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You've booked an early morning flight and there's a long day ahead, and breakfast at the airport lounge is your jump-start. But how do the lounges compare? Executive Traveller samples the breakfast fare at the Qantas Club, Qantas Business Lounge and Virgin Australia Lounge, using the Brisbane Airport domestic lounges as our testing ground.
Breakfast at the Qantas Club
Brisbane's Qantas Club kicks things off with the basic breakfast essentials: cereals and a choice of milk; bread, a toaster plus a variety of condiments; and fresh fruit salad and yoghurt.
If you're seeking a hot breakfast, there are boiled eggs and baked beans; porridge (not pictured), and pancakes baked to order.
Sometimes it's hard to go past the simplicity of a toasted sandwich, and you'll find everything you need for that.
The breakfast menu standing atop the counter also flags which items are gluten-free. This is increasingly important, and while 'gluten-free' appears to extend only to the yoghurt and fruit, there's also gluten-free muesli off to the left.
Finally, barista coffee is at hand. If you're pressed for time, place your order via the Skip mobile app and collect your coffee at the counter.
Breakfast at the Qantas Business Lounge
Next door at Brisbane's Qantas Business Lounge, there's a little more variety, while still featuring those favourites of the Qantas Club.
For example, you'll still find bread for toasting (including gluten-free bread), cereal, boiled eggs, pancakes made to order, and sandwich fillings.
However, the yoghurts here come in individual portions, and the fruit salad boasts a broader range of ingredients. If you're seeking a fast yet healthy start to your day, mix a few yoghurt portions with a bowl of fruit salad.
As in the Qantas Club, baked beans are available too, but they're joined by chipolatas, scrambled eggs and porridge.
But here's where the Business Lounge kicks things up a notch compared to the Qantas Club. A juicer allows guests to customise their morning mix from a selection of fruit and vegetables.
The 'Quench' station is an alternative to the typical juices and soft drinks, with pre-mixed beverages for quick enjoyment plus base syrups so you can again customise your drink.
Barista coffee is also available here, as you'd expect – but unlike the Qantas Club, if you're seated at one of the tables near the buffet area, staff will often take your coffee order at that table, so that you don't have to line up.
In that same area, Qantas also serves a 'plate of the day' between 6am and 8am. This changes every two weeks to keep things interesting: frequent travellers will certainly appreciate the variety.
When Executive Traveller visited, the featured dish was potato and chorizo hash on toast with a poached egg. It's a delicious change from what can be a typical cafe combination of bacon and eggs. The egg arrived perfectly poached and still runny on the inside.
Next on the rotation: a healthy zucchini ribbon salad bowl, served with feta, white beans and a poached egg, which balances well with the crunch and flavour of the croutons.
Also, whether you have access to the Qantas Business Lounge or the Qantas Club, there's an additional coffee counter opposite the Business Lounge entrance, which is at the top of the escalators for those entering through Premium Lounge Entry downstairs.
If you're flying out of Brisbane first thing in the morning but are a bit crunched for time, or simply want to grab a take-away coffee on the way to the departure gate, you'll find there is rarely a line here, compared to the wait times inside the Business Lounge or at the main coffee counter of the Qantas Club.
Breakfast at the Virgin Australia Lounge
Virgin Australia operates a single lounge for business class flyers, Velocity Gold members and top-tier Velocity Platinum cardholders, and as such it's pitched halfway between a Qantas Club and a Qantas Business Lounge.
Exploring the breakfast buffet finds a selection of breads and muffins for toasting, with condiments to the side; pancakes; fresh fruit, yoghurtsand muesli with toppings; chilled eggs, lettuce, and your expected toasted sandwich ingredients.
As Virgin Australia only provides a 'snack' service onboard in economy during breakfast times on short domestic flights – versus Qantas which serves a larger meal – passengers are also invited to take their toastie or other buffet items with them onto the plane, with takeaway bags provided.
Virgin Australia recently expanded the morning meal offerings at its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane domestic lounges with a new 'cafe breakfast' service, where staff prepare and plate the day's dish to order.
Unlike the 'dish of the day' in the Qantas Business Lounge which runs only between 6am and 8am, Virgin's cafe breakfast is served from 5:10am through until 9:30am, making it available to a wider number of travellers.
On the menu when we visited: a tasty crepe filled with short-cut bacon, fluffy omelette segments and a gently-spiced barbeque sauce. Of course, if you'd prefer to swap this out for regular BBQ sauce – or an Australian staple, tomato sauce – that can easily be done.
The 'cafe breakfast' option changes weekly in each of Virgin's three key lounges, with another dish on the rotation being smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs and feta.
While tasty, the eggs are often served hard poached, which makes the yolk lose its creaminess and which some would consider to be overcooked.
On the coffee front, barista brews are available all day. During the Brisbane lounge's busiest morning periods, wait times can be longer than experienced at the Qantas lounges as Virgin has only one coffee station, versus up to four for Qantas.
Which airline's domestic lounge has the best breakfast?
With restaurant-style table service for coffee and the 'dish of the day' paired with a more comprehensive buffet of hot food and multiple ordering points for walk-up coffee orders, it should come as no surprise that the Qantas Business Lounge is the best breakfast all-rounder, and the top pick for business class guests and Platinum-level passengers.
However, Virgin Australia's new 'cafe breakfast' service positions the airline's lounge well ahead of the competing Qantas Club, offering a better overall experience for Gold-grade travellers and paid airport lounge members, with the Qantas Club's breakfast still adequate, but less comprehensive.
Executive Traveller readers: What's your take on the best in-lounge breakfast for the busy business traveller? Share your thoughts via the comment box below!