What's next for Qantas' business class, first class in-lounge dining?

By Chris C., November 5 2018
What's next for Qantas' business class, first class in-lounge dining?

Qantas has some big plans for its domestic and international lounge network, including an all-new first class lounge in Singapore, a refurbished business class lounge in Sydney and plenty of other revamps in a pipeline which will end with 85% of the airline’s existing lounges either newly-built, refurbished or refreshed over the past five years alone.

Australian Business Traveller sat down with Neil Perry, Qantas’ Creative Director of Food, Beverage and Service at the unveiling of Melbourne’s revitalised Qantas Business Lounge this month to find out more about what travellers can expect on the dining front in some of the Roo’s future lounges.

First things First: Qantas’s new Singapore lounge

Set to open by the end of 2019, the upcoming Qantas First Lounge at Changi Airport will feature à la carte dining as in the airline’s flagship Sydney, Melbourne and Los Angeles lounges, but planning for the opening is a little more involved than creating a menu alone.

“We're working with David Caon on this: he's looking at the design, and we're looking at how the food style should influence that, but also how the design should influence the food style,” Perry shares.

A concept image of the new Qantas First Lounge in Singapore
A concept image of the new Qantas First Lounge in Singapore

The Singapore First Lounge will also adopt a food theme, in the same way that Melbourne’s new Qantas Business Lounge now features a Spice Bar, although with plenty of time until the opening date, Singapore’s new theme is still being decided.

“It’s super exciting to have a full kitchen at our disposal when we're designing a (lounge) menu,” Perry continues. “It just gives us an opportunity to take all the great work that's being done in the current Qantas Singapore Lounge, but dial it up to another level.”

Whatever the menu, however, there’s one item Neil and his team wouldn’t dare omit from the Singapore first class lounge: the salt and pepper squid, a favourite of many frequent flyers in Qantas’ other first class lounges and the invitation-only Chairman’s Lounges.

“We will be doing that!” he affirms strongly.

Have your say: What do you want from Qantas' new Singapore first class lounge?

Dining in Qantas’ Singapore business class lounge

With the opening of the separate first class space in Singapore, Qantas’ existing all-purpose lounge at Changi will become a ‘business class’ facility, but Perry is quick to share that there won’t be a reduction in the dining amenities offered here when the first class lounge opens.

“The business class lounge will continue as-is,” and with top-level travellers moving over to the new Qantas First Lounge and the existing business class lounge also gaining more seats, “it’ll give everyone more space, which they need because of our throughput.”

With Qantas currently turning many passengers away from its Singapore lounge due to capacity issues, Perry explains that today’s lounge “was never designed to have two or three A380s arrive at once.”

“Linda and her team, and the people in the kitchen all do an amazing job of juggling everybody and somehow finding as much space as they possibly can, so they’ll really appreciate the new First Lounge, as will the passengers.”

Sydney’s new international business class lounge

With a revamped Qantas business class lounge at Sydney’s international terminal also due to open by the end of 2019, passengers here will gain a signature dining experience as previously announced, which Perry explains will be a little different to Brisbane’s international lounge further north.

“We'll mirror more along the lines of what we're doing in Singapore and Hong Kong, so there will be a couple of dishes of the day,” rather than directly replicating Brisbane’s ‘breakfast hatch’, which closes after the morning meal.

“We want to take Sydney away from being just the ‘buffet business class lounge’ of the past, because if you look at that lounge today, it's one of our older business styles, so when the new one hits, I think everybody will really like it.”

Signature cocktails will also be added to the menu, hinting there'll also be a full-service bar.

Also read: What do you want from Qantas' new Sydney business class lounge?

Melbourne’s newly-revealed Domestic Business Lounge

Finally, after much anticipation, refurbishment works at Qantas’ Domestic Business Lounge in Melbourne have been completed, with travellers now treated to an Asian Spice Bar offering a variety of meals prepared fresh to order from a rotating menu, in a nod to Perry’s Melbourne Spice Temple restaurant.

