Did Qantas just open its best home-grown international business class lounge in Brisbane? It certainly looks that way, with the stylish new Brisbane International Lounge eclipsing its Sydney and Melbourne siblings.
It’s a juggling act between the distant design DNA of an airline’s brand and local themes and influences based on the lounge’s actual location.
“We want guests here to know where they are in two senses,” explains Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans. “To know they're in a Qantas lounge but also to know there they are in terms of geography.”
Speaking with Australian Business Traveller at the opening of the Brisbane International Lounge, Evans (above) relates how “you can feel the same themes we have in our premium lounges around the world, but you can also feel a difference in the ‘Queensland-ness’ of it, in the light and space, the colours and materials.”
“This concept is what we would be looking to roll out across all international lounges in the future” Evans says, adding that a makeover for the international business lounges at Sydney and Melbourne is under consideration.
“But our next big lounge from an international perspective is London, which will open in March 2017."
The new Qantas London Heathrow lounge (above) will follow this increasingly common template, Evans says, “with Qantas DNA but a UK and London design and feel.”
It will also be a ‘premium’ lounge with business class and first class passengers – and their equivalent Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold and Platinum card-holders – sharing the same space instead of two separate lounges.
This is despite the fact that unlike other ‘premium’ lounges in Singapore, Hong Kong and now Brisbane, London sees two daily Qantas Airbus A380 flights with first class cabins.
Evans allows that the space constraints of the split-level footprint of the chosen lounge space at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 was “probably the main reason” for this.
“Lounge space is at a premium at Heathrow, we looked through the options and we came out (thinking) the best option was to build a really fantastic premium lounge and offer a great experience to all customers.”
Auckland still TBA
The Qantas Auckland Lounge remains on the roadmap, Evans says, although many frequent flyers may disagree with his take that “it’s still a very good lounge today.”
“Obviously it’s the older generation of design but is still a very good serviceable lounge.”
It’s expected any new Auckland lounge would follow the ‘premium’ model rather than see separate first class and business class spaces retained.
Evans adds that Qantas is “looking a number of other lounges around the world as to what comes next… of course we have to pace out investment, we can’t do everything at once.”
Tokyo, Honolulu lounges
This rethink of the Qantas lounge network also places a question mark over the future of the airline’s lounges at Honolulu and Tokyo’s Narita Airport.
“When managing your lounge portfolio you have to get the balance right” Evans tells Australian Business Traveller.
“In the right places you've got to invest in having your own lounge with your stamp and your feel.
“But you can’t do that in every place around the world where you operate to, no airline does that.. so in other places we can work with partners and use their facilities.”
“It’s about making sure we've got our own world-leading facilities in (the most) important destinations for us, and in other places which are still important but with less traffic
“In Tokyo we’re still working through what we might do there. Obviously we’ve just announced a new route into Tokyo from Melbourne so we have to work out what the best outcome… do we keep our existing lounge or move to a partner facility (with Japan Airlines)?”
“Similarly in Honolulu, we have to work through what the best solution is.”
Connect with other Australian Business Traveller readers in our online Qantas discussion group