust in it. If I have a way of quickly knowing that the app isn't working (ie, lack of icon or flashing icon), I can take action. In the past I've had check-in notifications from the QF app arrive hours late. 

- They take care of accessibility issues (eg vision impaired). The app could probably help with that also, but inevitably it will require more intensive support from the lounge staff if there are no audio announcements.  




Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 208

Hooray!! Marvellous idea!!

24 Jul 2015

Total posts 3

Qantas seems to be alienating itself from any other traveller other than business travellers.  The departures notifications are only able to be seen by people with perfect vision.  Many people, especially us seniors, tend to nod off and wait for the call.  I have travelled all over the world with various airlines and am very nervous abut the lack of calls.  I tend to be up and down looking at the departures, go to gate etc.,  and cannot relax.  It gets harder and harder to travel these days when you are over 70 - surely there are more useful things to put in place other than silent lounges.  If I am in a Qantas lounge I will ask to be informed by someone as I am not getting up and down peering at a board that you need to be on top of to see.  You are not in the Qantas lounge for peace and quiet - it is a working departure lounge.  If you want peace and quiet go and have a massage, check into a hotel.  The Qantas lounge is not a meditation or relaxation area, it is where you go to wait fo your next flight  Get your priorities right and think of the 100% rather than the 20% poor down trodden who cant bear the noise.  Dont fly.  Go by train or bus and the noise is twice what it is in the Qantas lounge.,  Just think of everyone, not the chosen few.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jul 2015

Total posts 1

If this starts to cause delayed flights, particularly where there is baggage on board and a no show - how does QF propose to deal with the 'offender".

I am always concerned for the welfare of a pasenger who boards after being "named" inside the plane.  How does QF propose to reward the passengers who were on time?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jul 2013

Total posts 6

I assumed for some reason that the FIDs displays were operated by a third party and have never relied upon them,  and take the boarding call as the official call.               Am I wrong ??

I have never found the need to arrive at the gate 40 minutes early to board aQ400 for example as their isn't from my experience 200+ people waiting at the gate.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

25 Aug 2012

Total posts 19

What about the silence shattering noise of uncontrolled children? Public announcements pale in comparison.

03 Dec 2014

Total posts 2

I am thinking of those cafe/eateries at the air port that take your order and then give you a buzzer to come and collect your order.  Maybe this hasd to be an option for these lounges.

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