AusBT review: Qantas domestic business class lounge, Melbourne Airport

“The fried rice is inspired by the one that we do at Spice Temple, as are the stir-fried noodles, and the vegetarian wontons,” which regulars to the restaurant may have tried before – at least in variation.

The vegetarian wonton noodle soup, as served at the Melbourne lounge Spice Bar
The vegetarian wonton noodle soup, as served at the Melbourne lounge Spice Bar

“We can also do different dumplings, so we’ve got the flexibility to continually change and dial up more of the Spice Temple dishes, and we already provide a lot of those in-flight, too,” Perry adds.

But with Melbourne having many similarities with European culture and dining – it’s Australia’s coffee capital for a start, and the home base of Perry’s Rosetta Ristorante – we asked what nudged spice ahead of stracciatella.

“Well, we’re in a city with a really great tradition of Chinese and other Asian food, obviously as well as the great Greek and Italian and Mediterranean. We just felt from what we'd done that something unique, different, and Asian-based would be really appreciated.”

“But we're not pushing people into ‘Spice Temple only’ dining – on the other side of the buffet, you can still get Western food,” Perry assures. “We're also not forcing Asian breakfast on people: we’re doing a fairly traditional Western breakfast.”

“That said, I'd love to see congee and soup and stuff there in time, and if Melbourne cries out for it, we can move in that direction.”

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Qantas.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

31 Oct 2018

Total posts 11

Bring on congee and yum cha for breakfast in Melbourne!

While the Spice Bar is a great addition, by opening at 12 it doesn’t do anything for Melbourne-based travelers who fly out in the morning.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2561

Yes, I could happily tuck into a chicken congee with some trimmings as a lounge breakfast!


21 Apr 2017

Total posts 17

All very well for these cities, but when does Adelaide get a revamp and a business lounge. 15 years old and still no Qantas action, no surprise really as we are treated like the plague with no International and few direct domestic flights, and they wonder why Emirates and Qatar do so well.

05 May 2016

Total posts 624

The ADL lounge is one of the best QANTAS Club's I've been to. Hopefully it will eventually get a dedicated Business lounge but that depends on having the space for one and having sufficient Business class passengers to justify it.

There's going to be a new HBA lounge so QF is planning to address at least some of the problems that have
long needed addressing with its domestic lounge network.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jun 2015

Total posts 36

Can we get a Spice Bar in the BNE J Lounge. So over the Mexican cantina!

09 Mar 2015

Total posts 33

Sounds very promising for the Singapore first class lounge, I hope to be Platinum by the time it opens, but I am glad to hear there won't be any change to the dining at the business lounge, I really enjoy their plate of the day options.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 91

Having just relocated to Singapore I have to say I’m extremely pleased about the news on this new lounge. As a OW emerald recently I’ve favoured the BA lounge, but this should really step the game up at Changi. Always been a fan of the food at Sydney and Melbourne (heard good things about LA, but never visited!) and this should be at a similar level.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

14 Apr 2013

Total posts 327

Question, Perth Has Italian (Pizza), Melbourne Asian (Spice Bar), Brisbane Cantina (Mexican), What do you think Sydney will get? once the Lounge is refurbished?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 464

Lebanese - kebabs for everyone!!


03 May 2013

Total posts 669

Kebabs I understand are Turkish? Shwarma on the other hand is Lebanese. It would be amazing to include Lebanese cuisine as a theme at one of the QF Aus lounges.


18 Aug 2017

Total posts 39

Whatever it is why cannot Qantas rotate the "signature" dishes throughout so that everyone gets to try all the different styles?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2561

Because if you're flying out from Brisbane to say Perth or Melbourne you will get to try the dishes of those lounges, and probably also because you'd need pizza ovens in Melbourne and a noodle station in Perth to swap them over.


18 Aug 2017

Total posts 39

But if you only fly between Sydney and Melbourne then you do not get to experience the Brisbane or Perth and get sick of just the same fare in the lounges and that degrades your experience.


