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In tandem with the return of Qantas to the Gold Coast, the local airport at Coolangatta (hence its airport code of OOL) once again boasts a Qantas Club lounge.
This extensive renovation of the former Jetstar lounge – which ironically began life as a Qantas lounge some years before that – is open to all Qantas Club members along with Gold and Platinum-grade frequent flyers, as well as Qantas business class travellers and Jetstar passengers booked on a Business Max ticket.
(This month you can also buy single-use Qantas Club passes for 'casual entry' – read our story for all the details.)
Inside the new Gold Coast Qantas Club
While sharing the same space as the Jetstar lounge, the new Qantas Club has been upgraded in every other measure – well, except that being located smack in the middle of the terminal means no windows, no natural light and no view. The decor works against this with ample lighting, white walls and soft wood panelling.
Stretching off to the right of the reception desk is the longer part of the lounge’s L-shaped footprint.
This takes in the buffet, bar and barista station, which thankfully is open whenever the Qantas Club is.
The spread’s quite impressive, ranging from full meals and an antipasto mix to dips and fruit.
During our lunchtime visit the selection included smoked salmon, Serrano ham, a spinach & ricotta ravioli and soup.
And of course, a few treats such as these iconic Aussie biscuits (how can you go past Delta Creams, Monte Carlos and Honey Jumbles?).
Across from the servery are a mix of high tables, low chairs with coffee tables and a workbench at the far end.
There’s a similar mix of seating scattered throughout the other leg of the lounge.
The lounge is capable of accommodating 125 guests says Qantas, with six staff per shift to look after your needs.
MacBook users should note that the recessed AC sockets in those workbenches are too tight a fit for Apple’s adaptors.
Unilke the workbenches in larger Qantas lounges like the Sydney Business Lounge, where some of the AC sockets have been offset by 90 degrees so they sit horizontal and allow room for the Apple plugs, no such accommodation has been made here.
Thankfully there’s no shortage of powerpoints mounted along the walls of the lounge and within cable-reach of most chairs, while fast wifi flows freely (if password-protected against freeloaders) throughout the lounge.
Speaking of work, a small business nook with three iMacs and a printer/fax machine is tucked directly behind the reception desk.
Mirroring this at the opposite end of the lounge is a family zone with its own iMac, a Sony PlayStation and a large-screen telly.
The use of wide wooden slats rather than a solid wall to separate both the business and kid’s zones from the main area of the lounge keeps both spaces from feeling closed-in.
But it won’t stop kiddy-related noise from the family room flowing into the main part of the lounge...
... nor sound from the lounge from reaching those trying to get some work done in the business nook.
Rounding out what we'd consider as requirements of a baseline airport lounge are two showers.
Add a meeting room, and this is pretty much everything you could expect from a Qantas Club.
But Jetstar flyers lose out...
There’s one catch: while the old Jetstar lounge was open throughout the day and evening, to cater for the score of Jetstar flights shuttling in and out, the new Qantas Club runs on a curtailed schedule geared to the Gold Coast’s current three daily Qantas services.
“The opening hours have been designed around the Qantas flights” explains Nicholas Bull, Head of Domestic Lounges for Qantas, “so we’re always open two hours before a Qantas flight departs.”
That means 6am to 1pm on weekdays (with a later 8am start on weekends) to cater for the first two Qantas flights between Sydney and the Gold Coast, after which the lounge closes for a few hours. It re-opens from 3.40pm to 5.40pm to cater for the third and final Red Roo flight of the day, but by 6pm it's light out.
This is a definite drawback for travellers on the eight Jetstar flights leaving the Gold Coast outside of those times – the JQ services start around 6am and finish around 7pm-8pm – and must now make do with the airport’s food court.
In all, the new Qantas Club does plenty of good with a very compact space.
It's no threat to the Virgin Australia lounge around the corner and upstairs, and the shorter opening hours will rankle Jetstar travellers, but it underscores Qantas' investment in the Gold Coast and we hope it's a sign that more flights – and longer opening hours – are to follow.