A good breakfast makes a good start to the day, and it’s a meal many business travellers enjoy at their airport lounge of choice before jetting off to meetings or the office.
So how do Australia’s domestic airport lounges compare on the breakfast front?
In our 2018 ‘Battle of the Business Lounge Breakfast’ we compare the morning fare at the Qantas Club, Qantas Business Lounge and Virgin Australia Lounge, from a series of early morning lounge visits at Brisbane Airport.
Round 1: Coffee
When it comes to that morning cuppa, all three lounges offer barista-made coffee to get you going.
While Brisbane’s Qantas Club previously served these exclusively in disposable cardboard cups – generating lots of unnecessary waste – we’re glad to see that mugs and glasses are now standard at the barista station:
The Qantas Business Lounge kicks things up a notch, often with table coffee service in the lounge’s main dining area…
… and between the two Qantas lounges in Brisbane, the Roo has up to four separate barista coffee counters going at once, including one at the top of the Premium Lounge Entry escalators, one inside the Qantas Club, and up to two in the Business Lounge (the second opens when it’s busy).
In the Virgin Australia lounge, all-day barista coffee is available as well, again with a choice of mugs/glasses or take-away if you’re running for your flight…
... but in Brisbane, Virgin only operates one barista coffee station – and because this single lounge is shared by all of the airline’s premium passengers, the wait times for your coffee during peak periods can be lengthy: up to 20 minutes in my experience, before the first few flights of the day are called for boarding.
Winner: With four times as many coffee stations to help pump through orders during peak times, and now glassware in the Qantas Club (previously in the Business Lounge only), we’re giving this one to the Qantas lounges.
Round 2: Breakfast
Whichever lounge you’re in, you can expect basics like cereals, breads and fruit, but the broader menus vary from lounge to lounge.
At the Qantas Club there’s a choice of both plain and flavoured yoghurt, and Bircher muesli…
… alongside the popular pancake machine with maple syrup at the ready, joined by baked beans and boiled eggs…
… plus ham, cheese and tomato…
… either on their own, or in a toasted sandwich:
Finally, with that bread, a selection of Australian condiments such as Vegemite and Berenberg jams:
For business class passengers and Platinum frequent flyers, the Qantas Business Lounge elevates the preflight experience with a ‘plate of the day’ served to travellers seated in the lounge’s dining area between 6am and 8am.
On this visit, a healthy bowl centred on a soft poached egg with avocado, kale, feta, buckwheat, pistachio, sunflower seeds and herbed tahini dressing, which is an option I appreciate as a calorie-conscious traveller in place of many other brekky dishes which hero fried foods:
If you’re in a rush, a smaller version of the same bowl can also be grabbed from the buffet…
… alongside a wider range of yoghurt than in the Qantas Club, and which is individually-portioned:
As expected, there’s also fresh fruit salad, and ham, cheese and tomato for toasted sandwiches – which you can assemble yourself…
… or grab one already pre-made from next to the sandwich press, and pop it on to toast:
But don’t fret: it’s not all kale and toasted sandwiches – if you’re after bacon, eggs and baked beans, you won’t be left wanting…
… and, of course, there’s a pancake machine:
Finally, a juicing station where travellers can make their own fresh mix:
Over in the Virgin Australia Lounge the buffet features many of the same staples like ham, cheese, tomato and also pineapple – which goes well on toasted sandwiches in place of tomato to create something resembling a ‘mini pizza’ if your visit is more ‘brunch’ than ‘breakfast’…
… joined by ingredients to custom-make your own fruit salad, with yoghurts and Bircher muesli too…
… and again, a reasonable selection of condiments for your morning toast (bread is found next to the cereal):
Hot dishes on today’s visit included poached eggs and bacon…
… which, if you’re really keen, could be assembled with other bits and pieces from the buffet to represent something similar to a café breakfast:
Finally, there’s a pancake machine with a selection of toppings nearby to dress your dish…
… and a line-up of juices, too:
Which lounge has the best breakfast?
With its healthy ‘plate of the day’, table coffee service and a buffet designed with business travellers in mind – especially those maximising their rest before morning flights and stopping by the lounge for a quick bite – the Qantas Business Lounge is the easy winner here.
We’d rank the Virgin Australia Lounge a close second given its well-rounded offering and broad-appeal hot dishes of bacon and ready-to-eat poached eggs, plus the DIY approach to fruit salad that lets you stock up on the things you like and skip the things you don’t, without fishing through one main salad bowl.
That said, the Qantas Club brekky is still more than reasonable – and with all three lounges now offering barista-made coffee in glasses and mugs throughout the day (rather than cardboard cups), we’re reminded just how spoiled we are in Australia when it comes to lounge brekky for the business traveller.
Readers: what's your take on which airline lounge has the best breakfast for the business traveller?
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