03 May 2013

Total posts 669

Still, the Rockpool menu has never won Qantas any international awards for inflight dining in business or first. You're either a fan or not. The lounge food is much better than on board.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jun 2018

Total posts 4

Personally I think Neil Perry’s influences on Qantas’ lounges and menus is past their use by dates

It is limiting the ability of Qantas to meet the competition’s offerings and undertake innovation in its own right
Qantas in flight offerings of both food and wine have become sub par
Time for Qantas to take back ownership and accountability for this important activity
Another case of private equity losing the plot when it comes to customer unders

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 118

I'm not sure whether it's Perry's influence or someone in catering, but I've taken a few Qantas long haul business class flights in the past 12 months and the menu has been very seafood heavy. On one occasion there were say three small plates and three large plates (let's say a total of 6) and four were seafood, one had an anchovy sauce, and one was vegetarian (that may not have been the exact number of plates, but the end product meant only one dish could be eaten). Not sure who mucked up the catering that day or whether it was intentional.

I'm not a seafood eater, and making the menu so seafood heavy is just ridiculous as there are lots of other people who don't eat seafood (or are allergic to it) or people who just want more variety other than seafood.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 377

I think they need to rotate all offerings through the major lounges. Variety is the spice of life.


21 Jul 2011

Total posts 90

100% agree. I don’t understand why they keep it as one offering per port. I get the logistics of crockery and cutlery and to some extent the kitchen setup, but surely that can all be overcome. I’m tired of the same old same old in every QF lounge. BUT I will say this (as I am currently tripping around Asia), we get it good in AU lounge wise.


21 Jul 2011

Total posts 90

I flew out of MEL for the first time (in I can’t remember how long) on a non OW carrier - GA (having achieved my next years WO status I thought it would be fun and GA was actually pretty good in the air...but that’s another issue). GA use the QF J lounge O M G that experience is very motivating to keep up my WP status and get back on a OW carrier out of my home port. What a disorganised, dirty, dingy, dark and depressing dump that is.

29 Jan 2015

Total posts 41

So is your home port London Heathrow BA Terminal 5, then?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jun 2017

Total posts 34

With so much new creative talent in the Australian food scene, hanging onto a guy who can’t even pay his staff correctly is bad brand for Qantas. Time to move on. New planes. Tick. New lounges. Tick. New branding. Tick. New head chef please.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 69

Don't know what Neil is so happy about in the pic above; he really hasn't done much for QF catering( as mentioned no awards whatsoever) and the lounge food is all over the place. The salads are very good though in the lounges unlike the ripped pieces of lettuce (better known as a 'salad' to QF and Neil) on board-and that's F Class! The SIN and HKG lounge salads are beautiful on the other hand I must admit.

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 31

If done right, it could potentially be better than SQ Private Room

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 86

And what is being done for the long suffering Business Lounge customers.........the offer is an insult.

29 Jan 2016

Total posts 26

I had my first QF business class SIN-PER the other day for a long time. I must say I was underwhelmed with the lounge offering, and the inflight offering was not much better. I cannot eat seafood, and I do not like roasted carrot on a bed of couscous, so I had soup with shredded dry chicken. I could not have starters as it was the same soup less the dry chicken, and seafood was the other option. The deserts were nice though. Not a well thought out menu in my books.

29 Jan 2015

Total posts 41

A couple of First and Business flyers I've known who fly all the time, on principle would NOT eat seafood on an aircraft. One of them had a plane diverted to get him to hospital when he ate some prawns on a well-regarded First World airline, in First

23 Mar 2018

Total posts 21

We are looking at how the food can suit the design!!!!!! Oh please!!

29 Oct 2017

Total posts 4

I dont know about dining but what about a better lounge facility in Bangkok.The present arrangement is the pitts and i am sure Qanras can do better

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2014

Total posts 19

QF a la carte offerings at SYD, LAX are pleasing. MEL SYD dom meals are slop.

How about some more toastie varieties, like some tandoori chicken pieces, filly steak, etc?

I’d be happier if subway licensed out their food to this space.

Red wine selections always good quality.

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